SMALL CLAIMS COURT: CONSTRUCTION / RENOVATION
Situations for Filing a Claim for Construction / Renovation in Small Claims Court
There may be different reasons that caused Construction / Renovation claims in small claims court: permits and approvals; site access restrictions; mismanagement; differing site conditions; lack of funds; defective specifications; changes in the work; labor productivity issues; document review/approval; testing/inspections; or inclement weather.
Usually, Construction / Renovation cases rely on consultants who are experienced construction managers, architects, engineers, home inspectors, and building code enforcement officials. Construction industry experts can be involved for the following issues:
- Construction / Renovation drawings and specifications review
- On-site Inspections
- Design consistency and constructability analysis
- Review of compliance with appropriate building codes and standards
- Review of project correspondence
- Review of job reports, and etc.
- Forensic construction defect evaluation
Although, there are numerous reasons for Construction / Renovation claims in Small Claims Court, the main types of them are the following:
- Construction / Renovation Delay
- Labour Productivity
- Design and Construction Defect
- Construction / Renovation Acceleration
- Differing Site Conditions
- Construction / Renovation Changes
Construction / Renovation Delay Claims in Small Claims Court
The famous saying that “Time is money” is especially true on construction / renovation projects. One of the most common types of Construction / Renovation small claims court claims are the claims related to schedule impacts, circumstances which extend the project and/or prevent work from being done as originally planned. However, delay claims are some of the least understood and complex disputes.
Construction / Renovation Labour Productivity Claims in Small Claims Court
Labour productivity claims are the most contentious claims among Construction / Renovation claims in Small Claims Court. Partially, it is based on the fact that labour productivity rates are often not tracked with enough precision and labour productivity losses are often difficult to distinguish. Construction / Renovation labour productivity is typically measured as labour hours per quantity of material installed. A loss of productivity can happen when a particular team is not accomplishing the planned production rates. It takes more labour to do the same amount of work. To win a labor productivity case in small claims court can be very difficult.
Design and Construction Defect Claims
Despite the best plans, Construction / Renovation defects typically occur. Design and construction defects can and do occur due to a variety of problems, including, the following:
- The designer specified the incorrect materials or fails to specify them at all
- The contractor didn’t follow the proper construction/installation guidelines.
- The contractor’s quality control was poor.
- The owner has chosen materials or hardware which was not sufficient for the intended purpose.
- The contractor used substandard materials to reduce the costs.
- The supplier provided with materials that are insufficient or defective.
Time plays an important part in construction/renovation projects. Literally, “Time is money”. When a particular work has to be done earlier than planned, we are talking about acceleration. A contractor may accelerate voluntarily to mitigate its own delays and inefficiencies or to finish the project earlier and move on to the next project. Acceleration claims are typically occur when the contractor makes efforts to recover the project schedule after the project has suffered delays due to causes it believes are beyond its control. However, acceleration efforts can be expensive and do not guarantee early or on-time completion of the project. Adding resources requires extra costs. Working overtime hours typically requires paying of 1.5 to 2 times base labour rates. Directed acceleration occurs when the owner directs the contractor to accelerate to complete the project before the planned date.
All these things can result in problems during construction / renovation projects and lead to filing Construction / Renovation claims in small claims court.
CP Paralegal Services specializes in residential Construction/Renovation disputes in small claims court and is available to deliver mediation services.
Construction / Renovation Proceedings in Small Claims Court
You might want to file a claim for Construction / Renovation matters in small claims court if the damages you will request are not more than $25,000. The number of steps in a Small Claims Court proceedings varies from case to case.
Time Limits: There may be a time limit on how long you can wait before making a claim in Small Claims Court, which is set out in the Limitations Act. Under the law, the time you have to sue may run out. The deadlines vary depending on the circumstances of the case, and the type of case or claim. Check the time limits for your type of case. If you aren’t sure about whether you are still in time to make a claim, talk to CP Paralegal Services.
The following steps will have to be taken for your Construction / Renovation case in Small Claims Court:
- Completing the Plaintiff’s Claim form: you will be required to write in the plaintiff’s claim form a short, clear summary of the events that took place and the reasons you think you are entitled to judgment against the defendant.
- Deciding which Small Claims Court office to go to
- Preparing all documents and evidences that can support your case
- Filing the claim
- Paying Small Claims Court fees
- Serving the Plaintiff’s Claim after you have filed the claim with the court: you must prove that the defendant was properly served with the claim. You do this by filing an Affidavit of Service form.
If you have filed a claim and the defendant has not filed a Defence within 20 days, you can ask the court clerk to note the defendant in default. You do this by filing a Request to Clerk form. When a defendant has been noted in default you can ask the court to order them to pay money to you. This can be done by:
- Asking the court clerk to sign default judgment for a specified sum of money for that you must fill out and file a Default Judgment form; or
- Asking a judge to order default judgment. To do this, you file a Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit form. Explain the facts supporting your motion.
If it is a defended small court procedure, both parties should go for a settlement conference – a meeting with the parties and a judge to try to find an answer to the case that all parties can agree to. It must be held no later than 90 days after the first Defence is filed. There is a special rule for claims that are less than $2,500. The parties can agree to have a judge decide the case at the settlement conference. To agree to this, the parties must fill out a Consent form. The judge would decide the case at the settlement conference only if the parties could not reach a settlement. If the judge decides the case at the settlement conference, the case ends and there is no trial. At the trial each party tells their side of the story and the judge makes a decision.
What You Need to Consider BEFORE making Construction / Renovation claim in Small Claims Court
- Ask yourself if a lawsuit that you are going to start will be worth it.
- You will need the correct legal name of the person or business and a current residential or business address.
- Information you need to have to support your Small Claims Court case: You will have to prove your case. Consider what witnesses and/or documents you have to support you: any written evidence, copies of documents (for example, contracts, N.S.F. cheques, record of payments), photographs and other that you intend to use to support your claim must be attached to the Plaintiff’s Claim form
- Time you have to spend: Can you take days off at work to file your claim, deliver documents, and attend court many times? Are you willing to spend hours and hours for: 1) researching all guides on filing your claim; 2) researching all applicable Small Claims Court procedures and steps; 3) visiting Law Help Ontario at Small Claims Court – Pro Bono Law Ontario Duty Counsel are free lawyers that offer limited services to the public at the Toronto Small Claims Court; or 4) reading legislation on-line, for example the Limitations Act?
- Consider other options to resolve the issue: To keep your costs low, you might want to try to reach an agreement out of court. This is called settlement. You may consider mediation, which is a less formal method of resolving a dispute through a neutral third party. Mediation can be less time-consuming, more flexible, and less expensive than proceeding in court. It can also help you find your own solution to the dispute and preserve your relationship with the person/business. CP Paralegal Services is always ready to provide you with mediation services.
- Consider having help from CP Paralegal Services: keep in mind, court staff cannot provide you with legal advice or help you to complete all necessary forms. Do not relay on information from relatives and friends, unless they are lawyers or paralegals.
How CP Paralegal Services Can Help You with Construction / Renovation Case in Small Claims Court
The list of reasons to make a claim for Construction / Renovation in Small Claims Court can be endless. Although, you do not need a lawyer or paralegal when you go to Small Claims Court, to have a knowledgeable and experienced party to defend your case is a good idea. Remember, CP Paralegal Services is always ready to help you with your Construction / Renovation matter. We think that the information above that we have gathered especially for you, has assured you that dealing with Small Claims Court claim is complicated and often is overwhelming even for professionals.
There are 5 reasons why you may consider asking CP Paralegal Services for assistance:
- At CP Paralegal Services, we have experience and knowledge; we know how to deal with your Construction / Renovation case in Small Claims Court.
- If you hire CP Paralegal Services to represent you in Small Claims Court for your Construction / Renovation case, we’ll go to the court office as many times as it necessary, we’ll guide you through the trial, and you will not be involved in a stressful process.
- You will not have to ask for a day off at work for filing and serving documents.
- CP Paralegal Services will develop the best possible strategy of your defence.
- We make sure that all evidences are well-organized for your Construction / Renovation case and all time limits are considered.
Do not make a mistake! Save your time, money and nerves!