We are the owners of a 1 &1/2 story 1950's Bungalow.
This has been our home for the past 16 years.
As homeowners of several properties over the years, both my wife and I have experienced the process of home renovation , all have been successful and were taken to completion without incident.
We are returning to HomeStars to review Ashton Renovations.com a Division of 8777392 Ontario Inc. , as our "nightmarish" experience continues since hiring this renovation company last year.
Renovation plans for 3 rooms included our 12' x 20' kitchen dinning area, our second story 6'x9' bathroom . the third room, the attached garage 9'x 18 room ,open and adjacent to our kitchen. This room had been converted to a living space by the previous owner .
We found Aston Renovations on HomeStars. We were impressed with their many positive reviews. We were also impressed by their website. A small family business with a page dedicated to "Why Hire Us" " Good workmanship takes time, patience and pride. We are detail oriented & use the best and most durable materials in order to avoid costly future repairs" The website also features photos and bios of two "experienced " carpenters. In March /2014 , on their on-line blog this company claimed that they now use a virtually dust free device on lal of their home renovations. The Festool Planex LHS 205. Dust was a huge concern for us as we both suffer from Asthma.
During the initial meeting that took place in our home , Mark presented himself as the CEO. He also explained that he would also be acting as Project manager for our renovation.
He assured us on more than one occasion , that considering the scope of work , we did not need to apply for permits.
He also told us we had a healthy maximum budget , as long as we stayed within his guide lines with regards to to the amount spent on such items such as the new kitchen cabinets, flooring options, plumbing fixtures, new replacement windows etc. everything would be fine.
We expressed our design ideas & that we knew exactly what we wanted in terms of function and design , we just needed someone to walk us through the entire process from beginning to end . At this point in time , Mark appeared to be a good fit for renovation.
We signed a firm Price Quotation in March 2014.
We found it strange that a series of " door & window salesmen began calling , wanting to come to our home to give us a quote....
We sat through a few appointments & however these salemen did not have suitable product . We contacted Mark with our concerns , yet another saleman appeared, his quote was high & he did not have the basic product or style we were looking for. We felt it was a better option to locate our own window supplier , arrange measure , order , pay for and arrange installation dates.
In our opinion , this was the first red flag .
Our Renovation began as scheduled on May 3rd/ 2014.
We made arrangements to move out of our home during the renovation process.
In our opinion, multiple red flags appeared as soon as reconstruction phase of our home began.
We were disappointed in the lack of communication and consultation on key construction issues.
We were shocked at the poor workmanship and unsuitable choices in materials applied to our home.
Whenever we approached Mark with our concerns, he would become defensive.
On May 8th, days into the renovation, we were notified of a change Order for an additional $13,114.00.
Several onsite meetings took place to discuss this substantial increase.In our opinion the explanation offered up was vague. Our key questions were not really answered. We were simply told that this was "normal" and reassured that we would be happy with the end results. We requested suggestions on how to get our budget back on track, he suggested cancelling our pantry wall of kitchen cabinets or we could live without a bathroom medicine cabinet for a year until we saved up some more money.
At this point we felt we had no other choice but to agree to this increase and hope that the remaining renovation would be completed as per our contract.
The newly revised Labour Contract was now $72,101.00.
By June 26/2014 we had paid Ashton Renovations $54,650.00 in Labour & 5,320.00 for materials fro a total of $71,966.00 including HST.
In our opinion , following the meeting to discuss the increase , this was the point that our renovation completely fell off the rails.
Many onsite meetings took place throughout the summer months , in an attempt to get our renovation back on track. Whenever our concerns with the poor quality of the workmanship were brought to Mark's attention he became increasingly defensive.
Our specific requests were ignored, he continued do things the way he thought was best...
In the early stages we notified Mark that the "Big Box Store" Install Team had been scheduled for their first measure of the kitchen area . He told us it was not part of his job to be present for this measure. He ignored several invitations from our Kitchen Designer to meet and review our kitchen layout plans. He became very defensive & refused to have the drywall in place as requested by the Cabinet Install Team . He insisted that they should measure and then subtract the depth of the drywall from their calculations. Onsite meetings revealed his plans to cut holes in our newly installed $18,000. kitchen cabinet uppers, rather than run the vent pipe in the space behind the crown moulding , as suggested by the Big Box Store reps. The day the cabinets arrived we received a phone call from the Delivery Company Dispatch ... informing us that the Ashton Renovation Trade on-site , refused to help carry one large corner cabinet box into our home... due to a disability.
It was in these early stages that WE felt we had no other choice but to step in. My wife stepped into this role , as she was already involved with the design and function aspects of our renovation . I did not have the time ,as my work requires my full attention.
With each visit to our home we were sicken by another "surprise" , or another disappointment in the poor quality of workmanship applied to our home.
One day she arrived to hear yelling and screaming coming from inside our home ... the "carpenter" had been left alone while operating a wet saw. He was attempting cut the concrete blocks in the doorway to the garage room... she alerted the other trade of his cries for help ... immediately after the incident he appeared angry ,upset and shaken . He described how he almost lost his arm in the ordeal.
We began to receive calls & complaints from neighbours with concerns about the strange activity taking place at our home.
We would drop in usually at the end of my work day (4pm).. one day we found a child siting in our staircase while Mark and his little brother grouted. He could be heard shouting out the upstairs window , calling for the "carpenter" to get back to work... we received several complaints from our neighbours concerning one trade. He was spending his days hanging out in their yard &it had goo ten so invasive that the had to politely ask him to leave. We live in a neighbour with many renovations taking place ... in our opinion the unprofessional work ethics taking place at at our home caused us a great deal of concern. Load blasting music , the main trade always with one ear on a cell phone while he was working or not. No protective safety gear worn ... we were informed of dangerous incidents such as bricks falling on his head while working by himself . Mark and his trades continually complained about our neighbours & accused them of spying or video taping while they tried to work.
We were told that the trades were feeling uneasy therefore their safety was compromised . In our opinion the more we saw & heard from "carpenter " working on our home .. the more we questioned their capabilities. WE stood by and listened them to debate & argue if things were going to fit or not . The "carpenter" was constantly told to stop talking and get back to work.
Mark had the electrical roughed in the way he thought it should be ... rather than the way it had been laid our by our Kitchen Designer. He now told us he was also a Kitchen Designer.
Another example of an issue : We had supplied lists of all plumbing products prior to order placed , for Mark's review , one item purchased was a high end shower system ($1,300). This system included a beautiful rain shower head . On the day of the plumbing rough in , we were informed by Mark that he felt the rain shower head did not suit the shower area.. We told him we wanted it regardless of their opinion. It was the look we wanted in our small bathroom. He then informed us we would have to purchase another diverter for the shower head to function. We requested a price quote for required diverter. Our multiple requests for this price were ignored. He proceeded have to wall & tile the shower without installing the shower head. In October of 2014 , while reviewing documentation , the plumbing supplier sales rep .confirmed that he had included the extra valve required in our original order. We had paid for it and he confirmed delivery to our home. The rain shower head in question and the valve cannot be located anywhere in our home.
The two "experience ' carpenters featured on their website were never to our home.
To our knowledge Dust Free Festool was not used for our renovation. Rather a squeaky hand held stick with sand paper attached at one end.
We felt we had to apply protective paper covering to our newly laid hardwood floor and plastic over newly installed windows . Mark did not feel this was necessary .
To add to our growing concerns we were finding additional damage to our home. Examples: the front entry door casting was damaged during a sheet rock delivery , along with our foyer light fixture. We were told he would have it hammered back into shape. However the metal casting had been severed leaving a razor sharp edge exposed. Mark eventually agreed to have the casing replaced and promised to cover the cost. the quote came in at approx. $700.00. He did not keep his word , it was not replaced. At some point his "trade" attempted to put our side by side refrigerator back together ... they reinstalled the door hinges backward ... it appeared they had attempted to push the appliance into the custom cabinetry space, however it would not fit , as the backward hinges were protruding.... his pushing efforts left large dents on both doors, missing lower panel, they left fridge left sitting in the middle of kitchen floor.
By July -August, in our opinion , the renovation had virtually ground to a halt. We requested a work plan or schedule of some sort to see how this job was gong to be taken to completion. We needed to move back into our home.
We have up to 50 emails illustrating our many attempts to take this job to completion.
We felt we did everything possible in an effort to take this job to completion.
We were at the end of our rope ... What turned out to be our final on-site meeting with Mark took place mid Sept /2014.
During this meeting we reviewed all of the deficiencies in the workmanship & the work not completed as per our contract. We also discussed multiple charges listed that we did not understand . One example of this type of charge : $2,644.00 for a light fixture in the garage room. Mark explained how he had "designed" an elaborate hanging rectangular light fixture hung with chains . He explained it would take several trades to install this item. We had no idea what he was talking about.
He also reassured us that when the renovation was complete we would sit down and and review and adjust all charges line by line. This review did not take place. This charge and many other unexplained charges remained on the contract.
During this meeting we informed Mark that we felt it it was necessary to hold back the last invoice of $5,000.00. We needed to see something , ANYTHING taken to completion as outlined in our contract.He became very defensive and told us if this was the case then someone by the name of "Alan" would be contacting us. We asked who this "Alan" was? We were told he was sort of ,or kind of a part of the company .
The following evening we did receive a call from an"Alan".
He informed us he was now in charge of our renovation . Mark was no longer on the project. He continued by hurling insults and disparaging remarks , aimed at my wife. He outlined his intentions & his plan of action, if we did not pay up.We were given the weekend to think about it. If we did decide to deliver a certified check for $5,000.00 he would arrange an on-site meeting to survey the "alleged" work to be completed.
We foolishly decided to deliver the $5,000.00 cert cheque as per Alan's suggestions . At the time, we were extremely stressed and pressured , are only hope that this would take our renovation to completion.
Alan did not come to our home... a new set of rules were now in place. He told us he had sat down with "his boys" to discuss the "alleged " scope of work to be completed.
We were not allowed to be present in our own home during scheduled work dates, specifically my wife . They had decided I was OK.
He informed us of a scheduled work date for the following Friday. This 1/2 day work day resulted in further damage to our home. We received an email with photos of the "mishap".
It appeared that during attempted installation of our Restoration Hardware Steel Medicine Cabinet had been dropped or had fallen? The "mishap" resulted in damage to our Custom Console Sink ($600.00) damage to our new high end Rowe & Perrin Faucet Set($800.00) and multiple scratches to the finish of our new RH Cabinet (600.00) .... The following day we returned to our home to see the damage , when we attempt to contact Alan, to discuss the situation. He responded by saying "not a good time , I'm about to Tee Off.
Despite another email offering re-order information of the damaged items ... he did not respond & the damaged items were not re-ordered nor replaced.
When the Medicine Cabinet had been delivered back in June , we had requested that it be attached or tapped into a wood stud due to it's 35lb weight. My wife was told she "worried too much" & they had installed one "just like it the week before" using plugs. We were assured that in fact a suitable stud did exist and they had taken a photo of this stud prior to new dry wall installation. When we asked to see this photo ... we were told it could not be located . We had supplied a template to illustrate of the desired door swing direction , we sent photos and emails to confirm ... yet the Medicine Cabinet was installed upside down , wall plugs were used , the safety cable and brackets were not applied. The safety cable left hanging , the safety bracket attachment that came with the RH medicine cabinet , found in the box of construction debris left outside the bathroom door.
With Alan now in charge , we made an attempt to call Mark but he would not engage in conversation & suggested we contact "Alan" from this point forward.
We were instructed by "Alan " to now communicate by email only , no more phone contact allowed.
A second "exclusive " work date was arranged by "Alan", this resulted in further "mishaps"within our home. Unapproved under cabinet lighting was poorly installed , bathroom sconces were installed upside down , the bathroom ceiling light was not working after installation of the new ceiling fixture .
None of the previously discussed deficiencies were addressed.
Following receiving the last and what could only be described as another "bully" email . We felt it was time to contact our Licensed Lawyer, The City of Toronto Licensing Dept, the Electrical Saftey Authority , The College of Trades, the Consumer Protection Board & the Metro Police Dept.
All have sent Inspectors and or Licensed Officers to our home. They all have taken reports, photos, and documented their findings.
The ESA informed us that the final inspection had been cancelled. They immediately sent an Inspector to our home.
As it was left , it did not pass final inspection. The Inspector sternly suggested that the electrical company sub-contracted by Mark , return to complete some of the work, enough to make our home safe. The Final Electrical Inspection was re- scheduled with the ESA.
During the initial electrical rough in Mark had contacted us and told us we did not need an inspection , however considering the replacement of old wiring it might be an idea to have one. If we wanted to have the electrical inspected he would have to charge us an extra $300.00 . Of course we wanted an inspection and agree to the charge.
We moved back into our home on October 8th /2014.
we returned home to no heat source in the back room ( the cast iron rad still sits in our backyard, no running water in the kitchen, no stove ,no new gas line for range, dishwasher not hooked up , range vent hood not installed , holes in the kitchen ceiling , holes cut too large for most all of the newly installed pot lights, pot light over sink installed 10" off centre. Exposed wires , incomplete outlets some located inside kitchen lower cabinets? no back splash , cable capped off and hanging from kitchen ceiling in wrong location . One cast iron rad not re-installed not in requested original position, now sits off centre & too close to new pantry wall. We cannot access the valve for annual maintenance .. the valve now drips water . No safety barrier to a 42" drop to garage room , garage room left unfinished, No stairs,, no flooring... veneered wood used for threshold the new garden doors. At some point were were informed that paint ready walls did not include prime coat.... all badly seamed and mudded walls now exposed. None of the many deficiencies had been addressed as discussed during our final on site meeting with Mark. Our bathroom was/still is unusable. With the approx price tag of $29,000.00 ( this does not include the cost of the faucet, shower system, toilet, tub , sink, lighting, or tile .The ceiling continues to crack and peel ( we were told they were not responsible for the old portion of the ceiling) The new Toto toilet rocks from side to side, we suspect that new the seal must be broken as it leaks water at the base. The soaker tub drain cap was never installed . Charges appear on our material invoices for the ceiling fan $394.00 x 2 charged and again on the labour estimate. The newly installed ceiling fan with a cost of approx. $1,000. clangs and bangs when ever there is any wind outdoors. There are holes in the floor around the heating pipes , missing tiles on the wall .. the cast iron rad was re-install using rust washer to prop up the legs. The rad re-installed unlevelled now bangs once heat is on. I did Not make this noise this prior to renovation. The silver flanges installed on heating piping were not the correct size , it appears there was an attempt made to cut them to fit? They do not cover the holes in the flooring and razor sharp edges are exposed. The deficiencies in the floor and wall grout continues to crack and crumble. The causing that was poorly applied fell off right from the start. The damaged sink medicine cabinet and faucet were not replaced. The console sink was installed off centred and off level on it's stand this is clear visible with the naked eye & we were told our level was not working properly) . Trim work , casting and base boards were not completed nor installed. Ashton Renovation "carpenter" used on our reno had originally re-installed the rotten window casing covered in black mould & multiple layers of old paint. 3/4 pine was slammed in on a Friday afternoon This was to serve as for the windowsill that partially sits in the shower area.When we asked the "carpenter" why he was put this rotten wood back up .. he responded by saying he was just doing as he was told. He then admitted did not have tools or the skill to make a proper wooden stool or windowsill .. we would have to get one professionally custom milled and it would be very costly.. We were told after they "spackled " the deficiencies and it was painted it would look good ... This was their standard application for window sill installation .We had to insist that a proper windowsill or stool had to be installed . We found photos and videos as to how this could be done . In the days that followed Mark contacted us he had found a lumber yard that sold the proper windowsill but he told us due to it's location we would have to pay for a driver @ $600. per hour to picket up from it's locate out side of the City. The next day my wife walked over to their "sister" Lumber Store location of this same company. It is located 2km from our home .
They also carry the proper wooden stools @$4.00 per linear foot and the casing that matches the original casting used in our home.
It took a week of back and forth, emails , arguing to have the rotten wood casting 3/4" pine wood sill removed and the damaged window box (one side only) corrected.
We had raised concerns regarding Marks plans to install 4" pipe to vent the new Industrial style "Vent-a -Hood " exhaust fan over our gas range. , rather than the recommended 6" . We were told this 4" pipe was sufficient & a 6" would only create problems . We were told it that It could create a backdraft in the room. The College of Trades Inspector that came to our home advised us to have the pipe changed to the proper size. The one used was not to Code. We hired a "Licensed " trade to install the vent hood and he informed us he found the 4" pipe that had been installed , was not properly sealed at the "joins" in the pipe system. He also discovered it had been directed to vent into the wall cavity. It was not hooked up to vent to the exterior of our home.
The new garden door that were installed must be removed as the opening was not properly prepared prior to installation. Mark recommended that we replace the old sliding patio door with new ones. He did not recommend that we install a garden door as we requested from day one. He told us he had not installed a garden door in the past 15 years . We now are convinced this must be true . At one point , Mark took it upon himself to order a sliding patio door without our approval. He told us that there was not a garden door out there , that would fit the existing opening .. my wife came up with a solution to add additional framing to each side and introduced this solution to Mark , we then placed the ordered for our desired garden door. It was in the spring of this year that our intuition was confirmed by a Licenced contractor , that indeed the opening is not properly prepared prior to garden door installation . Now we are facing the fact that garden door must be removed , opening corrected and the garden door re-installed if possible or replaced. The basement ceiling opened up to access wiring and plumbing etc ... remains open , ceiling material hanging down and incomplete. The newly installed wiring in the fuse panel was not re-label . In the end we paid labor charges of approximately $11,000 to re-wire 3 rooms. We approached Mark in the final on-site walk through to find an answer why his pricing in our case, appeared to be a great deal more than the industry standards. He responded by saying , that's what it costs & he had to get paid too. We suppose the holes in our kitchen ceiling & outside each spotlight were an extra charge!The window box in that surround are new replacement window was installed off level and the casting applied off square. All .... must be removed and straighten, prior to the installation of the backsplash .
The above are just some of the situations we are dealing with since moving back into our home ....
In October of 2014 we were informed by the City of Toronto Licensing Dept, Ashton Renovations was not Licensed to renovate in the City of Toronto . We were also sent a copy of the charges laid .
We filed a complaint with Consumers Protection , as this Government Service offers a mediation process to reach a fair resolution for contract disputes . Ashton Renovations was not interested in this process.
We have paid a total of $92,000.
Several new quotes from Licensed Renovation Companies have arrived. The quotes include work required to correct and complete our renovation as outline in our original contract & the revision.
These estimates average in at $20,000.00 plus materials estimates of $5,000.00
The cost of the replacement and repair to other damages to our home and property have been estimated at a total of $7,000.00
We received one final "bully" letter from "Alan". He outlined a couple of options for us . If we argued to pay a new "reduced"amount they would return and work on short list. i.e. hook up the kitchen sink , re-hang the original bathroom door. He would also write up a new contract .The new contract would also include a clause that we would not allow us to post on review sites such as HomeStar or like sites.
We would not recommend this company based on the poor workmanship an non completion of paid work as per our contract.
We welcomed this company into our home, many creature comforts such as a coffee station, indoor bathroom , beverages and snacks & paid for some meals during this process . After each "mishap" we would sit listen to the all the excuses,
then agree to move on and hope for the best. We were told on several occasions that we there were two types of clients , the ones that let him do the renovation his way and the second type that became too involved. Apparently we fell into the second category and therefore we were to blame.
We deeply regret hiring this company , this experience has left us emotionally drained , financially in ruins and our nightmare continues .... the garage roof sprung a leak in the early spring . We discovered a pool of water on the sub floor after removing the plastic cover from kitchen door way . The roof flashing had not been resealed after it was lifted to re-shingle the garage portion of the roof. The roofing company was supplied by Mark. The new drywall is now damaged and has falling down from water damage. The garage room ceiling , is approximately 15 feet high at the peak damaged area. We have no way to reach this area with using scaffolding. The same problem applies to the paper label left glued on the new replacement sky light window installed in this room.
Our nightmare continues , we now lay awake at night wondering what other deficiencies are hidden behind the walls.
Up loaded photos were taken the week we moved back into our home. The damaged garage ceiling photos were taken in the early spring following discovery of the leek following winter thaw.
We invite anyone interested in seeing the workmanship first hand to contact us .