We first met Elie, the owner of Counter Measures, when he was exhibiting at a home show last winter with someone he identified as his “preferred contractor”. He said the two companies work together on a lot of jobs and get things done quickly and efficiently. Elie’s business card and email signature listed him as a project manager. We needed the kitchen of our downtown Toronto condo renovated, so it seemed like a good fit at the time.
He called us soon afterwards and arranged to come over to our condo to discuss the project. As we were talking, he quickly did some designs on his laptop that looked impressive. The price he quoted us was extremely low. We visited him at his showroom, decided to move forward and paid him a deposit. Picking out countertop finishes and other details a few weeks later, a lot of items seemed like “an extra upgrade” from his original quite and the price inched higher and higher.
We also followed up with the contractor he was exhibiting with at the home show (HomeStars has said we cannot name them). Elie had high praise for their services and kept repeating how well they work together. But after repeated attempts, they were not returning our calls. When we did finally reach him and book an appointment to take a look at the kitchen job, he showed up an hour late, blaming heavy traffic.
Elie insisted his friend would still do a good job, and the quote from Leo seemed very reasonable. We accepted, paid them a deposit and scheduled dates to begin.
That’s when everything started to really get off track. The contractor Elie recommended didn’t even show up on the first day, emailing the night before to say he “had to finish another job first.” This trend continued throughout the entire project, blaming the delays on “one of his guys being in hospital for emergency surgery”. When was asked about the necessary electrical work to be done, he said we never asked about that originally and it wasn’t in the initial estimate. That would also be extra.
One of the other contractor's tradespeople who was doing the backsplash shut off electricity to part of the kitchen because he said it was unsafe. When the other contractor was asked about the earlier electrical work, he said his tradesman “had a big mouth and shouldn’t have said anything”. We were later told it was fixed and the electricity was turned back on.
Throughout the project, he said he had another one of his tradespeople in hospital for more emergency surgery (his trades had an unusual amount of surgery, it seemed), and had to finish more jobs before he could complete ours. Days turned into weeks. Elie was blaming his friend for the delays and his friend said it was his fault. Meanwhile, my wife and I were renting a nearby condo to stay in during renovations and had to quickly arrange for a longer stay. It seemed very disorganized. When we mentioned this to Elie, he now said they were two different businesses and we had to deal with them separately.
Elie completed most of his work on time and the quality was good. A week after he left, however, there was a problem with one of the lower cabinet shelves. He promised to come back to adjust it but never returned. Three months later, he texted us to enquire how the shelf was and asked us to review his work online.
The contractor Elie so highly recommended ended up almost taking double the amount of time originally scheduled for the kitchen reno project. We had to keep calling him each morning to ask if he was going to show up for work to finish the job. Even if he did say over the phone he was going to be there, we could only believe it when we saw him or one of his employees. His final work was good, but Elie should definitely be more selective about who he recommends to work with him on projects.
Elie himself was often unreliable. Some days he would call saying he wasn't going to show up that day without even giving a reason. The only time we could be assured he was going to show up was to pick up his cheque for the balance.
The kitchen looked good when we were done, but it was a lot of aggravation and failed promises from Elie and the friend he so highly recommended along the way.