How it started

Haince was asked to take on the renovation of a property in the Hydrostone neighborhood of north end Halifax. He came with a glowing recommendation from a local entrepreneur, named Bruce, in the same neighborhood.

The clients asked Haince to provide a written contract based on a handshake agreement of $52,000, along with proof of liability insurance. They also asked him to ensure that the necessary permits were in place. He said getting permits was up to the clients, but in his opinion none was necessary because the work was "cosmetic." The project got underway on June 1st 2014, with a promised completion date at the end of September. He had to finish by the end of September, he said, because "I have to get back to work on Bruce's project." In addition to a $5100 deposit on the project, he also asked for $1000 so he could pay for his liability insurance. (A curious request, since in an email on April 24 2014, he said he already had liability insurance.)

After 2 months of repeated requests, the clients stopped asking for a written contract. By then they had concluded that Haince was not going to leave a paper trail, whether by choice or by accident. The clients on the other hand, kept meticulous records, on which this website is based.

The clients were in a schedule squeeze. They had sold their house which had to be vacated by August 30th, and did not want to spend the time - or the money - on short-term rental accommodations beyond what was absolutely necessary. Based on Haince's promise, they resigned themselves to spending 30 days in a hotel-apartment, and had all of their belongings put in storage, other than the personal effects which they would need for 30 days.

This story describes how 30 days turned into 7 months, and a $52,000 reno project turned into a $250,000 fiasco.

According to a story which ran on CNN, home renovation contractors are among the most complained-about consumer service around. A half dozen other reno contractors who were asked to review Haince's work after he was dismissed from the project on 29 December, 2014 were unanimous in their opinion that Haince's workmanship was substandard.

The clients were completely green in dealing with renovation contractors. Initially, they asked Haince about apparent deficiencies in his work, mostly when he claimed milestone payments for tasks he had not completed. In all cases, Haince's explanation were saturated with jargon that meant nothing to the clients. When they asked for clarification, more jargon would follow. In some cases, when the clients simply refused to accept the explanation and would not make the payment, Haince would pick up his things and go home, and send his crew home as well. Alarmed at the prospect of ongoing delays the clients began to give Haince more leeway - an ultimately bad and expensive decision.

For context, here are the salient details:

Project start 1 June 2014
Completion 30 September 2014 (scheduled)
Haince fired 29 December 2014

At the time of his firing:
Expenditures 40% over budget (hand-shake contract was for $52,000)
      Haince had been paid about $74,000 when he was fired - $54,000 in cash (at his request) and about $20,000 by cheques.

Project status 50% complete
Project timing 3 months late

A new contractor was brought in to finish the project, but before he could do that, he had to repair or replace most of Haince's work which did not meet building code standards, or was so substandard that to continue to build on it was pointless.When a new contractor was brought in to finish the project, he quoted about $80,000, which included about $32,000 to correct Haince's substandard workmanship and code violations. The new contractor finished the job on time and on budget.
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