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Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

Posted by renomomma (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 19, 12 at 14:14

Mid reno here, kitchen, bath, windows, doors, etc. Contractor has made too many mistakes for my liking. He's corrected most, but the guy just can't measure. We're still down to the studs. He doesn't supervise well, although the subs are good, all the rough had to be moved because he either wasn't paying attention or the subs weren't or both.

He holds the permit. The only way to jump ship is to find another contractor who will take on the permit and whose subs will take on the permit. I don't expect to find anyone willing to do this.

If I take on the permit as the homeowner and hire subs directly, might that be a way to do it? Fortunately I think all the hard stuff is in, windows, doors, etc. Just have to insulate and put up walls.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

And do you know the subs you want?
You evidently weren't very good at seeing thru the facade and choosing a GC...

It's a headache and can be a nightmare.

Have you had a heart-to-heart with the GC and let him know he's that close to losing the job?

Then ask yourselves if you're setting yourself up for a breach of contract suit, etc.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

Can you supervise him yourself more closely, check everything that happens, maybe catch some mistakes earlier? I realize it may not be possible - you may be doing as much as you can already.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

As someone who has been taken advantage of by two different contractors, yes, review your contract. Yes, sit down with the GC. And no, do not beat yourself up for "not having seen thru the facade." Good grief. Many, many highly competent folks have had less than stellar experiences with folks in the construction industry. I'd say your chances at being a member of *that* group are probably pretty darn good. That said, don't make a bad situation worse by forgetting that while it's your home, right now it is part of a business relationship and under a contractual agreement with another person. Do not do anything that limits your options or gives the GC the upper hand.

I wish you the best of luck. Hey, at least he pulled a permit.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

I too belong in the dumb dumb club of those who weren't very good at seeing throgh the facade when picking a contractor so I feel your pain.

Do tread carefully though - our giant ahole of a contractor threatened to sue us for the whole balance of the contract despite his work being total crap.

I would sit him down and let him know that you are not satisfied with the way thigs are going. Start documenting everything now just in case.
If he really has corrected most things that have been wrong I would be inclined to try and make it work with him even though it sucks and isn't fair.
I wouldn't wish what we've been through on anyone.

Just make sure that if you can reach an agreement to part company you get full releases from him and from his subs.

Wishing you lots of luck!!


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

As others have said, your contract is the main thing you need to worry about. I guess permits vary by locale, but in some places, the permit is for the house and it doesn't matter who actually pulled them initially - although it sounds like you think the permits are his - if you part ways with him can't you just pull new permits yourself?

I agree with the others who suggested that at this point you should really try to work things out with him.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

There is no beating yourself up.
My POINT, was that since you believed the good line this GC presented, would you recognize it in another, even a sub, when you heard it.

Having been married to an incredible GC who never, ever, in his life, finished anything (even sports teams, our marriage, anything) I know how one can talk a good job, particularly when they believe themselves!

So that was not that you should have, but that you can't. Most of us can't. Heck. I've been screwed by two major (one national)contractors since my STBX bailed on me. We hear and believe in people and what we want to hear.

IOW, are you a good, objective, realistic judge of subs? Do you have the skills to know when something, not even the hard stuff, is right until it's too late?


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

Renomomma, I was also in the same position. My initial contractor didn't live up to my expectations. Luckily, I found out right after his crew gutted my kitchen.

I spoke with the city about pulling the permits myself and he told me DO NOT pull the permit myself. He told me that whoever pulls the permit accepts responsibility if something goes wrong. As the homeowner, if you're hiring professionals you NEVER want to take the responsibility.

My permits were relatively low in cost. Suck up the cost now rather than the cost of fixing things that were done incorrectly.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

I take CEFreeman's point - one of the things we are having a very tough time with is knowing who to trust from here on out.

It looks like we got lucky with the electrician we picked - the inspector saw his work and said he would hire him to do his own house so that's good even though he's not inexpensive.

The other stuff is difficult.

We started work on our great room again today.... using our kitchen cabinet guy of all people! Not cheap and we don't know how his dry wall work is given that he's a cabinet maker, but we love his work and he says he can do it so we are trusting him... we picked him because we've worked with him before and he's meticulous in his work, but it still feels like a huge risk. We just hope we don't have to get a THIRD person to redo it all!

No idea who we'll get to do the bathroom. At this point I don't know if we'll get to it any time soon at all. It might have to wait a loooong time.

Anyway I know it's tough - good luck making a decision!!


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

I don't want to give too many specifics about the job obviously as this is a public forum. I can say all the rough has been done. I have to assume the trades (HVAC, electrical and plumbing) will not continue under me or someone else.

Reason to change contractors? How about continually not following the spec/blueprints. Code violations. Not supervising subs. Errors/omissions. These are all things we have discovered by closely watching. I've had to take a leave because the GC has to be managed so closely. Oh and getting inspections, then revising that work (without the sub) and not re-inspecting or having the sub amend the permits.

I do think there are several clauses in the contract that he has breached. I've made every progress payment as requested. So we are not ahead nor behind on payments. He's not ahead or behind on work.

We have had several heart to hearts. And several key communications documenting what was discovered and what needs to be corrected.

Appreciate the advice on not pulling a new permit ourselves. Great points, hadn't though of that.

What's happened is he has made so many errors that required the trades to make multiple re-visits, that it's driven his cost up and he's trying to cut corners elsewhere to stay whole. He has gotten some of the trades to do extra work for the same quote, according to one tradesman. He did not describe to the trades the full scope or the spec or the drawings, at least it appears

Appreciate hearing more thoughts after reading these details. thanks.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

What provision does your contract make for severing the relationship? If you are uncertain of if it even provides for such a provision, you need to pay a visit to a contracts lawyer and consult him as to the law in your state and the needed steps to sever the relationship. Laws vary by state, but usually, unless the breach is egregious, the contractor retains the right of first repair. If you are not happy with his work, you have to give him the opportunity to correct it.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

Termination reasons in the contract:
substantial breach of a provision of the contract
persistent disregard for ordinances, rules, regulations
the other reasons would not apply here.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

IF the work has failed to pass inspections repeatedly, then perhaps that would be regarded as "persistent disregard for ordinances, rules, regulations", but it would have to be more than just one or two failures that were corrected and then it passed. You would have had to have failed almost every inspection repeatedly for that to be regarded as a "substantial breach".

Being slow is not a breach if there is no time penalty for going beyond the completion date. Being shoddy is not a breach if he corrects the poor quality when it's brought to his attention. Being slow and shoddy is still not a "substantial breach".

Please do consult a contract lawyer if you want to proceed further. You do not want to end up with a lien on your home. And, that could definitely happen here if you do not follow your particular state's laws.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

Good advice, thanks. It's not that the work hasn't passed inspection (it has). It's that after inspsection, he's gone and moved stuff around (for his subs), has not called them back in (presumably to save $), and has not called for re-inspect. Slow is not a complaint. Quality - not so much. It's more black and white errors (not measuring) and omissions (not following spec).
We won't know of all the errors and omissions til years down the road, when stuff leaks or whatever then we'll have no recourse. I'm not relying on the warranty one bit.


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

I find it so unfair that someone can be fired from a job in many states for no reason and with barely any notice, but a contractor is allowed to butcher someone's home and has to be given right to make the repairs and can put a lien on your house with no cause or even contract necessary.

If you had posted this a month ago I would have thought you could terminate him with no problem at all, but now I know it's not as easy as that.

A lot of people do fire their contractors and it's not a problem, but if you have a vindictive contractor he can make your life hell. Just be careful and I agree on consulting an attorney to see what they have to say, but first I would sit your GC down and talk to him candidly about your concerns. maybe you can persuade him to shape up, or to leave the job with a release.

For the record we had way overpaid our GC and he still wants to sue us. :(


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RE: Contractor not up to snuff-can we change?

update. we terminated our contractor and i honestly think he was relieved. the subs are willing to continue and the builder is fine with that they tell me. so i'm trying to decide to hire another GC or to pull the building permit myself. the subs will continue to hold their own permit. thoughts?


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