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Horror Stories » Our Sustainable Home
Browsing Topic: Horror Stories

Painting Disaster on Move-in

September 13th, 2009

Just a quick note to say the move went… poorly.

We made a somewhat last-minute decision to have the painters who completed the priming of the house and painting of the ceiling, actually complete the painting of the entire house instead of tackling that ourselves.

The head painter said he’d have 5 people on site on Wednesday and complete everything in 1 day. There was 1 guy.

The next day the same guy showed up. Calls to the head painter were met with repeated claims of “I’m on my way” for several hours. By about 1:00pm the 1 painter just left leaving his tray and cans open (probably thinking everyone else would be showing up soon). They finally showed up at 3:30pm and did work quite late, but they weren’t done.

“No problem.” They were going to show up early the next morning and finish everything in 1-2 hours. Since we wouldn’t arrive with our movers until 11, that was no problem.

The movers arrived to wet walls and work in progress everywhere. No rooms were complete but rather at some stage of completion. Therefore NOTHING could be moved against any wall, everything would have to be piled into the centers of every room. Chaos.

Try to have a 1.5 year old running around a house where everything is teetering. We couldn’t be more than a foot away from him unless he was in the master bedroom (our one ‘safe’ zone).

It took the movers at least an extra hour to complete the move as a result and we’ll now have to spend the next week moving everything into position. :-\

Shortly after settling down after the move we started to look around and realized the paint job was awful. Just really really bad. (Our costly Yolo Zero-VOC paint smeared across the walls instead of rolled; bad cutting; bad seams around the windows; drips on the walls; drips/spray on the floors, unfinished wood trim, door handles, etc.)

There was a somewhat heated exchange with the painter on Saturday and we plan on picking up the discussion about how (and who?) is to be compensated on Monday. He had said he would bring a rep from the painting union and we wanted to discuss the issues with our builder.

He insists he can fix all these problems but we can’t possibly allow him to burn up another 10 (or so) gallons of paint trying to make a sloppy, clumpy wall look smooth.

We’ve spent the last two days with one of us taking care of the our young fellow while the other tried to clean & organize but it’s going to be a long process, it seems. This is really not what we needed now.

And another horror story starts for the blog. Unbelievably exhausted right now. It may be a few weeks before I get another post up here, while we focus on getting things settled.

(I should add: the house is frickin’ awesome otherwise. Just about everything else came together much better than we had hoped!)

Posted by Colin
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How to excavate

March 3rd, 2009

This is what a properly excavated hole is supposed to look like:


not this:


Each excavator who came to quote on cleaning up the mess left by Premier Construction took one look and said “Who would do this?”

Excavations are not completed from outside the hole (which is what PCMS tried to do). The excavation equipment will go all the way to the back of the property, and begin to dig out a square and level hole, gradually moving forward to the front of the property. This makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Posted by Colin
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Bad Business: Premier Construction (PCMS), Hamilton, ON

February 28th, 2009

When we started this blog we said we were not going to name the individuals or companies we were working with, so we would have the freedom to be critical without getting into a war with someone over the specific details of any given situation.

While that policy generally stands, we’ve decided to change that policy for any contractor who, say, does thousands of dollars of damages to our and neighbouring properties, then takes off without completing the job but keeping all the money that’s been paid to them.

It’s our opinion that Premier Construction and Maintenance Services Inc. / PCMS (of 107 Gertrude Street in Hamilton, Ontario) is such a company and we don’t think anyone should be doing business with them. We think Premier Construction is a bad company, with bad business policies.

Maybe they have a side to this that we haven’t considered. All I’ve really heard from head office is that they think they did a good job and met the requirements of the contract. (They don’t say they completed the work they promised, only that they aren’t legally obliged to do more than they’ve done.)

I should add that all the employees I dealt with on site were always polite and reasonably easy to get along with, even when we disagreed. My major problem with this company is that I don’t think they completed the work they were legally obliged to complete, and I know they didn’t complete the work we asked to be completed from the beginning.

The history:

Read the rest of this entry -»

Posted by Colin
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Horror Stories

February 27th, 2009

Sadly, today I have added a new category to the site called “Horror Stories” because of everything that has happened with the demolition/excavation company. I’ll be filling in stories behind this one with what’s happened over the last 3 weeks when I have time. Hopefully on the weekend.

Stay tuned folks — it’s getting interesting.

Posted by Colin
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Contract Signed. Demolition Delays.

February 8th, 2009

We finally got our contract with our builder signed last week. That probably should have been done much earlier or we could have been left with an empty hole in the ground and no builder. It helps that he comes recommended through our architect (and is in all ways an extremely nice and smart guy) and so we felt could be trusted at his word. In general however, it’s good to remember: “Verbal contracts are not worth the paper they aren’t written on.”

With the temperature swinging into positive digits for the rest of this week, we were really hoping to have the hole dug so the footings could be set while it’s a bit warmer out.  The footings are the only tricky piece of our build as far as building through winter goes. The ICF walls are self-insulating as they are poured so the concrete will have no problem setting properly (slowly).

But if the ground is frozen or we failed to keep the footings warm enough, it could cause problems with the curing process. Our builder plans to be on site as soon as the demolition guys have cleared the ground so he can lay down hay. This will apparently prevent the ground from freezing.

Unfortunately the demolition team is now saying “Friday at the latest” for their completion date, which seems like a really long way off considering the amount of work remaining. We’re now 3 weeks behind schedule just for the demolition.

The builder still feels like he could be finished his part by the end of May. 😯

Posted by Colin
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Demolition Progress and Contract Negotiation

February 3rd, 2009

The demolition crew are now removing the rest of the debris from the lot and are simultaneously moving into excavation. My summary of our interactions to date: A really nice group of fairly unreliable guys.

For example: they were supposed to recover several things from the construction site:

  • The kitchen cabinets: Countertop was broken and disposed of before we could say “we’ll take it anyway”. We did reclaim the rest of the cabinets.
  • The wrought iron arch from the kitchen: Smashed. Large pieces missing. It’s inconceivable what their strategy was for removing it that resulted in *any* damage to it, never mind this.
  • 100 year old solid wood 2×6 joists, 2×4 wall supports, up to 1×16″ planks on the walls: “It was all rotted by termites and water damage. We saved what we could.” That was a about 1 dozen *new* 2x4s from the latest addition to the house. It almost makes one wonder how the house could stand if *everything* else was rot. (It also makes one wonder what the value of 2nd hand 100 year old wood is. :-\)
  • All power outlets and light switches: This is weird because I was half done the job. They seem to have thrown out what I had collected up to the time they showed up on the first day.

We did get to keep the front & back doors, breaker box & breakers, and the main power-connection point for the house.

Another oddity: constant contract renegotiation.

They initially wanted $6,500 up front and then a series of payments during the job. We argued that given the widespread corruption problems of their industry, we would be foolish to hand over $6500 — they may just not show up (as is common practice). We have no security.

They, on the other hand, can lien our property for $25 and 10 minutes of their time at city hall. They can lock up our biggest asset if we even hesitate to pay them. Plus since this is the beginning of the build process, they can’t be worried that we don’t have enough budget to get through demolition.

They ultimately agreed to a structure whereby they would be paid in 3 stages as work was completed: Removal of ground floor, removal of basement & foundation, excavation. This was all fine and well until they were partway into the job started hitting us up for early payment.

To make a long story short: they kept offering up factually incorrect reasons why they should be paid early, and blaming the ‘head office’ for making them ask. We ultimately agreed to give them partial payments for the portion of the work we thought had been completed.

In part I really like these guys, but another part of me considers the possibility that we really are just one poorly considered payment away from them running off with what money they have and abandoning the job.

I kept feeling like by saying ‘no’ we were just pushing our interpretation of ambiguous contract language and therefore it was somewhat unreasonable for us to refuse their interpretation. But that wasn’t even close to reality. Our contract could not have been more simply worded, or more clearly defined about when payment was due. It was in no way due.

e.g., it stated debris is to be hauled away before payment. There were 6 (!) bin-loads of debris awaiting removal when they were demanding payment.

You should be prepared to feel like a jerk even when you’re completely in the right, and consider the possibility that holding back payment is the right thing to do, even when the case isn’t so clear-cut. This is another reason why it’s so important to clearly define the work and payment schedule.

Everyone in this industry wants their money early but for 100% of cases where people get scammed, early payment was the crucial mistake.

Posted by Colin
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