Contractor Work: Is this normal?

Discussion in 'General Home Improvement Discussion' started by bh_homeowner, Feb 4, 2019.

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  1. Feb 4, 2019 #1

    bh_homeowner

    bh_homeowner

    bh_homeowner

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    Sorry for the long read...

    I mainly want to know if what I've experienced is to be expected and is normal in the contractor world, or if it warrants a complaint and/or asking for a discount. Total project price is an even $40k. I have paid them $20,500 so far and the project is ~85% completed.

    Long story short, I've hired a foundation company to replace the foundation on my single-story, 1000 sq. ft. home. I conducted a bunch of interviews and received a bunch of estimates. This was the place I felt the most confident about. They weren't the cheapest, but they seemed the best. They are licensed.

    The price includes everything:
    • Shoring
    • Permits
    • Demolition, hauling and disposal of old foundation and other debris
    • Trenching, permits, pouring, and stucco at the end.
    • Leveling of a section of the house
    • Rebar, concrete
    • Bracing/Earthquake retrofitting
    The things I noticed were:
    • An overall level of disorganization and lack of professionalism
    • Urination on the property (which I have video proof of)
    • Leaving trash and nails all over the place, and basically leaving the worksite a mess.
    • Destroying landscaping
    • Disrupting gas and hot water and leaving us without it repeatedly
    • Disturbing neighbors in the early AM and asking them to move their cars (when they were legitimately parked on the street)
    • Using my personal wood for project structures
    • Destruction of personal property (damaging container plant, exterior thermometer and water heater)
    I can make my peace with the urination and messy worksite. After all, they need to pee somewhere (apparently, it's an OSHA violation) and they've cleaned up reasonably after specific project milestones. However, they've disrupted our utilities 7 out of the 14 workdays which have resulted in us not being able to use the hot water, overnight a number of times, and without use of any gas on some of those days. They blame it on the sensitive seismic shut-off valve. I guess I can't understand why they can't verify that the gas and water heater are in working order before they leave for the day. They stripped a screw on the chamber door of the water heater and just left it broken without saying a word. They dropped wood on our container plant, breaking the container. They tore our front yard weed barrier and left it a complete mess (it was under 3 inches of wood chips). Our exterior thermometer has gone missing, probably buried somewhere under the dirt. No foreman or supervisor was present at any stage of the project and workers were unable to communicate what they would be doing on most days. Also, when I called their office, different employees would say different things regarding what would be happening that day. And I don't get why they couldn't have coned/blocked off space on the street ahead of time to make room for trucks and equipment, instead of bothering my neighbors and telling them they need to move their cars from spaces they have every right to park in.

    So is this normal? Am I making it a bigger deal than it is? I feel like $40k is a lot of money and with comes certain expectations. Thanks everyone.
     
  2. Feb 4, 2019 #2

    Sparky617

    Sparky617

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    They should be required to have a port-a-john on site. Around here when people are having renovations done on their houses there is usually a port-a-john on site even though many times they have functioning bathrooms at the house. The workers don't use the homeowner's toilets.

    It is tough doing a job like this while a house is being occupied.

    Parking and access are always a challenge, especially in high-density areas. I think it would helpful if you went and talked with your neighbors about the scope of the work and see if they could assist by moving their cars in the morning.
     
  3. Feb 4, 2019 #3

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

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    Request a meeting with whoever is in charge of the project and relay your concerns to them.
     
  4. Feb 4, 2019 #4

    bh_homeowner

    bh_homeowner

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    The interesting thing is, if they had told me at the start of the project that I would experience utility service interruptions, witness a big mess, and need to move all belongings at least 30 feet away from the house, I would have been alright with it.

    I kept documentation of the project with daily photos and a log, noting the issues I witnessed. I was planning on bringing all of the issues up toward the end of the project, for fear that they may throw their hands up and put in less effort if I complained.

    As for meeting with the person in charge, I've spoken to the owners of the company a number of times and they are well aware of the water heater and utilities issues. Yet they keep happening. They told me that one of the gas lines was loose when the water heater stopped working initially. I have a hard time believing the line was loose before they started work, because I never had trouble with any of the gas appliances before.

    My thinking is that I would divulge the rest of the issues after they finish the big stuff and hold onto the final payment until they fix the things they broke. The heart of the issue is that I feel that their carelessness is an indication of the quality of their work.
     
  5. Feb 5, 2019 #5

    Snoonyb

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    There are two sides to every story, and while the contractor seems to be remise, when it comes to supervision, your asking question and amending the contract to address specific concerns, would be in your interest.

    The parking may have required a specific permit.
     
  6. Feb 5, 2019 #6

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    That sounds like a big job, big jobs cause things that are inconvenient for you and the neighbours as well as the contractor and his crew.
    Would we sooner have mason patch up a gas line or wait for the gas fitter to show up and make it safe for you and yours.
    Parking on a public street is not your business, it is between the contractor and the car owner, that's just the way it is. Perhaps you could have parked your car so you could move it in the morning.
    Leaving a job site all cleaned up and organized all the time can add considerably to the bottom line. But it should be left as safe as possible.
    Keep track of your material that has gone missing and ask for it to be replaced or paid for.
    Landscaping is going to take a beating, nothing wrong with asking why something was destroyed, but there may be a good reason too.
     
  7. Feb 5, 2019 #7

    bh_homeowner

    bh_homeowner

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    Thanks for the replies, all. I'm a stickler for details when it comes to spending a large chunk of my hard-earned money. Attached is an image of what they did to the front yard. Seemed unnecessary to me, but I guess it comes with the territory of having a project like this done.

    20190126_113819.jpg
     
  8. Feb 5, 2019 #8

    nealtw

    nealtw

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  9. Feb 6, 2019 #9

    Snoonyb

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    No before photo, no point of reference.
     
  10. Feb 6, 2019 #10

    Gary

    Gary

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    Sometimes you Gotta' break a few eggs to make an omelet. What counts is what it looks like after their last visit.
     
    DFBonnett likes this.
  11. Feb 6, 2019 #11

    Sparky617

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    I wouldn't wait to catalog the problems until the end, especially things like public urination. Has the contractor provided a port-a-john for his workers and subcontractors? If not, where does he expect them to go when the call that no man can ignore comes? It isn't very cost efficient to leave the job site to use a public restroom several times a day.

    Replacing a foundation requires some digging and heavy equipment, it is going to tear up the yard especially when the soil is wet and not frozen solid.
     
  12. Feb 6, 2019 #12

    Supershine!

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    Sounds like a communication problem. I have found if you tell people what to expect ahead of time then you can do almost anything that is reasonable.

    The construction industry is full of technically oriented people that may know how to do the physical work but lack people skills. The two biggest problems I see in this industry are communication skills and customer service skills. When a company has both technical skills and people skills they will probably have an excellent reputation in your area and consequently charge more.

    Once the work is done and they if they did a good job then ask them to cover the items they broke, pay them and move on.

    Referrals are a huge source of new business for contractors but it doesn't sound like they'll get a good one from you. That will be their reward for the experience they gave you.
     
  13. Feb 11, 2019 #13

    pjones

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    I understand the desire to have everything cleaned up and put away at the end of the day but to do that adds an enormous amount of time to a job. You chose to live in a construction zone, you need to provide them the space to work and let them do what they need in order to get the job done. In a perfect world there would be no mess but in reality people usually aren’t willing to pay for the extra time and material that is required to have a perfectly clean job preformed. If you wanted this then it probably should have been discussed before hand so they could have quoted the job accordingly. It’s usually cheaper to re seed the grass and replace the few items that get broken after the job is complete. Perhaps the contractor should have had this conversation with you before the job started so you were aware of what you would be living with if you chose to stay there.

    Was a washroom provided for the workers to use? I wouldn’t expect them to leave site every time they need to use the washroom and the time for that to happen wouldn’t have been quoted for either. There should have been a Porta-John on site for them to use.
     

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