A Columbia Valley couple are reaping their just rewards after a five-year legal struggle to win back money lost on a bad contracting job.
Justice Thomas J. Melnick awarded Bob and Rita Walker $510,000 in damages against home builder James Elmo Siler in Cranbrook Supreme Court on January 25th.
In 2005 the Walkers developed a strata subdivision near Fairmont Hot Springs on Columbia Lake. They had already begun work on a high-end log cabin home for themselves within the subdivision, but released their general contractor after the foundation of the home had been poured, and log walls and roof purlins were installed.
The couples relationship with Siler began when he purchased a lot within their strata and told them he could finish their home at a cost of $768,000. Siler began work on the property in October of 2005 and was removed by the Walkers in June 2006 because of work they felt was incomplete, deficient and not up to current building code.
On closer inspection, it was found that the roof was poorly built, would not allow for proper ventilation, was prone to leaks, had begun to develop mould and was becoming a home for birds and bats, due to its lacking design.
“I have no doubt that in this case, Mr. Siler sold himself to the Walkers as a very skilled, very experienced carpenter with the ability necessary to competently and effectively (and promptly) complete the areas of construction he undertook,” wrote Justice Melnick in his reasons for judgement. “That he fell so very short of that standard in so many ways tells me that he was much more effective at building up his image than he was at building homes.”
Facing a series of irreparable failures, the Walkers turned to Armor Roofing of Cranbrook to almost completely replace the roof constructed by Mr. Siler at a cost of $180,055. Justice Melnick awarded $336,192 in damages to the Walkers for the defective roof and damages caused by Siler.
In addition to the faulty roof, the Walkers were awarded $2,000 for stains caused by Siler’s refusal to use galvanized nails when building the roof. The exposure to the elements caused residue from the nails to stain the indoor ceiling boards. The couple were also awarded $14,350 for heat loss, $8,000 for Siler’s overcharging on tongue and groove decking, $3,096 for his overcharging on tools, and $1,472 for excess scaffolding charges.
They were awarded $20,000 in general damages and $16,000 in interest paid out for the financing of the roof repair, $2,370 for problems with basement stairs, $1,400 in excess charges for labour, $600 for uneven floors as well as court interest and legal costs, which placed the total at just over $510,000.
“Persons who enter such open-ended contracts must necessarily rely on the integrity of the people working for them,” Justice Melnick wrote in his reasons for judgement.