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Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication

 
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Old 12-03-2018, 11:32 PM   #1
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Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Hi all, hoping I can get some input from people with more experience with this situation than I have.

My girlfriend started a basement remodel earlier this year, in April (or May, can't remember... been so long). This involved adding drain tile, beams on exterior walls, sump pump, etc. She'd been getting water every summer for a few years. There was also new framing and an egress window for a functional bedroom.

This work was done through a home improvement loan from the city... a loan amount is approved and then a contractor is selected from bids that have been submitted.

My girlfriend selected a contractor who is a somewhat mutual friend and acquaintance of her best friend... and who happened to be the guy to suggest the home improvement loan to her.

The initial bid was over the loan amount, so the contractor and my girlfriend discussed different ways to keep costs down; I did a bulk of the demolition, he would work later hours after other jobs, etc.

The first phase of the remodel went well. Drainage problems were solved, the new bedroom was finished out and primed for painting, and basically all that was left to do by July or so was the drywall in the larger remaining area, paint, carpet, and trim.

By this point, however, the loan money had been spent up, and my girlfriend worked out an arrangement to do 'financing' with the contractor. Basically, she still owes him like an additional $9K or so.

I wasn't very involved in a lot of this, unfortunately, and really regret not having played a bigger part in these discussions.

Anyway, the contractor suggested to the city lady who authorizes the home improvement loans that they get my girlfriend another, smaller loan, to cover the remaining costs of finishing the whole thing out.

It's agreed by my girlfriend and the contractor that we (I) will do as much of the labor as possible in order to reduce total costs... the money saved here will be counted as 'equity' towards the money that she still owes the contractor.

Sound good? No, yeah, doesn't sound good, but that's where it's at. So right now we've got the drywall basically done, I've got it all primed and we're getting ready to paint, and have chosen carpet to be installed. Things are getting close to finished.

With that long backstory out of the way... my girlfriend has gotten too frustrated dealing with this contractor and his inability to answer questions directly or be clear about things. It kinda feels like he's checked out of it, to a degree. Which is fine because I think I'm doing work to save her money as much as possible.

The only problem is that he is, naturally, hesitant to provide any kind of detailed breakdown for each various scope, and the limited breakdown that he has given her doesn't add up. The initial agreement to allow us (me) to do as much remaining work as possible has gotten fairly convoluted and opaque, and it is difficult for me to understand exactly how much money I am saving my girlfriend (I have my own job, of course, and plenty of work that I need to be doing).

I understand his need to protect his costs, etc, and really am not trying to haggle about certain things. I want to be able to see, exactly, whether or not it even makes financial sense for me to complete any remaining scopes of the project myself. I don't think it's unreasonable, given the side-arrangement he has with my girlfriend, to provide this.

Essentially... without knowing what his estimate or breakdown is for a certain scope, and how he arrived at that, how am I to accurately know how much 'equity' I am getting her?

I don't really know what to do, besides go to the city loan lady and ask her, or basically refuse to settle up on the remaining balance until sufficient documentation is provided.

For example... on the 'trim' scope, the allowance in the loan is like $1,300. This is for baseboard and a couple simple doorways (not door frames, just trim around entrances to hallways). The room is like... 12' x 35'. I suggested that I could do this scope. He explained that the trim had already been purchased, so I asked him how much 'equity' would be saved if I did all the labor of cutting, finishing, and installing it. His answer was $500-$600. Am I off base for thinking that these numbers don't make sense? $700-$800 in the materials, or what? At that amount of 'equity', I am just going to tell him to do it.

Things like that. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.
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Old 12-03-2018, 11:48 PM   #2
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


no good deed goes unpunished....

stay out of it and find something else to do....

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Old 12-03-2018, 11:54 PM   #3
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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no good deed goes unpunished....

stay out of it and find something else to do....
Can you help me understand what you mean?

I see your point about the good deed, and it isn't like I don't or haven't appreciated the contractor's flexibility. As it stands, he and I have a good rapport and I am mostly stepping in now as a result of my girlfriend's frustration.
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:48 AM   #4
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Originally Posted by mgee76 View Post
Can you help me understand what you mean?

I see your point about the good deed, and it isn't like I don't or haven't appreciated the contractor's flexibility. As it stands, he and I have a good rapport and I am mostly stepping in now as a result of my girlfriend's frustration.
Put yourself in the contractor's shoes...

Now that you're wearing shoes run as fvcking far away from this situation as you can.

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Old 12-04-2018, 11:02 AM   #5
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Put yourself in the contractor's shoes...

Now that you're wearing shoes run as fvcking far away from this situation as you can.

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See, I get that. And I understand why he has more or less 'checked out' of the situation. But it is frustrating for my girlfriend, whose remodel was promised to be done by mid-summer. If he doesn't want to do the work, that's fine... but not if it means getting paid not to do the work.

This second loan offering was basically negotiated by him and proposed to my girlfriend by him as a way to both finish up her basement and knock down the debt she had accrued with him.

So she's on the hook for the loan, and basically the loan money goes to him... why am I getting push back from him with regard to finishing up the job? The money isn't dispersed to him until a final inspection.

Essentially my question is: if we (me) end up doing all the work detailed in the rough breakdown for this second loan, and all that loan money is going to him to pay back what she owes him... why did she even need to take out the loan?

He set this thing up this way, and now isn't wanting to help navigate to the finish. Unfortunately, I can't really run away from this situation or "find something else to do," as I already told her I would do the work (before I realized how convoluted all this crap was). If she was just some lady, I'd of course back out. But it's a serious relationship and I have basically been waiting for this basement remodel to be finished so that I can move in with her.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:57 AM   #6
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


you and your girlfriend are going to get screwed again...

go to the loan originator and explain the situation to see if they can help.

file a complaint with the contractors board if you have one.

consult an attorney.

what kind of "refinisher" are you????
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:16 PM   #7
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
you and your girlfriend are going to get screwed again...

go to the loan originator and explain the situation to see if they can help.

file a complaint with the contractors board if you have one.

consult an attorney.

what kind of "refinisher" are you????
Thanks... I've spoken to a couple contractors I know and trust and those have been their suggestions, too. I'd really rather not have to go that route, though, and was hoping to find a way to just get the damn thing done so that all parties are happy. But if he simply won't break it down any further or commit to getting it done right in a reasonable time, I guess I'll have to.

Most of what I do is furniture, but also trim/doors/paneling or built-ins on certain homes.
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:49 PM   #8
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Originally Posted by mgee76 View Post
Thanks... I've spoken to a couple contractors I know and trust and those have been their suggestions, too. I'd really rather not have to go that route, though, and was hoping to find a way to just get the damn thing done so that all parties are happy. But if he simply won't break it down any further or commit to getting it done right in a reasonable time, I guess I'll have to.

Most of what I do is furniture, but also trim/doors/paneling or built-ins on certain homes.
What does the contract say?

If he is getting the loan money, there is no reason why he cannot provide what he is going to actually do for that money... doesn't mean he has to give you a dollar for dollar breakdown, but rather, the products/services you can expect for the money he is expected to receive with a total cost... and that detail should bring you to the conclusion of the project...

YOU should not be involved in the work going forward as all that does is cloudy that picture... Both you and your girlfriend should stop what you're doing today and meet with the contractor and get everything in writing and ensure it reflects the projects completion... after months (I'm sure there's more to this one-sided story) of being behind on the completion time-frame originally provided by him, be sure to include the phrase "time is of the essence" with a completion date involved...

If he does not agree to this path, your girlfriend needs to contact the finance company to see if she can have him severed from the financing contract (if he's attached) for cause (non-performance)...

Once you get a lawyer involved (which she may still need to) any savings she was hoping to achieve by using you goes out the window...

Last edited by KAP; 12-04-2018 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:04 PM   #9
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Once you get a lawyer involved (which she may still need to) any savings she was hoping to achieve by using you goes out the window...
Yeah I really don't want to do that. I'm hoping that just asking him to have a meeting with us and the city loan officer, as last resort, would be enough.

I guess I was just looking for realistic expectations here, first of all, as I never deal with this sort of thing in my own line of work.

For example... if there is a flooring allowance of, say, $4,700 in the loan (according to the limited breakdown he provided her), and they both agreed to have Home Depot provide the flooring and do the installation... and the total number from Home Depot is $2,900... am I crazy to want to ask why the 'equity' to her on this scope, according to him, is only $800?

The more I type about this, the crazier I feel and the angrier I get. But unless there is some forum dedicated to helping people when their significant other makes a bad business decision... so far you're the only thing I've got.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:07 PM   #10
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


But I'm thinking that you're probably right.

Shut it down and meet with the guy and lay out what all work has been done on her part vs. what all has been done by him, and try to reconcile it with the remaining work and expectations.

I need to sit down and not yell at my girlfriend and try to dig up whatever other paperwork she has between them that she hasn't shared with me yet. I'm afraid I don't even really want to get into the first loan specifics.
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Old 12-07-2018, 11:06 AM   #11
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Probably easier to just get another girlfriend.

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Old 12-07-2018, 11:37 AM   #12
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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But unless there is some forum dedicated to helping people when their significant other makes a bad business decision... so far you're the only thing I've got.




Yeah. That's what we are best at here.
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Old 12-07-2018, 11:45 AM   #13
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Since you are adamant about trying to referee this mess.....sit down in a public place (coffee shop) with the contractor and have a candid discussion. Man up and engage the guy in a conversation. Ask HIM why the math doesn’t add up.

Forget the girlfriends thoughts and opinions. Come up with a mutually beneficial agreement with the contractor. Put it on paper. Get it signed by all parties and move forward.

Your goal here is not prove who’s right or who’s wrong. Your goal is to get the basement finished and not go over budget again. Find a way to do that and maybe she’ll open her purse and give your man card back. 🙂
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Old 12-07-2018, 12:35 PM   #14
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Damn, some of you all are really triggered by this.
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:44 PM   #15
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Damn, some of you all are really triggered by this.
If you only knew how many of these chit shows end. Much more than 'Triggered'. You woulda run, Forest Run away from getting involved.

Sincerely hope it all works out well for y'all, tho.
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:52 PM   #16
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Originally Posted by Inner10 View Post
Put yourself in the contractor's shoes...

Now that you're wearing shoes run as fvcking far away from this situation as you can.

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This is the best advice so far for sure.

Except for the part about the "Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk".

Andy.
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:39 PM   #17
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Cool update time, everybody!

As I finished prepping and painting for the carpet install today, I discovered what appeared to be water damage to the baseboard in the final room of the basement. It had been concealed behind a bed.

I removed the MDF trim to confirm that it wasn't just a spill that wicked up... the back of the baseboard was wet, and there is black mold growing.

I cancelled the carpet install.

Contractor, last night, said, "Well, worst-case scenario is that we put down some carpet pads and I open up the wall and try to see what's going on there." I told him I wasn't going to put carpet down, and that the carpet people probably wouldn't even do it if there was mold. He seemed to disagree that this was the right decision, and reiterated that "worst-case, we put down carpet pads."

I could be wrong, but I think 'worst-case' is that something in the newly-repaired foundation, new support beams, new drain tile, and new sump pump is still allowing water in. He suggested that maybe it was coming from the basement shower... which is not anywhere near this new water damage and was not at all part of the remodel.

I'm pretty much done with this idiot, but really confused on how to proceed. I am guessing that a meeting with the city loan officer is probably the first step. My impulse tells me to shut everything down and consult other people, but not sure. Girlfriend is about ready to burn the whole house down while she is inside.

Is this a situation where we should find a lawyer? Do we need to start looking for other contractors, and then put the cost of repair on the old guy? Or just go see the loan officer lady and explore the options there? Thanks.
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Old 12-14-2018, 05:04 PM   #18
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


You need to determine your rights and responsibilities with the Administrator having Jurisdiction. In most areas this would be the construction contractors board.

Once you understand the dispute process you will need to follow the rules to the T and then go after the contractor with the AHJ and most likely sue him in small claims court, go after his bond and ultimately pay to redo the foundation work yourself and receive partial payment from the bond sometime around 2022-2023. You may also need 10 to 50k to pay the attorney to sue him. Maybe not; most likely if you can't get the AHJ having jurisdiction or the loan officer who has an unsaleable asset likely to go into foreclosure to compel action on his part then you're f'd.

Start with the loan officer. She will not be happy with a moldy real asset.
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Old 12-14-2018, 05:38 PM   #19
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


Thanks. That's a lot too take in, but good info. Appreciate it.

In the meanwhile, I got a hold of the company the contractor hired to do some of the foundation work. They have a lifetime guarantee on any room that they installed drain tiles in, so they are gonna come take a look on Monday. We also have a meet up with the loan officer then, so we'll know more next week.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:00 PM   #20
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Re: Advice Needed On Remodel Breakdown Request/Communication


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Probably easier to just get another girlfriend.

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