I hired a contractor to redo some drainage in my yard, simple straightforward with a contract.

Verbal estimate 1500-1800 complete all in. After day one I knew he didn't know what he was doing and had a conversation with him, about how deep the trench was to be with how much drain rock etc. All laid out in the contract he signed and agreed to.

His slope was wrong and doesn't drain. The connections are all wrong and not even joined in the main areas. My stairs have not been put back on the retaining wall etc.

What is my obligation to pay him and how much as he has now overbilled by several hundred dollars higher than his range on the quote for this shoddy incomplete work?

I had to on day 2 ask him to leave at the end of the day as he hadn't done what he was hired to do specifically. I have to now at this late time in the season hire another company and the fixes to this are double what I started out from his highest quote.

I don't know what to do, hire the other company and not pay him at all or what is my obligation here?

The debris of rock and swales and mess he has left is unbelievable.

Live in Canada - not sure what is acceptable but I do know his work is not. Cannot pay for his lack of experience and mess. Help.

2 Answers 2


There is a thing you shouldn't do which, unfortunately, you appear to have already done: never terminate a contract without getting legal advice! There is a very real risk that you did not have the legal right to terminate the contract and that what you have actually done is repudiate it instead - this is a serious breach on your part and gives the contractor the right to sue for damages.

Get real legal advice now!


It depends on the terms of the contract, but in general, a contractor can only demand payment for work done according to minimum standards of workmanship and competency.

So, if it is true that his work was incompetent, then he has no claim.

If it goes to court, you will have to prove to the court beyond a shadow of doubt that what he did was incompetent. Basically that would mean you would have to get an expert to testify that his work was substandard.

If this occurred after only a single days work, that makes it unlikely he will try to collect.

  • At the end of day 2 - so two days work, but still probably not worth it. There is also the possibility to counter-claim for the additional costs of remedying the contractor's incompetent work - which makes it even less likely he will claim. Nov 24, 2017 at 7:09

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