RCMP investigate Charlotte County contractor after 25 complaints about undone work

·5 min read
The interior of the Seal Cove Wesleyan Church following the demolition, which was not completed. (Jody Bell - image credit)
The interior of the Seal Cove Wesleyan Church following the demolition, which was not completed. (Jody Bell - image credit)

On Grand Manan, a tight-knit community of about 2,360, it's not surprising many people would rely on neighbours for word, good or bad, about home improvement contractors.

In fact, word-of-mouth recommendations, often backed by a local Facebook group, led several property owners on the island to hire the same Charlotte County contractor this year to do roofing work, install windows and doors, fix decks and carry out other jobs.

And now, after losing more than $350,000 to the contractor, homeowners are wondering what happened to him.

Some property owners spent money on work that was never finished, while others signed off on work that was not even started.

In desperation, they turned to the RCMP, who say they are investigating 25 complaints about a home improvement contractor working in the county.

Building suppliers and a hotel on Grand Manan that allegedly received bad cheques from the contractor have also complained to police, said Cpl. Jayson Hansen of the St. George detachment.

Most of the homeowner complaints are from Grand Manan, but others have come from St. George, St. Stephen and Saint Andrews, and from the Sunbury County town of Oromocto.

Fraud charges are a possibility, Hansen said.

"In most of the cases, one particular name comes up," he said. "Of course part of our investigation will confirm if it actually is the same person, or someone just using a name."

RCMP said they would not name the contractor or the home improvement company unless criminal charges were laid, and Hansen said any charges would be up to the Crown.

"With the number of complaints, we're well over $300,000 lost allegedly, so that's definitely something we would pursue."

Jody Bell
Jody Bell

CBC News spoke to six homeowners on Grand Manan and in Saint Andrews who said they've had bad experiences with a contractor who goes by the name Cody Dixon. They found each other after one homeowner created a Facebook chat to connect with others in the area who had gone through the same ordeal.

Each had provided deposits of thousands of dollars for work never completed. None had signed contracts.

CBC tried to speak to Dixon through the contact information listed with his renovation company and through Facebook but did not get a response.

Grand Manan resident Thomas Morgan said he consulted Dixon after seeing his posts on a Facebook page, Grand Manan Jobs, which Dixon had been using during the year to advertise his company Absolute Painting and Renovation.

Thomas Morgan
Thomas Morgan

Morgan had a leaky roof that needed repair and connected with Dixon in February.

Dixon visited his property soon after and the two agreed to get the work started in the spring. The contractor asked for a deposit of $17,500.

"I've never hired a contractor before, so I thought that was normal," Morgan said. "He came here, I paid him the money with my credit card."

That was the last time Morgan saw Dixon. The roof is still leaking, and Morgan doesn't have the means to replace it now that he's lost the deposit.

Thomas Morgan
Thomas Morgan

"I got about 30 containers up there trying to catch all this water," he said. "This guy has put me in a really tough spot.

"I'm a single dad, I have full custody of my son, who lives here with me full time. And I can't even get my house done. And the worst part is, I gutted my whole house out because I thought I was getting a new roof done. My whole upstairs is gutted out."

The same thing happened to Elan Chandler's parents in Saint Andrews after they gave Dixon a $9,600 deposit in October for a new roof.

"My mother has chronic inflammatory lung disease, and she's had two heart attacks," Chandler said.

"He took everything that they had. They had to get a loan for the rest of the money they gave to him. This was all of their savings, all of it. They're bankrupt, they're ruined."

A homeowner on Grand Manan said she lost close to $107,000 after providing deposits for renovation projects on three of her properties, including an old church and two of her rentals.

Jody Bell said she reached an agreement on several projects with Dixon in June, but in the end only some of the work was completed. The interior of the church was demolished and some work was done to help with leaks in its roof.

She hoped to turn the old Seal Cove Wesleyan Church into a wellness centre for the community.

Saint John small claims court
Saint John small claims court

The roof on one of her rentals, a cottage, was also strapped to prepare for a replacement, but the new roof hasn't been installed. No work has been done on her properties since September.

"I charged up two credit cards, and I drained my savings," Bell said. "I'm going to be making these payments, and I have nothing to show for it, and I have to save up again."

Court files suggest others have run into financial trouble while dealing with Dixon.

Two claims have been filed against Dixon in small claims court since October from people who have worked with Absolute Painting and Renovation in the past.

One of the claims involves a company that rented scaffolding to Dixon in August, who has not returned it or paid for the rental cost of just over $5,000, the claim in the court alleges.

Another involves a contractor who did construction work for Dixon at two properties this August. Dixon paid a portion of the invoice but still owes the contractor $6,500, the claim says.

Two homeowners in Saint Andrews are attempting to sue Dixon. In a statement of claim, the homeowners allege the contractor owes them close to $32,000 after they paid a deposit and cancelled their agreement with him in August

They allege they were told they would be able to cancel before going ahead with work with a full reimbursement provided.

CBC News also spoke with three people who say they've lent thousands to Dixon over the years to support his home renovation company and another company called Absolute Bartending Services, which they said is no longer active.

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