The Good, The Bad and the Evil Contractors

The summer is over and I’m back at it with the website journal.  Summer is usually a very busy time for home improvement.  There are many jobs that require warm temperatures.  In August I put Stone Effects on an aging concrete landing.  I didn’t bother to take photos to show you since the job was a small one and the home owner wanted to finish the front after I disappeared. 

I got a referral through, and I don’t even have a facebook account.  It made me think that I should rush out and join the masses however I have a hard enough time maintaining what I’ve already built in cyberspace.  The job was for an allenbock retaining wall – or three of them.  The home was 1 year old and already having problems.  The driveway, walkway and flowerbed retaining wall were sinking.  The soil had not been allowed to compact before these outdoor features were installed.  The homeowner wanted to tie into the flowerbed  border with Allen Block with stairs leading to the down-slope side of the house – that’s why he called me. Ultimately I said no to the job since the existing problem needed to be addressed first. 

When a new house comes with “New Home Warranty” it’s much like one of those electronics that you buy where there is a sticker on the back that reads “Warranty Void if Removed”.  Even during the construction process, if the home buyer invokes small changes to the drafted plans, it can void a portion of the home warranty.  This was the case for the job I mentioned above.  It turned out the homeowner had requested the flowerbed and a very small extension of the walkway.  Additionally it was the homeowner who contracted the paving of the driveway.  My guess is that the home builder is not going to repair the sinking items for free – if at all.  I didn’t want to get in the middle of a name-blame game.  So, is the home builder good, bad or plan evil?  It’s a tough call since I understand both the home owner and the builders side of the issue.  Neither one is to blame.  If I was the home builder, I would offer to pay for the walkway at 75% and the flowerbed at 30% and nothing for the driveway.  My guess is that the home builder will try and ignore the homeowner’s phone calls.  That’s bad.

On another job site I was asked to install flashing along all fascia boards where there was rain gutters.  When rain came off the roof it would, through surface tension,  follow the drip edging and run down the fascia board instead of dripping off the shingle and into the rain gutter.  I could see the water stains but upon inspection, I declared that everything looked proper and could not see how the problem was happening.  Luckily it rained that same day and I climbed up the ladder and saw first hand what was going on.  The drip edging was a stock item, meant to be installed on roof pitches between 3 and 6.  This roof was a 12 (12 inch of rise for every foot of run) or a 45% angle. Also the shingle over-hange was not long enough.  Bad contractor.  It’s a simple thing to order up custom flashing from a siding company to match steep pitched roofs.  It’s also simple to measure the shingle over-hange but a common mistake by amateurs to be short.  For this home owner it was too late to get warranty – the company was already bankrupt.  So, I ordered custom flashing and put it up.

While I was putting up the flashing the same house had a back-up in the sewer line.  It was found that a pipe joint near the septic tank had failed.  I was told by the owner that the problem was fixed at no charge.  Good contractor!  When the joint was inspected it was found that the wrong glue was used on one joint.  the contractor confided in me that he remembers what happened:  It was starting to rain.  He was running out of materials and glue.  It was getting late.  He was getting tired.  Hungry.  Frustrated.  He grabbed another can of solvent glue.  Just go. Get it done.  Back-fill in the dark now. load the digger.  load the tools.  Is that the right can of solvent I used on that last joint?

We all make mistakes.

In construction a mistake can be very costly to correct.  The contractor came after a full days work with his crew and fixed the pipe joint – a 4 hour job.  I’d be surprised if any of them got paid.  They definitely didn’t get dinner that day.



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