Instead of renovating 86-year-old Ralph Lingard’s small shack at Mary Lake, Whitehorse contractor Don Ford built him a brand new shack for the same price.
Since a rebuild isn’t a renovation, Ford technically violated his initial contract, and now the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, who financed the renovation, is refusing to pay.
Lingard’s renovation had been approved under the Housing Corporation’s Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program, a project designed to bring substandard housing up to municipal levels of health and safety.
“It is only for renovation … irrespective of whether a new house would be cheaper, more expensive or the same price this program is only focused on rehab,” said Tom Kerwin, manager of Northern housing for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
“I can’t get my head around this; we didn’t charge them any extra and I didn’t steal anything,” said Ford, who claims he is still owed $31,000 by the corporation.
For $46,080, Ford agreed to wire the house for electricity and install a new septic system, staircase, floor, plumbing, fuel tank, oil monitor, roof and foundation. He was paid a $15,000 advance midway through the project.
Ford fulfilled those obligations, and threw in a set of walls at no extra charge, he says.
“Everything they asked for, they got; the extra came out of my pocket,” said Ford.
“There’s nothing wrong with what he built, and at least I can live comfortable for a couple of years, or however long I live,” said Lingard.
“I never had hydro or a bathroom before, I got everything now, but now they won’t pay,” he said.
The decision to rebuild rather than renovate was approved during a site visit by Housing Corporation building inspector Wayne Wilkinson, claims Ford.
“He knew all along that he couldn’t build a new building, everybody told him that,” said Wilkinson, who denied he ever gave approval for the rebuild.
“I told him I was an inspector, that’s all I was; I don’t set policy,” he said.
Ford intended to renovate rather than rebuild, but he soon discovered the house was in a dire state of disrepair.
“If I had completed the work order, there’s no way it would have passed building codes,” said Ford.
If Lingard had applied to the housing corporation for a rebuild rather than a renovation, it would never have been approved, said Kerwin.
“The bid that he put in for the work states very clearly that he was going to renovate, the building permit he took out with the city states very clearly that his intention was to renovate,” said Wilkinson.
“If he knew all along that he was going to build a new house, why was he perjuring himself by filling out all these documents that said he was going to renovate,” he said.
When Lingard was collecting tenders for the project, seven contractors turned him down outright, allegedly because it was funded through the housing corporation.
“It’s because they know they can’t get their money,” said Lingard.
“So I just threw those contracts up on the fridge and said, ‘the hell with it,’” he said.
It was only after a chance meeting with Lingard that Ford decided to take on the project.
“I’d done work for (the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) before, and it’s all been OK,” said Ford.
Contact Tristin Hopper at email@example.com