Court ruling says homeowner threatened to give contractor a banner calling him Vancouver's worst builder

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      A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found a company liable for breaching a contract in connection with building a laneway house on the West Side of Vancouver.

      This came following a bitter battle between  Sanwo Enterprise Ltd. and Lisa Huang, owner of a home at 3750 West 29th Avenue.

      Sanwo Enterprise filed a lawsuit, claiming nonpayment of management fees.

      Huang filed a counterclaim, alleging that the plaintiff's work was deficient and that she had to find a new builder to finish the job.

      On January 11, Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten ruled that Sanwo Enterprise was liable for $21,700 for not fulfilling the contract.

      But that was offset by $6,980 that Huang owed the company for work done "pre-repudiation". This provided a net award of $14,720 for Huang.

      "In light of the circumstances, I consider the results to have been mixed and exercise my discretion to order that both sides bear their own costs in this litigation," the judge stated in her decision.

      Huang represented herself in court and Sanwo Enterprise was represented by its project manager, Shao Jie Feng.

      According to the judgment, things came to a head between Huang and Feng in June 2014.

      "On June 15, the defendant told Mr. Feng by text message that if she was not able to move into the main residence by the end of the month, she would order a banner labelling him Vancouver's 'worst builder' and deliver it to him in person," DeWitt-Oosten wrote. "He told her that he 'quit'. He demanded that she pay him what he was owed."

      That's when Huang told him to "go away" and informed him that he had been fired.

      On June 25, 2014, Feng filed a lien on the property, claiming fees that were owed under the contract.

      "Two days later, on June 27, a lawyer for the defendant sent a letter to Mr. Feng advising him that from the defendant's perspective, the plaintiff's refusal to perform services under the Contract constituted a repudiation," the judge noted. "The repudiation was accepted and formal notice was given that the defendant would seek out another project manager to complete the work at West 29th Avenue."

      The defendant, Huang, sought $36,000 "in loss of rental income that she says would have otherwise been available to her by renting out the basement suite in the main residence and the laneway house".

      DeWitt-Van Oosten rejected that claim.

      "The defendant put no material evidence before me to substantiate the loss of rental income," the judge wrote. "She has based this claim solely on the fact that the units are currently rented and an assumption, on her part, about what the rental market would have been like in the summer and fall of 2014, including monthly rates. In my view, this does not constitute a sufficient evidentiary foundation from which to make an award against Mr. Feng from mid-June 2014 to November 2014, and I decline to do so."

      Huang also sought $27,000 in costs for having to rent a home while the construction project was under way.

      In the end, the judge only awarded rental and living costs of $15,000, which was part of the $21,700 award against Sanwo Enterprise.

      The remainder was for a blueprint that Feng refused to return, as well as part of a management fee that Huang had to pay to a new contractor.