Off the Job

NOTE: As of September 23, 2009, this post has been edited in
accordance with a court-mediated settlement. The names of the
contractor and his excavation subcontractor have been replaced with

Contractor A (who was at this point trying suggesting that we could just lower the house to the ground and leave it there, no seriously, he actually put that forward as a suggestion) pulled off the job a while ago, as noted. As of two weeks ago, Contractor A (you'll recall that he'd been working on bids and, by his own confession, drinking quite a bit) has sent us a letter telling us he will not complete the job (for which we have a fixed-bid contract) unless we pay him an additional $126,000, and even then he would not actually finish the work, reducing the scope of work significantly and leaving off structural strapping required by the engineering drawings, not to mention putting in a foundation design that is not safe according to our geotechnical engineer.

Most importantly, when Contractor A (who during one meeting said such incredibly nasty things about his wife and her religion that even in anger I would not put them up on this site, and keep in mind that I've been known to refer to him as "the worst fucking excuse for a theoretical human being I've ever encountered" in mixed company) pulled off the job, he took his sign down from our front porch. Maybe it's because he's ashamed of how the worksite looks. I would be. Heck, I'd be ashamed to be him. If I were related to him I would change my name. If I had a similar name and wasn't related to him I would also change my name. He's got a lot to be ashamed of.

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That's one heck of a steep back step.

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There's the pile in the back yard. It's shrunk in recent weeks, running off in the rain into the pit under the house.

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Some of it has slumped to the side. The rubble mixed in seems to be stabilizing it.

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So do the weeds growing all over it, but we don't see much point in mowing or weeding the pile.

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There's a smaller pile out front, from which neighbors have been helping themselves to sand.

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And bricks. I know everybody tells us to save the bricks because they are precious golden things, but they're in bad shape, it's too much work to clean them up, a process which will make them be in worse shape, and bricks are actually pretty cheap to buy when you need them.

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One of the things that makes me most angry is that there are piles of materials around, materials that in theory we have paid for, rusting and rotting. And Contractor A (who had just bought one of his kids a flute and a violin despite his abject poverty) tells us he can't afford to finish the job.

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The water has subsided in the upper parts of the soil, but it was an exceptionally wet winter as predicted, so it's not all gone.

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There are still sand boils in the excavation. Our geotechnical engineer believes the water problem was exacerbated by using heavy equipment on delicate soil under wet conditions.

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Noel mentioned this one last week: the water is pooling in the remaining tarps. This seems to be the least of our problems, but it sure is not comforting.

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Have I mentioned that Contractor A (who had been throwing his trash around the container he was using as an office) left debris all over the place? The site is a mess, and we have seen no evidence that anybody has come by to check on the conditions since Contractor A (who should be ashamed of himself) walked off the job.

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So what's going on, anyway? Right now we have consulted with a lawyer who specializes in construction law. He has sent Contractor A (who got belligerent and shouted at us when we asked him to justify our having to pay to fix his mistakes) a letter asking for documentation of the alleged massive losses on the cost of the excavation. We have not heard from Contractor A (who would subsequently fail to document his alleged losses because as far as we can tell he made out like a bandit) in response to the letter, yet, but ideally he will get a lawyer to read over the contract and change orders and that lawyer will talk some sense into him, or at least explain exactly what he's contracted to do and what his possible losses will be if we go have to go to court.

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posted by ayse on 05/23/05