Homeowners find help after being ripped off by bad contractors

Local contractor helps a couple with accessibility renovations after two contractors rip them off

Life has not been easy for Len and Sheron Pryatel for the last couple of years. Len suffered a massive stroke two years ago. The stroke and its complications have left him paralyzed on one side, in a wheelchair, and requiring significant hospital care.

His wife Sheron knew that to safely bring him home from the hospital, their home in Lamont would require significant renovations. The house needed to accommodate a wheelchair user. At a minimum, that meant building a ramp to the house, adding a new entry door, and an accessible bathroom renovation.

Len and Sheron’s daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Ryan Pryatel, went on the Facebook page “Asking Strathcona County” to find recommendations for a contractor to do the work. Users responded with suggested renovation companies, and she chose one that had a few positive comments.

Tragically taken advantage of by a shady contractor

“We brought in this contractor and learned very quickly that suggestions from strangers on social media are not the same as a trustworthy referral,” said Laura. “This contractor took my mom’s money upfront and left her with shoddy, unfinished work.”

When Laura contacted the contractor on her parent’s behalf for him to finish the work or give a refund, he started to block her calls. Other family members attempted to contact him, but they too were blocked.

This shady contractor left the house in appalling condition. Significant gaps were left unfinished on the entry door and window. On the interior, the wall had jagged cuts from a saw after the window installation. Electrical outlets hung out of damaged drywall. This contractor took Sheron’s money without finishing the job or fulfilling his end of the contract.

“So, we contacted another contractor to finish the work. He took a $500 deposit from my mom and then never showed up to do the work,” said Laura. “He laughed at us on the phone and said that $500 was for the estimate and said he wasn’t coming.”

COVID-19 adds to the challenges

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Len, who was still in care in the hospital, started to deteriorate when his family was no longer able to visit frequently due to public health restrictions. The Pryatel’s focus quickly turned to Len and his health, putting the accessibility renovation on the back burner. After being ripped off by two contractors, Sheron felt hesitant to engage a third. Close to a year went by.

As Len improved, Sheron wanted to do anything she could so he could come home. Without the home renovations complete, their home wasn’t suitable to providing Len with the care he needed. It was time to try, for a third time, to get that home renovation complete.

The Pryatels meet Dustin at 4 O.A.K Construction

“This time, we went on Sherwood Park Rant and Rave to ask for contractor recommendations. We received a glowing recommendation for Dustin Kurtz at 4 O.A.K Construction. The woman who referred him worked for one of his supply companies. So, we decided to give him a try,” said Laura.

When they told Dustin their story, he knew he wanted to help this family. He visited the home in Lamont and saw the extensive damage to the house. He agreed to take on the project.

The Pryatel’s didn’t know that Dustin had planned to donate some of his time to the project. He donated a lot of his own labour, and so did 4 O.A.K Construction’s office manager Sheena, who put a lot of time and work into the project.

More than that, he also reached out to all the trades on his team and asked if they would consider doing the same. He shared their story, and the entire trades team contracted by 4 O.A.K Construction wanted to help.

“At this point, we were all pretty nervous about trusting a new contractor. But, as we got to know Dustin and the other trades, we started to feel more comfortable. Every person that came to do work on my parent’s house was clean, respectful, friendly, and clearly knew what they were doing,” said Laura.

The 4 O.A.K Construction team surprises the family with a generous gift

Dustin worked with the Pryatel’s budget, but because his team was secretly discounting their products and services, he was able to give them more than they had expected.

They fixed the damage around the entry door and exterior. 4 O.A.K. Construction built the Pryatel’s a beautiful, completely wheelchair-accessible bathroom. They also suggested adding a laundry room on the main floor to assist with Len’s care.

The team started repairing things around the house not initially included in the scope of work. For example, they installed a doorbell and a new light fixture in the hallway.

“The work Dustin and his team did was above and beyond. It was high quality and functional. It was clearly done with love,” said Laura. “He obviously loves his job and was on a mission to show us that not all contractors are bad.”

When the work was complete, Dustin visited the Pryatels to go over the invoice. Sheron expected to pay the bill and was a little worried it would be over budget because of all the extra work done. When she received the bill, it was thousands of dollars less than expected, even with the extra work.

Sheron was deeply moved by their kindness and generosity. It helped make things easier during a difficult time in her family’s life.

Every trades company on his team had donated something. Some donated their travel fee, labour, gift cards, gave free upgrades, discounted products, or offered products at cost.

The RenovationFind certified companies that worked on and donated to this project include  B.F.C. Flooring CentreTKON Construction, and 4O.A.K. Construction.

Click here to see the full list of trades that donated to this project.

The Pryatels embark on a new chapter in their safe and accessible home

“We will be forever grateful to Dustin and all the trades that made sure this job was done right. Dustin is the real deal, and 4 O.A.K Construction gets five out of five stars from our family!” said Laura.

Since the job was complete, Len has been able to come home a couple of times, for a week or more each time. Having a safe and accessible home has made his homecoming easier for him and Sheron. The Pryatels look forward to a time when Len can be home full-time.

A message from the CEO of RenovationFind

We are always relieved to hear awful stories like this one turn around to have a happy ending. The founder of RenovationFind, Keith Riley, owns a granite company and has worked in the home renovation industry for many years. After hearing story after story over the years about homeowners getting ripped off by shady contractors, he wanted to create a solution to prevent it from happening.

“I was so tired of seeing good people get ripped off by these bad contractors. It makes the renovation experience so stressful for homeowners. It also gives a bad reputation for the home improvement industry, and trustworthy companies are out there.  There needed to be a way to help homeowners find the trustworthy companies and help promote the companies that do excellent work,” said Keith Riley, CEO and Founder of RenovationFind.

The solution was a data-driven system that screens and certifies home renovation companies based on essential criteria. RenovationFind provides a free online directory of these certified companies so homeowners can find trades and contractors they can trust.

All companies on RenovationFind.com have had legal and financial background checks for business licensing, insurance, and WCB coverage. Customer reviews are monitored, and companies in good standing with the Better Business Bureau receive a higher rating. A third-party organization continually monitors the companies on the directory to ensure they’re maintaining the high standards.

“This family tried a few methods to find a trustworthy contractor and were sadly taken advantage of twice. Thankfully, they found a RenovationFind Certified company on the third try. We want to thank Dustin at 4 O.A.K. Construction for contributing to a positive reputation for the home improvement industry, and for taking good care of these homeowners,” said Riley.



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Do you own a Home Improvement company?

RenovationFind.com is a free online listing of certified trades, contractors, and home service companies. Every company on our site has been through a vetting process, and are checked and continually monitored on strict criteria. Each company is given legal and financial background checks, are checked for business insurance and licensing, WCB coverage, and customer reviews are monitored. The companies are rated and put on the website so that homeowners can find quality, trustworthy contractors for their home projects. Companies who are a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau have a higher rating.

If your company is RenovationFind Certified, it shows customers that you are vetted for quality, customer service, and trustworthiness. It’s an excellent first step in building an online reputation with customers. When they see your listing on our directory or our certification logo on your website, you can automatically put yourself above the competition.

In addition to a listing, and the use of our RenovationFind Certified logo on your marketing materials, you’ll also get a fair amount of digital marketing to help customers find your business. That includes professionally written blogs, social media posts, email marketing campaigns, online banner advertisements, and search engine optimization. We provide marketing opportunities for your business that are proven to increase leads, so you can start closing more sales.

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