Is your contractor this irresponsible?

jhwuJanuary 20, 2011

I'm sorry I need to vent a little bit. I feel like I've hired the most childish and irresponsible contractor in the Western US! If anybody is considering hiring a contractor in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact me and I'll tell you who to *avoid*!

We broke ground on a to-the-studs remodel in May 2009. We were supposed to be done in May 2010. Then July 2010. Then Thanksgiving 2010. Then Christmas, 2010. Then New Years, 2011. Now its almost Feb and we're still not done. In that time, our contractor has:

- Blamed tile issues on our "defective" tiles that we bought.

(I don't think so. We have 3 different kinds of tiles from Ann Sacks, 1 kind from Heath Tile, and 2 kinds from Kick *ss Glass. I highly doubt that *all* this tile we bought is defective)

- Charged us for *thinset* because the contract considered tiles as owner-supplied-contractor-install --- and he considers *thinset* as tile!

- Accused us of being cheap for not agreeing to pay his flooring sub more money --- when his flooring sub made bidding mistakes in a fixed price bid!

- Accused us of being cheap for not agreeing to pay his steel sub more money --- when his steel sub made bidding mistakes in a fixed price bid!

- Accused our cabinet makers of making crap products, when confronted with kitchen cab installation issues (I don't think so - the cabs were from Henrybuilt. Its nice stuff)

- Charged us a 5K change order for installing the kitchen cabs because HB's cabs are "more involved than normal cabs." (I was dumb. I paid it thinking it would make contractor more pliable. I was completely wrong).

- Installed skylights *backwards* (so that rain would roll right into them when opened) and then tried to argue against the architects on that one!

- Set fire to the basement floor from welding sparks --- and then blamed *us* because "we rushed them to work on a Saturday" (um, you were late by 6 months already at this point)

- Accused me of being completely unreasonable for expecting his counter sub to cut a zero-reveal cutout on an undermount sink because its "too precise" (Um, if you just used the template included with the sink, you would be able do to this. Oh wait, you mean you never opened the box the sink came with?)

- Gets upset when we pay him by a check in the mail, and expects us to leave a check for him at the jobsite (fat chance. you guys left the doors unlocked so many times that there was a break-in that resulted in many tools being stolen! and you expect me to leave you a check at the job site?)

- So I decided to be nice and suck-it-in and drop by in the morning and give him the check on the way to work --- except that he was late to the jobsite by half an hour, so I left for work and dropped the check off in the mail --- and he got upset at me for not waiting for him! Not a single apology!

- Consistently has his spouse bad-mouth me to the subs that I've hired to fix the shoddy work that his own crew has done. (My subs call me and beg me to please get my GC's spouse to stop calling them!)

- And now the latest thing - he's totally stopped answering his phone. Every single piece of communication with him is via email now. And you know what the best part is? I'm subsidizing this! Its my DSL line that I'm paying for that he's using for his emails!

Thanks for listening. I'm so frustrated with this GC - I've been *this* close to firing him about 10 times by now. I'm frustrated that he never ever takes responsibility and he never takes his lumps like a man. There's always someone else to blame. He blames his subs, he blames his workers, he blames me, he blames the products, he blames his spouse (!!), he blames me (again), and he blames the architect. The only person who never shares in any blame is himself.

The good part is that we're almost done - and scheduled to get to the punchlist in a week.

This was our first experience building a house and it has been completely draining. I don't know how some of you do multiple houses! This relationship is exactly like a horribly-bad-marriage.

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Well, tell me his name because DD1 lives there and her BF is planning on a huge remodel in the not too distant future.

Sorry you're dealing with all this. I would have fired him a long time ago. Hope you get the punchlist next week.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 9:00AM
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I'd love to know too! We're in the south bay, new build, but so far have been really pleased with our GC. They came in lowest out of the 3 bids, and there have been definite issues, but more with defects in the architectural plans, than anything else. They've been really good about keeping on top of things, and the little things that have popped up (plumber installed one of the rough valves in the wrong bathroom) have been fixed. The big one we're dealing with right now is that all the french doors and sliders came in 4 inches shorter than expected. They were good about letting us know immediately, as well as telling us that they're on it with the reps. Apparently the window guy said, "well, the homeowner signed off on the order!" and his response was, "I don't CARE what she signed off on, she's the homeowner! She doesn't know any better, YOU DO!" (Whew!)

I have a family member and a good friend who are both planning remodels in the near future, and so I'd love to know who you used! I'm so sorry that you have to go through all this, and I'm REALLY sorry that you paid him an extra $5k just for 'involved' cabinet installation! If it makes you feel any better, I'm paying $1k for moving a window up 9 inches. Granted, it's a big window, and already installed, but hey, there have got to be some change orders in every project, right? Is this guy listed on Yelp? Maybe you could leave an honest review...after it's all done.

Anyway, hang in there, and you're so close, it's got to be over soon! Best of luck!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 8:23PM
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jniork - I had the exact same thing happen with our sliding door last week. It was supposed to be 7' and came in 4" shorter at 6'8". The dealer is not taking any resp since we signed off on the final order but I'm mad as H** because they knew every door in the house is 7'and every other quote they gave was for 7'. What Brand of French slider did you order? Maybe it's a scam window dealers do to force two sales.. we're having to buy the second slider now and our builder is having to eat the cost of the first.
Just curious, I'm probably paranoid.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 1:28AM
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Soesoe, we're using MILGARD Ultra (all fiberglass) windows. We have 3 sets of french doors, and 2 sets of french sliders. Apparently they told me today that they sort of ironed it out. The french doors, they're replacing, and the sliders, the contractor is taking care of. We're actually only 2 1/2 inches off, or something like that. Our contractor's position is that if it's called out for 6'8" in the plans, the doors should be that height, then PLUS the frame. They consider the entire thing including frame around 6'8", so the actual door ends up being like 6'5" or so. The problem was that the windows are already framed and installed, and it would look very strange, since there are windows next to the sliders, at different heights.

The weird thing is, at 6'5" or so, I can actually see tall people possibly bumping their heads! We definitely have friends who are 6'4", and you add an inch heel with shoes on, and you're right there.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 11:53PM
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Juniork, I have a son who is 6'4" and he recently came bounding into the kitchen and smacked his head on the header of the 6'8" door frame, so that is a likely scenario. Happily, although the impact laid him out, the door is a pocket door, so the the frame flexed with the impact and broke the sheet rock rather than his skull. He's very happy that the new house will have 8' and 7' doors.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 7:22AM
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OMG, buckhead! That's hilarious, but terrible! Hope he didn't get a concussion from that one! I grew up in TN, so I KNOW how big those boys grow down there! Glad he's ok now, and in no danger of doing it again in the new house.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 2:32PM
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juniork - I'm glad they are working it out for you. Sounds like it was a mix up for the rough opening dimension vs the door height. Hopefully yoiu will be happy with the replacement.
Our was a Marvin sliding door OXXO so I guess my theory was wrong. Ours will be replaced for the correct height but I'm not at all happy with how the dealer handled it. Our builder is taking the hit on the old door but we have to pay the upcharge for the new size that was incorrectly quoted to us.
I hope things start going better with your gc soon.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 11:45PM
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jhwu, are you still following this thread? i need to ask you for advice! we are thinking of firing our contractor now... sigh....

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 3:59PM
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Hi, I am here! Everything turned out ok in the end (we have had a year now to cool off and living in this house is like a dream.) If your contractor's biz here in the sf bay area has qc in it's initials, be ready for massive headache!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 3:46AM
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I have 7' (they might actually be taller) Milgard French doors. The style I have only secures at the latch, not like some other styles/brands I've heard of that also secure at top and bottom.

I'm pretty underwhelmed with the doors. They are not very weather-proof. They leak in a hard rain, and wind comes through on windy days. The installer made many, many attempts to fix the leaking issues. Including replacing one door that was warped (not sure how that happens with fiberglass). The wind intrusion, and possibly the leaking, are probably an issue with having very tall doors only secured in the middle rather than top and bottom.

Fortunately I live in a very mild climate, but I would hate to have these doors if I still lived in the Bay Area.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Sorry didn't realize this was a resurrected thread. I'm glad everything worked out ok in the end for you, jhwu!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:34AM
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jhwu, glad things turned out ok for you and that you are enjoying your house!! i don't think i got your contractor, though we are also in the SF bay area. we terminated our relationship with them though. hopefully our headaches will end now. knock on wood!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:01PM
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