The painting of our house was an integral part of a very large renovation project. Being responsible for the entire project, it was our General Contractor who selected Sloan’s Painting (hereafter referred to as Sloan’s), whom my wife and I had never heard of. Sloan’s consisted of two owners, Michael and Michelle, and two employees, and for a few hours one day, one other sub-contracted person who was hired to start the exterior.
The terms of the contract were fixed-price, and included the painting of the interior and exterior of the house, the staining of all unfinished wood trim and baseboards, and the re-staining of the deck, fence and sophits above the upper deck. The wood trim was to be finished so that it matched the doors, and all areas requiring protection were to be masked or covered with drop sheets. Sloan’s work began close to the end of September, 2010.
From the beginning, Sloan’s clearly had an insufficient number of staff for this job, and also started late and ended early each day. Many work days lasted only four hours. Michael explained that he had tried repeatedly to hire more staff for our house, but was unable to. Nevertheless, Michael admitted that Sloan’s continued to accept additional work from their preceding client after accepting our contract. In addition to this, Sloan’s would leave our house each day without saying anything to us, and in particular about what had been done that day and what was planned for the next.
Michael proved from the beginning to be very impatient, drudgingly engaging in necessary discussions with me, and was often quite abrupt. On very few occasions was he cooperative.
As an example, while Sloan’s were preparing to paint the insides of one of the closets, I noticed that Michael was having difficulty removing one of the closet’s two bi-fold doors, and so he asked the carpenter to show him how to do it. Shortly afterwards, I noticed that both of the doors for that closet were now reinstalled, although the closet interior was yet to be painted. When I asked Michael about what had happened, he said to me quite adamantly that “Removing doors is not in my job description. I am here to paint and nothing else”.
Sloan’s would also not move any furniture prior to painting a room, and neither would they move it back again afterwards, and left all this heavy work to my wife and I, even although I explained to them that I previously had some serious back problems.
On repeated occasions, paint was splashed and sprayed on floors, wood trim, doors, granite counter tops, and fixtures, because Sloan’s had not consistently protected these things as stated in the contract. When the issue was raised by me, Michael reacted in a defensive and argumentative manner. As a result of this insufficient protection, my wife and I had to repeatedly spend our evenings and weekends scraping paint splashes and spray off of the surfaces where it should not have been. Also, excessive paint and stain were used in several areas, leaving both “runs” and large streaks.
Sloan’s also had to be repeatedly reminded of several omissions in their work, including some areas of walls and ceilings being left unpainted, and also some only receiving one coat where the surrounding areas had the required two coats. As well, several areas of newly required drywall mudding were left un-sanded prior to the painting, and consequently were left with very noticeable bumps and ridges.
After having left the downspouts down for several weeks, while no painting was being done on the exterior of the house, Sloan’s finally reattached them at our request. However, first a small and then a very large downspout fell off because they had been improperly reattached without the clamps. When asked to reattach the large one, Michael was very uncooperative, and did not return until a few days later to do so. When I expressed concern about the danger of these falling, he dismissed it by saying that they were very light.
When asked at the beginning of the project how many coats of finish would be required on the wood trim, so that it would match the doors, as stated in the contract, Sloan's stated that a minimum of four coats would be needed and would be done before the painting, after which a fifth coat would be applied if needed. However, towards the end of Sloan’s work, several areas of wood trim had obviously received less sanding and coats of stain than others, so that they were left rough to the touch and still looked like unfinished wood, which contrasted noticeably with the rest of the wood trim and doors. When reminded of this, Michael argued that they had already exceeded the number of coats specified in the contract.
We updated our list of work deficiencies and emailed these to Sloan’s as new issues were discovered, followed by an on-site review of these as needed with Sloan’s on the following day. All of these deficiencies and the problematic behaviour of Sloan’s were frequently communicated to the General Contractor, who assured us that all of these issues would be addressed by Sloan’s. However, Sloan’s behaviour did not improve, and their reluctance and/or inability to address many of the deficiencies became increasingly obvious, regardless of our many attempts to encourage Sloan’s to improve.
I was then left with no alternative but to terminate the contract, although the interior was incomplete and the exterior barely started. This contract termination occurred about the middle of October, 2010.
Sloan’s later invoiced us, not just for the balance of the work completed, but for approximately twice what had been quoted for the interior, with various justifications including the loss of the deposit on the exterior. Upon advice from our lawyers, we offered Sloan’s reasonable payment for the work done, less the cost of correcting the deficiencies in their work. Sloan’s then sent another letter demanding full payment of the amount they had invoiced and stating their intent to place a lien on our house if this payment was not received.
Again, on the advice of our lawyers, we offered Sloan’s what was deemed reasonable payment, and again, Sloan’s rejected this, and then sent a completely different invoice with different justification, but for approximately the same amount. Their new justification included such things as additional coats of finish on the trim and wasted time for conversations with me. However, the only conversations that were initiated by me were those necessary to plan and discuss the status of the work.
We once more responded as before, and then Sloan’s referred the matter to a Claims Agency, who resubmitted Sloan’s claim to us. We responded to the Claims Agency that there was a contract dispute and provided the Claims Agency with a copy of the response and cheque we had previously sent to Sloan’s, offering the Claims Agency the same settlement. After that, we heard no more from the Claims Agency.
After a short time, we received notice from Sloan’s that they had filed a claim in the Small Claims Court. As part of the Small Claims process, prior to going to court, a Mediation Conference was held. At the end of the mediation, we offered Sloan’s a much lesser amount than what they were claiming, which they accepted. While knowing that Sloan’s was not in any way entitled to even that amount, my wife and I offered it only so that we could focus properly on a much more important personal priority for us at that time. This process was completed shortly after the middle of April, 2011.
While the dispute was in process, to correct the deficiencies in Sloan’s work, we had to hire another painter, which added yet another substantial cost overrun to the renovation project.
In closing, it is the sincere wish of my wife and I, that by sharing our experience, other homeowners may be saved a similar experience.
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