Canadian Contractor

Robert Koci   

CASE STUDY: What Would You Do? Help this contractor and you could win a DeWalt XR Dual Speed cordless framing nailer

Canadian Contractor

This “What Would You Do?” case study is printed in the May/June 2015 issue of Canadian Contractor, page 58.

Send us your best answer to the contractor’s dilemma, and you could win a DEWALT XR DUAL SPEED cordless framing nailer, with a suggested retail price of $549.  See the possible correct answers down below.

Buster Belichek, although very rich, was the kind of customer you looked forward to seeing the back of. Brigham Wild, Best Build Renovations, was three-quarters of the way through a massive reno on Belichek’s house and was heartily sick of the stress and the abuse. Belichek had ridden him so hard, and been so obviously dishonest, that Brigham wondered if he would even collect the rest of his money. He was still owed half the project fee.

Then, Brigham stood in stunned silence as Belichek handed him a list of make-goods (as Belichek called them) on the work so far and an ultimatum: Brigham was to complete the list to Belichek’s satisfaction before continuing the work or he could pick up the dumpster in the driveway, pack up his team and leave. And get sued.


Complying with Belichek’s demands would assure a net loss on the $150,000 renovation. Walking away would mean getting sued and losing even more money. But then, as if by miracle, a third option presented itself.

Earlier that day, Brigham had come in alone to prep a second round of demolition. He tore away some drywall from a chase to check the mechanicals. Behind the drywall he discovered a large cash box and inside the cash box were hundreds, possibly thousands of fifty-dollar bills, 1950s-style, clearly hidden decades before Belichek bought the place. Brigham stopped counting at $77,500 with barely half the pile done.

Yes, Brigham knew the law: the money belonged to Belichek. But he was also being plainly ripped off and bullied by his client. And the found money was unknown to Belichek.

What would you do if you were Brigham?

  1. Walk away and keep the money.
  2. Give the money to Belicheck and do the make goods.
  3. Not give the money to Belicheck until a negotiation on the make goods has been resolved to the contractor’s satisfaction.
  4. Give the money to Belicheck and walk away.
  5. Some other course of action (please describe).


Email the number that matches your best answer, with your comments, to Please title your email “What Would You Do.” We will select the answer that impresses us the most and send the winner the DEWALT nailer below…

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5 Comments » for CASE STUDY: What Would You Do? Help this contractor and you could win a DeWalt XR Dual Speed cordless framing nailer
  1. This contractor has indeed discovered a silver lining to a project gone bad by a customer from hell. I would choose number 5 as my course of action. Firstly I would engage an attorney that would be familiar with contract disputes and describe the situation in full detail so that one could move forward in resolving the current situation. In my opinion the contractor does not have the authority to claim the money that was found and it is rightfully the property owners property. Since the homeowner is not privy to this money being part of the property, I don’t think that the contractor has any obligation to inform the property owner of the money found until such time as the dispute is rectified. With a list of deficiencies that would be agreed to by both parties and an early exit strategy to not do any further work other than to correct any agreed to deficiencies I would move forward. In fact I would consider using a third party to complete any deficiencies, so as to remove the contractor from any further toxic abuse by the client. It certainly would make sense for the client to agree to using the third party contractor so that the deficiency list would in fact get done to his satisfaction. (after all he choose the contractor to fix things) When all was said and done I might have a tough time deciding whether or not to stick that cash back inside the wall or let the home owner know, but reality and the attorney would bring me back down from the clouds.

    Robert Breault

    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Robert. We will be judging the winner in a few days and will let you know if you won.
      If only we all could find boxes of cash in the walls of our worst customers!

  2. Marten says:

    Interesting situation for sure. First thing would be to contact a lawyer type to help with the “make goods” Seems like the contractor is going to get hosed here so better to be ready. Then agree to fix things and the money must be there as soon as the work is done. Not sure who the money belongs to but wonder if it was stolen? Would be a good time to call the police as well. Perhaps talk to the lawyer at the same time about the money. Can’t see someone hiding that much money if it was made honestly. If the police are not interested, then fix the make goods, collect your money, then tell the homeowner, then walk away from the rest, to toxic to continue at that time. My two cents.


  3. Chris Langman says:

    If the customer really is a(n) _____(insert your own explitive), and is dishonouring a square deal, keep the money quietly until the list of deficiencies is completed. If the homeowner acts in good faith and pays fairly for all works satisfactorily completed, give the man his cache of cash. If the home owner insists on being a greedy ball buster, keep the cash without saying a word about it. Karma is a bitch, so do what you will, just be prepared to live with your choices.

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