The Last Five Years

So, for five years, we've been involved in a lawsuit, more or less. That'd seem pretty obvious if you've read our account of our foundation disaster. During that time, the case has gone from very active, with lots of depositions and so forth, to just sitting and waiting for the other side to get their acts together.

But as of last week, we've finished settling the case, and the suit has been vacated. (We actually settled in August, but Contractor A has held up the payment by reneging on several terms of the settlement, because he's a dishonest, dishonourable crook.) And now it's time to tell the part of the story that, at the request of our lawyers, we've been refraining from talking about on this blog.

But first, some thanks.

First there are our lawyers, all, well, seven of them or so. In summer 2005, when Contractor A had walked off the job, he found our blog and didn't like the fact that we told the world what he had done, with pictures. In addition to all the wrangling he was doing trying to get us to pay him several hundred thousand dollars to fix the mess he'd made (we're still not sure where he thought we could get that kind of money from; note to con artists: make sure your marks actually have money to be conned out of), he threatened to sue us for defamation. We weren't too worried, but our lawyer at the time suggested we retain a lawyer who specialized in First Amendment and defamation cases, which we did. In the end, all that lawyer ever ended up doing was sending Contractor A a letter saying they were representing us; he dropped that line of offense immediately and we never heard another word about it.

In case it's not abundantly obvious, by this point we were totally broke and had negative equity in our house, so it's not as if we had anything to be sued for. It's kind of stupid to start a lawsuit against somebody who has nothing to pay you with if you win.

Anyway, we didn't always like what our lawyers did, we didn't always agree with them, but they were invaluable in getting this case through the system and eventually getting us our check.

In addition, we need to thank Counterforce again. They're the guys who finished the job and helped us fix all the messes that Contractor A made. First of all, we owe them because they saved our butts by being willing and able to come in on short notice and finish the job before the rain started and our house collapsed on the neighbors. Second, they were willing to put up with our understandably paranoid approach to hiring a second contractor. Third, their work on the foundation was outstanding. If you're thinking of replacing a foundation or doing other structural concrete work in the Bay Area, call them.

And of course, our friends and family. I've said it before, but let's be clear: by the time Contractor A got through fleecing us, we needed money. When we budgeted for the foundation replacement, we added 10% for potential issues -- even though our foundation was so cut and dried a job that we should not have needed it if some dimwit hadn't done such a stupid job on the excavation that we needed to switch foundation systems -- but that was long gone, swindled out of us by the dishonest Contractor A (and there will be more on that in a later post, because lordy, do we have a lot of stuff to tell you all).

So we went begging. My parents kicked in the majority of the funds needed (by taking out a mortgage on their home when they should have been retiring, so this was no small sacrifice). Some friends lent us the rest. We paid them interest, of course, but it's not as if we had any other sources for the money apart from liquidating our meager retirement funds. They saved our house. We honestly would not have been able to get the house safe without their help. More than anybody else, our friends and family pulled us out of the fire. Contractor A would happily have let us lose the house and go through bankruptcy -- and he probably would have laughed his evil head off while it happened.

Hey, can you tell we hate Contractor A? I like to think, as I have endlessly edited this web site, that the A stands for "Asshole." And to think he objected to my first edit, where I called him "Dimwit." It's best not to push me too much.

So over the next umpty posts -- we're not really sure how long this will take to tell -- we're going to be telling the side of the story that has been suppressed for the last five years. We'll tell you things about the disaster itself that we didn't talk about before because they were part of our case. We'll tell you about the process of suing Contractor A, his declaration of bankruptcy (it could not happen to a more worthy person), and the endless mediations we went through while the other side argued things like that the land we owned was not property. We'll tell you about how we've limped the house through this process just so we could come out on the other side solvent.

Some of it will be funny, some of it will be tragic. We've got a bit more perspective on it now, but much of it was downright awful while it was happening.

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posted by ayse on 04/12/10