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Old 12-01-2007, 01:35 PM   #1
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Hello from IA


I've been reading stuff on this site for some time, but have never registered/posted. I have now because I'm having problems with a contractor & wanted to get your guys opinion.

I'm in central IA, bought a house that had masonite siding that we wanted to get replaced this fall. I got half a dozen bids & found a guy I liked, he was even doing the house down the street before mine, so this gave me a great opportunity to see him in action. I wanted to do the tear off & wrap it myself. We agreed that I would tear off the weekend of October 20-21st. He said that was great, he would be able to start later the week afterwards & should only take a couple of weeks with good weather. So he does the other house, crew of 3, takes about 3 weeks because a few days of weather that didn't allow them to work & they did a great job on that house.

So I tear off the weekend we discussed & wait for them to start. They didn't show up that week, despite telling me the weekend I was tearing off that he would still be able to start then. Whatever, I'm not going to get worked up about that. So he calls early the next week & says the supplies would be there later that week & they would start the following Monday, Nov. 9th. So this is a little frustrating because this is a good week to 1.5 weeks after he said he would start, but again...he said it would only take a couple of weeks to do, so it should be done by Thanksgiving for the guest.

They do start the 9th & like most siding jobs, it starts out a little slow with the trim & getting everything squared away. Between running home a few times I noticed they weren't starting until mid morning (like 10am) & leaving mid afternoon (3pm). So after the 2nd week of this, I called the contractor to find out what the deal is. He says yeah, that is all they have been working & makes some excuses for them. So I point out the fact that he didn't start when he said he would & they are two weeks into this job & they aren't even 1/3 of the way done (this is with the GREATEST weather I've ever seen for Fall). I ask when he will be done with the job? Said he would have it done by the end of November (another 2 weeks). I point out that Thanksgiving is the next week & ask if they will be working every day except Thur, he says yes, they will & he will have a conversation with them about working more hours.

Fast forward to Black Friday...they don't show up. I call him & ask him where his guys are because he only has 1 more week before he said he would be finished (about 1/2 done with the siding job). He doesn't even know where his guys are & can't get a hold of them. I'm pretty steamed by now & ask if he thinks this is acceptable. He says no, but "he can't do anything about it." Says he can't fire them until the job is over & they have never done this. From what I can tell now, this is how they work & he let's them do it. I tell him I will be gone this past week (26-30th) & I expect the house to be done when I get back.

Wife has kept me up to date this week on their progress...been working, but only the 4-5 hours like they have been the whole time. So I get home late last night & of course, there is still at least 1 week of work to do. We are also having ice this week & probably some ice/snow next week, so I don't see them doing much next week.

My question is - what should I do/can I do? What do you think the contractor should do to make up for this? If there are any contractors reading this, I would really like your opinion on how I should handle this or how you would handle it from your experience.

The contract did not specify any time limit on having it done, just the guys word. If I've left out any details, let me know. Look forward to reading your responses.

Thanks,

Jesse

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Old 12-01-2007, 01:54 PM   #2
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Hello from IA


If its just word of mouth on the contract unfortunately there isnt much you can do to speed things up.

Some smaller contractors have problems getting workers on site. If the work is good quality, I would suggest working thru it with the contractor to completion albeit exasperating.

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Old 12-01-2007, 02:02 PM   #3
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Hello from IA


I'm guessing the reason the work isn't getting done, and that he seems to give you the impression that he can't do anything about it, is that your "contractor" is using subcontractors to do his work. You could call him again and ask if these guys are employees or subcontractors. If he has more than one crew of subcontractors doing his work, perhaps you could request a different crew to finish the job. But that won't help you in the short term. And it's probably the reason why he can't fire them halfway through... he'd have a hard time figuring out what to pay them, and what to pay the new crew, and he'd probably end up losing money.

If there was nothing in the contract about the time frame, I don't think you have much of an option- especially since it's half done. The guy probably has a lot of work lined up, is behind on his work, and has trouble finding/keeping good installers. Kind of like almost every company out there.

It's too bad he can't keep his word about the completion date he suggested. But then again, there are a lot of aspects of construction that you can't predict. Being almost 1 month late is pretty inexcusable, though, and he should not have SAID he could do it if he couldn't deliver. It kind of shows that he isn't on top of things. Aside from chastizing him for that, I think you should probably stick it out and it will get done eventually. The ice storm certainly won't help any.

Berating the work crew (regardless of whether they are his employees or his subcontractors) is certainly not something that would help- it would likely only make them want to arrive later and leave earlier if they are not looking forward to being at your house. Just the opposite might help. Once you have them there, try to be friendly and positive, offer them coffee if they're cold and just generally try to be helpful. If you've had words with them, straighten it out or it could affect their job performance. Just a few things I've picked up over the years.

Last edited by XSleeper; 12-01-2007 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 12-01-2007, 02:14 PM   #4
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Hello from IA


Quote:
Originally Posted by XSleeper View Post
I'm guessing the reason the work isn't getting done, and that he seems to give you the impression that he can't do anything about it, is that your "contractor" is using subcontractors to do his work. You could call him again and ask if these guys are employees or subcontractors. If he has more than one crew of subcontractors doing his work, perhaps you could request a different crew to finish the job. But that won't help you in the short term. And it's probably the reason why he can't fire them halfway through... he'd have a hard time figuring out what to pay them, and what to pay the new crew, and he'd probably end up losing money.

If there was nothing in the contract about the time frame, I don't think you have much of an option- especially since it's half done. The guy probably has a lot of work lined up, is behind on his work, and has trouble finding/keeping good installers. Kind of like almost every company out there.

It's too bad he can't keep his word about the completion date he suggested. But then again, there are a lot of aspects of construction that you can't predict. Being almost 1 month late is pretty inexcusable, though, and he should not have SAID he could do it if he couldn't deliver. It kind of shows that he isn't on top of things. Aside from chastizing him for that, I think you should probably stick it out and it will get done eventually. The ice storm certainly won't help any.

Berating the work crew (regardless of whether they are his employees or his subcontractors) is certainly not something that would help- it would likely only make them want to arrive later and leave earlier if they are not looking forward to being at your house. Just the opposite might help. Once you have them there, try to be friendly and positive, offer them coffee if they're cold and just generally try to be helpful. If you've had words with them, straighten it out or it could affect their job performance. Just a few things I've picked up over the years.
Yeah, he says the employees are his & he can't fire them because he would have no one to complete the job. He does have another crew & when asked for them to complete the job, he said they couldn't because they were obviously on another/larger job.

I agree about there being a lot of aspects that affect time line, but we know the problem in this one - 2 man crew only working 4-5 hours a day.

I have had no conversation with the crew other than answering questions on how I want a few things done & saying "hello" in passing.

The whole thing is unreal to me as the customer & is pretty unacceptable IMO.
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Old 12-02-2007, 05:25 PM   #5
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Hello from IA


Sounds like: "It is what it is"....
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Old 12-02-2007, 08:11 PM   #6
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Hello from IA


Well, if I would have put in 5 or 6 hour days when the weather was nice, my boss would have a few choice words for me. Apparently your contractor doesn't run a very "tight ship". If he won't say something to them, maybe you could- provided you do it in an appealing way. Employees usually enjoy beating up on the boss, so if you let them know that "their boss said" that they could have the job done by such and such date, they will likely agree that either he was off his rocker, or that he just books too much work. But by doing that you will give them the idea that you want the job done!

If you feel comfortable with it, maybe you could tell them to come in the garage if they get cold- have a pot of coffee and some cookies in there for them... tell them you'll set the coffee out at 8AM, and let them know to get there before it gets cold.

If you've ever worked outside in the wintertime, you would know how painfully cold it can be in the morning and how quittin time doesn't come around soon enough when you're cold. So I guess maybe you can light a fire under the crew if you go about it the right way, trying to be their friends instead of their enemies. (even if you'd really like to hang them by their toes).

And if they don't work for a while due to the weather, that's just part of living in the midwest. I sure as heck won't be getting on a ladder that's sitting on 3/4" of solid ice. I've had some close calls in that regard, and I sure appreciate it when the homeowner throws out some ice melt on their cement patio, or scoops a path around the house.

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