Frustrated customers wait for money court says PEI contractor owes them

A PEI contracting company. owes thousands of dollars to people who didn’t complete their work or did it poorly, according to the contractor’s clients and court documents.

Colton Chaulk, owner of CWD Construction, is named in five different PEI Supreme Court judgments. viewed by CBC News.

Documents filed over the past few years show he owed about $80,000 to former clients as well as a building supply store.

CBC spoke to each of them, and only one said they were paid, saying they accepted an agreed amount of $6,500 instead of the $10,800 sought in court.

Michelle Benoit says the experience was devastating and she wants to warn others. (Michelle Benoit (submitted))

Michelle Benoit and his wife Corina Benoit are still waiting to be paid around $34,000 after CWD Construction failed to insulate their tiny home in Hunter River and add an addition to it.

The Benoits live in Alberta, but bought the house in hopes of eventually retiring there, as they have family in Prince Edward Island.

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While looking for a contractor, “we just searched the internet, Facebook, and Kijiji—mainly Kijiji,” Michelle Benoit said.

Chaulk provided contracts and asked for a deposit, and Benoit said everything seemed fine at first. However, when they asked for pictures of the job he was supposed to do and updates on the job, she said it was hard to reach him.

The Benoits said their patio was ruined by Colton Chaulk and CWD Construction. (Michelle Benoit (submitted))

Before that, “he was asking for a lot of money, deposits for materials and the like,” she said. The couple said they used all of their savings to get things done.

Then a relative who stopped by the property told them nothing seemed to be happening.

“We thought the job was done,” Benoit said. “We started asking more questions about why it hadn’t been done.”

The Benoits hired another contractor to repair their house in Hunter River. (Michelle Benoit (submitted))

Benoit said holes were dug in the wrong places around their mobile home and a deck was destroyed. It also appeared that someone had used a few canisters of spray foam under the structure.

They eventually sued and a November 2021 court judgment ruled they were entitled to approximately $34,000 from Chaulk. At the end of March, Benoit said they still hadn’t received anything.

“We are heartbroken. We are devastated,” she said. “We feel like we’ve been ripped off.

Colton Chaulk’s Facebook posts include dozens of photos of various construction projects. (FacebookColton Chaulk)

They ended up hiring another contractor to fix the problems.

“We want him to be held accountable for what he did,” she said of Chaulk. “We want this to stop. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

The garage project never started

Josh Tawil had just moved into a new modular home with his fiancée when he went looking for a contractor to add a one-bay garage with a loft. The 25-year-old said he enjoys working on projects and “tinkering” on automotive and welding projects, for fun and to earn a bit of extra income.

Tawil obtained a line of credit and gave Colton Chaulk two deposits totaling $27,500. Nothing has ever been built on his property.

We’ll probably never have that garage now. We will never get that money back.-Josh Tawil

“We’re just flabbergasted. We’re at a loss for words,” Tawil told CBC News.

“We’ll probably never get that garage now. We’ll never get that money back.”

Tawil said Chaulk told him he had purchased materials for the project, but when Tawil checked with suppliers, he was told no orders had been placed. He, too, sued and won judgment against Chaulk in March.

He said he lost a lot of sleep over what happened and blamed himself for handing over the deposit money.

“I have nothing to show for that,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t worry.”

The entrepreneur responds

CBC News spoke to Colton Chaulk of CWD Construction to ask about unhappy customers. He said he planned to reimburse people, but did not say when.

Asked about the Benoits’ case, he said they had canceled the job after already buying equipment, adding: “We are waiting for things to be settled before we can reimburse them.”

Asked about Tawil’s case, Chaulk said: “It’s taken care of.”

Despite court documents that speak of the poor quality of his work and the non-reimbursement of money for unfinished work, he said all of his clients were satisfied.

Colton Chaulk advertises his services on Facebook and Kijiji. Over the years he had a small engine repair business, a roofing business and a general construction business. (FacebookColton Chaulk)

“Anyone I’ve worked for, I can come in and sit at their table and have a meal with them,” Chaulk said.

Asked about the court judgments, he said he was served with papers, but did not defend himself because he “didn’t know anything about it”. The documents required Chaulk to file a defense to the claims. He never filed a defense in any of them.

Chaulk also said he sent money to two other people named in the judgments, but CBC News confirmed to those two parties that they had not received the money.

The claims against Chaulk and CMD Construction required his response. He did not file a defense to either claim. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Chaulk said a tractor was repossessed and his bank account was frozen by the sheriff’s department, so he can’t access his money and is waiting to hear from the sheriff.

He said he also had problems with employees and fired them for poor work.

“They are no longer with me,” he said. “I had to come back several times to fix things they had done. It probably cost me a lot of money and cost me my name.”

He confirmed he was on site at the Benoit property, as well as Josh Tawil’s home, and said he supports the work he is doing.

When asked to respond to the judgments against him, he said he was tired of dealing with “this shit” and added that CBC should do more research.

“It’s hurtful, very hurtful and a lot of it is unnecessary,”

He said he is certified as Red Seal Carpenter, a national standard based on exams demonstrating his knowledge in the field, and he plans to continue working as an entrepreneur.

But at the moment he said: “I’m literally on my own. I don’t have anyone working for me…because I can’t find someone who is going to do a good job like me and who is proud of his work…

“I don’t hire Joe Blow off the street anymore.”

Construction Association says complaints are common

Sam Sanderson of the Construction Association of PEI. could not comment on this particular case, but said the association receives complaints about contractors every other day.

“Unfortunately, we hear them too often,” Sanderson said.

Electrical and plumbing trades are provincially regulated, but you do not have to be a licensed contractor to construct a building.-Sam Sanderson

The industry association has no jurisdiction to pursue complaints. Sanderson said if people aren’t getting anywhere with their contractor or municipalities dealing with building code issues, legal action is the next logical step.

He said clear and defined contracts are also important.

Sanderson says the construction association has applied to the province for a license to have a guaranteed standard for contractors.

“The electrical and plumbing trades are provincially regulated,” he said, “but you don’t have to be a licensed contractor to construct a building.”

Sanderson said a formal licensing system would help protect both industry and individual owners.