Thursday, May 12, 2011

The pains of working with contractors

It has been 6 1/2 months, 195 days to be exact, since the lint built up in the back of my dryer and my garage caught on fire. 195 days since the folks at Paul Davis Restoration showed up on my doorstep and said "Hi, we are hear to help you and to make this transition easier." 195 days ago, they lied.

For the first 2 months, there were constant problems between the contractor and the insurance agent. My Nationwide agent, also not the brightest bulb in the pack, and Paul Davis were both working off separate systems and it took them over a month to figure this out which explained why their numbers were not matching up. This coupled with the fact that it took over a week for my agent to respond to any emails or calls. Okay, fine. End of December rolls around and we finally have a clear plan and a check from Nationwide to start the reconstruction.

Demo goes fairly smoothly except for one thing. The contractors never once took pictures of anything before the tore it out. You can imagine how this would be a problem later in the reconstruction phase.

Over the next few months, I realize that my contractors lack the ability to multi-task. They just can't seem to do more than one thing at a time, and about 80% of the time, when they complete one task they wind up breaking something else. Here are some examples. When they redid the wiring on the A/C unit outside, they moved the box and broke a piece of the siding. They claim it's because the siding is so brittle, which it is, but it's really because they just screwed it in without drilling a small pilot hole first. If I, not a contractor, can screw something to the side of my house without breaking a panel, I would think they could. Also when they installed the range hood, they put a hole in the wall that then had to be fixed. When they took out the interior drywall, they put a hole in the siding on the front of the house. When they hired their roofing contractor to replace the roof, they broke the skylight and it took over 6 weeks to get replaced and even now, it looks like a 6 year old installed it and it needs to be redone. And these are just a few tidbits that I can think of off hand.

I also realize that the contractor's contractors seem to be fairly inept. They really need a full time supervisor, which I have become. Funny, because I thought that's why I hired Paul Davis. Apparently not.

Remember how I said that they never took pictures? Yea, about two months ago, that became a problem. First, the plumber. When he re-plumbed the kitchen he put the sink connections back IN A DIFFERENT PLACE! Seriously. Apparently he thought I could just move that however I wanted. No matter that the granite only has a hole in one spot to put the sink in. Also the electrical in the kitchen was rewired completely differently. So much so, that they had to redo the whole back panel of the cabinets under the sink because the holes didn't line up anymore. Again, pictures would have been helpful. Or measuring. Huh, what a concept. I mean, the cabinets were always in the house, if you really didn't know where something went, just measure the cabinets and you would have figured it out. Idiots. Oh and when they put the upper cabinets back into the house, they didn't put them the normal 18" up from the countertop, they put them on the ceiling. I walked in and I couldn't even touch the cabinet nobs to open them. Pictures.

Just before move-in the paint job was completed on the walls and the trim was stained. First thing I noticed was that the trim color was the wrong color. Well not "wrong" per-say, just not right. They did use the cherry minwax stain, however, they only did one coat of stain instead of two. Then the put the finish on and so now there's pretty much nothing one can do about it. The annoying part was how they lied to the head contractor about what they did. The painter was there the day I walked in and saw the trim. I asked him why the color was different and then I asked him how many coats of stain they put on. He said "one, that's all we do." However, after I pointed out to my head contractor (the "supervisor") that the color was wrong because they didn't do the typical two coats of stain, the painter then said to the contractor "oh, well we did 2 coats on the baseboards and 3 coats on the trim." LIAR. Listen, you made a mistake, you admitted to me your mistake, there's nothing you can do about it now, so just admit it. Don't lie to cover your ass. I know the truth, you told it to me a week ago. The trim turned out okay, just not as dark or the color that I wanted it. The interesting part is that they had a sample of what it was supposed to look like, and when they stained next to the sample, and realized it wasn't right, they just continued to put the finish on the wood instead of calling someone and saying "hey, this doesn't seem right to me, are you sure you want me to do this."

So yesterday I moved back into my house. It was a very exciting day for me and very stressful. Fortunately I have some awesome friends who helped me make the move a little easier. Thanks Mark, Christen, and Merrick.

First thing I noticed were the blinds. They were missing. So was the shower curtain rod, the closet rods, the closet shelves, the curtain rods for the master bedroom. Apparently instead of putting all that hardware into a bag and marking it "needed for move in," they just threw all that away and thought "oh well, we'll just buy new ones." Seriously I can't imagine how much all these little mistakes are costing the contractor.

The next things that I noticed, in progressive order, with the last being noticed at 11pm were 1) the refrigerator doors don't seal properly, 2) the front door is a pain to open and close (which I've been telling them about for the last 4 months) 3) the garbage disposal is on the wrong side of the sink (even after I told the plumber what side to put it on) 4) the shower doesn't work 5) all the doors are on the wrong frames so none of them close anymore 6) the toilet doesn't work.

You can imagine how I feel today about all of this. I also had words with the city inspector asking him why he didn't do his job, because the plumbing inspection, which was done on monday, should have NEVER passed with the shower and the toilet not working. Also, interestingly, I was told that the garbage disposal is about to fail and I should consider replacing it. Um, yea, that worked fine before you touched it, and funny, you admitted to me that you had trouble disconnecting it in the first place, so you had to pull at it hard to get it off. Any chance you broke something in the process? Hum, I think likely.

Lesson - don't let your house burn down.

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