Contractor Delays and Terminating Agreements

Last night, while I was awake with insomnia, I started a more in depth investigation of the contractor we hired back in early May to build an overhang on an old addition and reinforce our patio cover.

This is probably not the best time to do this kind of thing. Just saying. You’re tired, slightly put out at the fact you are not slumbering peacefully in your bed, and not inclined to offer the other party the benefit of the doubt. At least this is true of me. Your mileage may vary.

Or it might be that hovering on the edges of my semi-waking brain was the realization that I had handed several thousand dollars to someone who was not really trustworthy… which is why I was awake. I’m going with the second because it turned out to be a good idea. In the course of my digital sleuthing I discovered a Better Business Bureau complaint, a series of poor reviews on Yelp, and a settled complaint with the AZ Registrar of Contractors. Bear in mind that most people who are unhappy with a contractor’s work won’t bother to do anything about it. They take their lumps and move on, wiser and slightly pissed, but not inclined to write a review or file a formal complaint.

Add these poor reviews and complaints to the fact that the sales guy-cum-‘project manager’ could not manage to set a date for the work to begin, had already missed two weeks of ‘it should happen’ pseudo-deadlines, was dodging my calls and texts, and kept giving me vague responses when he DID manage to respond. Along with these red flags was the fact our check for 50% of the work had cleared the bank over five weeks ago and the “project manager” was telling me that NOW they were getting ready to purchase the materials (which everyone knows is experiencing whirlwind inflation), and… nope.

He, of course, promptly responded to my email politely firing his company and requesting a refund of our deposit, with an assurance that the wood could be obtained locally, and the crew could begin work “sometime” this week. Fer sure. No, really.

Yah. Hard pass.

One of the great things about getting older is that you learn to trust your gut instincts.

This is not to be confused with that grand sense of confidence you feel as you’re patting yourself on the back for always being right. One of the things I watch out for is that feeling of smug self-righteousness, and of course the desire to rub someone’s nose in whatever I believe they are wrong about. That’s a whole different kettle of fish and I have discovered that it smells bad no matter how fresh the ‘ah ha’ moment might be. I have gotten really good at nabbing myself doing this because this is one of my besetting sins; arrogance. I am right. Natch. YOU are wrong. Ha!

Yeah, never a good look. Even when you’re a cute Asian actor; which I’m not.

But back to gut instincts. These are much more subtle than the ego-fluffing of self-righteousness. It’s a tiny voice in your head that keeps trying to get you to turn right, slow down, or say “yes”… or “no”. If you are like me (arrogant and/or oblivious) you’ll probably hear from it a dozen times before you haul it into the front porch of your brain to ask why it keeps leaving trash in your yard.

It took me two weeks of deadlines flying past me like errant plastic bags in a stiff breeze, along with the kind of excuses a five year old or your Golden Retriever give you about why something is a holy mess… before I realized that I hadn’t done even a little bit of due diligence on these guys. I was so thrilled to have someone call me back who was actually licensed with the AZ Registrar of Contractors, that I gleefully leapt at the opportunity to throw money their way. Yes. I am often this stupid.

So I’m no longer looking forward to having work done on the back of the house that may or may not be done professionally, and quickly. This is a mixed blessing. I really wanted that wood left by the first contractor who didn’t know what they were doing, put to good use… or at the very least not cluttering up my back patio.

Sexxxxxy, no? Most of it has been there since February. Yeah. (we do move the grill when BBQing)

I was also going to have that fresh siding and door molding painted, along with that ‘desert tan’ sprayed all over the patio cover and every conduit. There’s more around the front of the house and the east side. Painting which has been continually pushed back as we wait for the now-fired-contractor to do what they were hired to do.

The back of the house is going to have to wait a minute. I might find a General Contractor registered with the AZ ROC, who will answer my call and give me a reasonable quote while squeezing us into their busy schedule. I’m not holding my breath. These guys are busy. Crazy busy. Way past the “Hey guys, we have a regular schedule of work for the next six weeks, beers are on me!” and more like, “We all need a day off but our customers are piling up and we need to make hay while the sun shines because we never know when our roster of work is going to suddenly be so thin I can’t afford to keep everyone on payroll.”

And we’re heading into what is affectionately known to Tucsonians as “Monsoon Season”; with large swathes of unpainted siding. So I have decided to paint the trim and siding on the front and east side of the house, plus the siding in the back. The rest of the rear trim we’ll have painted… whenever.

My painter, a truly good guy, said “No problem. I won’t be able to get to you for about two weeks. I’ll take a look at the calendar when I get home tonight and give you a date tomorrow.” And given past practice, I am confident he will.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen… is how home improvement work is supposed to get done. I have a small and slowly growing list of trades persons I can rely on. My neighbors all want the list. I feel like Angie. Only less official, and with no business model to monetize this unintentionally acquired asset.

Such is life.

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