A contractor who built an unsafe deck and a set of stairs that needed to be replaced was recently ordered to pay $18,635 following a judgment in B.C. Provincial Court.
Mehdi Shiridokht, who operates under the business name Ideal Remodeling Group, was hired by Port Coquitlam residents Neda and Nikola Ilic in the summer of 2020 to add a second-floor deck to their Port Coquitlam home.
After discussing the design of the deck and the expected cost of $37,537, Shiridokht was slated to start the approximately three-week job in August 2020.
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Broken door, deteriorating relationship
According to evidence given by Ms. Ilic, the relationship started to deteriorate after they noticed a glass patio door was broken.
Shiridokht told them some “wood jumped” and broke the door, according to Ms. Ilic.
In the second week of construction, Ilic said he saw the new stairs swinging back and forth.
After an argument, Shiridokht agreed to replace the stairs.
In court, Shiridokht testified that he built temporary stairs and planned to replace them with permanent stairs – an assertion Judge Wilson Lee found not credible.
“I found it made little sense to incur the expense of labour and materials for a set of temporary steps. No explanation was given for the need for temporary stairs. There was also no time left at the end of the project to rebuild the stairs,” Lee wrote.
Besides the stairs and the broken door, the homeowners were also concerned the lower patio wasn’t properly excavated and that it sloped toward, possibly resulting in water flowing toward the house.
Building inspector arrives
After three weeks of work, the parties had a “heated discussion,” after Shiridokht gave the Ilics an invoice for $41,191, including $7,590 for extra material and labour.
At the time, the Ilics were “concerned about the quality of the work,” and Shiridokht was asking for his next instalment payment.
During the argument, Shiridokht “blew up” and said he would report the Ilics to the City of Port Coquitlam because there was no building permit, according to Ilic.
“This came as a shock to the Ilics as they believed Mr. Shiridokht had obtained a building permit,” Lee wrote.
A Port Coquitlam building inspector arrived that day and issued a stop work order due to the lack of a building permit.
In court, Shiridokht said he couldn’t remember calling Port Coquitlam to report the unpermitted work site. Judge Lee rejected that evidence.
“Calling the city is consistent with Mr. Shiridokht’s response to not being paid,” Lee wrote.
The deck was not structurally sound and was unsafe, according to an evaluation conducted by Dave Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections Services Ltd. Fairbairn also observed some elements that were installed incorrectly and places where screws were used even though nails were required.
The deck footings and stairs needed to be replaced due to inadequate construction, according to a report from P & B Engineering.
Judge Lee found Shiridokht liable for engineering, inspection and geotechnical services.
However, the judge denied the Ilic’s request for $7,278 to pay for vinyl flooring on the deck.
During preliminary emails between the parties, Shiridokht referred to using torch-on waterproofing. However, neither torch-on waterproofing nor who was responsible for getting a building permit were included in the final quote issued in August.
Instead of a torch-on material, Shiridokht used a waterproof membrane called RedGard, which wasn’t applied to the edge of the deck.
The material will likely cause cracking, according to Fairbairn.
While using RedGard was not a breach of contract, Lee noted that it wasn’t used on the entire deck.
“It seems to me that if waterproofing is to be effective, the entire surface should be covered. I find that a failure to do so is a breach of the requirement to perform work with reasonable care and skill,” Lee wrote.
However, Lee ultimately ruled that Shiridokht is not liable “for any betterment of the property,” including the addition of vinyl flooring on the deck.
“I was not told why the Ilics chose to use vinyl flooring given they had purchased tiles for $4,142,” Lee wrote.
Lee awarded the Ilics damages of $18,635 as well as $156 their counterclaim filing fee.