So you have finally made a choice, you found a contractor to do the job and he/she came in at the lowest quote. Jeff choose his contractor simply by asking the other two ‘how much is it going to cost me’? As Jeff had his aha moment he instantly knew he was going to hire the cheapest one. Jeff was a software specialist but knew nothing about renovations. Jeff wanted to finish his basement so it could be rented to bring in more income. Jeff had no idea about sound proofing or fire doors, all he knew was he wanted it done and he didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Now I will tell you Jeff’s story or should l say his nightmare.
Jeff found all three contractors on Craigslist which is not always a bad thing, there are many capable contractors to choose from on this site and at least two out of the three were capable contractors. Jeff met with all three in the same day, he was anxious to get this started. Jeff was not interested in details he just wanted to get to the ‘bottom line’. Contractor number two was the cheapest, even Jeff who allotted a certain amount of money couldn’t believe how low his quote was. Jeff hired him on the spot, and fifteen minutes later the contractor we will call Joe left with a $15,000.00 deposit and a promise he would return the next day to begin the job.
This is where Jeff’s problems began… Jeff stayed home from work anticipating Joe’s arrival, Joe did not show on day one. Several calls were made and finally the following afternoon Joe answered. His excuse was he wanted to wait until the cheque cleared, he didn’t have money to buy the materials until then. Jeff was ticked off but agreed to wait the five business days until the cheque cleared. Day 7 Jeff once again took the day off awaiting Joe’s arrival, again Joe didn’t arrive. It wasn’t until day nine that Jeff received a call from Joe, this time his truck broke down but he promised he would be there the next day with a crew to start the work. Jeff wasn’t sure what to do but Joe had convinced him everything would be done in there 4 week time allotment. Joe finally did arrive on Day 11, his crew consisted of a kid about 16 years old. Joe handed off a spare key and left for work.
Jeff arrived home about 9 hours later to discover his contractor had started the demo but left a pile of garbage outside his side door. The neighbour next door was not happy with all the garbage, her renter enters through the side door and now it was blocked. Jeff called Joe to come back and get rid of the mess, Joe had promised he would take care of dumping all the garbage. Joe was no where to be found, Jeff immediately started dragging the garbage into the back yard to unblock the entry way for his neighbour. When Joe arrived the following morning Jeff blasted him about the garbage. Joe promised a bin would arrive that morning and everything would be ok. The demo would be complete by days end and all the garbage would be gone.
Jeff returned that evening to another empty house, the neighbour reported to Jeff that Joe had left about 2pm. The garbage was gone but Jeff wondered why Joe left so early, how was he going to keep a 4 week deadline? The next morning Joe never showed up. Jeff left early to go to work and had left a note for Joe to call when he arrived. Jeff never received a call and when he returned home nothing more had been done. Jeff called Joe and left several messages, none were answered. Jeff now in a panic wondered if Joe had run off with his money. Jeff decided he would wait a few more days before calling the police. Another 2 days went by and Joe finally called Jeff back, this time he had to go onto another job something urgent had come up and he couldn’t get out of it. Jeff at his wits end told Joe if he didn’t return and complete the job he would call the police! Joe promised again the job would be done on schedule, there was nothing to worry about.
Week #3 and very little had been done to the basement. Jeff also noticed that Joe had began putting the drywall up on the walls but there was no insulation? Joe explained to Jeff that because the quote was so low he couldn’t afford insulation, besides insulation is ‘over rated’, no ones going to notice. Week #4 Joe calls Jeff at work, it seems he’s run out of money for materials. Jeff has not seen hardly any materials being brought in, there was some studs up and a stack of drywall on the floor but nothing else. Jeff asked Joe where he spent the down payment. Joe gives Jeff a song and dance about where the money went and sadly Jeff believes him. $5,000.00 dollar cheque would be waiting for Joe the next day along with an extra $2,000.00 in cash because Joe said if you pay cash for materials Jeff would save 15% overall.
Joe made sure he showed up for the next seven days, he wanted to ensure Jeff did not put a stop payment on the $5,000.00 cheque. Week #7, already 3 weeks after the scheduled dead line and not much is complete. Jeff wanted to show his neighbour how the basement was coming along when they both noticed a 2 X 8 foot area of dampness coming through the drywall. The neighbour suggested to Jeff to have the outside water proofed, he said he would speak to Joe in the morning. The next day Jeff spoke to Joe about the damp issues, Joe didn’t seem concerned but told Jeff he would look after it.
Week #10 and the basement remains unfinished. Jeff is now very angry and wants answers. Joe is a typical sales man, he asked Jeff for one more week to complete the job, Jeff agreed. Joe explained to Jeff the ‘finishing’s’ were costly, Joe said ‘you don’t want to cheap out do you’? Still to purchase was a fridge, stove, over head fan, bathtub, sink, toilet, cabinets, counter top, tiles and lighting. Cheque #3 for $13,000.00 was written with the promise this would be complete within one week. Jeff had been quoted $25,000.00 from Joe and this was for the entire job. $35,000.00 later and it wasn’t done! The two other quotes were for $28,000.00 and $30,000.00.
Chris met Jeff on week#10. Chris had been doing some work to a house down the street, he had noticed Joe coming and going for the last few weeks and wondered what job he was doing. Jeff asked Chris one day if he would come over and have a look at his partly finished basement, he was now concerned about the workmanship. Chris was dumb founded when he saw the basement. Joe had not done anything to code. The water proofing hadn’t been addressed and Joe had put some materials along the wall that was leaking so Joe wouldn’t notice. Jeff was lost as to what to do next. Chris told Jeff to fire Joe, report him to the better business bureau and take him to small claims court.
Jeff finally made the right decision, he fired Joe that same day. The finishing’s had not arrived so Jeff called Joe to ask for his final payment back. Joe’s number had been disconnected. Jeff’s bank account had already cleared the final installment. Jeff called the police and was told to make a report but there wasn’t much they could do about it. Jeff could not afford to have Chris redo the whole basement but asked him to do the water proofing and at a later date to complete the basement. Chris explained to Jeff that none of Joe’s work was correct, he would have to start from the beginning with a permit. Jeff agreed and a date was set to begin his second full basement renovation. The following spring Chris would begin to learn just how bad the renovation was.