Quebec court resolves dispute over construction work following catastrophic Gatineau flooding

The court considered the added value to the renovated home, given the property's state post-flooding

Quebec court resolves dispute over construction work following catastrophic Gatineau flooding

The Quebec Superior Court has resolved a contentious dispute over construction work following the catastrophic flooding of the Gatineau area in the spring of 2017.

In 9372-3401 Québec inc. c. Alberelli, 2024 QCCS 289, the court dissected a web of claims and counterclaims revolving around the construction of a new foundation for the plaintiff, Roberto Alberelli's, house, ultimately ordering Alberelli to pay the defendant, Levage Danis, $30,564.42 for the unfinished and disputed work, while navigating through allegations of unfulfilled promises and work deficiencies.

The core of the dispute lay in the aftermath of the 2017 flooding, with Danis being contracted to elevate Alberelli’s house, replace its foundation, and conduct related work, for which Danis claimed an unpaid balance of $72,335.49. Alberelli, however, counterclaimed, arguing the foundation built was not as agreed upon, and cited additional defects and deficiencies, amounting to a counterclaim of $224,807. Furthermore, Danis acknowledged an unfinished portion of work valued at $5,600, highlighting issues such as unsealed gaps between the house and its foundation and uncompleted home anchoring.

The court analyzed the nature of the contractual agreement between Danis and Alberelli, particularly what type of foundation was initially agreed upon. The court noted that evidence suggested a discrepancy between what was promised and what was delivered, with Danis asserting a standard foundation was agreed upon, contrary to Alberelli's expectations of a waterproof, reinforced concrete foundation based on plans drafted post-flooding.

In addressing the acceptance of extras and evaluating the claimed defects and deficiencies, the court scrutinized each claim's legitimacy, including the adequacy of notice given to Danis to correct alleged defects. The judgment carefully evaluated the work's added value to Alberelli's property, the timely registration of a legal hypothec, and entitlement to reimbursement of expert fees.

Ultimately, the Quebec Superior Court ordered Alberelli to pay Danis $30,564.42, after adjusting for the proven deficiencies and considering payments already made. The court underscored the importance of clear agreements and thorough documentation in construction contracts.

Additionally, the judgment highlighted the added value to Alberelli's home as a result of the substantial work, given the property's state post-flooding. The court also confirmed Danis's timely registration of a legal hypothec, establishing a security interest in the property for the amount owed. Given the divided success of their claims, the court awarded expert fees to both parties, emphasizing the significance of expert testimony in resolving the dispute.

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