Buyer Beware

I met Janice and Shane on July 20, 2019 I had heard of them a few weeks before I met them. When it dawned on me who they were I knew I had to help them tell their story of buyer beware. The thing that strikes me about Janice and Shane is their kindness and generosity and their lack of anger, once you have read their story you will understand.    Here is their story as told by Janice

In 2015, both my parents passed away with two months of each other. We were lucky to have been left a little money in the estates and decided to finally settle down and buy a home. Due to my being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gastroparesis we wanted a dream home that was on land outside the city, but close enough to my doctors and family. We dreamt of a place that our dogs, six of them plus their friends could run and bark without the neighbours complaining and I could have a garden to keep me busy. I haven’t been able to work since 2009 and I’ve since started taking photos as a way to distract myself from this nightmare

We first met Paul Sirois at the Edmonton Cottage Show in 2016. He was running a booth that displayed Timber block homes which I had researched and thought would meet our needs. We left our names and emails to have him contact us after the show. On April 23, 2016 we received an email with the Timber Block logos from Paul Sirois directing us to the website for home design. We did not have land yet and he mentioned his wife is a realtor and began sending us listings based on our requirements. We were then passed onto Doug who was working under Paul’s wife with Royal Le Page. We picked the Newton floor plan off Timber Blocks site and made modifications for an open floor plan and three car garage. I loved the all on one level design, which as my RA and other health issues progressed; I needed to make sure I would be able to live in my house long term. He assured us the changes would be in our $400,000 budget. We found a property and with existing services that we were assured could fit our needs and closed the deal with possession at the end of May. We paid the 1st payment for the designs and signed a contract with Escape Homes. We modified the contract to include GST for the total cost of $400,000 with Completion date of November 2016. We approved designs which evolved around my kitchen, which as a former chef was a huge necessity and made the next payment for Engineering designs June 2016.

Nothing moved on the project until August when they tore down the existing properties and cleared the land. August 15 we discovered we had property vandalism and reported it to Paul Sirois and police and the Escape work crew installed a temporary gate with key box. August 22, we made the next two draw payments which were for lot clearing/servicing and contract order for SIP panels and log work.

September 1, 2016 We signed the permit paperwork for Lac St. Anne county. Nothing happened with permits until September 27. According to the schedule given the foundation payment was supposed to be on September 9 but nothing happened and the hole was full of water. We are now way past our initial completion date. Foundation completed November 22 and another payment was given at Escape Homes new offices on December 2 to pay for garage and wall delivery. At this time, we were told that the plans were changed to include a full basement instead of the partial crawlspace on the original designs. At the time Paul said there is no extra cost involved since it didn’t change the cost of the foundation or floor plan. We did not sign a work order for the change, nor were we consulted prior to. Revised completion date given January 2017. We advised them we were planning our wedding August 2017 which will be on the property. Told no problem and we had better invite them.

After Christmas we noticed no work progress and the house was left open to the elements. We were asked for a “lock up advance” via email on January 8, 2017 and against our better judgment we paid on January 9. At this time we were given another completion date of March/April 2017. This put us in the position of homelessness as my parents estate had been settled and the house was sold as of March 1, 2017. Again we expressed our concern and fear as we were planning our wedding and invitations had gone out. We set up a fixture selection meeting February 4 with assistant Dustin. We were assured we were their #1 priority and not to worry. After seeing little to no progress we contacted Paul again on February 16 at which time he offered to find us accommodations through to May. End of April still no progress on site and issues with the budget started to be brought up. Our selections for flooring and metal roof materials were under budget but Paul and Dustin were having issues with contractors. We had been making regular site visits and many times if crews were onsite we saw them sitting in vehicles or by the bonfire. No progress was being made. Around end of March we noticed the office for Escape Homes was vacant and up for lease and a number of employees had been let go. On May 4, Paul finally responded to our emails and stated he was working on getting investors for the company as challenges of being so busy and assured us that he hasn’t forgotten our urgent need or our wedding plans.

We received an email May 5th from Timber Block saying it had terminated its relationship with Escape Homes and Paul said it wouldn’t affect us.

On May 15 Paul emailed stating that the company is recapitalized and that his focus was to prevent further degradation of our property. At this point it has been sitting open to the elements since January, no windows or roof.

On June 9 After many emails and phone calls, Paul emailed to advise us that the house won’t be ready in time for our August 4th wedding. Less than two months to rearrange the entire event. On June 29 I received an invoice from Wayne’s building supplies. Shane called Paul and surprise he answered, and he told Shane that we should pay suppliers directly as we refused to pay any more cash to Paul. We felt that we were being held hostage as if we didn’t buy the roof it will be damaged further so we paid it. We had to move our personal property off site and Paul arranged a Seacan to store our stuff onsite. Roof was delivered July 14 and it sat uninstalled. Paul offered to set us up in a RV onsite which we agreed only if it had all facilities as I have serious medical conditions that would make things difficult to live without all services. After not hearing from anyone since July 25, and no progress onsite, Shane called Paul and yelled at him and threatened to pull our contract on August 6. Paul said he was in ft mac and that the people he left in charge of our site let him down and again assured us that he will handle things. I responded that we were beyond disappointed and that trust was blown. He begged us to stick things out. Seacan delivered August 23 and rv delivered on the 25. Rv not set up as per our needs, advised Paul it wasn’t ready to move into. Noticed basement was full of water again and sump pump not set up, forwarded pics to Paul.

On October 2 M&H crew completed the roof installation. October 10 the trailer still wasn’t ready to live in, and advised Paul that it would need to be skirted and winterized or he will have damage. October 13 we were told that basement prep and plumbing is scheduled and windows were ordered putting completion into end of November. October 16 was told Alex was working on well and septic details, thought this was done last year, but was just “discussed.”

October 19 Email from Paul advising us that his Fort McMurray project was delaying cash flow on our project and that Durabuilt windows needed to be paid and the plumbing company needed $5000. This freaked us out as we told Paul back in June when we paid for the roof that no more money was to be paid by us until we saw the financial situation and a cost summary. We paid an advance a year ago to take us to lock up and we are still not there. Received several conflicting emails regarding our project costs which did not make sense and he couldn’t clarify. Was told on October 20th that our appliances, which we had to choose in order to design our kitchen was not included in the total cost of the home as I was taking cheques to cover the delivery of our windows and plumbing. Told Paul that we were extremely unhappy and we needed time to think things over before we pay any more money. Was basically told that delays were going to cause more problems that he wanted to avoid and was told over the phone that he’s the only plumber that will work outside of the city and we had better get him paid if we want to move forward; paid under duress October 23rd. All questions were starting to be avoided again. October 30 was told gas line was set to be hooked up. November 1 sent paperwork for gas line hook up. Windows delivered and installed November 8, 2018

Received a notice of non-compliance from the county November 10, forwarded to Paul and he said he’d take care of it. Was informed that the gas company was hesitant to install the gas line, was told by the company when I paid to get it installed this year they denied him due to payment issues which Paul never said a word about, Paul suggested we install propane as a go around which was incompatible with our selected appliances. November 15 was explicitly stated we were on the list for gas line installation which was a complete lie as they require payment in full and account set up in advance none of which had been done. November 17 excuses about what is being done, nothing actually done on site. November 18 questioned the front door which wasn’t the door we selected, Paul stated he canceled it and wanted to get a door made; notified that our septic was $3000 over budget as it is not suitable to be refitted. Shane called and asked why this wasn’t included in the August 22 lot servicing payment and why wasn’t it handled then. We told him that it was unacceptable. November 21st Paul said gas installation was a no go and that he was looking for options and we responded with grave concern.

We had received phone calls from Mr. Kozik who had done the lot prep a year ago telling us he still had not been paid, forwarded info to Paul each time. Was told by Mr. Kozik on November 21st that our build has been black balled and that he was telling everyone not to work on our site as they won’t get paid. Told Paul he was ruining our relationships with our neighbours and that was unacceptable especially since we hoped to conduct our business from our home. He missed an arrangement to pay him on the 15.

November 23 Paul sent me info requesting more money for the septic system installation and threatened that we will lose his services and forwarded emails directly from contractor. Told Paul again that we were not paying anything until he can get an account of what we have paid for vs what he is asking us to pay for, saying it feels like we’re are paying twice. November 27 Mr Kozik still calling and not been paid. November 29 still no progress just more excuses about ft Mac.

December 4 Three weeks no one on site. December 7 received a revised cost review showing $22,000+ builder deficit. Responded that this was not the detailed information info we requested and we require what we had paid for including what lot servicing meant. He responded he would work on it and that insulation was starting this week.

December 14 Email stated the domino effect of missing payments is holding us up and the cost review was delayed due to switching accounting companies. This did not go over well and we decided to let things sit as we were too angry to listen to more excuses. Emailed us on December 22 to say he was looking for a new electrician and that no one was on site until the New Year.

On January 2, 2018 I emailed Paul asking him to check our site due to seismic activities in the area, he said no visible damage. On site January 5 we noticed that they were using r20 insulation instead of r40 we requested. January 8 we decided on siding selection still no progress on the house and r20 was still in the wall. Only one wall had any insulation.

January 12 Email with news that crews quit and that he approached M&H to help move us along, spoke to M & H and he knew nothing of this. January 14 email stating new electrician willing to work.

January 19 Email with deal with M&H and he mentions prepaid items but when questioned he didn’t answer what those items are. Arranged to meet Alex on site but he no showed and none of the stated work had been done.

January 24 I sent an email stating how frustrating this is and how unhappy we were. We asked for the details on the Seacan as we feared it would be repossessed with all our possessions in it.

January 30 Still no work done and no response from Paul on information we requested.

February 9 Still no progress and lots of excuses, accounting not provided. February 26 email stated concrete was supposed to be prepared, nothing done no tracks on site.

February 28 I sent an email requesting account information ASAP, Paul responded March 6, saying that it was year-end and again saying he wants to pass us off to M&H Homes.

March 8 I again received a deficiency report and it stated it was still in default for our permit, forwarded it to Paul. He said he forgot and will handle it.

March 9 Email update saying his accounts were a mess and he needed more time to clean them up and he was meeting a Calgary investor to recapitalize again.

March 13 Email saying meeting went well and that there was too much rock crush in the basement and that he was meeting a concrete company.

March 21 Email saying financial details will be in by Friday. Received financial details but they were not detailed and did not match the numbers previously given, when questioned we were told that a new management company was taking over and that I should be dealing with Surge Construction now. Requested contact information for Tim and Ben. No response, excuses March 23-27. Requested again April 2, assured me that he will be in touch ASAP. I requested all documents and copies of the home warranty; received a form that stated the policy in effect until 2018 and was issued to Escape Homes.

April 30 Finally got the purchase information so we could buy the Seacan Paul had leased.

Shane received phone call from Alex looking for to house keys, strongly advised him not to come onto our property again.

June 18, 2018 Our lawyer sent letter to Paul Sirois terminating our contract and requesting he not enter our property. Served June 28, 2018

We tried to get the project completed on our own but we are not builders and are unable to get the home warranty and other details required to finish. We are heartbroken and out a lot of money as a result we decided to sell.

At the end of the day I thought I had done my homework I checked with the better business bureau, I looked up the company online for complaints, I researched the timber block company affiliated with Escape Homes thinking they are a really good company therefore they would work with good people. We met the builder in person, had a good vibe but once money issues started to come up we should have reached out to a lawyer to protect ourselves sooner instead of believing the excuses. Once one deadline was missed we should have acted. I would say, research the company as best as you can, make sure everything including changes are in writing and don’t sign a contract without having a lawyer look it over.

To view the home listing and/or inquire go to this link:

The rest of the family: Little Lady, BUD, M.J., Spot, Penny Lane, and youngest Elvis


To see Janice’s Photography go to her Facebook page:

Shane is self-employed, you can support his business Boss Dogz Limited by going to his Facebook page:

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