UPDATE - Contractor Issues, otherwise known as The Patch Is Gone!

hobokenkitchenOctober 6, 2012

So it's been several months and I'm not sure if anyone remembers the awful GC issues we had. The thread seems to have diappeared which probably isn't a bad thing, but for those who remember and gave me such support, here is the update and a picture of the patch that started the whole problem : ):

I can now update that FINALLY that patch is completely gone!! A professional attacked it and you now can't tell it was ever there. Wahooooooooooooo!!!!!!! I am so happy because for months it was there as a big reminder of everything that happened.

Anyhow, here's a recap of what happened.

I think I updated you all up to the point where text messages were being exchanged and GC threatened us with legal action.

Well we eventually agreed to meet with him to discuss the issues. He came to our home 2 days before my due date and when he walked in the door and we asked him if we could show him the areas we weren't happy with he said no.

I knew then that the conversation was going to be bad, and it was. He yelled at us, threatened us, told us that the impending birth of our child (with regards to drywall dust, etc) was 'not his problem', that he was going to 'school us' and that he hadn't pulled permits and we were going to have to take down all our cabinets, and that he was going to sue us.

It was a bad, bad conversation and I know that many of you will disapprove, but when I heard him say that he wouldn't look at our concerns, I took out my cell phone and videoed the conversation.

I dissolved into a heap after the meeting - my husband had gone to work and all the stress just took over. I ended up sobbing at a neighbor's house and even though they barely knew me (new to the area) they looked after me amazingly. The neighbors here are just so, so amazing.

We didn't know what to do after the meeting - we were terrified by what he had said about the permits, but had no idea which of his stories was the right one. So on my due date I called to talk to the township inspector. As soon as I got on the phone with him I disolved into tears again as I tried to explain the situation. He asked for my address and I was too afraid to give it to him but asked if I could come in to the Township office and meet him. He said I could come right over, so I waddled to the car and drove straight there.

This township has a reputation for being super tough, but they were amazing. I explained what had happened and then told them about the recording. They listened to the portion about the permits (and caught the 'not my problem' comment) and that was it. I said I thought I hadn't handled it well, and the woman in the meeting said if he had talked to her like that in her home she would have had him against the wall by the neck. The inspector came out that same day to look at the house and go through everything with me.

2 days later we received a letter from GC's attorney claiming they had been unjustly fired and that we owed him the whole balance of the contract, but would accept $7500 if we paid within 10 days otherwise he would put a lien on our house and sue us.

It was the most stressful week of my life. I was several days overdue to give birth and we were about to be sued.

The inspector came to our rescue. He sent out the electrical inspector who took one look at the electric and failed it all (kitchen, bedrooms, hallway and great room).

We had pictures of all of their awful finish work and had documented everything - and kept the voicemail where the foreman told us he had been instructed to leave our house and not to return.

Two days after I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, our first outing was to an attorney's office.

He wrote a 'screw you' letter back to GC's attorney outlining the facts, included the failed electric inspection report and saying it was clear he hadn't been fired but had walked off the job taking our money with him. Lastly it demanded that he immediately remove the dumpster he had left on our property which was delinquent in payment since early May and he had threatened the dumpster company with litigation if they removed it.

Our attorney wrote that despite the numerous violations we were willing to entertain a 'walk away' agreement.

The day after the letter went out the dumpster was removed from our property and GC agreed to our terms.

Unfortunately we had to sign a 'no fault' release which means that once again this guy will show no record of having screwed someone over. Basically he's off scott free apart from a couple of things. This is a small community and the neighbors talk. Also the inspector did not like what he saw on the video I took, and he really didn't like the work he saw in our home so he has black listed GC in all the surrounding areas. He has a look out for his vans and I know of several situations where he has knocked on people's doors to warn them of an unscrupulous contractor. He doesn't give names, but one of the people asked if it was our GC, so obviously he's done this before.

The upshot is that we have had to redo everything. We did not have to take down our cabinets (thanks to amazing inspector), but all electric had to be redone (we now have an amazing electrician).

They had not framed out the vent for the hood, nor run the electric for the hood or range. The electric for the fridge was in the wrong place and they hadn't run the plumbing (yes drywall was now up and cabinets installed).

We were able to get all that fixed eventually, but are still missing the heat/aircon vents which they didn't run before they laid the floors and is now cut off in the basement.

We had the great room drywall work all redone and the front of the house is painted.

The kitchen is now beautiful and fully functional (apart from the missing air con vents). We are literally just waiting on a small piece of butcher block and the back splash.

We still hsve a gaping hole which used to be the master bathroom and the master bedroom is torn apart.

We also have to get up in the attic and remove all the insulation he put up (it's all done wrong), and we still have a huge hole in the hallway ceiling where they didn't bother to cap the plumbing and it leaked into the ceiling.

Other than that, we're coming together. We just had the kitchen painted, awful drywall finish work corrected (including the awful patch!) and trim sorted out. Yesterday the chandeliers went up over the island. It's looking great.

It was an awful, awful experience, but it's over with. We are trying to find someone good to take over the bathroom. The quotes we get for everything are obscene, so we've been taking it slow, bidding out everything to multiple people and employing everyone separately (no GC).

We have our permits and are passing inspections!

I think it's all going to be ok. We'll probably be bankrupt, but we survived.

Some more 'finished' drywall work by ex GC for your viewing pleasure. I'm so glad it's all now gone!!!!

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I'm soooooooooooo happy to hear that this horrible situtation turned around for you and you can begin to put it all behind you. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of what he did to you and then the way everyone seems to have rallied around you to make the best of a bad situation.

More importantly, congrats on the birth of your daughter!!

Keep us updated with pictures of the progress!!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:41PM
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Wow, hoboken, I could have written 90% of what you wrote! We are just not as far along as you. Almost the same exact problems as you describe, minus the legal issues thankfully.

I'm so sorry this was so stressful and I think i know how you feel. We're not functional yet and have one bathroom 10% done but at least we don't have a hack-job working on site.

We hire our own workers and I keep saying we have the dream team finishing our renovation.

Congrats on your progress and especially on the birth of your daughter!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Wow, what a whirlwind! Glad you got an inspector that was a stand up guy. The blacklist comment made me smile! I hope he and your ex GC have a run in, I think the GC will get his butt kicked with paperwork and failed inspections.

Glad you are back on track and can spend that energy on the new baby. Congrats!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:07AM
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I can't believe how much you've learned, how many allies you have gained, how many friends you've found and what a lovely lovely home you're going to have.

There is nothing wrong with going it slowly. I know you bought and jumped right in, so slowing might feel like you're going backwards at times. But you'll get it right, and YOUR way, with the assistance of the inspectors!! Even contractors can't say that!!!

I am really looking forward to your pics.
Hope the little one is doing well!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:10AM
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I followed you previous post and couldn't believe what you had to put up with. Isnt it amazing how some people can be the way they are and have no conscience. Once again I am sorry that you had to go through such and horrible ordeal but I am happy to hear that things are getting resolved slowly but surely.
Good luck with the rest of the work that needs to be done. Hope your taking lots of time to enjoy that darling new baby.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:17AM
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Hobokenkitchen, I had followed that other thread so I am so glad you gave us an update that is positive, along with the birth of your healthy daughter! Enjoy your new kitchen with the problems remedied and enjoy you new family member! Some people are so cruel but glad you got the right lawyer and electrician inspector right away on your side as you were in the right!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:25AM
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Hobokenkitchen, I still cannot believe how awful that GC was!!! You certainly deserved a lot better than all that garbage for that cretin just days before giving birth no less!

I hope things continue to look up and all the issues are behind you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:45AM
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I can't believe you had to go through all that pregnant and then with your newborn! I'm so glad to hear that is behind you now and you can begin to enjoy your new kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 1:38AM
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Thank goodness there is an end to this nightmare! Blessings to you and your little one and wow, what a learning experience you've had!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:10AM
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I have often wondered what happened and how things were going. It is too bad that folks like that get to stay in business. My DB in Manhattan must have had the same guy or his cousin :( He has had to put up with some things that no one should have to deal with and had to settle for putting area rugs on his new wood floors to hide the glue ! Anyway you are SO strong and I am so glad that you are surviving. The new work looks WONDERFUL. Can hardly wait to see the finished pics. Hope baby is doing well too :) (()) to you and your family. c

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:19AM
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I don't think anyone here would disapprove of you recording the conversation. It is the right thing to do when the GC is verbally attacking and threatening you in your own home. I've done it at our kids baseball games when the ump and a parent are having a heated argument ... you never know when things might get out of control. It should come as no surprise to any of us that at any time we might be video taped by the other person's smart phone.

So glad things are looking up for you and that you and the baby are healthy.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:28AM
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What a nightmare. Kudos for getting through it without just collapsing into a heap (sorting out everything was bad enough but then having to take on fixing it all - very overwhelming). Reading what you wrote it really seems like you haven't let it change your attitude and that is a huge victory.

Congratulations on the new addition to your family.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:26AM
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I am happy we videoed the conversation. We couldn't have used it if it had gone to court, and we've hardly showed it to anyone, but what the inspector saw got him firmly on our side and I also showed the neighbor who I went to after the meeting when I was still reeling from all that had been said. That was enough I think.

I am still very frustrated by the master bed/ bath situation which feels like it will never get resolved, but we are at backsplash picking stage in the kitchen and I really wondered if we would ever arrive at this point. Perhaps I'll start a 'help me with my backsplash' thread.... because I can now! : )

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:47AM
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I'm so glad you took the time to give us an update and that the patch and the bad contractor and other issues are gone and your home is 'right' now. How on earth did you have the presence of mind to record that confrontation? Good for you for coming clean with the town inspector! Boy are you ever going to be a force to be reckoned with on the PTA:). Best, oldbat2be

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:48AM
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I am happy for you that your nightmare is over. Still can't believe he got away without a blemish on his record. Is there no way to report to his licensing board?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 8:01AM
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Apparently not. A 'no fault' agreement basically indemnifies him which is so frustrating.

I even have to be careful of online reviews of him. Our attorney said he's super pissed that his little blackmail ploy didn't work and we should be careful not to set him off again as he's clearly unbalanced. It seems super unfair doesn't it as it doesn't protect the next poor schmuck who hires him.

If anyone is in the Bucks County county area and has any questions for me (lol) you are welcome to send me an email. ; )

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:19AM
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I wish you'd post a link to that unnamed YouTube video of that contractor you "heard" about having a "breakdown" in your home. You've never named him, so at this point there is no slander involved.

You could call it, "My GC Experience in Buck's County how a remodel should not go." Make sure to put links back here. Just continue not to name him -- and we don't know your name!

I wonder how many times he's blackmailed people now that you mention it? To me, it's almost like a sex offender thing, where they post a picture (on Law and Order, for example) and all kinds of people come forward. I'm willing to bet they would be happy (or sad) to know that 1) they're not alone, and 2) someone won over his tactics.

I am also impressed with the inspector, who sees his trucks and stops at jobs!!! I can't believe he hasn't filed a harassment suit against him and the city. And to think people actually work for him.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:05AM
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Oh my goodness, what an ordeal. I can't imagine going through all that --how stressful it must have been. Although in a way it's a blessing that he was so unhinged at the end, since if he would have just made the superficial repairs you would never have known you were living in a potential firetrap. So perhaps it happened for a reason and someone was looking out for you. :)

Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Congratulations on your new baby!

What an ordeal, but it looks like you came through it with grace and a lot of new friends. It is too bad that the GC's public record is clean, but apparently the talk is going through the grapevine, so the damage to his reputation is done. I'm glad you have that behind you, and are looking forward to the next step.

As much as I'd like to see the video posted, it's probably not a good idea. If it went viral (and it sounds like it could), the contractor would know exactly where it came from, and so would the inspector. That could send the GC over the edge and you don't want that. He could cause a lot of grief before he was captured and put away.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:45AM
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So, the GC was caught doing shoddy illegal work without a permit. Why isn't that enough to pull his license? Why won't the town do that?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:32PM
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You will make a wonderful GC. Best of luck with the rest of your house. I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this. congratulations on the birth of your daughter :)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:46PM
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"the GC was caught doing shoddy illegal work without a permit. Why isn't that enough to pull his license? Why won't the town do that?"

don't count on that. I've worked for city, county and state offices and a lot goes on in the background when we find someone like that. A word from an inspector can go a very, very long way and I doubt he was required by that agreement not to say anything.
Also, in that office are many others who deal each day with subs and homeowners doing remodeling. Things 'get out'.

Also, they communicate with those in other local gov agencies. Like that inspector probably knows those at the state licensing agency and talks to them rather often. They also talk with building and permit offices in surrounding cities / counties. Vans belonging to that GC will probably now be noticed and inspectors will be stopping at more and more job sites - unannounced.

I'm so glad you are out of this mess now. Congrats on your baby girl - enjoy things slowing down and allowing time for her and recovery from that horrible ordeal.

I think that gc actually has friends and relatives all across the country... I think I've even met a few!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 1:18PM
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I am sorry that you went through a rough situation. Thank you for sharing your story with the community. This community is a place where we can all learn from each other; successes and failures. I would like to ask you a question if I may.

If you had to do it again, what would have done differently so that you would not have hired this contractor in the first place. I am not saying that you did anything right or wrong. I am asking for the wisdom of hindsight so that we may learn from you and avoid a similar situation.

In our case, we hired an inexperienced contractor 15 years ago because he was the only one that could meet the deadline. We had a deadline for very important reasons at the time. He made several mistakes (honest mistakes, not gross negligence as in your case) due to his inexperience. The job he did was too big for the experience he had. We learned that a scope of job that you hire someone has to match his/her previous experience. If someone has never done an addition to the house (add second storey, replace foundation, rerouting plumbing etc etc), you should not be the first customer for him/her to learn to do that type of work. The more complicated the work, the more important that the contractor has experience with complex jobs.

Our inexperienced contractor's honest mistakes have cost us dearly over the years. He learned on our job. I like to hire people that learned on someone else's job :) In retrospect, we should have let the deadline go and should have hired someone that had done a similar job.

You will have a beautiful house that you can call your HOME for your family. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 5:11PM
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kaismom, I almost don't want to answer that question because I feel like we sound like such idiots, but I will.

First of all, I am a little shy. We were new to the area and I saw his van working on a neighbors house. All the homes in our neighborhood are down sweeping driveways. I plucked up the courage to go down one when we bought the house and knock on the door to ask about the house and neighborhood, but failed to do it on this occassion. I figured if they were working on a million dollar home they must be decent.

I googled and found no negative reviews... in fact no reviews at all. Of course his next customers won't find any reviews either. I checked his license and insurance, but failed to realize just how easy it is in PA to get the license. Basically I could get one tomorrow if I wanted to.

Then once we hired him our mistakes continued. I KNEW that he hadn't vented the hood, but whenever I asked about it I was brushed off and told it would happen later. I KNEW that was wrong, but I didn't want to be an ahole and question every single thing he did (I had kicked up a fuss about greenboard in the shower).
I did ask many times, but I should have stopped him and made him do it the right way.

Of course I tried to do that with various other things with no success at all, so I would have got nowhere, but I should have tried harder.

Also one thing I have learned, is that anyone who repeatedly says "I'm a good guy" generally isn't. Genuinely good guys don't need to go on and on about it. Next GC who tells me to trust them because they're a 'good guy' I'm running in the opposite direction as fast as I can!

Also never believe someone who repeatedly tells you that all his other clients let him A: use their credit cards for materials, B: make all the design decisions and C: never question any of the process.

So yeah, we're trusting idiots. The end. : (

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Thank you so much for updating us on your circumstances. I was wondering how things were shaking out after your baby's birth. I think it is amazing that you were"with it" enough to think of video-ing the GC! In that situation I could forsee myself melting and shaking and losing all sense of what to do--a basket case. You are 1 smart cookie!

Congratulations on your wonderful baby girl! When you gaze at her all other things fall into the proper perspective. You did great new Mommy!!!!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Congratulations! That was so much misery at time when you should have been full of anticipation for your new baby. I am glad you were able to put it behind you and find some dependable contractors to finish the work for you. Good Luck Super Mom!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:04PM
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I am glad all worked well. There are plenty of good contractors out there, but unfortunately, I seem to get my share of the ones like yours. We had an experience like yours with regard to a deck about 12 years ago...except he didn't try to sue us, but the inspector condemned our home!

That put us off all renos for many years and we finally bit the bullet. Our contractor is an abusive bully. He hates women. My husband deals better with him. Thank goodness the work is fine. We have had our issues with the plumbing and had to have it all redone, but the electrical work has been great. I have a KD and he helped me out a lot with this jerk.

Congrats on your baby girl. Enjoy your new additions!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:45PM
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Thanks so much for coming back with an update and CONGRATULATIONS on your baby girl! I would say new little ones help keep things in perspective - they do to some degree, but I don't want to minimize all the anguish you've gone through.

So glad that your kitchen is almost done and your GC is blacklisted. That is definitely frustrating that you can't publicly comment on what he's done. Can you say "we had to hire a different contractor to finish the work. We have a no-fault agreement in place." It seems like that would speak volumes...

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:36AM
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First of all, heartfelt congratulations on your healthy baby girl! I am so sorry you had to go through all this; what a nightmare during what should have been an exciting, joyous time. You seem to have a really good attitude and are moving forward. I commend you on that. Enjoy your home and family!!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Great news! I have been thinking about you and your contractor troubles and hoping you managed to work everything out.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 1:22PM
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Congratulations all around, hobokenkitchen. You can get on with your life now. You have been on my mind lately and I'm glad you gave us an update. Don't give this guy another thought. He's not worth it. Walk with your head high and don't apologize to anyone. You've earned it.

I'm glad to hear you got the building inspector involved. They do try to be helpful with homeowner projects and their overriding concern is always about your personal safety. I find it interesting that you did not mention he showed any concern about the poor quality of the wall finish. His concern was turned to the wiring, and appropriately so.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:51PM
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Does signing the no fault contract mean you cannot report him to the better business bureau or write a review on Yelp or a similar site?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Laura12 sorry, I only just saw your post as I haven't been getting on here much.
It does mean that we probably shouldn't report him to the BBB, etc. the inspector isn't happy about this - he wanted us to report him to the attorney general and pretty much everyone else, but after talking to our attorney he advised against it. Said that we risked him coming after us for libel. Although if we just said something like 'we had to redo all our electric' that's just a fact. But we just don't want to potentially trigger him.

Having said that apparently he was fired from another neighbor's house a while back and threatened that neighbor with law suits/ liens, etc too. That neighbor apparently told him he had 2 acres of woods and he'd never be found (LOL) and he went away. So I guess we should have threatened bodily harm and he might have left us alone too. ; )

If only the bathroom situation wasn't such a mess we would be starting to look in pretty good shape now.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 8:25AM
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