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mrsnomohren 01-19-2012 03:00 AM

New Here. Need Help/Advice from experienced contractors, DIY-ers, etc.
Ok, so I signed up for an account just to ask this question but I think I'll be regularly posting here because my husband and I love to DIY and we're taking on a problem with our basement and having the support would be wonderful! (The pregnancy forum I post on will appreciate not having anymore home renovation posts from me. lol)

So anyways. I need some advice on my current situation.

I called around to get some quotes for a 100k home renovation on my childhood home that my husband and I just moved in to. My grandmother was living here but it got to be too much house for her so she bought a new house (this is an important detail) and we moved in. I had numerous "estimators" come out then never show back up again. Finally, one guy, a person I trusted as he was the father of a high school friend, acted interested. He asked us our budget and told us he could do it for that on our first meeting.

Jump to now. My grandmother liked him when she met him so she wanted him to fix some of the problems on her new house quickly before starting on our house (something we were footing the bill for since she "living willed" us the house, we are covering all her closing costs, fix ups,etc.) Well this guy met with us to discuss what needed to be done at her house and I gave him the home inspection list. It was all pretty basic stuff: broken stovetop, new door seals needed, hot water heater too close to wall, water softner disconnected, etc. There were two bigger items: 2 standard sized windows in the front needed to be replaced and there was a tile bow in the kitchen from trapped moisture. He looked at it then again asked us what we were willing to spend (which in hindsight, I don't like this method. Seems shyster-y to me) and I told him 5k for everything on the list. He said he couldn't do that. I told him ok, well then how much for everything on the list except for the windows and tile bow? He said 2500. Keep in mind he WILL NOT write us a contract. We have asked on various occasions and he's always "working on it". With this small project with my grandma's we didn't stay on top of him bc it was something that needed to be done asap and of course he was working with us on the big project. Plus I figured...the guy isn't going to scam us if he wants this 100k job right!?


He spent a week at my grandma's new home doing NOTHING!!!!!!!!! Ok nothing is a bold statement but he literally stood around and talked to the painter, the carpet cleaner, anyone who would listen!

We went to check on him and he showed us all the "lightbulbs he had replaced" :eek:

I figured we weren't seeing the real work and in the end at the big reveal...obviously everything on the list would be done that we agreed upon. Well he shows up at our house one day and asked if he could be paid. I thought it was a bit abrupt being that he acted so nonchalant about when he'd be paid (I didn't realize that he was "done") but I gave him a check for $1700 as he requested. My husband and I had given him a $500 Lowes card to buy supplies as he needed them. So I did the math- thats $2200...he came in underbudget! :thumbup:

WRONG AGAIN! I called my grandmother and told her he was done and paid and she said: no he's not?! he hasn't done anything!?

She was right. Come to find out all he did was change lightbulbs, rescrew in a loose handrail down the stairs, (i'm not kidding here) cleaned a dirty sink, fixed 2 of the door seals that needed attention and added two missing bars in the closet. It was MAYBE 1/4 of the list (I still don't understand the lightbulb thing. he knows my husband and i are savvy...LIGHTBULBS!?). He also noted that he put in the cooktop (which we paid for separately) although Lowes told us they could install it for free since we bought it, but hes one of their installers!?

So my husband calls him (just letting you know my husband is a complete spineless push over but I'm a stay at home mom to be so I feel bad stepping in too much when he's footing the bill) and I'm not exactly sure all of what was said but basically he told my husband that the amount was correct and if he wanted the rest fixed he would have to "call people in" because he didn't do those things (um this wouldve been nice to know when you told us you could do the list for $2500).

So he calls in an electrician and then delivers us a bill for $400 who said it needed to be paid that day. He calls in a water softner company (to hook back up a water softner!?) and gives us a bill for $300.

If you're keeping tally thats up to $2900 for only HALF of the list done.

Heres the kicker. Today he comes over to install a granite counter top in our house (in a diy bathroom, not part of the "big" job but the only part we didnt want to do ourselves) and brings over an itemized receipt.

He lists: lightbulbs in all room, general cleaning, putting new rods in closets, tightening hardwares....FOR EACH ROOM to make it look like he did something.

THEN!!! He actually has the nerve to write "filled in holes in walls". Which was a SUPER SORE subject with my grandma. She hired a long time family friend as a painter for her house (that we have used MANY times. hes awesome) and our contractor was really bugging him. One day he said my guy said he was "bored" (yes. bored) and asked if he needed help "patching and filling holes" in the house. My painter...being the nice but dense guy he is said: Sure! The stuff is over here. Well my grandma was only paying for a half house paint. She liked the sage green that was all upstairs. Well my guy goes up and "patches" tiny nail holes on the green paint while the painter wasn't looking....making the WHOLE HOUSE to need to be painted now and incurring that cost.


Seriously. I was beside myself livid. And back to our granite countertop. He measured it and went with us when we ordered it. $1500 custom cut top. It doesn't fit. He completely brushes it off as no fault of his own and says we could "patch it with some cheap white tiles". WHAT!?!?!?!? I flipped out and told him we were not hillbilles and we were spending good money on our home and wanted it handled that way. I'm pregnant and my blood pressure was so high I had to sit down...I thought I was going to explode.

So after he left I told my husband how I was feeling about essentially firing him before he's started our big job because his "audition" runs went TERRIBLY at his fault alone. I thought my husband would be hands down on board with me so my mouth hit the floor when he said "if you weren't so mad or adament, I'd probably proceed with him"

I couldn't believe it. He's putting getting rid of this guy on MY CONSCIENCE alone even though he's obviously snaking us for all we're worth and effing up our house (my childhood home that means the world to me) at the same time!

Any advice on what to say to my husband?? Or any thoughts on what has happened. I'm truly flabbergasted and stressed beyond belief.

AtlanticWBConst. 01-19-2012 03:53 AM

Not real sure which part of this is DIY related(?)

Simple answer = If you are unhappy, get rid of the guy immediately (cut your losses now, and stop the pain).

Some decisions have to be made without emotions, rather, based on common business sense, profit/loss, job performance, etc.

mrsnomohren 01-19-2012 03:59 AM

Its not but I saw some other threads on here discussing DIY-ers working with contractors on bigger jobs, etc. I didn't want to post in contractor talk for paranoid fear that this guy is on there.

Just thought someone on here might have some idea if this sounds like a reputable person or not. BBB gives him a high rating, he has good references (which Ive now figured out are close friends. doh), and has a clean track record from what I've seen. My radar is going off like crazy that he's taking us to the bank but my husband wants to stay with him??

I guess what I'm saying is we didn't hire some fly-by-night to save money...we genuinely wanted work done.

I probably should've posted this in off topic but its kind of an emergency situation.

As I stated in the first sentence- I have a lot of DIY ahead of me and just thought this would be a good forum to join and interact with for those projects...but this was just my first question that needed asked.

Sorry if I offended by posting here and not in a more appropriate area.

And I agree that it just needs to be cut. I guess my emotions are involved more that my husband doesn't "see the big deal" when I feel as though he couldn't be more obvious in taking advantage of us.

AtlanticWBConst. 01-19-2012 04:00 AM

Not offended.

no1hustler 01-19-2012 07:12 AM

You should have fired him as soon as he blew off the contract. I'd learn from this and move on. There are plenty of other contractors out there that want your money.

If what you are saying is true, I wouldn't feel bad that your husband is guilting you for wanting to fired this schmuck. He sounds like a disaster and you are making the right decision. Your husband will get over it and if he is a man, he will eventually look back and thank you.

Just curious, what part of the country are you located?

oh'mike 01-19-2012 07:33 AM

I didn't read all the way through this---However I read enough---

You need work done in a timely fashion---he's not doing that---Time to part ways---

Next time--write out the scope of work and materials you prefer---so the contractor knows exactly what you require.

Get a firm quote ---

Few contractors want the homeowner to supply materials---the possible exceptions being ,items of taste ,style or color---Light fixtures--mirrors--vanitys and tops--floor coverings--that sort of thing.

They will (should ) give you a list of what you are to provide and they should buy everything else.

If architects drawings are needed--get those first so all bids are for the exact same work--Mike---

ddawg16 01-19-2012 07:44 AM

It also helps to put your location in your profile.....there might be a member here who knows a few people in your area that you could trust. If you were in LA, I know of at least 2 that would treat you right.

As a recourse....take pictures and file a claim in small claims court.

You now understand the importance of a contract, detailed scope of work and why you should only used licensed contractors.

On a side note.....this forum is a great place to learn what the scope of work should be. Search a topic....learn as much as you can....then when you interview contractors you will have a good idea or not if they know what they are doing.

DrHicks 01-19-2012 08:07 AM

What these guys have said is correct. Get rid of the schmuck.

I'll add that the BBB is a complete and total waste of time. It is nothing more than an advertising agency. If anybody pays their yearly dues (advertising fee) the can do virtually anything and still have a superior rating with BBB.

mrsnomohren 01-19-2012 08:18 AM

Thanks everyone. When husband woke up this morning I told him to axe him. The guy knew as of yesterday that I didn't want visitors til after noon today and he rang the doorbell at 8:30....either to beg for my forgiveness or shoot me. lol

I would love a contractor that supplied all the fixtures- he just explained to me that he gets no discount on supplies or anything anymore "in this economy" and it might be best for us to pick and buy and have him do the measurements. Yea, guess not.

I live in central Indiana (I'll get that updated on my profile) so people are hurting for jobs but you cant tell it. Thanks again!

PoleCat 01-19-2012 08:40 AM

I have many relatives in central Indiana that I go over to do work for. The things they get told by the local tradesmen are so outlandish that I felt compelled to protect them from such fraud. Be careful in your search for an honest person. They seem to be a rarety there.

1910NE 01-19-2012 04:42 PM

The "friend of a friend/ cousin/ whatever" is probably the worst possible choice..

Don't ever hire someone without a contract with scope of work....ever.

biggles 01-19-2012 05:28 PM

don't let him on th property and keep him out of your home,what are you going to do sspend the entire 2012 walking around your home mentioning this clowns non want to enjoy the memories of having the house fixed up...don't let this garbage scare that ..if you wuss out then you both deserve it ..keeping in mind the other trades are watching this thinking HEY...lets get on this gravy train and rip these clowns off..sorry but it's a fact:wink:

oh'mike 01-19-2012 07:54 PM

I've seen, first hand, what at least one Indians craftsmans work looked like---

I was 'imported' to South Bend to salvage a whole house rehab that was not working out well--

Happy customer when we left---Even the local historical commissioner was pleased--Mike--

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