Contractor nightmare with our long awaited addition

CRUZTAKERDecember 22, 2010

Hello everyone!

I am merely looking for a place to vent our frustrations and share with the world what a trusted contractor is capable of doing.

We hired a contractor (long time aquaintence of my wife), in June 2010 to add roughly 700 square feet for a new master bedroom, and a kitchen expansion. It's December, we're 50% complete, I fired him two weeks ago, and now nearly the entire build needs torn down and rebuilt as a result of structural and engineering deviations, and just plain old awful quality. We were taken by a couple amateurs.

Yes....we foolishly paid him in increments throughout the build to this point.

Nearly $66,000.

If you have a strong stomach, I have begun to document our story with images here:

Thank you for your time,

Barry (broke and soaked in NE Ohio)

Here is a link that might be useful: My FLIKR 'renovation set' page.

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I am very sorry about your situation. Just curious, were any permits pulled for this job? Assume you are in the Youngstown area. If at any point he told you permits were not required, that is a giant red flag.

The permitting process is to protect the property owner. As an example, when pouring concrete for a foundation or driveway. there is an inspection to make sure adequate bracing and metal is in place before making the pour. The same thing applies to framing, etc.

The other thing you need to check on is if this guy paid his suppliers. If not, you may end up with liens against your house.

If you have not allready, you need to contact an attorney.

Good luck with all of this. There is never a good time to have contractor problems but certainly not at christmas.

Tex, former Buckeye

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 10:18AM
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One thing you mentioned is that you 'foolishly' paid him as you went along... Whatever lousy job he did, the standard thing is to pay as you go (though never the last payment til the job is done), so the men can get the materials as they are needed.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 10:26PM
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Prepare for the pain I suffer....

In addition to the 300 or so images on FLIKR under user cruztaker, I have begun to upload video on youtube.
Very disturbing, yet at times...quite amusing these guys ran a bussiness.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 10:44PM
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Very sad.
I'm curious why the job wasn't stopped by someone (inspector, or yourself, etc.) at stages when things began to surface that were visible? (such as lighting, or drywall being wavy, etc.) Especially the foundation and those blocks of various sizes. (I've never done a build before, but that sure doesn't look right at all.) Did someone try to stop it and what was contractor's response?

Hope you can get it all straightened out, that must be a very sick feeling.

(another buckeye)

    Bookmark   December 25, 2010 at 11:12AM
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I do feel your pain, but what I am about to say to you is not meant to be condescending or chastising. I just watched an episode of Holmes on Homes and if you are familiar w/ the show it is about situations like yours.
First off I am not a professional builder , but I have been around the trades my entire life w/ father , gfather , brothers and many friends who are tradesman. Too many people are looking to have this work done but are not using "due diligence". I don't know what requirements are for residential construction and renovation in your area are but the first thing should have been a set of working drawings. These spell out exactly all the specifications.With these in hand a builder and his subs know what is expected of them. Along with the homeowner taking some time at various stages of the project to ensure that the dwg requirements are met. I know, an added expense to have these dwgs done but well worth it. A step further is to a hire a third party to make sure every thing is done right.
I don't know about the building inspectors in your town, city or state, their interests are no way like yours. As matter fact in your case I would blame them for allowing those fl joist ends to be cut like that. A detailed dwg would have spelled out acceptable attachments and would have made easy for a novice to spot a non conformance.
I could go on and on . Hire a lawyer a go after this builder and his subs

    Bookmark   December 25, 2010 at 12:18PM
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I have uploaded another video:

JonnyP, you are correct sir.
We dropped the ball here. My wife works late, I was working 7 days a week, had hockey with the kids in the evenings, and foremost, we trusted this guy.

We have plans, drawings, agreemnents, and permits.
We just never imagined we needed to baby sit these guys. We don't do this stuff. We had no idea things were going wrong until it was too late and the obvious jumped out and hit us in the face. Then it just snow balled.

Most of the errors went un-noticed by us, and the City Inspectors. I am reluctant to approach them, however I really would like an excuse as to why they passed certain inspections.

We were fortunate to stop them when we did I guess.
There was still a substantial amount of work for them to screw up.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 12:11AM
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A number of people dropped the ball but especially you and your wife. You are spending big dollars but you all are paying scant attention to what is going on until the job is seriously compramised.

Why are you reluctant to approach city inspectors? I would start with the head of the department and ask them why they passed on substandard work!

I happen to be an electrician now retired. There were times we made the home owner aware of structural problems that made it difficult for us to do our job.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 8:55AM
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I approached the city inspectors today.
They shed some light on the project as well, unfortunately they either weren't allowed, or just did not care to inform us earlier...but they were less than impressed with my contractor from day one.
They caught something we were totally unaware of in the first week that the foundation was too high by 3" to meet my existing floor. They made them reconfigure the floor joists and add ledger boards.
They suggested better ways to do my HVAC duct work and new returns as well. All ignored.
They were also concerned as to why it was taking so long, (months) to complete simple tasks and request inspections.
They conveyed to me that the contractor claimed WE as the homeowners requested all the changes such as the roof be changed. WTF? They thought that was odd....well it was / is as it is down right lie. As a telecom technician and a sales rep....WTF do we know about structural engineering? NOTHING!
The inspector actually brought MANY concerns with deviations to the contractors attention and ALL were blown off and we were never informed.
(He is also holding our copy of the blueprints hostage for some reason).

I got a copy of his Bond insurance, and liability insurance with the city today since he was unwilling to provide them to us. The bond is for 25,000. The city is willing to go after him, but for one, that bond is not going to cover all the rework, and two, we will NOT allow him back on our property.

His liabilty insurance is good for 200,000 - 1,000,000 depending on what some of protections mean. Our lawyer will have to explain that.

We retained a lawyer in good confidence through a working relationship and he is going to work with us in his words; "without us having to pay his children's college tuition" LOLZ.

Fortunately, as often as we have to hear that we dropped the ball on this one, we have good people trying to help us at minimal or no cost.

There are good people out need only look apparently.

This forum is good for us as well.
We NEED to hear where we wrong.

As dear President Bush once said...."fool me once, shame on��"shame on you. Fool me��"you can't get fooled again".

Got it ;)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 8:10PM
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cruztaker, I hope my post above didn't sound harsh, it's not where I was coming from. If plans work out there will be a new build or major rennovation in my future within a few years. So I am starting to prepare now, take notes if you will, because I do believe (sadly) we quit often have to be one step ahead of those we hire. So am viewing your issue (among others) as a learning experience, what to do, what not to do. It really stinks to hire someone who is supposed to be knowledgeable in their trade or field and things get so screwed up. I really do hope you can get it worked out somehow!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 2:04PM
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    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 9:27PM
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Part of the above video is up today...

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 3:41PM
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This is the last video until we either settle with these losers..or we out them.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 8:55PM
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cruztaker - If you intend to sue, and you may have to to recoup your losses, you may be hurting yourself by posting videos on youtube, opening yourself up to the possibility of a countersuit for harming their business. You may not see that is fair, but you are, after all, presenting only your side of the story in a very public way.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 12:59PM
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Too often people hand over the money and put the contractor in control. You need to stay on top of what's happening in your house.

My parents recently had a full kitchen tear-out/remodel and all I keep hearing are complaints. This comes after they would leave the house for hours at a time while the work crew was left alone. While I don't believe you need to hover and annoy the workers, you do need to be present. You shouldn't wait until an entire floor is in to point out the fact that you don't like how it was installed. Everyone has a different opinion/vision on how things will come out. You need to be present to make sure the project is following your plan. If you're not there to make decisions, they'll be made without you.

Also, it cannot be said enough-never pay in full until the job is complete. good luck getting the job finished once they have your money no matter how small the final tasks are.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 12:38PM
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