At one time or another we all need to have some work done on our homes, cottages or workplaces and when that time comes we hire a contractor in the belief that everything will go well and our vision for the construction will be completed in the manner we anticipated and at the cost agreed and sometimes they do but with an interesting and unfortunate twist, in that the contractor while bringing your construction dreams to fruition can in doing so cause more damage than he was there to fix. Construction and home renovation matters are one of the most common types of contract the average homeowner will enter into and as such they can present many challenges not only in terms of the nature of the agreements made but also the consequences resulting from the performance of these agreements that were at the time of the agreement unforeseeable because they involve damage caused by the contractor in attempting to perform the agreement that is later either denied by him or claimed as arising from some pre-existing problem or the actions of the homeowners themselves.
This type of damage is hard to anticipate but can result from everything from improper demolition, improper installations and/or improper excavations. If for example if homeowner hires a contractor to excavate for plumbing and electrical connections and he damages the gas line in doing so, or damages the house foundation while doing so, the question will arise if he is responsible for those damages no matter who they impact being it the homeowner, the neighbours or the municipality in which the homeowner lives any of which may be looking to the homeowner to be compensated for the conduct of the contractor in addition to the homeowner’s desire to be compensated for the damages done to their home. The foundation for determining this liability and the rights to compensation are largely found in the law of negligence. Negligence in Canada and specifically Ontario is well outlined in the case of Dawes v. Gill, 2019 ONSC 5649 (CanLII).
As it is obvious that a contractor or its subcontractors are contractually proximate to a homeowner and as such owe a duty of care to the homeowner in the completion of their contractual duties it is probable that any damages caused by the contractor or its agent in the performance of their duties would raise the issue of their liability to the homeowner for compensation for same and/or indemnity for any claims made against the homeowner. It is also clear from the above decision that the issue of negligence and the impact of the contractual relationship between the parties involves a clear understanding of the issues and what can become a complex review of the issues and conduct of all the parties involved and the agreements between them.
So if your contractor while fulfilling his contractual obligations to you has damaged your property or that of your neighbors you do have remedies to ensure that your losses are compensated for or that you are indemnified for claims against you arising from this conduct.