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Tears, tears, tears

15 years ago

My GC is hooooorible, I am brought to tears on a daily basis now. His whole business model is "when I bid, I bid and I will do the work even if I take a hit." He has told my husband and I this ad nauseum. However, this has not proven to be the case.

We decided to do granite on our own, not through him, and he is now finding every possible opportunity to punish us. For example, we have a plaster ceiling, and when he was getting bids for electrical, he told the electrician that the whole room would be "down to the studs." In fact, he had no intention of removing the ceiling, which is plaster with thick metal mesh through it (which I guess all plaster ceilings must have?). The electrician said he could not do the job, and now my GC is charging us hundreds and hundreds more to remove the ceiling. What choice do we have? Our back is against the wall. Otherwise, everyone will walk off site and we are left with a rubbly mess. This is just one example of the type of *&^% that he has been pulling.

We are spending a LOT of money (well, a lot for us at least) on this project, and I just can't keep up.

The whole thing is horrible, I am sorry that I ever got involved. How do you all get through it? I just needed to vent. I am so sick of dishonest people. It makes me appreciate the good people on the job so much more.

Comments (21)

  • 15 years ago

    Wow, it does sound horrible. Do you have an upstairs? If you do and need to run electricity, he may well be right. We had the same situation but chose to pull up the upstairs flooring instead of pulling out the plaster ceiling. It worked out way better for us.

    Have you called him on his motto?

    We live in a sawmill, very simply.

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  • 15 years ago

    Tell him to STOP!! And STOP paying him till you get the whole deal of who is responsible for what sorted out.

    Tell him he has a week to get his head on straight and do the job HE BID ON. He got the bid for the electrician, right? The electrician is a subcontractor. If the electrician can't do the work he bid on at the price he bid it then that is between the two of THEM or he must find someone else. And honestly, we gutted our kitchen to the walls. There was no work done in the ceiling (other than lights) - get a second opinion AND BID from an outside electrician.

    Do you have a contract with your GC? What does it say in there? You may need a lawyer to set him straight. A lawyer costs but long term may be cheaper than the extra work he is asking you to pay for.

    Who is he dealing with mostly. You or dh? Our contractor didn't listen to me just once. I set him straight immediately. You're paying the bills, you're the boss, you have the contract. Everything is in your favor. And you know what? If he walks you'll find someone better to finish the job. It will just take longer.

  • 15 years ago

    I am so sorry that your having such a bad remodeling experience. This is one of the reasons my husband and I are spending the time to DIY most of our remodeling. Unfortunatley no one will care about your house as much as you.

    Even if you have a GC, you still need to somewhat over see things and remain in control. You should still have final word on everything that's going on, keep an eye on the budget, and make sure all written agreements are up to date and fairly agreed upon.

    It's important that you have basic knowledge of the project and stay involved so you can better protect yourself from extra expenses and lower quality work.

    Never fully trust your contractor, ask questions, you may want to keep documentation of everything and take pictures and always speak up if you feel something isn't right.

    I know your in the middle of the job, but can you look for a new GC? What about hiring a new contractor and getting the estimates for electrical etc. yourself instead of having a GC?

    If your current GC is really angry at you and intentionally trying to punishing you, what kind of quality work is he having done on your house?

  • 15 years ago

    Be sure to put everything in writing and insist he do the same. Keep a journal with pictures. Document, document, document. Let him see you writing while he is talking.

    Ignore the threats of walking off, costing more money, etc. Focus on what needs to be done and what is or not in the contract.

    For example, the ceiling was plaster from the beginning. The contractor should have noted that and bid accordingly.
    Even good contractors make mistakes like that, but they don't blame the client. They explain the problem and offer to work it out.

    Try to picture what you would do if he did quit. Many people who post on this site have lived with a mess for longer than they originally thought. You can make some great meals in a temporary kitchen. It's summer, you can do a lot more outside for a few months.

  • 15 years ago

    Ebse, I had a terrible experience with our GC who did finally walk off the job when I didn't agree to a change order he proposed. He didn't contact me for four days and when he finally did, I told him that I assumed he quit and was hiring others to finish the job. I learned afterward that even though he had received a scheduled payment of almost 50K from us just 3 weeks prior to this, he hadn't paid his subs in a month! OK, I had no kitchen and was living in a construction site surrounded by filth, squalor and chaos (the worst housekeeping I ever experienced from a worker in my home!). But guess what? I was no longer angry and near tears of frustration everyday. I immediately felt better, even though I lost an incredible amount of money and time. I am currently GC'ing the remainder of the project and have hired wonderful, competent, reasonably priced tradesmen who treat me and the job with respect and care about my project. Yes, it's going slowly but things are getting done. Getting rid of that GC was the best thing that happened to my project.

    Regarding the plaster ceiling: my whole house is plaster and I've had extensive re-wiring done without removing walls or ceilings. Find an electrician who's good at fishing to get the wiring done. They may have to channel a bit but I find it hard to believe the whole ceiling needs to come out.

  • 15 years ago

    OMG cheri... did you get work done comparable to anywhere near the 50K you paid? Hearing things like this just slays me. I know how hard I work for my meager income. I watch and watch and bargin shop more then anyone I know. I really admire the positive attitude you all have. I know it's only a kitchen and I know when I put it into perspective against dealing with the angst associated with sick family members it doesn't seem to matter. HOWEVER... for most of us, this is suppose to be such an exciting time. Something we've planned for and dreamed of. I would take control. Your tale ebse borders on your GC blackmailing you.

  • 15 years ago

    Fire him.

    It is never going to get better-- this is what he's like. Fire him and be done with him. I've had similar experiences and given the guy "one more chance" a ton of times and it always ends up the same.

    he's shown you his colors-- I would send him packing. And make him beg for every check you give him from now on, just to show him he can't try to bleed you dry out of spite. Have a lawyer friend write him a letter if need be.

    Every time I, or my friends, have hung in there with people once they behaved this way, we regretted it.

    It's a tough economy out there! I am sure someone better will be happy to have your business.

    So sorry you've had to deal with this :(

  • 15 years ago

    How much have you paid him? What percentage have you paid and what percentage is complete? Fire him if you can. You will be glad you did.

  • 15 years ago

    Wow, thanks everyone. I went straight to bed last night after writing that and it was so nice to wake up to all your responses!

    Believe me, I would LOVE to fire him, but we ordered semi-custom cabinets through him, which I'm certain he would not deliver. And, I'm sure he would retain our deposit of 40% (he charges 20% on ordering cabinets, another 20% when the work begins). All that's been done is the load bearing walls have been removed, beams set, a new window installed and an old window closed up.

  • 15 years ago

    Oh Ebse,
    When I saw your title of tear, tears, tears
    my heart broke for you.
    I am glad you got some sleep last night.

    I can see why he charges so much for deposit/work begins.
    He must have been fired in the past for his attitude.
    He gets the money up front so he can act like a pain
    in the fanny. (&^%$)

    I think you should take the advice from above and meet
    with an attorney to go over your contract with you. So
    you know where you stand if this gets even uglier.
    You do not even have to have the attorney contact him.
    Just know your rights. That way you have information you
    need to proceed in a calm firm way with him. Once you
    understand the legal recourse he may have you can move
    forward with fairness. You may have to make him behave
    fair but you can do this. And the contract
    may be poorly written but there may be loop holes.
    You could be in a position to get what you want without
    his fuss.

    And I like the idea of trying to deal with him as calm
    as you can. I think more of a German Shepherd though.
    Labs are too sweet.
    Germans are strong, serious, calm and ready to
    bite if need be.

    Avoid behaving like boxers they are too foolish,
    goldens too happy, Spaniels too pleasing, Pitt Bulls to
    ready for action, and Mutts too kind.

    You can do this. Be calm, strong and firm. germanshepherdish.
    He will be a rotten person (he sounds this already)
    you can rise above his petty nasty behaviors and be
    the good person you are.

    I will be thinking of you and wishing this gets better.
    Positive thoughts and well wishes your way.

  • 15 years ago

    Ebse, I can see why you don't want to lose your deposit but you may end up spending more in change orders from this guy than your 40% cabinet deposit. If you are determined to continue working with him (I worked with my GC for 4 months before I couldn't take it anymore and one of the reasons was because of all of the money I gave him) you should still get a second opinion on the ceiling electrical work. You don't want to remove a plaster ceiling if you can avoid it. We installed 10 recessed lights in our last kitchen without taking out the ceiling. This time, the room was taken down to the studs (subfloor gone and everything) and when the ceiling was put back in I lost 3" of height at one end of my kitchen because they leveled the it when they put the sheetrock up. As a result, my cabinets barely fit! I still don't know why they took the ceiling out in the first place. Some electricians aren't very good at fishing wires and will turn down work that's too much trouble for them. Tell your GC that removing the ceiling isn't an option, then find an electrician who can do the work. He may have to make holes to fish the wires, but patches are easy to mend.

  • 15 years ago

    Oh, I forgot to mention, that if the walls are down to the studs, that will make wiring the ceiling lights even easier so you may not even have to make holes.

    I once had two electricians trying to get wires up to the third floor bathroom I was remodelling and after 4 hours they were sure it couldn't be done. The GC called their boss and he sent out another guy who had the wires up there in less than an hour. Trust me, you can find someone who can do this for you.

  • 15 years ago

    aww I'm sorry your contractor is an a$$. I agree with others to a) have a lawyer look over your contract, and b) stand your ground - HE works for YOU - you're the employer - and as long as you let him push you around, he will. Our GC has been pretty good but when times like these came up (charges we didn't feel we were responsible for) we spoke up immediately - and he backed down.

    On another note, I don't really understand why any electrician can't do a job because there's a ceiling in place. Electricians do wiring with all the walls up all the time - it's just cutting holes in the plaster (for the lights) and fishing wires. Since the walls are down, it's all the more easier. It's not AS easy as if the ceiling was down, but it's not a dealbreaker by any means. (My DH did the wiring for our entire house during this reno - just yesterday he was fishing wire from the basement to the foyer b/c the alarm company forgot to run one for the siren - duh.)

    Anyway if this electrician is your GC's guy, then tell GC to either find another one or to tell this guy to stop being lazy. I'd request a meeting between you and the electrician and the GC to have them explain to you why taking down the ceiling is necessary. Because based on what you've told us (no crazy weird wiring going on) I don't get why he can't do it.

  • 15 years ago

    I have the best! I interviewed one before taking on the job myself. If I were not retired I probably would not have been able to do this unless I had a lot of vacation time. So far, all has gone pretty well and I have saved a lot of $$$ already. I like having control of who is working in my house. I have had a lot of electrical work done and so far so good. No plaster walls but added 220 and some extra electrical outlets. My best and most reasonable priced workers have come from Craigslist! This is a good time to remodel.

  • 15 years ago

    Thanks everyone! I am feeling much calmer today, like I can handle this and do what needs to be done. Next job (if I am ever this brave, and/or stupid again) I feel like I have gleamed enough information and known enough GREAT people that I could oversee the project. That's the thing, everyone is great and cooperative and works well together EXCEPT for the GC.

    Cheri, we followed your suggestion. The carpenters are trenching the ceiling instead of taking the whole thing down, and the electrician says he will be able to do the work. He tried to do the trenching himself, but he says its not possible without special tools (he tried, he's a really good guy and we've known him for years).

    So, keep your fingers crossed for me ( and I'll do the same !)

  • 15 years ago

    So sorry this is happening to you ebse... and ((cheri)).

    Why isn't there some independent entity that a homeowner can hire during large remodels and builds to provide contract management oversight? I know owners of commercial properties hire someone to provide this service for construction projects. I'm surprised there aren't any companies that offer this service for residential applications.

  • 15 years ago

    Document everything. Let your dissatifaction be known throughout in a calm but firm way, then document that you let him know of your dissatisfaction. You may be feeling better now -- that's super! -- but this could get worse and you may want to move on to a new GC at the 40% mark -- or the next draw -- or after the cabinets are delivered. (Know that cabinet installation can be very difficult!) Make certain you are in a position to move on if you need to do so. Hopefully, you will never need your documentation -- but if you do -- you have it and you will be in a much stronger place. In addition, I would contact that cabinet manufacturer and make certain this GC has paid for the cabinets. Watch out for the drip, drip, drip . . . that is, a little more cash here and a little more there . . . stay on top of him and make certain materials are ordered or he may spend the money before the materials are purchased. You have rights in this relationship and you are entitled to know what will happen, when it will happen, and what materials will be purchased and when. Turn the tables and assert control in a clam but firm manner. No one should bring you to tears.

  • 15 years ago

    I agree absolutely! All this advice is great.

    The "drip" effect is EXACTLY what he is trying to pull. The well is dry (at least as far as we are concerned).

  • 15 years ago

    Keep us informed along the way and if you have questions along the way about how to resolve any issues -- construction or otherwise -- post them. I am so amazed by the wealth of information and the depth of experience of so many who post here. Good luck and here's to no more tears! Cheers!

  • 15 years ago

    Well studs aren't joists. Down to the studs means the walls. It doesn't sound like it is obviously your GCs fault. It sounds more like the electrical contractor isn't honoring his bid. Who pays? It depends on your contract.

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