Contractors and Competance

Contractors and Competance

PostBy: Dann757 On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:57 am

Just blowing off steam here.
I'm threatening my landlady?friend to move out of here. I am kind of a mini caretaker here, I'm the one that made this place livable. I don't pay rent, but it's no skin off her back. The bummer is, she belongs to a church right around the corner. Last year their front steps were badly deteriorated. Limestone steps on masonry. I told them I could make a durable repair for a couple hundred bucks. Oh, no they hired illegals to rebuild the whole staircase for 5 grand. Then they got called back because they broke a step trying to install iron railings. Her husband called in a favor from a railing guy, he donated the railings. Then she demanded that I install the railings. I capitulated and did a nice install.
Then this year I got sucked in to the renovation of the manse, as you all know. They insisted on putting me on the church books, I opened my mouth and am giving them labor at 1/2 my rate. I had no other work, and have ben fixing this place up all summer. I restored the badly neglected exterior, paint, carpentry, pretty extensive stuff.
Due to some weird petty church politics, they wanted another contractor to repair the big brick patio that was collapsing into the driveway. This included repairing the steps and a stone wall that really was not a priority IMHO. A couple weeks ago, the guy showed up and was literally mentally deficient. He had a NJ State contractor's L:icense, LLC, member of a couple landscape organizations. They saw his work and fired him after a couple days! Keep the deposit they said, no hard feelings!
I came up with a better design to make a small, efficient set of stairs with 4 posts set in the ground. I was going to use the 6x6 ties the guy left behind to construct a buttress retaining wall, only 3' wide.
They told me to stop and a big fight ensued with my friend. No good deed goes unpunished!
I called a local guy who is a towny and a local official. He is expensive, but he does quality work with local labor, great guys. They denied his estimate and I wasted his time too.
Somebody from the church was in a diner, an hour away, talking about the fiasco, when a stranger approached them. He said he could do the job.
They hired the guy, and he dropped off a couple of Portugese illegals to start the job! These new idiots are botching the job AGAIN!
I got in another fight with my landlady/friend and threw my phone and broke it on Christmas Eve!
They still want me to paint the interior and continue my discount renovations inside.
I can imagine your advice, and I am trying to do this; mind my own business and get what I can out of the situation!!!
Attachments
drain goes uphill, will flood patio.jpg
(193.96 KiB) Viewed 43 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
drain goes uphill, will cause problems
[nepathumb]24154[/nepathumb]
way too far away.jpg
(154.31 KiB) Viewed 45 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
way too far away
[nepathumb]24155[/nepathumb]
gravel way too high and wide.jpg
(182.5 KiB) Viewed 37 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
gravel fill?
[nepathumb]24156[/nepathumb]
no lip on tread, wide gap.jpg
(125.23 KiB) Viewed 47 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
no lip on tread, split tread, so against code
[nepathumb]24158[/nepathumb]
Picture 017.jpg
(200.56 KiB) Viewed 36 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
not stonemasons, idiots.
[nepathumb]24159[/nepathumb]
Dann757
 

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:18 pm

I would recommend you raise your rate. When they are done with their learning curve, you'll be well worth it! :)
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: rberq On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:40 pm

Apparently since you are giving them labor at half-rate, your advice is only worth half that of a total stranger who overhears them in a restaurant and offers to work at full-rate. I hope the economy picks up so you get back to regular work and can tell those idiots to (in the words of my sainted mother-in-law) "kiss my rosy red butt".

It's scary the kind of "experts" you come across. I had a problem 25 years ago with one of the granite slabs my house sits on. It was tipping backwards at the top. I called a guy who advertised that kind of work. He looked at it, said he would strip off the siding so he could scab onto the wall studs with some jacks to lift the house, bring heavy machinery to dig out around the slab, lift the slab out, reset everything, and so on. Plenty of dollars. I called a local guy recommended by a neighbor. He looked at it and spotted some loose bricks in the right-angle wall behind the granite and said that was the whole problem. He jacked the house corner a fraction of an inch, tipped the granite upright by hand, set the house back down, re-mortared a dozen bricks, and it's been fine ever since. $200.
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane


Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: Dann757 On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:45 pm

Thanks for listening guys. Since I'm immersed in the situation, it's hard to know where to back off. Hopefully this situation will help me become more aware of my own shortcomings. I take things personally, when it doesn't make sense to do so. I rubbed it in on my friend, who took charge and hired this guy; she didn't find him, just interviewed him, and he insisted he's also on the board of a church, knows how it is, rest assured, etc. I'm sure she's embarrassed. She's good natured, why should I try to make her cynical like I am? There should have been men in the church to handle contractors.
Good story Bob.
Somebody else once told me if you don't charge enough the customer won't respect you!
I also heard a line about sales, " If the customer doesn't have a tear in their eye when you give them the bill, you didn't charge enough!"

I don't belong to the church, but circumstances have drawn me into this situation. As a woman, my friend will usually throw a tantrum when she doesn't get her way.
As of now she wants me to just back off, do my work on the inside. So be it.

By the way, there is no learning curve with these people :lol: :lol:
Dann757
 

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: david78 On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:47 pm

Yeah, sometimes the learning curve just trends forever downward. :bang:
david78
 
Baseburners & Antiques: Fuller & Warren Splendid Oak 27
Coal Size/Type: Nut

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: MURDOC1 On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:00 pm

Not to speak badly of my own family, but, my grandparents are and have been devout catholic churchgoers their entire lives (nothing wrong with that by the way). In fact my grandfather was a ucharistic minister for many many years to boot!! Now don't misunderstand me here, they are both the kindest people one could ever meet, do anything for anybody types, but, they also refused to see the 'real picture' when it came to what is going on right in front of their very faces... What I'm talkin' about are all the liars, thieves and cheats out there in this world that will take advantage of their own mother if it means personal gain... We all know these people and have experienced them in one way or another and if/when I would talk to them about such people the response was- "how dare you speak like that about other people, that is terrible, no one does that sort of thing"... Fortunatley I think my grandparents were able to avoid these crooks as a whole their entire lives and perhaps it was because of their faith and way of thinking??? Who knows??? But, guess what I'm getting at is there are people out there that have a hard time seeing the light of day and as a result ones such as yourself are kept in the dark...

One of my favorite sayings, don't know who ever said it or where it ever came from but it goes like this-

"I don't care to engage in a battle of witts with someone who is clearly unarmed"!!!

Sometimes its just not worth saying a word, even when you know for sure you're right...

Take it light man!!!

Murdoc
MURDOC1
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska/Franco Belge/Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: S.S. 2/ 144.08.02/ Mag Stoker

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: rberq On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:01 pm

Dann757 wrote:Somebody else once told me if you don't charge enough the customer won't respect you!

My wife's rule of thumb is, if the contractor shows up to do the estimate in a shiny new clean $35,000 pickup truck, send him packing!
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: 009to090 On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:21 pm

MURDOC1 wrote:"I don't care to engage in a battle of witts with someone who is clearly unarmed"!!!


I believe that was Frank Baer
"Never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person"


One of my favorites. :D
009to090
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520 HighBoy
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: DVC-500 x 2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: WNY On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:14 pm

I can't believe the nerve of contractors (or so called contractors)....some are not even worth the quotes they are printed on.
My mom had one that never came back to finish the job and complained the whole time while working on it (when he actually showed up!) and tried to cut corners, luckily, I know a lot of construction, home renovation, etc...and I had to finish the job myself, luckily she didn't pay him the last payment. We documented everything that wasn't done, He even signed it and said he would finish it, BUT that didn't even work......We took pictures, etc...he never came back or anything. :( NO great loss there....
WNY
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: Dann757 On: Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:12 pm

rberq wrote:My wife's rule of thumb is, if the contractor shows up to do the estimate in a shiny new clean $35,000 pickup truck, send him packing!


I hear that, Bob. This is the second landscaper with a NJ contractor's licence, fancy truck, dropped off a lowboy with a bobcat on it, big job box; and a couple of numbskulls.

The NJ contractor's license and mandatory insurance is nothing but a tax and extortion, hiding behind the premise of protecting the consumer! Case in point!

I couldn't make up a more ridiculous story.
I'm not a big dog, and there are a lot of thugs out there; I better take the advice I was looking for "Take It Light!"

If I go and confront the guy I'll likely lose my temper and walk away shaking, make everything worse. I've been told to keep out of it anyway.

Now there's an electrician involved, he didn't even get back to them with an estimate, the excuses for men in the church are all away on vacations!
They have old 8" square recessed lights in the kitchen. Now they want a few more, and want everything round. The electrician mentioned, " I hope you have somebody to close up the holes..."

Well, my paycheck is being processed, they pay once a month hahahahaha.

Good to hear, in a way, that you guys know what I'm talking about.
Dann757
 

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: gaw On: Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:21 am

Hey Dann757; I would just stay narrowly focused on what they tell you to do. You’re already working half price so why try to increase your workload?

From the pictures you posted I have no idea what the landscapers have in mind and they probably have no idea either. Those steps are classic, besides the split tread and the lack of a lip it looks like they nailed them and didn’t even do a neat job of it. I go crazy when I don’t see evenly spaced fasteners in strait lines.

Your pictures of your past work show attention to detail and maybe your church clients can’t see that, some people don’t appreciate the little things and attention to detail. Maybe it is time to finish what you started for them and exit gracefully, tell them you’re too busy to be taking on new projects.

If you see someone about to strike a match to look into a gas tank to see if it is empty you can run over shouting for them to stop before they blow themselves up or you can get back and watch the show! Sometimes it is more fun to stand back and watch the show.
gaw
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice from Schuylkill County

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: titleist1 On: Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:55 am

Forgive my ignorance, but does the term "split tread" just mean they used two boards to span the depth of the step instead of one wider board? Is that what makes it against code or is it the lack of a lip?
titleist1
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: gitrdonecoal On: Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:04 am

hang in there dan. i myself am a contractor. i can see where we get the bad name by just watching some of these idiots in my area, weather its bad business practice, shady work, or just plain too expensive. i am a legit insured contractor with just myself, no employees. since spring of 2008 work has come to a crawl. its scary out there, the economy is in the dump with no relief coming soon. i also noticed though as soon as the economy turned there were so many people come out of the woodwork and called themselves "contractors." i doubt any of them are legit. i know for a fact the one guy is not, drives a rusted up beat up half ton dodge with wooden ladder racks, and seems to smoke 3 packs a day. and he is always busy. its become a dog eat dog world out there and the liscenced guys are wearing meat pants lol. to anyone out there thinking of getting a contractor do the following:
1. Get a list of references at least 4 with phone numbers
2. ask for pictures of past work
3. ask where he has done work in the past and take a sunday stroll and look at the work
4. make sure he has at least a 1 to 2 million dollar liability policy. insurance company will mail it right to your house
5. when presented with a bid make sure you see samples of materials he will be using
6. just use good judgement. if he shows up in a 1983 pickup spitting oil out the tail pipe and half the box left on his truck SAY NO

This is all advise from one contractor to all homeowners that may read. i hate seeing myself people getting ripped off, taken advantage of, or people doing the work just not really giving two censored about the homeowner. dan good luck in the future and i hope everything turns out good.
stay warm
John
gitrdonecoal
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90
Stove/Furnace Make: USSC
Stove/Furnace Model: Hotblast 1557

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:04 pm

Dan...
Slow down....
And enjoy the show...
You tried to help...
And they just do not get it...
If they are paying 50% of your rate...
work at 75% of your regular speed...
and they are still getting a discount... ;)
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Contractors and Competance

PostBy: Dann757 On: Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:25 pm

Thank you guys very much for all the replies and stories!!!

When I feel the anger coming up I better remember the good advice! This slick out of towner pushed me aside and also my buddy who is on the town planning board! I could cause some major trouble, this is the dilemma. This is my chance to be a stand up guy; do just what you all said; mind my own business. I'll keep you posted.



titleist1 wrote:Forgive my ignorance, but does the term "split tread" just mean they used two boards to span the depth of the step instead of one wider board? Is that what makes it against code or is it the lack of a lip?
- both
Dann757