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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's the situation:
I'm a GC and my neighbor, an architect, said he had a client who liked the way I designed the hardscaping/landscaping on my house and would like me to do something similar for her home currently under construction. Also to design and install an exterior drainage and gutter system. I'm not a landscape designer but I said I would provide an estimate for hardscaping and could refer a landscaper I've worked with before to estimate the plantings and finish work if so desired.
The owner called and I agreed to meet at the job site to discuss exactly what she wanted.
I couldn't believe what I saw on my arrival. In the front yard and driveway were piles, literally piles, of construction trash; broken concrete; bricks; rusty railings, ductwork and pieces of structural steel; hacks of warped sheets of plywood and chunks of crumbling durock; twisted piles of dimensional lumber; at least 50 partially full or full 5 gallon buckets of hardened paint, joint compound, roofing tar; 8 complete pallets of unprotected and now solidified bags of concrete, stucco and mortar mix; rotting food, maggot filled containers, plastic wrappers and drink bottles tossed in the yard; thousands of drywall screws, collated nail gun nails, self tapping sheet metal screws and flat roofing nails whose cardboard boxes had disintegrated in the rain leaving them in rusting heaps or strewn about embedded in the grass, dirt, bushes all over the property.

You can guess what I found inside. A disorganized mess almost identical to the exterior scene but instead of the stench of rotting food and trash the fragrance of feces and urine deposited in the "new" roughed in shower stall on the rubber floor tile membrane (now full of holes punched in it by dropped, stepped on coarse thread drywall screws)
The basement was an experimental mold laboratory due to repeated flooding since they never installed gutters or downspouts on the new roof which caused the basement to flood every rain. When she complained they billed her $10,000 to install a sump pump system to solve the problem. I asked why it was off and discovered no one ever bothered to switch on the breakers (still with unbroken seals on them) for the pumps. Once I turned them on they ran for 4 hours straight pumping water. I had to attach temporary extensions on the outlets to be sure the water drained far from the house. They had been installed so all the water being pumped outside was directed back inside by U fittings stuck on the end of the pipes. The stupidity is beyond belief.

The owner had bought the house which needed work but is in an excellent, high end neighborhood in DC. She hired, (through referral from the realtor of all people) the Contractor and Architect with a plan to redesign the exterior (with dryvet!) and replace the roof to get a modern contemporary look (ugly as **** in my opinion but...), add a minor bump out for a 1st floor bathroom, enclose the existing rear concrete patio, open up some of the interior walls (no load bearing), all new doors,hardware, woodwork, trim, flooring,stairs, electrical upgrade outlets,switches and new recessed lighting, complete int/ext painting (easy white based colors) and upgrade the bathrooms.
After 4 years and $600,000, 3/4 of the job is completed. The original building permit expired over a year and half ago and the none of the electrical, mechanical, plumbing and structural final inspections are completed. The contractor is unlicensed and the one page "labor only contract" she signed specifies "owner will pay for all materials and supplies as needed". That explains why materials are left all over the place without concern. It comes out of someone else's pocket.
The quality of the work regardless of trade is atrocious; the roof has leaks in the flashing and skylights (which were painted along with the ceiling without protecting the plexiglass with a spray gun); cabinets, bathroom fixtures, floor tile, open 5lb boxes spilling out drywall and stainless steel screws are left sitting in passageways and on stairs; expensive trim, boards, door casing and opened boxes of appliances are laying all over the house in pieces or dumped in big piles; garbage from the contractor's other jobs are stored in the garage and thrown in the basement.

My question is: Having now had all her concerns and fears validated and confirmed as we toured this horrendous scene, the homeowner asked if I would
1)Take over the job as GC to finish it. I declined.

2)Be the Project Manager on the job until completed. I declined.

3) Act as a sort of "Ghost" Consultant, dealing with the owner only and only providing the following services.

An initial detailed report specifying:

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for and no part of has been completed.

- Work the contractor has NOT BEEN paid for and no part of has been completed.

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for and has partially completed.

- Work the contractor has NOT BEEN paid for and has partially completed.

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for, has completed but is unacceptable and WILL NOT BE corrected.

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for, has completed but is unacceptable and WILL BE corrected.

- Identify violations of code requirements, municipal regulations, improper building practices and faulty material installations.

- A complete inventory of all owner purchased building and construction materials currently stored onsite.

- A complete inventory of all owner purchased lighting and plumbing fixtures, hardware, tile, kitchen and bath appliances, cabinetry, furnishings and other related items currently stored onsite.

- Identification of any missing, damaged or incomplete owner purchased fixtures, hardware, tile, appliances, cabinetry, furnishings and other related items currently stored onsite.

Also a weekly onsite inspection to ensure work is progressing as expected and any recommendations, corrections or other issues may be evaluated and identified in a weekly written report emailed to the owner on Friday evening. Should the owner wish to discuss any items in the report a Saturday meeting can be arranged.

Should I stay away altogether? How would I go about pricing something like this? Hourly? Lump sum?

I don't want to create bad blood with my damn neighbor and I'd love to report this bastard, but if I do, this poor women will never get this mess finished. He's essentially been extorting payments and intimidating her so the money well is almost dry. I am certain she can't afford to tear it all out and do it over but I'm sure as hell not going to take over this nightmare and accept ownership of the **** work that's been done by this guys "subs".

I need to tell her something soon though. Really sad situation.
 

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Shingler extraordinaire
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I've been the guy who had to come in and fix this exact mess before. I knew the homeowner and the jack wad that did it was my best man. Someone else had the contract and permit though...good luck with this one.

Pm sent
 

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I've seen those situations, and the only certainty is that the guy won't finish the job for her - it will never happen. Leaving him alone is not doing her a favor; it's just delaying the inevitable and allowing him to steal more of her money, until either she fires him or she runs out of money and he leaves.

She needs to hire an attorney with experience in construction law, get a criminal complaint started with the local police, and fire him. It may be a disaster; she may not have the funds to complete the job; but she needs to get him out of there.

What's the architect's role in this?

The only way you should become involved in it is with the involvement of her attorney, once the current guy has been fired and a criminal complaint has been filed.

Edit: At $600K going on $1MM, if you don't have an attorney's check off on it, you should just take Griz's advice.
 

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Are you serious? If you don't want to make things worse with your neighbors don't get involved. You agreed to meet and did = obligation fulfilled. Get greedy and get burned. It's not your damn problem. what the hell kind of person lets someone screw them this bad? The HO sounds like an idiot as well and to me personally, to spend $600,000 and not notice some things wrong? What a tool. But I don't have 1/2 a mil to pi$$ on so I guess Im the damn fool.

Edit= Finish the job for her? Holy crap? I wouldn't let him on the property. You see what he's done already don't add to it.
 

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If you are seriously considering taking this project on see below:

Do you have the temperament to deal with this mess?

Do you have the ability to deal with this?

Do you have the experience to deal with this?

Do you have the knowledge to deal with this?

Do you have an expensive construction attorney on retainer?

From what you describe are you aware of ALL the potential ramifications?

Is there sufficient funding for the owners to finish the project?

Do you have an Architect/Engineers on board?

Has a scope of work been developed?

Have you consulted with the local AHJ?

Who/How will certify MEP's & framing that is in place?

Have you consulted your insurance company about the potential liability?

Who is going to be responsible to clean the site up? and WHEN?

Ok, you must get my drift by now...

Good Luck...:thumbsup:
 

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Love me some Concrete
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Evansbrothers,

Thats a tough one, I have been in a similiar situation but wasnt to $600,00 of a rip off! I knew the GC, I was called in to do egress windows and a bunch of concrete work. We was so excited for me to walk into look at the $75,000 finishing of the 2000sq ft basment...well I was not impressed and quite suprised actually. Nothing was finished nicely, trim had gaps, doors not staying open, tile floor out of square, drywall was not finishd well (he sub'd that out) and the list goes on and on.

I did my jobs perfect, talked with the homeowners during my jobs and they thought it was a pretty good job. So do I tell them there were lots of issues or shut up. Well I shut up, did mine and walked away...still bothers me though, that's why I started this business because all of the crappy work I had seen. Still bothers me....
 

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Here's the situation:
I'm a GC and my neighbor, an architect, said he had a client who liked the way I designed the hardscaping/landscaping on my house and would like me to do something similar for her home currently under construction. Also to design and install an exterior drainage and gutter system. I'm not a landscape designer but I said I would provide an estimate for hardscaping and could refer a landscaper I've worked with before to estimate the plantings and finish work if so desired.
The owner called and I agreed to meet at the job site to discuss exactly what she wanted.
I couldn't believe what I saw on my arrival. In the front yard and driveway were piles, literally piles, of construction trash; broken concrete; bricks; rusty railings, ductwork and pieces of structural steel; hacks of warped sheets of plywood and chunks of crumbling durock; twisted piles of dimensional lumber; at least 50 partially full or full 5 gallon buckets of hardened paint, joint compound, roofing tar; 8 complete pallets of unprotected and now solidified bags of concrete, stucco and mortar mix; rotting food, maggot filled containers, plastic wrappers and drink bottles tossed in the yard; thousands of drywall screws, collated nail gun nails, self tapping sheet metal screws and flat roofing nails whose cardboard boxes had disintegrated in the rain leaving them in rusting heaps or strewn about embedded in the grass, dirt, bushes all over the property.

You can guess what I found inside. A disorganized mess almost identical to the exterior scene but instead of the stench of rotting food and trash the fragrance of feces and urine deposited in the "new" roughed in shower stall on the rubber floor tile membrane (now full of holes punched in it by dropped, stepped on coarse thread drywall screws)
The basement was an experimental mold laboratory due to repeated flooding since they never installed gutters or downspouts on the new roof which caused the basement to flood every rain. When she complained they billed her $10,000 to install a sump pump system to solve the problem. I asked why it was off and discovered no one ever bothered to switch on the breakers (still with unbroken seals on them) for the pumps. Once I turned them on they ran for 4 hours straight pumping water. I had to attach temporary extensions on the outlets to be sure the water drained far from the house. They had been installed so all the water being pumped outside was directed back inside by U fittings stuck on the end of the pipes. The stupidity is beyond belief.

The owner had bought the house which needed work but is in an excellent, high end neighborhood in DC. She hired, (through referral from the realtor of all people) the Contractor and Architect with a plan to redesign the exterior (with dryvet!) and replace the roof to get a modern contemporary look (ugly as **** in my opinion but...), add a minor bump out for a 1st floor bathroom, enclose the existing rear concrete patio, open up some of the interior walls (no load bearing), all new doors,hardware, woodwork, trim, flooring,stairs, electrical upgrade outlets,switches and new recessed lighting, complete int/ext painting (easy white based colors) and upgrade the bathrooms.
After 4 years and $600,000, 3/4 of the job is completed. The original building permit expired over a year and half ago and the none of the electrical, mechanical, plumbing and structural final inspections are completed. The contractor is unlicensed and the one page "labor only contract" she signed specifies "owner will pay for all materials and supplies as needed". That explains why materials are left all over the place without concern. It comes out of someone else's pocket.
The quality of the work regardless of trade is atrocious; the roof has leaks in the flashing and skylights (which were painted along with the ceiling without protecting the plexiglass with a spray gun); cabinets, bathroom fixtures, floor tile, open 5lb boxes spilling out drywall and stainless steel screws are left sitting in passageways and on stairs; expensive trim, boards, door casing and opened boxes of appliances are laying all over the house in pieces or dumped in big piles; garbage from the contractor's other jobs are stored in the garage and thrown in the basement.

My question is: Having now had all her concerns and fears validated and confirmed as we toured this horrendous scene, the homeowner asked if I would
1)Take over the job as GC to finish it. I declined.

2)Be the Project Manager on the job until completed. I declined.

3) Act as a sort of "Ghost" Consultant, dealing with the owner only and only providing the following services.

An initial detailed report specifying:

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for and no part of has been completed.

- Work the contractor has NOT BEEN paid for and no part of has been completed.

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for and has partially completed.

- Work the contractor has NOT BEEN paid for and has partially completed.

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for, has completed but is unacceptable and WILL NOT BE corrected.

- Work the contractor HAS BEEN paid for, has completed but is unacceptable and WILL BE corrected.

- Identify violations of code requirements, municipal regulations, improper building practices and faulty material installations.

- A complete inventory of all owner purchased building and construction materials currently stored onsite.

- A complete inventory of all owner purchased lighting and plumbing fixtures, hardware, tile, kitchen and bath appliances, cabinetry, furnishings and other related items currently stored onsite.

- Identification of any missing, damaged or incomplete owner purchased fixtures, hardware, tile, appliances, cabinetry, furnishings and other related items currently stored onsite.

Also a weekly onsite inspection to ensure work is progressing as expected and any recommendations, corrections or other issues may be evaluated and identified in a weekly written report emailed to the owner on Friday evening. Should the owner wish to discuss any items in the report a Saturday meeting can be arranged.

Should I stay away altogether? How would I go about pricing something like this? Hourly? Lump sum?

I don't want to create bad blood with my damn neighbor and I'd love to report this bastard, but if I do, this poor women will never get this mess finished. He's essentially been extorting payments and intimidating her so the money well is almost dry. I am certain she can't afford to tear it all out and do it over but I'm sure as hell not going to take over this nightmare and accept ownership of the **** work that's been done by this guys "subs".

I need to tell her something soon though. Really sad situation.
The strongest speech, lecture and policy I have is 'honesty'. When you are 100% pure honest you have absolutely no problem with confronting your neighbor and expressing your concerns.

I would have more respect for you as a neighbor if you confronted me with the truth and you are literally helping both sides. Otherwise, you become a liar, or a two-face when you say hello to your neighbor as you smile.

You don't have to confront your neighbor in front of his customer. The best environment would be to knock on his door, tell him that you have something that you 'really' need to discuss in private and invite him to your home, or to a coffee shop.

Regardless of how the contractor takes the conversation you will feel like a better person at the end because you did what every person in this world should do and that is; helping other people just for the sake of what is right.

Don't be a liar yourself by talking about your neighbor, hiding and refusing to help.
 

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I wouldn't be afraid to take on that mess, as long as appropriate legal council was brought into the mix. Sometimes you gotta be a hero.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I appreciate all the replies. As incredible as it sounds the homeowner is an attorney herself. I'm going to back off on this one. It's quicksand. I already told her to seek out a construction law attorney which she will not do for fear of reprisal. When I asked her "As a corporate attorney, why in god's name would you accept this completely worthless document as having the slightest resemblance to any kind of enforceable, legal document, do no background checks or research the credentials of this man before handing over an arbitrary figure of $200,000 as a "deposit" based on what? Nothing? Then agree to take full financial responsibility for what is essentially an unlimited, unchecked expense account to buy materials not only for your project, but any other project he may have going and whatever he's without a doubt stockpiling for future jobs." She said he yelled at her, made her feel stupid and that he builds 2 million dollar homes without any contracts and didn't need her money. Take it or leave it. She admits it was mindless stupidity but is in too deep now. I sent this email today:
"The liability that exists at every angle, potential risk and possible legal expense in the future leaves me no reasonable alternative but to step away from this project unfortunately.
I do hope you reconsider my recommendation that you consult ASAP with a knowledgable construction law attorney or at least speak with someone in the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Affairs for further advice.

I do appreciate your words of admiration regarding my work and I am ready to meet with you again once the current situation is resolved to provide an estimate for our initial scope of work, if you so desire."

And that's that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I agree with what you say pcplumber. I have been trying to figure how to approach him tactfully. We get along fine as neighbors yet my feeling is he is no doubt well "compensated" in the deal. Plus he's Middle Eastern and culturally there are major areas we might differ on what would is considered perfectly acceptable in regard to standards or business practices.
 

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I have had lot of lots of calls from home owners in this mess, there are a few things i have found.

-its one things if home owner hired out a project or two from a a hack and it went bad and needs done right (i decline theses as they are more expensive to rehab then to do right in the first place, and no one likes to brag about the guy who saved the day at twice the price, but they will still badmouth the original hack and tell all that will listen the persons name, but for the life of them they can't remember who was the one that came in and did it right)

-its another things when home owner hires a hack for a major project (i just got a call for this yesterday, wanted an addition.........when i got there it was for an addition to a remodel structure that was built badly from an old garage) The thing i learned is that this type of home owner has one key problem........THEY ARE BAD DECISION MAKERS!!!!! They are led astray by people whom do not understand the complexity of doing things correctly (friends, family, hacks, them-self) If they were good decision makers they would have cut the guy loose after the first phase had been done wrong and refused further payment. And even if you brought your magic wand to make it right all they will do is not understand and revert back to the comfortable attitude of "someone else save me from my drama" (its what they live for like cake to a fat kid)

Your architect friend/neighbor should have shut it down or changed coarse along time ago if he was involved. If he is just helping a friend of a friend type of deal then you are just another link in the drama chain.

Your in a no win/win predicament by joining the party. You will be wasting your time and talent that others need and appreciate!

My two cents is "I must gracefully bow out of your project as you would not be able to resolve all of the issues in a timely manner or for a reasonably decent price. and unfortunately i cannot work as a contractor consultant on a project knowing that an unlicensed contractor is involved as the state contractor board would fine me no less then $5,000 per issue!" (i am sure wash DC has less stringent rules and regulations then the rest of the states right?)

You can't be the hero for anyone there. Be the hero for your family friends and clients instead. tell here to contact mike holms or adam corralla instead.
 

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I'm The BOSS
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You did the right thing for you.

You would have opened a can of worms with every thing touched

You referred her to the proper people, She's probably to embarrassed
to do anything though. It's all on her.

YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID
 

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You did the right thing IMO. Hey, you at least met with her and looked into helping. That to me fulfills any obligation to your neighbor. Just because someone asks for your help doesn't mean you need to put your business and family needs at risk for it. It doesn't make you a bad neighbor for not helping further. Maybe your neighbor is a bad neighbor for asking for suck a thing?

I feel bad for the woman but I can't imagine ever finding myself in that type of predicament.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Agility,
I've done the hero route in the past, correcting shoddy work for nothing simply out of blind rage and disgust. Yeah, totally stupid and it eventually destroyed a 10 year relationship in the end. I don't blame her a bit for getting the hell out of there.
It was overexposure to endless sloppy, garbage "work" being done by unlicensed, unskilled, unregulated and at-large criminals (No, not "illegals", criminals. Period.) I witnessed on every job I was working on, the myriad of jobs I didn't work on because I got underbid by usually half, or the ones that would call 5 months later to evaluate why the plumbing pipes exploded in the walls ( never pressure tested or had an inspection), seeing the same crap on other contractors projects I knew, work that I saw done on friends and relatives homes and on and on.
It's always the same garbage over and over: No compliance with all the damn EPA rules or any other codes for that matter, Paint peeling off houses in sheets; windows don't open; the sinks don't drain; the lights don't work or flicker; breakers tripping; basements flooding; walls full of mold from holes in pipes caused by careless and mindless use of nail guns; unanchored kitchen cabinets that rip out of walls; unsealed HVAC units that overload from ducts filled with plaster, nails and trash; bathtubs and showers that don't drain because they're clogged with hardened EZ sand, not sloped properly or unvented;live electrical wires inside walls, wall tile that falls off and cracks on unsupported floor tiles; course of roof shingles laid out wrong with no flashing and attached with the wrong nails or even duct tape; toilets that rock when used and leak sewage at the base when flushed; dishwashers that flood from clogged, unvented drain lines; disposals that leak inside cabinets or vibrate to the point it snaps the trap; 2nd story decks that feel like an amusement park ride when walked on as they shake and sway from no bracing; ledger boards attached with a couple of lag bolts halfway screwed into nothing but brick veneer; plumbing pipes inside uninsulated "recently renovated" exterior walls that burst the first winter; doors that don't close or don't stay open; hinges that bind, knobs and deadbolts that won't turn or lock; wood floors that look like they were "refinished" with a combine tractor then a sealer slopped on with a mop leaving a finish with more bubbles than an Alka Seltzer commercial; handrails that fall off when used; masonry walls that fall over, concrete slabs that spall and crack with no rebars and no expansion or control joints;
There are mountains of construction debris, broken chunks of concrete, old appliances, auto parts, tree limbs, stumps, landscape timbers, paint cans, plastic tarps and polyetheline sheeting all of which gets dumped into the many municipal and national parks, rivers, ponds and creeks located throughout the city or in any other convenient spot that happens to appear a few blocks away from where it was "hauled away" from.
There are mounds of compacted grass cuttings, kudzu vines, pesticide soaked weeds, cheap plastic drain pipes and every other manner of yard trash dumped into storm drains which back up in heavy storms flooding streets and eroding away topsoil while the bulk of it ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. The topping on this third world chimichanga of sh%t sold from the back of an unlicensed, unsanitary and untaxed "pupuseria" truck is a generous helping of motor oil, brake fluid, AC refrigerant, radiator and transmission fluid, paint thinner, grease, Gasoline, Kerosene, Xylene, Acetone and a cocktail of other poisons that gets poured into the storm drains and sewers after the curbside, jury-rigged repairs are done to cars and trucks that should be or most likely, already were in a junkyard but instead are now rubber stamped through the DC or MD DMV, given new tags and registrations obtained by submitting bogus inspection certificates easily bought at any "immigrant help center" that are everywhere you look now. This clears these smoke belching, no muffler or brakes, bald tired rolling deathtraps as roadworthy and 100% safe for operation on our streets and highways.These are the same DMV Offices that recently decided in order for these undocumented criminals "to do all those jobs Americans don't want to do" they'd need a driver's license. Use any name you like just in case someone bothers to do a check on your real name which might have a warrant out on it forcing an arrest which we all know would be just awful because it might break up families if the bastard went to jail or was deported. It's cool though because if he does get fingered he can just leave the state for awhile since he has all the ID required to board a plane in this country. "That'll be 100 Pesos Jose' and don't forget to cancel your one day insurance policy the very second your 7-11 cell phone gets a signal outside. We want you to know as your new government representatives in the land of the everything free, we understand you're not used to all these expenses like auto or health insurance but with your new license you get to vote! So shhhh, it'll just be our secreto pocito Amigo."

I'm not worried though because clearly those in authority have considered the insanity of this and are on top of it. Right.
 
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