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Why is my contractor 4 weeks behind on finishing my basement?

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Posted by: from Mississauga
8/7/2014 at 4:13:36 PM

My contractor has an office. A full office staff - the employees work for their sister company - financing. They pretty much always answer the phone.

They have provided me a detailed contract.

They have invested in internet advertising; even the folder they put the contract in is done excellent - like by a graphic designer.

They have proper advertisement on their vans; they post a sign on my front lawn.

The work they have done has been excellent-the workers are professional and they do it correctly.

Since my last payment (about 3 weeks ago) they have sent HVAC guy over...no one else.

My initial deposit was 25k. Since then another 15 k, so I have paid them $40k and they have done about $20k in work.

I have paid cash but I have them sign the contract at the time and email they have received it.

Currently we are waiting for spray foam on Tuesday to arrive (*if it arrives).

I say if it arrives because my contractor will be "electrical will be over tomorrow afternoon" and then no one show. They constantly tell me things will be happening and it does not.

I totally do not get this situation. and it stressing me out.

If they were scamming - running with the money why do they present themselves with proper advertisement?

And why did they not bolt after the initial deposit?

But it is a lot of money, and why do they lie about the schedule all the time?

Why is it so hard for them to get this organized?

We are monitoring this month - I have taken Tuesday off to ensure the spray guy comes and if we do not see work progress this month we will cancel the contract. If we reach this point hopefully they will give back the money owed and it does not go court.

Can anyone explain this contractor's behavior? Is this normal?

Do contractors care about reviews? To me a bad review is not worth $20,000. Part of me thinks - why would an established company scam me for $20,000 and then another part of me thinks, why wouldn't a company scam for $20,000?!

REPLIES (11)
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Date/Time8/7/2014 at 5:37:26 PM

Hi there,

It sounds to me as if your contractor has more work than he can handle. It's very easy for a company to lose control of proper organization and scheduling by over extending themselves. Your contractor may be promising many clients the same as you but has lost control and cannot accommodate everyone. He is most likely extremely stressed and wants to accommodate you, but is so deep that he must now work on a priority basis. The nagging clients will now be dealt with first as they become first priority.

No one fully wins in court so the best action you can take is to schedule a meeting with your contractor and amend the contract with deadlines and penalties. Have the contract notarized so the contractor understands you are serious.

To me it doesn't sound like he is out to scam you but instead just completely out of control and very behind on advanced scheduling.

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Date/Time8/7/2014 at 5:39:52 PM

Hi,

I have read about your situation and I believe I understand what is going on. The Contractor you hired might have all the credentials of a good upstanding company. However when it comes to promises not kept, it means your Contractor is sub-contracting out work, which is not bad but usually means he is underpaying his sub-contracting crew and pocketing most of the excess cash.

You want to have the job done and that I completely understand and so does your contractor. It would seem to me that he is having a hard time finding somebody (sub-contractor) to do the work at a lower rate of pay and remember you get what you pay for.

I would give the contractor (owner) a chance to come clean with you on why he is having difficulty meeting his obligation to you, if during the conversation you feel the least bit un-easy, cancel the Contract right away.

Thanks,

Jeff Redbear Contracting

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Dewy in Mississauga
Date/Time8/7/2014 at 6:07:44 PM

Thanks for the replies.

I am okay with myself if I made a bad choice, I Just do not want to lose my shirt on this.

Would a company be offended if I ask them to cancel? Like I said I will wait till Tuesday, but after that...

Do you think they would fight - the contract has all the work detailed, I simply subtract what was done vs what I paid them. I am okay taking a hit at this point.

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Date/Time8/7/2014 at 7:03:03 PM

Hi there,

I read your story and I would definitely inquire further. It looks like your contractor has a good marketing system, but he strikes me as very disorganized, and I wouldn t rule out a scam. Firstly, stop paying him. Then, I would call a meeting with very specific questions and demand straight answers, also make sure to look him in the eye. Here is a list of things to verify if not already done:

1. Is he fully licensed? If the job is in Quebec, it needs to be an RBQ license. Are he and his employees insured? He and his employees need to be insured by CSST or an equivalent. He needs to provide you with such documents proving so.

2. Why does the employee work for a sister company and not the one you have a contract with? (This raises concerns, although it could be legit and honest. I would ask the question.)

3. Do his employees have competency cards? Are they insured? You would be responsible if he does not pay them.

4. Ask for a detailed schedule with precise dates of when the work will be done and for every day that he is late, suggest a penalty in an amount of money that will be reduced from the whole contract.

5. Register your contract through a notary or a lawyer.

6. At the end of the job, do not pay him in full; rather, retain 10% for a minimum of 30 days or until all of the work is complete to your satisfaction. Please make sure that if there is any electrical or plumbing work involved, it is done by an appropriate professional with the right credentials. He has to provide you with papers that all of his employees have been paid, as have the materials, subcontractors, and CSST or insurance. You have to receive release papers from the workers on your property saying they are insured, or else you are responsible for covering them from your pocket.

He has to do this, and you are not asking for too much. If he is the professional that he makes himself out to be, he can provide this in a heartbeat. I just hope that he has too much on his plate at the moment and cannot handle the load. It is possible that it is a scam because if he acquires enough jobs for small sums of money and then closes down the company to reopen it under another name, he can walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars. He could scam you for $20,000.00, but multiply that by 10 -20 or 30 and there is a widespread problem.

Good luck

Giuseppe

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Date/Time8/7/2014 at 10:42:12 PM

It does not mater how unorganized this contractor is, or how busy he is, or if he is subbing the work to others. It maters he took somebodies money, made commitments and didn't deliver. That is the bottom line.

Worst of all is, that I'm reading all these comments and no one is commenting on spray foam insulation that was to be sprayed. Wasn't there a story about spray foam insulation that may cause a cancer if enclosed with no air venting place? That is the first think I would warn my customer about.

By reading this I guess neither one of you is concerned about material you are using or educating your customer about potential illness.

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Dewy in Mississauga
Date/Time8/8/2014 at 11:25:38 AM

Kurtis and Jeff thanks for your replies-I believe what you two describe is what is going on. This situation consumes me right now. At the same time is do not dismiss Giuseppe said "He could scam you for $20,000.00, but multiply that by 10 -20 or 30 and there is a widespread problem."

I originally contacted this company in February. and they are still open. I scan the internet and I have found no complaints. I believe they are over booked, as it is summer season. On Two occasions I hinted at cancelation of the contract and they said I would get a refund- but who knows if they really will or how much they will refund.

Maybe they are buying time to scam as much money as they can. They would be true con artist if they did this.

It is messy and these are my thoughts.

I completely think like Steve "It maters he took somebodies money, made commitments and didn't deliver. That is the bottom line." Think that is what really bothers me. But I have decided to tread lightly for now.

I have spoken to the Plumber and he was licenced and professional. I have not seen him a month but when I did he was good.

And Yes I will be holding off 15% for 30 days.

Today I texted the Contractor to pin point if an electrician was coming to finish up some work and to confirm if we are a go for Tuesday for the Spray foam-he has not replied as of yet.

Steve the company that is doing the Spray foam are specialists, I am taking the day off to meet them (again if they show) and I will address your question about spray foam causing cancer.

If there are delays on Tuesday, on Wednesday I will hit the fan. And I will update then.

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Date/Time8/8/2014 at 12:33:25 PM

Hi,

Yes I agree with Steve for the material used, you should inquire about that and ask him to give you specifications.

And please do not communicate through text messages not at this point, do that through emails and telephone, and document all of that.

Have a great day.

Giuseppe

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Date/Time8/8/2014 at 4:24:33 PM

Yes. they may be specialized as to how applied spry foam insulation. That doesn't make them experts on chemicals and triggering cases for cancer.

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Reza from Borj Construction in Toronto
Date/Time8/10/2014 at 5:45:05 PM

Hi Dewy,

I am a General contractor and its not up to any of us to tell you to cancel or continue but the contract is to set the term of agreement and if one party ignores the terms, its automatically void. Now there is a minor issues with organizing a project or payment dates or such as sometimes things do not go as planed for a day or two, specially when there is a third party as sub contractors, but if the delay gets out of hand, it could get sour real fast.

When a party is angry of the other the project becomes personal and usually the contractor wants to get out real quick by any means necessary, if you have searched the contractor about his previous projects and he is clean its unlikely for him to take the money and run away, he may be dealing with his subs being on vacation, unreliable or being replaced by a new one. things happen. communication is the key in this situations and if you can have a meeting to talk business face to face you can see then if the contractor is playing you or not.

Its is not wise to terminate a project with one contractor and have another finishing the job which not only you will spend more money, but it will be difficult for the second contractor to examine what has been done and what is remaining, specially if the work until now has been approved and professional, you do not want to take your self out of a small hole and put yourself into a bigger one.

All reviews affect us, bad or good, that's how customers judge us and a proper established contractor does not need 2000.00 to scam, that's equivalent to may be two month of expense and employee, its not much. it is not worth taking a vacation in Bahamas for that kind of money.

My personal opinion is that the issue is not money, he simply cant organize his crew. If you decide to terminate, put numbers and expenses on paper to come in agreement for reimbursement rather than fighting. Also please choose a hand on contractor so they can see any issues as they continue your project so problems are not hidden by employees or sub contractors.

Best regards

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Dewy in Mississauga
Date/Time8/20/2014 at 2:10:49 PM

Just wanted to update this, in case anyone was curious.

Thanks for the responses.

So just to clarify, I signed the contract with the owner of the company, who assigned a project manager to the job.

As of Saturday the owner assigned a second project manager to my house. My gut tells me the other guy was fired- I did not bother to ask. But ironically, I was preparing a list of complaints against the previous guy.

**I really like this new guy, who is hands on and knowledgeable and I was okay till he called in sick today

Dry wall was delivered and some needed framing has been done. Half of the basement roof has been dry walled.

Today contractor #2 called in sick, said he will be there 100% tomorrow morning.

I figure now, I have paid 40 K and 22 k worth of work (Material) has been done.

In the back of my mind I see this guy calling in sick all week... I do not trust any more.

There are other possibilities- the company could be going out of business, or as this is side business for this company, they are not over concerned if it fails, so bad reviews may not affect them. Not sure, the owner seems like someone who tries to ensure the customers are happy, but someone is failing. The owner could also be Narcissist.

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Dewy in Mississauga
Date/Time8/20/2014 at 2:12:22 PM

Last week when, in hast I discussed cancelation with the owner, the owner seemed really hurt, however the refund she quoted in hast was 7 k (this would lead to a court case as I feel it is 20 k) however again this was no sit down meeting just a telephone call. Anyway we made nice and the 2nd guy was sent over.

Overall this has been a horrible experience, because I do not know who to trust, and like an idiot I gave the $ in advance.

My wife, is saying wait and see, at this point. (My wife and I are living apart as we were supposed to move into this basement) (As well I am starting to feel embarrassed to my family as look dumb for hiring a bad company) (the mental anguish and my thoughts are the worst).

In a sense at this point I do not care about the $--I kind of want this to play out and go to court Just so I am done with this situation and I have my peace of mind, my day in court

In terms of another contractor, I would be my own contractor and sub contract the rest of the work out. Dry wall, electrical, flooring, bathroom tub, toilet sink, kitchen and painting.And pray in a few month if it goes to court I get my $ back.

I have not reached this point yet ..but

This has been the hardest lesson I have ever learned in my life.

Any other thoughts welcome.

If not I will update again, as this develops.

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