Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lessons Learned

I know that as you grow older you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, and I most definitely have learned from most of mine. Sometimes though, it is hard to apply those lessons. Take for example the lesson I have learned, to say 'no' to Mark when we are shopping. In theory it should work, but until you have been in a store with Mark and had your ears assaulted by his high pitched whine, you cannot really fault me for giving in on occasion.

So what is the lesson you should learn from dealing with South Florida contractors, tradesmen, and handymen. Don't trust anybody, ever? Trust only those that you know and have used before? I don't know, I just try to trust my instincts and hope for the best.

Two weeks ago, I hired a man to come and rebuild the shower in the studio apartment so that I could rent it out again. The guy I hired had done work for us before, so I thought I could trust him. When he started the job he seemed to know exactly what he was doing and everything was hunky dory. He had originally said it would take three days, but because of the mold behind the wall it was to be extended another day. That was fine. Fine that is until day five, and day six, and day seven, etc., until on day ten he apparently got tired of coming here and suddenly announced that he was finished and handed me the final bill.

When Mark and I went into the little apartment to inspect the work, we both had the same reaction. Mark turned to him and said, "If we had wanted the job to look like this, Alan would have done it.". It was awful. There were gaps in the trim, the tile was crooked, and the apartment was left in filth. The worst part was, when Mark and I started to point out the problems, he got belligerent and began screaming at Mark.

I decided that I didn't want a confrontation, so I wrote out the check for what he wanted, and bid him goodbye. After he left, I sat and stewed for a while, then I went into my office, signed on to my bank, and put a stop on the check. I guess the lesson is, never pay in cash.


  1. Where in the world do you find these handymen? I hope you don't hire them from those "day labor" pools where the homeless are camped out seeking low paying jobs that no one wants.

    You should ask for references, check their licenses, ask to see some examples of their handiwork.

    I would not have cancelled the check. Now that guy might retaliate somehow. Lock your cars gas tanks!

    You might want to cancel that canceled check and call the guy and make a deal with him that you both can live with.

    Tell him, "Listen, you quit the job before it was finished. I can only pay you for half the work unless you finish the job."

    Did you have some kind of written "contract" or "estimate" or Payment Schedule written up?

    Usually you make 3 payments. The first payment is to buy the materials, the second payment is for his labor when he is half way through, and the third payment is upon the completion to your satisfaction when he says he is finished.

    Maybe you brother, Dave, can give you some pointers. What about it, Dave?

  2. You should have just bought one of those fiberglass shower stalls from Home Depot. Maybe that would have worked better.

  3. if you didn't sign anything you don't have to pay him anything.

    just a tidbit I've picked up working where I do.

    and by absolutely NO means should you pay him full price. You did the right thing putting a stop on the check.

  4. What a shame that we have to be abused by workmen that have no good work ethic....or talent! Take plenty of pictures and video of his crappy job (for when he takes you to court!) I advise you to go to Judge Judy's court..she's no nonsense and you'll probably win and shame him in addition! Got any lawyer friends you drink with???

  5. Where did you get this guy?

  6. If he does take you to court it will only be small claims court. If there is nothing in writing, you can just deny you ever met him if you want. If there is something in writing then take plenty of pictures to show the judge.

    Is this something that the local code officer needed to approve? If so find out if he did it to the local building codes. Were any permits pulled for this job? Was one needed?

    When I was living in Florida I was surprised to find out that you needed to pay a permit fee to install a ceiling fan! Ridiculous.

    Pay someone to finish his work and use that as extra evidence in case he does take you to court. I doubt he will though. Chaulk it up to experience.

  7. Damn. I am sorry to hear about this experience you had. I'm certain that permits should have been pulled, so be careful. I wouldn't want you to have to pay any additional fines and or have to have all the work torn out and re-done. Unless of course it's paid for by the contractor that did the initial "work".

    PS: Garet, I sent you an email. Let me know if you didn't get it. Call me. Thanks