The estate of a dead Coquitlam man has been ordered to hand over $37,700 plus interest to a restoration company after he refused to pay invoices following a flood in 2017.
Numerous counterclaims by the estate alleging poor workmanship, unfinished work and unauthorized disposal of items by Epic Restorations Services were dismissed in B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 16.
“In this case, it is clear that the work was substantially completed,” Justice Linda Woo wrote in the decision.
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Woo said the only question was whether defects in the work would lessen the amount owed to the company.
In January 2017, a pipe ruptured in the Sprice Avenue home of the now-deceased Desmond Fuller. There was additional flooding in February 2017.
Emergency repair work was paid directly to Epic Restoration from the insurance broker, Travelers Canada, but disputes arose over the non-emergency repairs.
Fuller was sent a co-payable cheque by Travellers Canada in April, for an invoice amounting to $39,693.80, but the money was never paid to the restoration company.
Instead, it was deposited into Fuller’s bank account. He then refused to pay the restoration company when they sought payment.
Epic commenced legal action in June, 2018, seeking payment in full, 24 percent interest per annum, and legal costs.
Fuller died in early 2019, and the legal dispute fell to son, Rudy Fuller, as executor of his estate.
The estate’s claims that the contract was invalid due to many of the repairs being subcontracted out by Epic Restoration was outright dismissed by Woo.
A quantity surveyor hired by the estate produced two expert reports for the case.
Some of the evidence was deemed inadmissible as it was out outside the qualifications of a surveyor who tendered two reports at the trial. Some of the surveyors’ evidence was also dismissed as being argumentative and inappropriately assigning blame.
The estate argued that Epic’s poor workmanship resulted in an unsafe, uneven flooring in the bathroom and basement.
Another claim was that the bathroom tiles were not adequately placed with adhesive.
Other claims were made around proper vapor barriers not being sealed, and faulty paint jobs, kitchen counters, and drywalling were also made.
All were dismissed.
Epic’s owner, Joseph Rorke, said that the floor was built on a slope.
The contractor who was hired to install the tile testified that he told Fuller that the levelling issues could be fixed at a cost of $2,000 to $3,000, but was told not to proceed.
Photos of the original floor showed the tile work was uneven with large gaps.
Woo said there was no indication of tiles falling, cracking, grout or other evidence that would show instability in the three years after the repair work.
Damaged cabinetry was another issue raised by the estate.
The estate argued the replacement cabinets were of lesser value than the originals, and custom milling would be required.
They also argued that they never authorized the specific cabinets chosen.
Both the claims adjuster and Rorke testified that the originals were of average quality.
A quote for the original cabinets was introduced into evidence showing they were ready-to-assemble. Justice Woo said they appeared to be mass produced.
Furthermore, Woo said there is no evidence that Fuller ever complained as the cabinets were being installed and had asked the contractor to install additional drawers of the same material and colour.
The only recompense granted to the estate was for damaged furniture, most of which Epic Restoration had already agreed to pay for.
The estate’s allegations of over $5,500 in overcharges were given more merit, however, the insurance company had not sought return of the money, and the estate had no claim to it.
Travellers Canada was also named in the estate’s counterclaims.
The Fullers argued that the policy offered guarantees for repair satisfaction guarantee and replacement costs. These were dismissed by the Woo.
The estate argued it should have been paid for contract work to repair the perimeter of the property.
However, the claim was not deemed valid, as Fuller never filed a claim with the insurance agent, it was not proven to be necessary and the work was outside the scope of the policy.
Justice Woo did rule, however, that Travellers was liable for an additional $1,200 in rental losses.
The estate was ordered to pay $37,700 to Epic Restoration, plus 24 percent interest (minus the overcharges) per annum until payment is made.