I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die

Some days are just right for a little Johnny Cash…

I haven’t cried myself to sleep since I was young. Until now. Now I cry myself to sleep almost every night because I am at such a complete loss for what to do with this bathroom situation. We can not afford what contractors and contracting companies are asking to come  into a half finished, poorly done job, correct the problems and finish the job. So we’re stuck either doing nothing (and so not having ONE fully functional bathroom in this whole house) until we can save up the money -or- doing little bits and pieces ourselves. The problem with that is: Ron has the ability but not the time. I have the time but not the ability. Again then, we’re at an impass and can’t find our way to doing anything.

One of the unfortunate side effects of this whole rotten situation is that once again I am reminded about how very much I hate this house. I HATE THIS HOUSE. And as long as we’re in this house now, I will never be able to go into this bathroom and not think of what a complete ass this contractor was. He showed NO consideration for us in doing such a poor job, taking such a long time and not getting the job finished. He showed no respect to our house or belongings with the way he just cut into the brand new cabinetry so mindlessly, in the way he just slopped paint onto the rough and unsanded walls, the way he just so haphazardly put the closet together without forming corners or even measuring, clean cutting or sanding the wood. It’s like a giant “fuck you” to us though I fail to understand why as we paid exactly per the contract and paid for all the supplies as the ex-con tractor asked – and – without ever receiving a receipt from him.

The anxiety this situation is causing me is tremendous: I don’t sleep, I dream about this bathroom, I worry constantly, I’m edgy and snapping at my family, I’m frustrated with an entire industry, I’m terrified that another contractor will be as bad or worse. I have headaches, I have tension, I have shortness of breath, I have chest pains, I have upset stomach. Every single day.

The friction it is causing between my husband and myself is unbelievable, as we search for a solution to this dilemma, try and find a bit of money here and there to put towards this, to come to some kind of a decision. I’m sure the ex-contractor isn’t passing sleepless nights over this. I’m sure that he’s not worrying about what this family of three is doing without one fully functional bathroom in their house. I’m certain he’s not going to call me, apologize and start paying me back. In fact, I doubt this even crosses his mind at all.

I hate this house. I hate this house.

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A little tomato juice, some horseradish…

It was a three bloody mary lunch today. I thought it would only be one, but by the time the second arrived I knew a third was lurking. I’m sure it could easily have gone to four but it was the middle of the afternoon…

The news isn’t good. Because ex-contractor was paid-in-full (still kicking myself for that one) we can’t afford what contractors want to come in to a half finished renovation project and correct one bad contractor’s shitty work, and then finish the job. We can’t afford the big contracting company and the 5-year guarantee they offer on their work. We can’t afford the small company and we can’t even afford the fucking handy man.

What we can afford is to do it ourselves. Which means me. Except I don’t really know how, though I can learn and can probably do a better job that our ex-contractor.

Here is what we need to do:

  • caulk tub
  • sand walls, re paint
  • sand trim, re prime and paint
  • make new closet shelving, sand, prime, paint.
  • un-install vanity, take down lights, take down vanity wall
  • re do electrical in wall, re measure for lights
  • put up new wall, sand, prime, paint
  • re install lights, level and even
  • reinstall vanity, level
  • coordinate with granite counter people to install counter
  • install sinks, plumb
  • sand, prime, paint the window trim and the door

Sigh.

Someone grab me that 4th bloody mary. And a xanax. Please.

The waiting really IS the hardest part.

I’m not a big Tom Petty fan but this song is just so appropriate to this circumstance.

Yesterday I had a team from a local remodeling company in to assess our bathroom situation and offer a plan to get this thing fixed and finished and safe.

The lead contractor assured me that there isn’t anything that is completely against code but certainly all those things that leave me aghast (leaky tub, sloppy tile, poor painting, lack of leveling of ANYTHING) are poor (unskilled) workmanship. He also noted that a possible reason our ex-contractor continually failed to deal with the radiator is because he likely didn’t measure to account for the difference between old and new flooring, and how that would affect reattachment. He measured (OMG HE MEASURED!!!) several times and the difference is several inches. This might be where ex-contractor created that giant hill of mastic adhesive in the radiator corner, circa his first attempt to lay the tile floor. Of course there has to be a better way than that. What about adding a bit of pipe to the thing? I am sure a decent plumber could help with that. I am sure the new contracting company can come up with a clean and elegant solution.

So the short list is this:

  • Pull out the tub
  • Rebuild the surround using a moisture barrier (I tried repeatedly to get the ex-contractor to use one)
  • Drop in the tub, level (imagine!) and support (right now it’s not supported.)
  • Re-tile, using a level and then seal the grout
  • Repair, repaint walls, correct and finish all the trim
  • Re-tile the floor (3rd time’s a charm, right?!) and seal the grout.
  • Clean up the sloppy assed closet work
  • Center the lights (YES!)
  • Re-shim vanity – because it’s not level!!
  • Coordinate with the two companies that I have already contracted into for the granite counter and the custom wall mirror, to get those items installed.

The two most time consuming parts of this process are going to be the tub surround and the fact that we want to take down the wall that the vanity is against. Ex-contractor did 2 things that can compromise safety:

  • He ran electrical wires over a stud (oh yes he did) and
  • He buried an electrical (junction?) box in the wall.

I wish I had pictures of these so that we didn’t HAVE to take the wall down but in my opinion, better safe than sorry.

Ultimately, it’s not going to take very long to do this work either, about 5 days to maybe a week! WOOT!

But –

There’s always a “but”, right … The catch is that they are scheduled out 6-8 weeks which means we’re looking at the end of May, early June. It’s a long wait but that IS the hardest part. I am confident that this remodel company can and will do the work right and that I will be satisfied with the end product. And they have a 5-year guarantee on their workmanship, so if there is a problem, at least I know they’ll be there to fix.

I’ll have a better idea of the timeline and the cost, next week. So now I have to work on being patient because “good things come to those who wait.” Right? Right???

Holding Pattern, Redux

So we are in a holding pattern with this bathroom, yet again. Our EX-contractor appears to be a big old fraud and his work is worse than bad; it’s just sloppy and really shows that he has no idea what he’s doing. I called him this week to discuss the situation with him and while he did not deny that his license was suspended or that he has a claim against him from a different client, he did try to tell me that the suspension was recent, after our contract date. I told him I would believe it only with confirmation from the state. In the meantime, license or not, his work in this bathroom is failing and we have to bring in new companies, new contractors and try again. I asked him if he thought it was fair that it was at our expense? No answer. I suggested that I would be filing a complaint with the state and that got his attention: he doesn’t want me to do this. BUT, this is my ONLY consumer protection resource. He suggested he would make payments to us. I replied that I am not a bank.

So, I have appointments next week with a big kitchen/bath remodel company and with a private contracting company to help me deal with this situation. They will provide unbiased assessments and a work plan.

In the meantime, I have marginally functional bathroom that leaks water all over the place that, when I look at it, I hate it so much for all the struggle we’ve had just getting it to this point.

Le sigh.

Beginning of the End

I feel a little like Chicken Little running around yelling, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Maybe I’m being overdramatic, feeling used and abused, feeling duped. But the reality is, there are some major though perhaps not (yet) catastrophic, failings with this bathroom that lead us to believe that we’re probably going to have to rip the whole thing out and start again. It’s a thought that is making me sick to my stomach. I feel consumed by this whole fracking thing.

And my biggest worry is, do we confront the contractor? How? I do not want him back to make repairs because through out the course of this “renovation” I’ve had to ask him to fix things, do things over and he’s done worse every time. Why would this be any different? I will most certainly file a complaint with the state contractor licensing board but in the end that could take a very long time to get money back from the contractor to be able to pay for the next round of materials and labor. And what makes me most upset is the thought that we don’t truly know that the next contractor will be any better, any more or less honest about his abilities.

Every state has a Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board.

http://www.crb.ri.gov/index.php

From: http://www.crb.ri.gov/faq/index.php

WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF A CONTRACTOR’S REGISTRATION?

A contractor’s registration can be suspended or revoked if one engages in dishonest or a fraudulent conduct with the public or if knowingly and consistently builds structures in violation of state building codes. Failure to maintain required insurances can result in suspension or revocation of registration. Such action is usually the result of an administrative hearing.

IS THERE A PENALTY FOR OPERATING WITHOUT A REGISTRATION AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH A FINAL ORDER OF THE BOARD?

Yes. Any person who violates a final order of the Board, or fails to register as a contractor as stipulated, and upon proper written notification, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, on conviction thereof, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one (1) year, or fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for 1st offense, and ($10,000.00) for subsequential offenses. If three (3) or more final orders are issued in a 24 month period may be prosecuted as a felony charge.

ARE THERE ANY TIME LIMITS ON CONSUMER CLAIMS?

Yes. The owner of a new structure must file a claim with the Board no later than one (1) year after the closing date of the structure. A claim involving an existing structure must be filed no later than one (1) year after the remodeling work was substantially completed. That time frame may be extended if the contractor was notified in writing during the first year, of the problem.

Things Left Undone

Contractor left today, for good. He took all his tools, I did pay him his final but nothing extra because he didn’t actually finish the job and it went over by about 4-6weeks. AND because he simply tossed me some totals for materials billings without actually providing me with ONE receipt. I have a huge punch list of things to do and am totally irritated that either I have to do these, or I have to find someone else to do them and to pay for it.

And, if you really look at these pictures, words will leave you, like mine did.

My list:

1. Paint the trim (you can see the contractor did not clean before painting, and why the unfinished edges, a return would make the trim look so much more finished.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Paint the window sash, sand & paint the door (These items were on the final list and I asked over and over.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Strip, paint, reinstall the radiator (you know, for heat!) The radiator is in the basement and for the last 4 days I’ve been begging him to get this done. Begging. Really begging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Paint in the closet – shelf supports, fix the wall in the closet too. (The walls are rough, he couldn’t find the studs or changed where he wanted the shelves. One can see the walls are still rough with “plaster” and not sanded to a finish.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Decide if I want to deal with the rough walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Deal with the kick board under the cabinetry. (Shimming high in the middle and lacking on the ends will cause bowing of the vanity and eventual granite counter failure – splitting or cracking.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Dig out the popping floor tiles and reinstall… (Second time he did the floor and while it’s better than the completely unleveled first floor, it’s now popping time. I can’t imagine.)

Le sigh.

Editing to add:

As I review in my mind the events of the last 8 weeks, leading to this non finished, non completion of the job, I have to wonder if this was the contractor’s way of giving us the finger… but why? Really.

Was I too picky when I asked him to re-do the floor or when I pointed out that something was crooked and I preferred it straight or that the initial trim on the windows and doors was incorrect. I don’t believe I was: As the consumer I have a right to have this bathroom built & done in the manner of my choosing. Why would anyone pay for a crappy job? And yet, I did. I paid for the extra materials and never complained about the extra cost, never complained about the extra time until these last few weeks. And even then I tried to remain positive, to give the contractor the benefit of the doubt. And why would he want to screw a client? We’re giving him good work with the potential for more. We pay on time, he sets his own hours, I often make him lunch. I have referred others to him when things were going well. And – all I wanted was a quality job, done in a timely manner for a fair price…

After he left today I was reading through our contract and came to the back page where his licensing and insurance information is located. Information he voluntarily provided to me. I noticed that his insurance was expired in 2010. I didn’t notice that before. So I looked up his contractor license number. It’s SUSPENDED pending a claim’s investigation. I looked at the copy he provided me which says it’s valid and he has no complaints. There is a total disconnect between what he provided to us and what is on file with our state’s board of contractor licensing. HE LIED and offered me FORGED documentation. And I didn’t do my “due diligence” to look him up because of his recommendation.

There’s more but I don’t believe this is the time or place to get into  it. Suffice it to say that I will be registering a complaint and bringing attention to the proper authorities. I am tired and I am angry and I feel duped.

And I still have to find and then pay someone to finish my bathroom.