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My Foundation Monkeys


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#1 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 12:45 PM

I needed a new back wall in my basement and about eight feet of each side wall.

I have questionable legs, and foundation work is pretty heavy, so I decided to hire somebody. I decided to go with wood because it's cheaper and I consider it to be more environmentally friendly. I won't say the name of the company, at least until the bill is paid and I find out what they plan to do about all of the problems, but my fellow Manitobans would likely recognize the catch phrase at the end of their commercials.

First problem, I dropped off my deposit cheque either the day before or the day after Labour Day. I asked when they were starting and they said, "A couple of weeks." After many phone calls and postponements, they started in the third week of November. That's two months late, and at the beginning of a Manitoban winter. This is not a good time of year to have no walls in your basement.

I expected that a mini-exavator would show up. Nope. Instead I got three guys with a broken jackhammer that would have been too small for the job even if it was working properly.

The workers always get here late. 9:30 A.M. is the earliest they've managed.

When they tore down my porch, they damaged some siding. That profile is not available anymore. They've also done nothing about the electrical wires hanging out everywhere. I had originally said I'd tear down the porch myself, but they said they'd do it.

When the "carpenter" who poured the forms and built the walls did his work, he damaged more siding. He did a rough patch job, including replacing some siding with pressure treated plywood.

Part of the job was supposed to be to remove the foundation for the cold room under the porch and a poured concrete step. They knocked the cold room foundation back a couple of feet and they are only knocking the step out to ground level. They are leaving a whole lot of concrete in the ground. It will likely be okay, but there is a chance it will shift with the freeze-thaw cycle and damage the new foundation. It also means that every time anybody wants to put a post in that area, they are going to hit concrete.

They finally got a proper jackhammer to take the rest of the step out with, at least the part above ground. One of those air hammers that runs on a diesel generator/compressor. They didn't plug the generator in last night. This morning they cranked it until the battery was dead, then asked if they could borrow an extension cord and some jumper cables.

I went out to get the stuff to lend them and found they had no idea how to start the unit. The rental guy started it for them yesterday, and they weren't really paying attention. They had the ignition turned off, the compressor engaged, and had no idea how to use the glow plugs. One of them, presumably the mechanic of the trio, asked me if I had any gas we could use to prime it. That's right, he wanted to dump some gasoline in someplace.

I showed them how to use the glow plugs and the ignition switch and disengage the compressor.

I know I should call their boss about all of the problems, but my last conversation with him already went over most of this stuff. The only thing that changed is that nothing happened for two days. I'll try for a price adjustment instead.

Never again. The next time I need something done, I'll do it myself. For what they're charging, I could have bought a used backhoe and sold it by now. I could have started in July or August instead of waiting for estimates and then having them start two months late.

#2 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 01:47 PM

WOW!
I'm Sorry to hear about the bum job those guys are doing. I'd be pissed if that happened to me
It's really quite scary to see how little people know about what they are supposed to be a professional in.
I wish you the best in getting the house back in order.

#3 NUTNDUN OFFLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 02:24 PM

That would drive me nuts. I would tell them to get off of my property and get a full refund. Sounds like you need to call that Holmes on Homes dude. He does a lot of shows up there in Canada.

#4 massey driver ONLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 02:42 PM

Wow!! thats not something anyone wants to have to go through,thats really to bad.There are alot of fly by night contractors out there who spoil it for the good ones.I had my roof shingled here last fall and the guy I had do it tried on numerous times to do it but each time he was going to be comming it rained.He was only off by 2 wks but it was the weather's fault and he did try to do it on the scheduled day.Once it stopped raining he was here early and worked untill dark.He did get it done.He was just a guy I knew [know] who's on his own doing small jobs.Thats why I say there are good one's out there.IMHO your going to have to hold back payment untill the work is done to your satifaction.Larry

#5 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 03:00 PM

Sorry to hear about your experience.

Take clear notes with dates & times. Go back & get all the things to the best of your recollection. Even notate the messes they've made & left. Be diligent going forward to note every idiotic thing they do wrong. By doing this, you have something to show their boss (or the judge) beyond just "He said/They did" Also take pictures of the damage caused & try to find a "before" picture or two.

Just my $.02

#6 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 03:56 PM

...Sounds like you need to call that Holmes on Homes dude. He does a lot of shows up there in Canada.


:ditto:

Sorry to hear about your experience. Take clear notes with dates & times. Go back & get all the things to the best of your recollection. Even notate the messes they've made & left. Be diligent going forward to note every idiotic thing they do wrong. By doing this, you have something to show their boss (or the judge) beyond just "He said/They did" Also take pictures of the damage caused & try to find a "before" picture or two. Just my $.02


:ditto:

I'm very sorry that you're having such a rough go of it. Events like this really can shake your faith in humanity! I hope that all is well in the end. Best of luck!

#7 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 07:12 PM

The thing is that this shouldn't be a fly by night company. They are well known and seem to have a good reputation. I thought I was safe with them.

It's not like I'm a brutal task-master either. I have a pretty good understanding of how easily construction work can go awry. It's just that I expect them to do what they said they would and fix anything they break without being asked. I expect them to have the equipment and knowledge required to do the job. That's the way I run my company. I've turned jobs down either because they were beyond my skill-set or because I didn't have time.

I think they are done tomorrow though. The guy who seems to be nominally in charge of the crew said they were going to stop by with a few more wheelbarrows of rock and we could go over everything then. I'll mention that the foundation was supposed to come out, not just be covered up. I'll also point out the wiring and damaged siding. Then I'll take it up with his boss on Monday.

At this point, I'd prefer to have a price adjustment rather than have them try to fix things. I just have no faith left in their ability to do the job properly. I can always toss a few hundred bucks and some beer at the neighbour-boy in the spring, and he can borrow the backhoe from where he works to get rid of the remaining foundations. It's funny, the neighbour who installs commercial chain-link is better equipped than the alleged foundation guys. So am I, for that matter. In fact, I think if one were to dig through my mother's garage, they'd find she was better equipped than these guys.

There are small things too. A couple of my shovels and a steel bar have gone missing. I doubt they took them on purpose, likely borrowed them and got them mixed up with their own stuff, but why would they be using my stuff? They bent the hinges on my gate. They took down one section of fence, which is fine, but they left the gate there. When snow built up behind it, they just pushed on it until it moved. Now I have to replace the hinges and likely one support board.

I do have plenty of pictures though. I am, at least in part, a photographer. I'm also a writer, so I've kept pretty decent notes. I kind of doubt the local papers will publish a negative article about one of their advertisers, but I intend to write it anyway.

#8 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 08:11 PM

If these guys have a good reputation, then that is one BIG miracle! Sounds like a bunch of idiots. And as to the missing items.....they stole them, no matter how you look at it. The company owner needs to make this right, period. Way too many people are ripped off by this type of work. Every time they are not called out for it, they get bolder. You must make them pay up, either with proper work, or partial refund (large partial refund). The business owner is at fault. It's HIS job to have qualified workers who take pride in their work.

#9 poncho62 ONLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 08:33 PM

Sorry to hear about your troubles Rev......I have heard these stories before. Trouble is, even with big companies like Home Depot when they do installations is, they sub a lot of the work out to the lowest bidder....Then the troubles start. Its not always possible, but if you want a job done right, do it yourself......

Mike Holmes works generally in the Toronto area, 1000 miles from Winnipeg....In fact Mike lives in my home town, my daughter knows him.

#10 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 08:39 PM

I forgot to say I am also so sorry you are going through all this. Having always done all my own work, whether the greatest work or not, I've never had to experience what you are right now. Heck, give Holmes an email if all else fails....you never know!

#11 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted December 10, 2010 - 10:05 PM

If these guys have a good reputation, then that is one BIG miracle! Sounds like a bunch of idiots. And as to the missing items.....they stole them, no matter how you look at it. The company owner needs to make this right, period. Way too many people are ripped off by this type of work. Every time they are not called out for it, they get bolder. You must make them pay up, either with proper work, or partial refund (large partial refund). The business owner is at fault. It's HIS job to have qualified workers who take pride in their work.


Yeah, that's the way I feel about it too. I mean, you don't remove 60 year old siding with a framing hammer. You peel it out with a flat bar enough to get a sawzall in behind, and you cut the nails. When you're done, you reinstall it. Round-headed siding nails, smooth-faced hammer. Not a big deal. I build fences, decks, and flower beds, and I know that. I assumed that a reputable company who deals with these situations all of the time would also know.

I do see this largely as a management thing. They sent shovel operators to do reno work. They didn't supervise them. They hired a concrete former/framer to build the wall but no siding or finishing guy.

As for the missing items, yeah, it's stealing. I'm pretty sure they didn't mean to, and it's not a lot of money, but now I have to go back to the store and buy stuff.

poncho62
Sorry to hear about your troubles Rev......I have heard these stories before. Trouble is, even with big companies like Home Depot when they do installations is, they sub a lot of the work out to the lowest bidder....Then the troubles start. Its not always possible, but if you want a job done right, do it yourself......

Mike Holmes works generally in the Toronto area, 1000 miles from Winnipeg....In fact Mike lives in my home town, my daughter knows him.


Ah, tell your daughter to say hi to Mr. Holmes for me. He pushed the price of bibbed overalls up, which is unfortunate, but he does good work.

Not only is he too far away to do me much good, but he concentrates on helping people who can't help themselves. My legs might be arthritic, but my arms and my back are okay.

I really should have done this job myself in the first place. I was intimidated by the structural concerns, but once I had the engineer's drawings, it was all pretty clear. I would have saved myself a bunch of money and a whole lot of headaches. I talked myself out of it.

Oh well, I have to go collect my wife. She went out with the girls for their Christmas :beer: and now I'm cab driver.

#12 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted December 11, 2010 - 12:11 AM

And I'm back. I'm not sure why, but my wife and her friends are all sporting devil horns with tinsel. I'm pretty sure I'm glad I wasn't their waiter/waitress.

#13 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted December 11, 2010 - 12:20 AM

Now there's a Picture you need to take :bounce:

#14 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted December 11, 2010 - 12:35 AM

Ah, if only I'd brought a camera. I'll keep an eye on facebook and see if there's any shots I can steal.

#15 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted December 14, 2010 - 06:31 PM

My foundation monkeys seem to be done. I had a bit of a discussion with their boss today. We're in negotiations about how much is going going to be knocked off the price. He kept saying, "I could do that for less," every time I mentioned a cost to fix something. I must have told him, politely, three or four times that I didn't want him back. Finally I said, "You don't seem to understand. I don't want you guys back here. I don't think you are capable of doing a decent job. I'm afraid you'll break more things. The costs I'm giving you are what it's going to cost me to have the job done properly." He sounded very sad after that.




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