Toronto

Kitchen reno turns into nightmare after contractor disappears with money

Instead of getting her dream kitchen months ago, Delia Cole has been living with plastered walls and exposed ducts because her contractor ran off with $15,000 - the entire cost of her new kitchen.

Homeowners pay for dream kitchen upfront, Mississauga company closes

Delia Cole explains the layout of her dream kitchen that she was supposed to get months ago. Now she has to find a new contractor after the first disappeared with her money. (Garry Asselstine/CBC News)

Delia Cole walks around an empty room in her Mississauga home pointing out that in the far corner she wanted a pantry, the sink was supposed to be underneath the window and the island was going to be in the centre of it all. 

Instead of getting her dream kitchen months ago, Cole has been living with plastered walls and exposed ducts because her contractor ran off with the $15,000 she paid him. 

"We chose [the contractor] because we wanted to save money," said Arlindo Peixoto, Cole's husband. "Now we're going to end up paying more than double." 

Cole and Peixoto are going to have to pay a second contractor to complete their kitchen after the first disappeared with their money. (Garry Asselstine/CBC News )

After shopping around back in March, Cole and Peixoto chose to go with Can Dec Kitchen Inc., a company not far from their home. The draw, says Peixoto, was that they would save $1,000 by paying the total cost upfront. 

The couple paid with two separate cheques in mid-March and was told the work would begin in a few weeks. When nothing happened, they started to get suspicious. 

Contractor stopped answering calls, couple says

"We called and he told us we have to wait … Then he kept giving us the runaround so we went to the [office] and it was closed," said Cole. 

Arlindo Peixoto and Delia Cole sit in their empty kitchen in Mississauga. (Garry Asselstine/CBC News)

Peixoto says he kept calling the contractor he knew as Rizwan Akrem, but couldn't get a straight answer. 

"[Akrem] said he was closed down… When we asked for the money back he said that our kitchen was cut out, but he couldn't get the pieces because the [building's] landlord had closed his business." 

Now, after several weeks, Peixoto says Akrem has stopped answering their calls.  

Can Dec Kitchen Inc. in Mississauga, the company the couple used, was closed down when CBC Toronto visited. A legal notice on the door says the tenant didn't pay rent. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News )

CBC Toronto went to Can Dec Kitchen's headquarters on Dunwin Drive in Mississauga to find the doors locked and the front showroom emptied out. 

A 2013 Ontario compliance letter from the Ministry of Environment for Can Dec Kitchen Inc. is signed by Rizwan Akram, whose last name is spelled differently from the business card presented to Cole and Peixoto. The last name on the card the couple received is spelled with an "e" not an "a." 

The corporation record for Can Dec Kitchen Inc. does not name either Rizwan Akrem or Rizwan Akram as being the active administrator. Instead, the record lists someone with the last name Rizwan as the company's director (this person's first name is entirely different).    

CBC Toronto attempted to contact Rizwan Akram/Akrem using all the numbers connected to both spellings of the name but hasn't heard back.  

A look through the front doors of Can Dec Kitchen Inc. The company's showroom was emptied out. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News)

The owner of a business next to Can Dec Kitchen says numerous people have come by looking for the contractor since the company closed in March.   

A notice posted on Can Dec Kitchen's door from a Toronto law office states that the lease for the Dunwin Drive location has been terminated for failure to pay $18,500 in rent. 

The notice is dated March 19, 2019, just four days after Cole and Peixoto gave their final payment for their kitchen. 

Paying double for new kitchen

Cole and Peixoto say they called Peel Regional Police but were told that this is a civil matter and they can file a lawsuit. They hope that by putting their story out there, others will come forward. 

"This has been very frustrating," said Cole. "It feels like our hands are tied behind our backs." 

Cole says she filed a complaint against Can Dec Kitchen Inc. with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS). The agency confirms there is a complaint against the Mississauga company. 

When it comes to renovations, MGCS urges homeowners to get the job in writing and check out references before committing

Four months after starting their renovations, Cole and Peixoto are now looking for a new contractor, but this experience has left them wary, along with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. 

"We're now way over budget," said Peixoto.

About the Author

Natalie Nanowski

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Natalie is a storyteller who spent the last few years in Montreal covering everything from politics to corruption and student protests. Now that she’s back in her hometown of Toronto, she is eagerly rediscovering what makes this city tick, and has a personal interest in real estate and investigative journalism. When she’s not reporting you can find her at a yoga studio or exploring Queen St. Contact Natalie: natalie.nanowski@cbc.ca

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