House From Hell

So a couple of years ago, not super long after we met, my now-wife and I decided it was time to merge our families. We elected to spend the money to expand her house, which is on very prime real estate in a rich city.

Knowing the risks, we did all the required due diligence in choosing an architect and a contractor, signed contracts, permits, etc. We did everything Mike Holmes tells you to do. It made no difference. The project was an unmitigated disaster and when the contractor abandoned the job and we had to get a second contractor to clean it up we were out an additional sum of money that amounts to two years of my salary after taxes. It was a staggering blow. There is no money left and we’re still fixing shit.

A full accounting of everything that was built wrong would crash the Internet.

Anyway, we went after the contractor through the best law firm in Oakville and had them dead to rights, but the contractor had no money left and simply announced he’d file for bankruptcy if we sued him. He finally agreed to pay a paltry sum, in three installments. It was a fraction of what we were rightly owed, but it’s something.
Our lawyer lost the last check.**

I shit you not; they lost it. Have no idea where it is. So our last payment, which we desperately need right now, is gone because the lawyer LOST IT. The law firm will of course not do anything about it except send an email to the other lawyer saying “plz sen another check?” They will certainly not do what they really should do - pay us the money until the contractor pays up. Ha ha. They’re rich lawyers.

The level of frustration and despair I am feeling right now is indescribable. We can’t even sell the house, since it cannot pass a permit inspection. Nothing has gone right, and a multi-million dollar law firm LOST OUR CHECK.

Now it’s important to understand that every single service provider in this entire fiasco has fucked up and not one, ever, has stood behind their work. The architect’s service was absolutely disgraceful, but of course we paid full price. The contractor made more errors than I can possibly list, many of them irreperable. The local utility fucked up, but they don’t care. The city fucked up, did I mention that? They issued an inspection permit for the foundation WITHOUT ACTUALLY COMING TO INSPECT IT, thus missing that it had not been waterproofed, a $10,000 (at least) error. They refuse to admit any fault and we can’t afford to sue them too. Independent contractors selected to do specific things - it makes no difference how well vetted they are - have all fucked up. Nobody, ever, has offered to make things right at their own expense.

So, you know, I was kind of hoping at least the lawyer wouldn’t somehow lose a really valuable check, but that’s just what they did, and their response is not to stand behind their work but to say “oh well, too bad so sad, you’ll probably get the money someday.”

I hear houseboats and RV’s are much less of a PITA.

PS. If the Canadian government didn’t own 90 percent of the land…you wouldn’t be having these problems :slight_smile:

Look at the bright side. Now you can sue some lawyers…not just some lawyers…YOUR lawyers. Doesn’t get much better than that.

I think you should call Mike Holmes.


Ricks house is probably on some ancient Indian burial ground with a “fuck it up field”…and Mike would probably just make things worse.

But at least Mikes viewership would go up.

We tried that. We applied to his show. No dice.

Of course we could ask him to fix it but we already have a guy doing it reasonably competently, and Holmes is unaffordable unless you are lucky enough to get picked for his show.

Do you have any thoughts about how so many unrelated entities managed to each mess up so catastrophically, despite all your due diligence etc.?

How about this?

Make up flyers about how your Law Firm, Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe LOST your check and will not cough up the cash to you.

Start distributing said flyers in the neighborhoods where Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe live. Then target where their customers might be. Where their kids go to school. Where the spouses work. And so an so on.

After a bit of that, call the local news channel. Most of them like big guy / government / shady business fucks over random Joe Public story.

Then threaten to sue some more asses.

There is a seedy underside to all that over the top Canadian politeness. Nobody ever gets reamed out for fucking up. Hence fucking up is no big deal.

At this point, it sounds like the fastest option would be for Rick to go to law school, pass the bar, and then sue everybody within smelling distance.

I think you inadvertently found the common thread.

Well, there’s been an element of bad luck. That does happen; luck is streaky, by definition. How the fuck does the lawyer lose our check? How the hell could we have guessed this would be the one foundation the city guy decided not to bother to actually inspect?

Regarding the architect and contractor, however, I am quite convinced we did not ride their asses hard enough while the job was in progress.

House building and house renos both strike me as something you handle much better the second time around.

Assuming you’re mad enough to try of course.

Hope it turns around for you soon!

If you’re feeling vengeful, and frankly I would be, you could report the law firm to your jurisdiction’s attorney licensing entity (in the U.S. that’d be the state bar association - not sure what it is in Canada) and report them for mishandling settlement funds, which is what they did.

At the very least, it’s liable to trigger a full audit of their financials, which is - at the very best - a nightmarish pain in the ass for them. Might as well spread the love?

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group must somehow form a family.
That’s the way we all became the RickJay Bunch.

I’m sorry to hear about your house troubles. Is there a bar association that might conceivably be interested to hear about relevant members(s) of a law firm that lost your check and won’t make good on it?

Sorry you’re going through this. Renovations are extremely stressful, even when things are going well. Dirty contractors and lazy inspectors really are a scourge, and there’s not a whole lot of political will to go after them.

Go one step further.

Rickjay said his place was in a wealthier part of town. Sign out front should read:
‘See this house. It looks like shit. It’s not up to code so I cannot sell it. These are the parties responsible:’

I’m gong to go out on a limb and suggest that this is not the first check (wouldn’t that be a cheque?) or important legal document that this firm has “lost”. I’d also guess that not actually inspecting the foundation is pretty much standard for the city inspector.

Not that this would actually change anything, but it does illustrate why you need to report it to the appropriate authorities. Not that I think they would try to change even if you do report it, but if you don’t report it, all parties can pretend that you were happy with their service.

Is the contractor a member of the Ontario College of Trades, and have you looked into their complaint process?

Major bummer Rick.

That (ie the law firm’s) kind of thing would be a breach of the lawyer’s trust accounting obligations in my jurisdiction, and would potentially fall short of the standard of competence and diligence expected of a lawyer. You should raise the issue with the legal services commission (or equivalent authority).

Bolded and underlined. This. Oh this. A thousand times this. It’s too late for you (and me) but for any future unfortunates that have work done; do not trust that the (recommended and vetted) yahoos that you’ve hired to do a job are actually capable of doing it until they have proven it to you. Watch them. check them, educate yourself and second guess them.
I did manage to catch the the doorway that the foundation contractor failed to install before the concrete was poured. Sadly, I didn’t catch the crap insulation job for the underfloor heating and a number of other things which aren’t nearly as awful as what you describe but still cost money to fix and/or piss me off.