Contractors Can Suck It

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My life is all about packing and getting set for this move on Saturday. Which is good, because it’s finally happening and all of that; but not so great because of the drain I’m dealing with on my energy. I guess I can’t blame it all on packing and thinking– I also have a cold or sinus thing going on that’s making me extra sleepy and cranky (because of the pressure and headache) and that’s wearing me out, too.

Either way, I would just love to do something like check into a luxurious hotel with one of those super-cool beds…you know, the ones with 500-count white sheets, a fluffy duvet and about 60 pillows…draw the blinds shut, put on some relaxing, very soft music and maybe have some scented oil-thing going with lavendar and maybe eucalyptus… and just ease into a nice, long sleep. I’d turn my phone off and I would not even bring the pets for this daydream. Nope, just me and a quiet, peaceful room far away from the stacks of cardboard boxes and piles yet-to-be-packed.

So, as I mentioned earlier, we smashed down the old pergola on Tuesday night. My sister was awesome at this. Not only did she get to borrow the all-important sledgehammer and power drill that enabled us to do it at all, but she had a real eye for the logistics-side of this endeavor; she directed which beams needed to come down in what order so that neither of us would wind up unconscious because the thing fell down on our heads. She also stopped me more than a couple of times from swinging the sledgehammer while she was still in hitting-range. Unlike my sister, I am like a big oaf-ish jackass who just stumbles along headfirst into uncontrolled excitement when I get to do fun things like break apart a pergola. I move, and THEN think afterwards. Thank God I have a sister who’s the opposite and was there to balance it all out! I really couldn’t have done this without her. Not just because of her mental capacity, but the amount of work she did was impressive. We both impressed ourselves in that regard, actually. I didn’t know we could splinter wood like that, or haul around those huge pieces of the pergola after they fell. Pretty cool!

Yesterday I had to go back out to the house in a moment’s notice because I needed to get to the house and install a light fixture in the kitchen ASAP, otherwise I wouldn’t pass the FHA inspection. First, it was the pergola that had to come down, and now THIS. I won’t get into the deep details of this whole annoyance with the contractor, and how they fixed half of the problem but sprung this second thing on me right in the middle of my work morning… because it’s just stupid. (The wire hung down from the ceiling where the old stove range hood used to be. The contractor went back and sheetrocked off the area where the pipe/vent was, but left the live wire dangling down for me to take care of. THANKS. It’s not like ya could have just as easily tucked that right back up there and slapped an electrical cover plate over it while you were in there doing the other thing anyway. No, of course not. We have to be dicks about it!)

I left work, ran to Home Depot and bought a pendant light fixture and a remodeling box after I’d consulted with my friend John (the guy who tore out the wall). John then met me over at the house and we installed the damn light. It’s pretty, because it’s a white frosted-glass, single light on a brushed nickel pole, and it hangs right over my breakfast bar/ countertop. We can’t turn it on or off right now, though, because it’s not connected to a light switch yet. All that mattered was that we got something on that live wire and it was safe so that the FHA inspector wouldn’t cite us for it. We’ll go back and add a switch later.

But what a pain. Having to rush around and get it done and then get back to work again was seriously annoying. I also realized that the contractor is not going to clean the place up after they’re finished. Oh, they threw out THEIR trash, and hauled away SOME of the debris in the backyard. But not ALL of it. They didn’t take anything from the pergola, even though we rushed it through and put the majority of the wood into a pile near the rest of the stuff they were supposed to be hauling off. They certainly didn’t sweep or make any attempts to wipe down surfaces that are coated in construction dust. NOPE, no time for that, I guess. And the contract didn’t specifically state that they would SWEEP or WIPE so I can’t expect it. Oh, they could sweep or wipe things down, but only if I was willing to write out a check for whatever amount to make up the difference, I’d bet.

I’ve read a lot of online reviews of different contractors and usually it’s standard to do a basic clean-up and at least attempt to make the place look a little presentable. There was one window installer that after putting in the windows, they cleaned up everything they touched, washed the windows AND the existing blinds, according to the reviewer. That sounds nice. And honorable and the right thing to do, too.

Oh! And they completely filled by trash bin with their garbage, rather than haul the big black contractor’s bags away with them along with the rest of the debris. That doesn’t seem fair, either. Now I can’t throw anything in there until pick-up day.

I really hated this process. Oh my God. Do NOT work with contractors OR the FHA if you decide to do renovations on your home! Well, at least, don’t work with the FHA. The requirements that they make on the contractors seem to only piss contractors off and they get all beligerent, whiny and lazy. They hate the payment terms that the FHA dictates, they hate the close level of scrutiny the FHA puts on their work, and they hate being called back out to a work site to fix something they thought they already did or were “not responsible for.” And then the contractor takes out their resentment and anger on YOU, the homeowner. After all, you’re the jerk who got the FHA loan in the first place, and you’re the one requesting things be done a certain way because it’s still your money that’s paying for the repairs! Ooh, the nerve of me! How dare I stay vigilant and notice when they are trying to throw a cheap, 4-inch deep sink in my kitchen when I specifically had requested an 8-inch sink… and then “tell on them” by complaining and demanding the correct sink. How DARE I make suggestions as work progresses, such as where I’d like an electric outlet for a ceiling fan be placed? Horrible!

The kicker is, John took a look at the work that the contractor had done and he was far from impressed. He pointed out that they took shortcuts while tiling in my bathroom (I’d never have noticed this little thing if he didn’t point it out); they wired the hot water heater in a totally inefficient way that cost them more to do than if they had wired it in the standard manner; the door frame around my French doors is a joke, because they didn’t prepare the wall underneath right and now the two mitered edges of the upper left corner overlap each other (instead of butting up next to one another neatly). And my dishwasher isn’t really installed. Sure, it’s hooked up to water and electric, but they didn’t bother to attach it to the countertop or pull the legs down so it’s balanced on the floor. They also didn’t put insulation along the outside of the dishwasher, which means it won’t hold heat as well as it should.

I called and reported a couple of these things to the contractor company yesterday, but haven’t heard anything back yet. I’d like to know if they’re going to do anything about this stuff (particularly the dishwasher). It would be nice. Also– I’d like to see an itemized breakdown of ALL the costs that went into this job. I want to know how much the screws cost, how much they ended up paying for the bathroom faucets, etc. Isn’t it hard to believe that I have never gotten this from them? All I get is an invoice with rounded-off numbers, like: “Install bathroom faucets and countertops, $400.” I want to know the prices paid for the faucets and the countertops, please. But they don’t want to do that, because they pad their prices with the labor costs (that are also mysteriously never itemized) and if they gave me everything in black and white, they know I’d be outraged. I know I got ripped off on a lot of stuff. But I also know the FHA made certain requirements and I needed to work with a contractor who was “experienced” in working with the FHA so I could get the loan pushed through and everything.

HOWEVER. Ahem.

Yesterday, I learn from one of the subcontractors that was there working on the plumbing that the contracting company was NOT experienced in working with an FHA loan! Lucky for me– I was the first home they did all the work on. Apparently, the company is known for being a flooring and cabinet company, and that’s it. They’ve done that work for FHA loans before, but they’d never attempted to handle an entire job (electrical, plumbing, construction) before. That’s why so much of the work was farmed out, and why they are saying so much stuff had to wait until the last minute. “The damn subcontractors were supposed to do this, that and the other thing… not us,” was the typical excuse I heard over the past two months. I stayed calm and wanted answers, and did everything I could on my end to keep things moving. They certainly had no sense of urgency with this house. If I didn’t drop the “bomb” that I was moving in on October 3, I bet they would have happily kept pushing it along indefinitely, milking the contractor of as much of my FHA loan money as they could get.

I hate these guys. So much. Can you believe they blatantly lied to me about their experience in dealing with FHA loan projects? Acted like this was something they did all the time, when in reality, they’d only ever handled part of the stuff… and the rest of it, never? UGH. I swear to God, if you want something done you really do have to do it yourself.

At least for the rest of the stuff I do need help with, I will be hiring people MYSELF and having John sign off on them. I’m not going to deal with anyone who lies or is shady in any way.

Well, that was my rant about the contractors and why they sucked. I hope you “enjoyed” reading this as much I enjoyed recording it here for posterity’s sake. Ahh, sweet annoyances. Where would we be without you?

Answer: In Hawaii. Drinking. Sleeping. That’s where.

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3 responses »

  1. Ugh. I was hired by construction companies to do post-construction clean up on several occasions. There are actually cleaning companies that specialize in this. I used to waitress with two women who went into business together doing just that sort of thing. They made a killing. In my case, it just happened to be that the apartment complex I was living in was one I was doing cleanings for when a tenant moved out, prior to a new tenant moving in, in exchange for $ off my rent… and so when they built a slew of new buildings, they asked me to clean those.

    Horrible job. Construction people DO NOT clean up after themselves or the messes they make. They just expect someone else to come along and do it for them. I’m talking scrubbing stucco off of tile floors, wiping down walls covered in dust, cleaning out brand new tubs covered in plaster, putty, dust, caulking, mortar… dusting light fixtures, vacuuming brand new carpet that the fuzz comes off of and clogs the vacuum… wiping the construction dust and fingerprints off all the brand new appliances… using a razor blade to scrape stucco splatters off the windows… and you’ll get a unit all cleaned and then some idiot with muddy boots will trek back through to fix some damn thing they didn’t do right the first time and the foreman goes bitching at you about cleaning it all again…

  2. I gotta say, my hubby is in the construction industry and we’ve done massive, costly renovations on the two homes we’ve owned over the past 4 years. We did a lot of work ourselves, but did bring in people for some of the work on the first place and a lot more on the 2nd. If you know the right people, there are some amazing contractors that do not cut corners and are conscientious with their work. But you really need to know someone in the industry, you can’t find a decent contractor at random. I will add that all our work was done for cash under the table, and that definitely helps the relationship.

  3. Am I wrong to point out that you did PAY for them to do this work? So why was it not done correctly/to your specifications? That is absolutely unacceptable! I would keep calling and complaining to the company until they send professional, well experienced people out to do the job correctly. There is no reason you should have had to suffer through all of this. Remember us with the plumbing fiasco? Complaining helps and it makes you feel better!

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