You are right. The first date is a mediation. If that doesn't work, your case will be set for trial.
Present whatever evidence you have at the mediation hearing. If an acceptable agreement is not reached, set the case for trial. You will not be prevented from presenting evidence at trial (concurring contractors' statements) because you did not present it at the mediation.
First appearance is for mediation; if mediation is not sucessful, your matter will be set for trial. I have a couple of Legal Guides attached to my profile about the Small Claims process. They are geared towards landlord-tenant disputes, but the basic process is the same.
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