Builder Code of Ethics???

mdlnJuly 20, 2014

Is there a code of ethics for builders/contractors?

My neighbor just told me one of the workers invited my neighbor into my house, gave him a tour and discussed the work being done.

Albeit, I have a somewhat nosy neighbor who probably asked him a question. I think the employee should have just said, ''we're working hard'' and not answered any specific question and certainly not bring him into my house - without my permission.

I am appalled & outraged, and believe what he did was totally inappropriate, perhaps because in my work we go to great extremes to protect the privacy of patients.

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Do you own the land/home or do you buy it at completion? If the latter, they have the right to bring in anyone they wish until ownership is turned over to you. If the former, then talk to your builder, its likely he didn't think anything of it and it would be good to make your wishes known.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:29PM
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I own the home & land. This is a rebuild, fire restoration.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:34PM
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Don't get too outraged until you talk to the worker. The neighbor certainly could be exaggerating.

Take a deep breath before you handle it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:34PM
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Did talk to the builder - called him on a Sunday.

Am quite sure my neighbor is not exaggerating, he doesn't, and he had information he would have only known if he was in the house.

I don't think I should talk to the worker, as I would be yelling & screaming obscenities.

''Didn't think anything of it''..... I think most people would not be happy if during their kitchen remodel a worker invited the neighbors in for a tour.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:46PM
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Maybe it's because I don't even have a hole yet, but I don't think of my lot as a home. The neighbours could have been walking through it for the last 2 years (since the previous home was torn down) without it affecting me in any way. I think until we are locked up, they are going to be peeking as much as possible.

Is it possible you have different thoughts about it since you're rebuilding, and you've lived there before?

You're right that I'd be upset if a worker invited someone into my kitchen to show them around. But I lived here while my kitchen was renovated. A house nobody lives in yet doesn't have the same expectation of privacy.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:56PM
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Around here it is common for the neighbors to tour houses while they are being built. Yours might be further along than when this happens around here. Also, if the neighbor indicated he was thinking about having some work done on his place, it is a way to show off workmanship.

Having said that, it is your house and if you do not want people brought through your house, you should address the issue with your GC. Don't address it with the worker; make your position known to the GC.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:06PM
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It is not being built, it is being restored. I lived in it for 13 years. Sorry, I put this on the wrong forum.

No the neighbor was not thinking about having work done at his house, he was being nosy.

Never thought I would have to tell them I did not want them giving tours and building details to the neighbors. Have many friends who remodeled their homes - never heard of this happening.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:13PM
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"I own the home & land. This is a rebuild, fire restoration."

I totally get it now. In 2003 we had a fire and a nightmare with insurance. One of the worst things we ever went through. Every nosy person in town wanted to know what was going on.

I totally get it now and empathize with you. Don't leave.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:01PM
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I also get the heightened emotional response now. We, I think, are all in new builds so they don't feel like "ours" just yet.

Here's my advice. Sleep on this. In the morning, try to make out a list of any damage that was done by this tour. I would include emotions and feelings as damaged. Look at the list, set the tone of your conversation on the length of your list. My guess is that your privacy was invaded but no irreparable harm was done. Make your wishes known to GC and all future employees.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Aside from the more abstract issue of ethics, there is the practical issue of liability. No one should be in the house unless authorized by the general contractor or the owner.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:22PM
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How far along is the remodel? If it's at the stage where it can be locked up every day, then nobody should 'ever' walk thru the house! If it's only in the framing stage, many people walk thru in that stage but only when there are no workers actually working on the house. People are curious about new builds especially people that are thinking about building in the future.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:24PM
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Yes, it is locked up every night. There are walls, floors, doors, kitchen cabinets, tile, shelves in the closets, etc. Probably at least 90% completion.

Renovator - thank you. Liability was the first thing I thought of. Neighbor is an old guy and there are trip hazards all over the place.

It is none of my neighbors business what kind of countertop I am putting in, and structural repairs and upgrades I made. Am sure he will talk about it with everyone in a 2 block radius. I hate it when I hear him talking about other neighbors. If you can not have privacy in your own home.....

Red_lover - thank you. A nightmare with the insurance is exactly what it has been. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

This post was edited by mdln on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 22:46

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:45PM
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mdln, I didn't mean to make you feel unwelcome. I was just trying to point out why it might be more bothersome to you than it would to me. I think it's very fair for you to feel your privacy has been violated.

Another factor is that you've been living in this neighbourhood for a while, and have a history with your neighbours. I don't have that yet. I don't know if any of my neighbours will care, or whether they'll gossip.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:05AM
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I visited a number of job sites while choosing a builder and got a walk-through of their ongoing work, we had both neighbors and people the builder brought in walk through our site. We shared our plans completely with our abutters as we needed a zoning variance and openness seemed the best approach to gaining their support.

It never (until this post) occurred to me that any of this was unusual or problematic. You should absolutely be able to exclude uninvited visitors from your home, but you may need to make this known to your builder-- he can't read your mind, and my experience is that there isn't the same presumption of privacy on a construction site as there is in a finished home.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:55AM
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I'd have a word with the neighbor before I'd confront my builder and/or his employee (or sub).
Tell Nosy Neil to mind his own business and stay off your property.
I seriously doubt a worker at your project decided to proactively "invite" some anonymous (to him) stranger into your home. I suspect Nose Neil bulled his way in.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Thank you ambern.

This is not new construction, or a construction site, the house is finished.

This worker is not the fastest and likes to spend time talking vs working to get a project done. Put him together with a nosy neighbor, old retired guy always out walking around - bad mix.

Yes, I will have a converstation with my neighbor.

OK, I will warn all my friends - having a kitchen or bathroom remodel - to tell the GC not to invite the neighbors in for a tour and discussion of selections. Really???

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:51PM
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FWIW, I had the same thing happen to me.

Mine was new construction, but I owned the land and was financing the build - so the house was definitely "mine."

I heard the GC was conducting tours of interested clients. My biggest concern with that was liability. I was carrying the home owners policy, and I had visions of little kids falling down the stairs or something and me having a million dollar lawsuit over something I didn't want happening in in the first place.

I chatted with him about he and he stopped immediately. I got the sense this is something they do all the time though.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:03PM
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OK, I will warn all my friends - having a kitchen or bathroom remodel - to tell the GC not to invite the neighbors in for a tour and discussion of selections. Really???

No, I think this is different. A renovation to one room is still someone's house. So, a contractor inviting someone in off the street to see the work would be really weird.

But with new construction, it's not really thought of as someone's home. You think of it as your home because it WAS your home before you had a tragedy. But the contractors still have the same mentality they have of any new build.

Plus, with a one room reno, the neighbours usually don't notice. You don't see a hole being dug, foundations being poured, framing going up, etc. You might see a dumpster for a short period of time. But it's a lot less of a spectacle for the neighbours.

And even the nosiest of neighbours, who would know you're doing a reno probably wouldn't have the balls to ask a contractor for a tour of someone else's house while they are living there.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:37PM
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to answer your specific question, a "code of ethics" is generally promulgated by a professional organization, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. These organizations are usually completely voluntary. Members do subscribe to a code of ethics if their organization has one. Link to NARI's code of ethics below.

Is this applicable to your situation? Probably not, unless you know your contractor is a member of such, but I thought I'd put it out there.

Here is a link that might be useful: NARI's Code of Ethics

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:07PM
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Thank you Violet, that is exactly the type of document I was looking for. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have a clause applicable to my situation.

Ambern, there was no hole dug up, no foundation poured, and no externally visible framing going up. The damage was interior. Very obvious, not new construction.

Mfatt, the harm is - he saw and will share info that could negatively affect the resale value of my house. While it is being repaired and I absolutely would disclose it, it's quite something else for a neighbor to be telling everyone his version of the story.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:20PM
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From a strictly legal standpoint- I do not believe you could claim damages based on that.

I am not saying you shouldn't be upset and I would absolutely feel violated on several levels in your shoes. But harm, I don't see any tangible harm. Buyers don't typically knock on doors and ask for gritty details. How does this harm you exactly and is your house going up for sale after its repaired? Or are you worried about the distant future?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:34PM
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mfatt - thus, the difference between what is legal and what is ethical.

Yes, may sell the house ASAP, not because there is anything wrong with it (will be in far better shape than when I bought it, new insulation, new mechanicals, new kitchen, code compliant upgrades, etc), just emotionally not sure I can live in it. Ironically, I talked to this neighbor about the house before I purchased it, as I lived nearby.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:57PM
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