If you ever do a bid job – any bid job – especially with someone you haven’t delt with – you MUST be sure that the contract is clear to both parties and precise. No generalizations with a promise to make it right by the time its done.
It turns out the the dork that wrote up our contract in very simple, common sense sounding language that seemed to be ok on inspection had enough slack in it to let our contractor squirm through all kinds of things.
Probably the biggest thing that bugged me was the window molding. Debbie and I thought we had an understanding and expected the molding to match our doors – which was Oak. (I didn’t know that at the time, I just said I want it to look like that. Pulling a board off of the wall and handing it to them wasn’t clear enough. When they asked do you want it to look like those windows downstairs I thought they were talking about the stain and style of the wrap – not the wood. Tom was the boss of this outfit (Miller Construction) and he wasn’t around in the initial talks but he was convinced I wanted Fir despite the fact that his partner (Doug) plainly told him right in front of us all Oak. Tom yelled Fir so loud that it scared Deb and I. I thought, well Doug messed up the cabinets and the window over the doors so I guess I want fir (whatever that is). Conveniently the contract didn’t say what kind of wood to use. Tom is a cheap SOB who will work anything he can to his advantage. He knew that Fir is half the cost of Oak and I am convinced he knew what we wanted but he wanted to convince us we wanted Fir.
His yelling was so effective that Deb (who knew what oak and fir are) was convinced that was what I really wanted and proceeded to guide them through the stiain selection in a way that Tom took as clear confirmation that she wanted Fir. Using Deb and I against each other in our confusion worked so that by the time we understood what had happened he had already finished 3 windows in fir complete with stain. (Tom ordered all the wood at once and stained it all before we saw the finished product together and realized we were in total agreement – that what NOT what we asked for).
This really ticked me off!!!
The whole Kitchen is Oak. Every door on the upper floor is Oak. How could Tom think I wanted Fir?
At this point I called in a consultant (the friend that first suggested I do an addition mention in my previous blog on this subject). The consultant (Chris) showed me that my house had Fir, Hemlock, Mahogony and Oak all stained to look very similar. To me, I thought they were just different cuts of the same kind of wood so when I showed Tom the stick of Oak I was thinking use a Fir that has a grain like this.
So the moral of the story is know your stuff BEFORE you sign that contract! Find a good consultant if you can that is technically savy and knows what you want and can make sure the contract specifies what you meant.
You have to know technical terms too. For example, we asked for a new window to be solid glass. Doug said we should have a vent in it and that he could get something that has a small vent on the bottom. This seemed reasonable to us but Debbie stressed that this window was for her to look out of while sitting down – it was mainly a picture window.
It wasn’t till the window was in that we realized its lower HALF was vent and the upper half was clear.
When we consulted the contract it listed this window as B.A.V. Tom said we got exactly what the contract said… Yup I guess I shoulda known that B.A.V. mean half clear and half vent.
Later on I found what I would call shoddy work all over the place – come to find this is what is refered to in the Biz as Industry Standard.
Industry Standard to me now means:
Measurements are within 1/4 inch for finish work and 1" for rough work.
Square means the window can be closed and it kinda looks square if you don’t look too closely.
Finished means 90% done.
Up to code means slapped together enough to fool the owner into thinking its up to code. If the job is permitted it means getting inspection to pass by hook or crook.
There could be a LOT more but for now, I will stop here. Be forwarned.