March 29, 2019 9:14 pm
Updated: March 29, 2019 10:09 pm

Kelowna homeowners face legal battle over unfinished renovations

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The spectator gallery in Kelowna’s small claims court was unusually full for a hearing between a homeowner and a contractor on Friday.

Homeowners Dave and Nancy Dunbar said Lawrence Jewsbury, the owner of West Kelowna Fine Cabinetry, did not complete their renovations.

Several other homeowners who also regretted hiring Jewsbury showed up at the courthouse to support the Dunbars.

“We hired [Jewsbury] to do a job for us, and he walked off the job after six weeks with our $35,000 deposit,” Dave Dunbar said.

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“It was such a breach of trust.”

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Dunbar said he signed a contract with Jewsbury in July 2017.

“He didn’t start until mid-October. He promised it would be complete by Remembrance Day, November 11, and he hadn’t even finished the demolition by Remembrance Day,” Dunbar said. “We finished that ourselves.”

The contractor put about $10,000 worth of work into the home, Dunbar added.

“He refused to continue working in our home, and he refused to provide us any kind of reasonable settlement,” Dunbar said.

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The dispute has now made its way to small claims court.

Jewsbury said the Dunbar’s renovation went well, but took longer than expected.

“The only reason we’re here today is because it took longer, not because we weren’t doing the job we were supposed to be doing,” he said. “We’re very good at what we do.”

“Halfway through this job, and that’s where we ended, we were met with hostility,” Jewsbury said.

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“We were 50 per cent into the job. We showed them all the materials were ready,” he added.

Jewsbury said he originally offered the Dunbars some of their money back.

Now, he says he’s counter-suing the couple.

The Dunbars said there are more lawsuits pending against Jewsbury, adding that they’ve since heard from more than 20 people with similar concerns.

Sandi Gnazdowsky is a homeowner who also hired Jewsbury to renovate her home. She showed up in support of the Dunbars.

“The reason we hired Larry is because our sons used to play minor hockey together,” she said. “We knew him.”

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Gnazdowsky said she’s still missing some of the doors and drawers in her kitchen.

“Our kitchen has never been completed, and he’s made promise after promise to complete the kitchen, but he always falls through on the deadline,” she added.

Dave and Linda Pestes said Jewsbury dodged their calls and emails after they signed a contract with him.

“For $11,800.09 we got a piece of graph paper with a layout,” Linda said.

“But there was no action beyond that.”

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The couple said they then went to another company and received a computer-assisted drawing for a fraction of the price.

Less than two hours after they cancelled their contract with him, he ended up knocking on their door, Linda said.

Jewsbury is now suing the Pestes for cancelling their contract.

“He’s actually suing us. We’re counter-suing him,” Linda said. “We answered his claim with a counter-claim. All we’re looking for is our deposit back.”

The couple said they looked at online reviews before hiring Jewsbury but didn’t find any red flags.

“Don’t believe online reviews. Get personal opinions from friends and people you know,” Linda said. “We made a mistake and now we’re paying for it.”

Jewsbury said every job has its own circumstances.

“Things can go wrong. It’s a renovation world. It’s harder than a construction world, when you’re taking the old and trying to make it new, things can go wrong. I don’t deny that,” he said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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