Edmonton home builder, owner point fingers in escalating dispute
Couple says their new home has been a complete disappointment but the home builder tells a different story
The battle over a $700,000 dream home has lasted more than a year, so far, pitting a builder about to lose his company against unhappy owners about to lose their minds.
Jackie and Kristopher Koval say they've been living a nightmare since they bought a custom built house from Infiniti Homes.
"We're losing whole days of our life when we should be a family, and instead we're stressed out, we're agitated, we're annoyed," Jackie says. "My husband says this has taken years from his life ... this has been a phenomenally difficult situation for us."
Things seemed wonderful in October 2013, she says, when they chose Infiniti Homes to build their house in Riverdale.
"Everything was great," says Jackie. "They put the hole in the ground actually within a couple of weeks of our daughter being born. And it was so exciting. [We were] delighted with the design, delighted with the time process. This is February, we're supposed to be in originally in August. And then that got bumped to October, still super excited, and then it just started to go wrong."
'It just started to go wrong'
According to Jackie there were endless problems during and after construction.
"When it came to [heating and ventilation], electrical, that kind of thing, we weren't passing city inspection," says Jackie. "It was just delay after delay … then October turned to March."
The Kovals say the disappointment continued when they were finally set to take possession in March 2015.
"The walk-through was ridiculous, it was basically a complete waste of time," says Jackie. "The basement was absolutely nowhere near finished. We had trades in our house at least three weeks after we got into the house, at least three weeks every day, and then after that it was kind of twice a week for a long time."
'Silly things like the windows being covered by drywall'
Jackie says they were dealing with a long list of frustrations.
"There were just tons of issues, silly things, like the windows being covered by drywall on the inside of the house. We had a flood at one point because the washing machine drain wasn't hooked up properly. So a trade didn't do his job and then the site supervisor never checked his work, and that was basically the story of our lives for the last year."
"One person didn't do their job, nobody checked that person, whoever was supposed to check the site supervisor's work wasn't checking."
According to Jackie, at one point during a heavy rainstorm they had water coming from the lights in their sitting room and down the wall.
"It's just been horrendous. And we get to the point where we think we've got one thing covered and then the question is, what's the next thing going to be? What's the next big issue going to be?"
Now, a year after they took possession, they're still asking that question.
But the co-owner of Infiniti Homes tells a different story. Rae Enos describes Kristopher Koval as the most difficult customer he's ever had.
'We feel that we've been more than fair'
"We feel that we've been more than fair and went above and beyond," says Enos, adding that his service manager, Mike Remedios, is constantly dealing with the Kovals' complaints. "Ninety per cent of his time he deals with Kristopher Koval."
Remedios confirms that.
"He calls me three, four, five times every day. It's a 40-minute call every time, same stuff, same questions."
Remedios believes Kristopher Koval will never be satisfied.
"I've been in and out of this business for about 27 years, dealing with hotels, condos, townhomes, thousands of homes," he says. "I'd have to say he's probably by far the most challenging client I've ever had to deal with. He expects absolute perfection."
He's never satisfied
According to Remedios, the tradespeople working on the home are fed-up.
"Every trade that I've had to call in, and most of our trades have been there numerous occasions because he's never satisfied, they all groan every time I call them and ask for them to go back there. Nobody really wants to have to deal with him. But they're obligated to."
The Kovals say the tradespeople aren't coming back because they aren't getting paid for work they've already done.
"In the post I just got a thing to say the Hardie company (Greenland Roofing and Exteriors) have a lien against our house now for the work that hasn't been paid for," Jackie says.
Blayn Burns owns Transition Roofing and worked on the Kovals' home. He says Infiniti also owes him money. Burns thinks the home builder tried to expand too quickly.
"I believe they got too big, too fast. And they just spent too much and they didn't control their spending … and they got themselves in financial distress that way."
"I would do some jobs and they'd pay me and everything would be good," says Burns. "And then I'd do some more jobs and get up in receivables a little bit higher and then eventually they'd pay you down a good chunk like $40,000 or $60,000. And that would basically just increase the credit limit they had with me. I got up to a $122,000 with them at one point, and I pretty much had to stop working until I got paid down a little bit."
Burns says he's still owed $42,000 and is no longer doing work for Infiniti. He's doesn't expect to ever get paid in full.
"I had a meeting with Infiniti and he [company president Jonathan Letourneau] basically said there's so many liens on past jobs that have already taken possession that he needs to go bankrupt in order to free those liens."
Letourneau denies he said that but confirms there is no chance the company will survive. He says they have no money to pay the trades workers in full and are currently facing 20 liens against their projects.
He's putting a proposal together that would involve offering sub-contractors about 70 per cent of what they're owed. If that fails, he may be forced to file for bankruptcy.
Jackie Koval says she's not surprised to hear the company is in financial trouble.
"We don't know where that leaves us, and we're just at a loss. We're just devastated by this whole thing."
It's expected a third party will be brought in to deal with the remaining warranty work.
In the meantime, the Kovals continue to live in an unfinished house they say is taking a toll on their relationship, and their mental health.