I hired a contractor to redo my kitchen. They were slow, unresponsive, and didn’t complete the job properly. Do I have to pay the final invoice?

Now they’re demanding final payment, but I don’t feel like I should have to pay. What are my rights? Can I get money back?



Coquitlam, BC

That's a challenging situation, to be sure. On our website, we outline the options if you're not happy with a contractor's work. Here's a recap.

As a baseline, a contractor must use "reasonable care and skill," do the work in a "proper and workmanlike manner," and use materials of reasonable quality. Depending on the contract you had with the contractor, they may also have provided their own form of warranty or guarantee; you'll want to review that closely. But even without anything in writing, the baseline duties are in play.

When a party to a contract doesn't do what they say they would do under the contract, or live up to those baseline duties, they are in breach of contract. The law offers different solutions when a contract has been breached. Depending on the specifics of the situation, the contract might be cancelled, the party in breach can be ordered to pay damages, or the party in breach can be ordered to perform the contract. Have a read of the first section on that page we linked to above to get a feeling for how these options might play out in your situation.

Here's another step you can take to better understand how the law applies in your situation: have a look at some court cases involving home renovation contractors doing poor work. Here's a set of BC cases. To find these, I searched for "contractor home renovation workmanlike reasonable care and skill." You can also try other search combinations. As an example of a case that is very helpful in explaining what would amount to "proper and workmanlike manner," see this case, where the judge found the contractor's work to be deficient and discounted the amount the homeowner had to pay the contractor.

One more legal principle to keep in mind as you consider your options: a contractor has the right to return to a worksite and repair deficiencies. This case talks about that (see paragraph 89) in the context of a renovation project where there were deficiencies.

In terms of steps you might take, one is to send a letter to the contractor outlining your position. In our page on if you're not happy with a contractor's work, under work out the problem, we walk you through some of the points to consider for the letter, and offer some letter templates to help.

Finally, if you would like to discuss your situation with a lawyer, here are some free or low-cost options for legal advice

David Kandestin

David Kandestin

People's Law School
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in July 2021

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