Calgary dream to retire, savings fade with contractor – Calgary

A Calgary senior warns others after the contractor she hired to build her dream project “disappeared” during the months he was supposed to be on the job.

“You turn your back, and it disappears really fast,” Lu told Global News of the company she hired. “It’s like Houdini!”

Christina Lou has always dreamed of opening a “all vegan” grocery store and coffee shop. So after two years of saving her retirement money, she set out to make that dream a reality and prepared to open Homey Food and Cafe.

She said she tried to get some quotes from contractors and then another store owner referred them to LYS Construction Ltd.

“(The contractor) gave me a quote and the price was very reasonable,” she said. “And I don’t have that much money.”

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The retiree drew up a contract that she said LYS committed to completing within four weeks. But she said over time, so did that deadline.

I call him constantly. I say, ‘When are you coming?’ “Oh tomorrow,” she said, she was told. “Tomorrow never came.”

Christina Lou stands outside her coffee shop.

Thomas da Silva

Lo said none of them did much of the equipment ordered, even though they paid the contractor more and more money.

He says, ‘You have to pay me first, and then I buy my equipment, otherwise it will take at least six months for the equipment to arrive. “

“He transferred me $110,000,” she said. “I’ve already paid him $83,000.”

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Lo told Global News that the contractor had not turned up since the end of May, but added other contractors — and told her that only about 20 percent of the work she had paid for had been done.

She also said that someone told her the work wasn’t done properly, but they couldn’t fix the problem.

He says because all the wires are all wrong. She said she was shown her big freezer.

Lu said that she was still missing several key equipment, including her stove, she hadn’t been able to open the cafe item in her work. That left about $50,000 worth of unused food.

“All my money is now tied up here,” she said, pointing to her large, stacked cooler.

The only money Lo gets in is from her grocery business, but even that’s slow with about three customers a day. But she added that she has invested so much in the business now that it will be difficult to get out of it. She told Global News she feels like a “complete failure.”

“I don’t have a way out,” she said, tearful.

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Global News has arrived in Calgary with the story of Lo. A spokesperson for LYS Construction Ltd. told us. It does not have any complaints against it.

We were also told “they (LYS) have a valid business license with the City of Calgary as a contractor (no regional license required). Which means they told us on application that they will not accept progress or advance payments.”

“Oh, yeah, a lot of money up front,” Lu replied. “Everything was in advance.”

She also had to struggle to file a building permit, she said, adding that she gave the contractor $3,000 to submit, only to find out it wasn’t submitted until June.

Christina Lou in front of unused equipment.

Thomas da Silva

Steps to take before hiring a contractor

The City of Calgary has received 199 complaints so far in 2022 regarding contractors. Complaints can include unlicensed businesses, accepted payments/advance payments, non-withdrawal of permits and home occupancy complaints.

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She advises people to check to see if the contractor has a valid city license and also:

  • Request detailed estimates from multiple contractors
  • Ask for references
  • Ask the selected contractor to submit a written contract that includes all project work and work details
  • Verify that the contractor has liability insurance
  • After the work is completed, check that there are no liens based on the title deed of your land

Customers can also review the Alberta Service for complaints and file a complaint. A spokesperson for Global News said it received 128 complaints about contractors in Alberta and opened 78 investigations between January and July of this year.

LYS Construction Ltd. A profile on the Better Business Bureau indicating that it is not certified. Global News also called the number on BBB but it was not the correct number for the company.

Lo, devastated by this turn of events, hopes to raise enough money to make her dream a reality and finally open her coffee shop.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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