Canadian Contractor

We have a Dilemma Contest Winner!

Byron Emmons of Kingston, Ontario wins a DeWalt cordless reciprocating saw for his recommended actions for 'Steve'


April 28, 2017
By John Bleasby

Steve Fleckenstein’s dilemma extends beyond any pangs of guilt he might feel regarding a poorly-installed support beam underpinning the main floor of a renovated Victorian home 10 years ago. It was heartening to read that almost every respondent expressed the importance of informing the current homeowners of the potential for structural failure. Sadly however, there is the more to this than simple morality; there are serious legal aspects to be considered.

It’s a dual dilemma
Our panel sought the advice of a lawyer with considerable litigation experience in construction law. He explained to us that while honesty and morality might call for Steve to come clean to the owners of the house, simply walking up to the door and telling his story puts him in a precarious legal position. He must seek legal advice before doing anything. Even an apprentice could be found partially liable for work under his control or influence. He cannot hide entirely behind his employer if he himself is deemed to have knowingly failed to do the right thing at the time. Steve doesn’t even know if ownership of the house has changed. How will the owners react, given the nature of Steve’s concern and the steps required to inspect, let alone repair, the deficiencies? There could be considerable costs, for example, to remove and replace wall finishes. Once Steve explains the details to his legal advisor regarding the exact nature of his employment 10 years earlier, receives counsel, and learns more, should he still choose to come forward he will at least be properly prepared for whatever reaction he might receive from the homeowners.

The answer that best captured the complex nature of Steve’s difficult situation was submitted by Byron Emmons of Kingston, Ontario. “Steve first needs to seek proper legal advice,” he writes. “The ‘right’ thing and the ‘legal’ thing are two different things in this country.” Sad but true.

Mr. Emmons win a DeWalt 20V Brushless XR WIN Reciprocating Saw (DCS367) featuring a 9 amp 60V FlexVolt Battery. (Approximate retail value: $650)

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A new Contractor Dilemma will be posted soon. Stay tuned, and please send us your proposals at that time!


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