Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sloppy Work

Lesson of the century learned: If you have to live out of state while having your old property fixed up, hire someone you know you can trust to manage the process on site. I flew to my old home to inspect all the work that had been done on it since I moved out, to pack up the last of my belongings, and to drive the last car back to my new home. When I arrived, this is what I saw...

The plumber just left my old cracked pipes out lying on my driveway for all prospective home buyers to see. I moved those to an out-of-sight location since I didn't have my truck to haul them to the dump.
My grass was dying, if not dead, because the gardener failed to do his job of watering every other day.  Just look at  my pasture...

I wanted to cry.  This gardening team is really good at mowing, but what's the point of mowing dead grass and dirt?  You'd think someone would notify me of this situation.  I bitched to the real estate agent about it and all he said was, "Yeah, I noticed your pasture was looking pretty bad."

Then why the hell didn't he do something about it?  This is a gardening team that he recommend to me to use, claiming they do excellent work on the properties he manages.  I had to run the sprinklers for three days and nights to revive the lawns.

Our trash can and a potted tree were both on their sides after a windstorm.  My real estate agent was just at my house that morning, so I don't know why he felt it was above him to simply pick them up.  If the house doesn't sell because it looks like a pigsty, he stands to lose a big commission.  One would think he might care about presentation, and take responsibility for it knowing that the house is unoccupied and the owner lives out of state.  Wouldn't you upright a trash can and a potted plant for $25,000?

Then I found that the gardener had hooked my hoses up to automatic timers that are supposed to go off at certain times and water my lawns.  However, they were both broken and only spilled water out the bottom of them onto my concrete patio.

Also, his employees who mowed my lawn left the sprinkler on the patio instead of putting it back onto my lawn, so had the timing box worked, the patio would have received the majority of the water.

I was really angry and called the gardener several times asking to meet with him, but he did not return my calls.  So, I had to get my real estate agent to water every other day and am looking at hiring a new gardener.

The painter didn't come back to finish painting the spackling on the wall, so I called him again to tell him he'd better get it done while I'm in town, because I'm losing potential buyers each day that this house sits incomplete with glaring signs pointing out its problems, such at this crack in the wall.

I also found that someone broke holes in the wall, and the painter just painted over them instead of trying to repair them.  His excuse was that he thought the baseboards would be thicker and would cover them.  None of the workers would own up to who put the holes in the wall, but the painter volunteered to patch and repaint them.

All the workers left behind a huge mess in my kitchen, after I had done so much work to get the house presentable to show to potential buyers.

They left their trash in my sink and dismantled my oven range, not bothering to put it back together.  Dust was covering everything in the house.

They used my toilets, left the seats up, and left spray cans of air freshener out by the toilets for potential buyers to see.

They used up all my toilet paper...

...and my tissues...
They left shards of tiles and grout on the floor, loose staples and nails on the carpet, where I stepped on them and got stabbed repeatedly.  I had to do a lot of sweeping and vacuuming.  I made a special trip into town to buy more vacuum cleaner bags, because all it took was vacuuming up all the gunk in a couple of rooms and the bag was full.  I worked on the floors for three days straight.

The flooring installers tried putting the shelves back in the closets, but kept breaking them, so they gave up and left this mess.  Wrong shelf, wrong closet, broken and no effort was made to repair it.  They left another broken shelf in my dining room.  I had to repair all the shelves and move them into the correct closets myself.

Then I found a smoke detector in a kitchen cabinet that the painter forgot to re-hang.  My husband and I did all this work to get the house up to code with smoke detectors in all the required locations.  I made the painter come back and put it up.

He also left a towel hook sitting on the bathroom sink instead of reinstalling that into the back of the bathroom door.  I would have had to buy the right kind of screwdriver to install it myself, so I made the painter come back and do it.

Then I opened a bathroom cabinet and found a floor vent shoved inside.  It turned out that the flooring installers just laid pad and carpet right over one of my heating and air conditioning vents, and forgot to cut out a slot to put the metal piece in.  I had to call them back out to fix it.

They also had to repair the carpet on a step that they never finished.  Notice the wing of carpet to the left, but not one on the right?

There were actually holes in the wall that were visible...

The more I looked around, the more I spotted obvious problems, like valances that were not hung correctly...
...and curtains that were hung backwards.

I tried fixing those myself, but wasn't tall enough, so I borrowed a step stool from a neighbor.  There were outlet covers that were either broken, installed incorrectly, or installed in the wrong locations.

The door handles were a mess.  You'd push down on them, and they'd stay down instead of popping back up.  Some were backwards and upside down. 

A screw was missing from one and the handle hung limp.

I made the painter come back and reinstall all the door handles to my specifications.  When I pointed out the hanging door handle on the inside of the closet, he made some comment about the only way anyone would notice that would be if they opened the closet door.  But you don't actually have to use the handle on the inside of the closet, so in his mind it didn't matter.  What the hell?  I'm trying to sell a house here, dude!  If the door handles aren't installed properly, buyers will wonder what else is wrong with the house.  Plus, it's his job to restore the house back into its original condition after painting the walls.  Those door handles all worked fine before he removed them.

Then after he left, I saw that he never repaired the screw holes around the ceiling vent.

Nor the mouse holes along the floors...

I found places where I paid him to touch up the scratches and chips int he doorways, and he missed some.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, my flooring installer pointed out that my ceiling fan was broken.  I nearly flipped out when I saw it hanging awkwardly...

...with a bunch of wires sticking out.  It was working fine when I left.  The painter obviously knocked it with something and broke it.  I was just a few hours away from traveling back home and now I had a liability hanging from my ceiling.  I talked to the painter, who denied having any hand in on this at first, but then he realized that he was the only worker who needed to get up that high to do his job, so he had to be the one who broke it.  He assured me he would come back later and repair it himself.  I seriously doubt he will return, because I have to contact him multiple times and really lay the pressure on thick to get him to do anything at all.

The real estate agent was so disgusted with how long it was taking the painter to finish his job, that he removed the worker lock box.  He wanted him to finish everything while I was staying in the house and could let him in.  Since the painter didn't finish correcting all of his oversights, I had to give him a house key, which made me very uncomfortable.  I spent four days cleaning that house to get it into showroom condition, and now that dang painter is going to go right back in there and make more messes.  He insists on leaving the front door open while he works, which lets in flies.  He never cleans up his dust.  Someone stepped in paint and tracked it all over my front porch, and he didn't bother to clean that up.

While I was on my way out the door I spotted some locations where the painter missed covering the old pink paint with the new off-white paint.

This was after he asked me to finalize the list of all the items I needed him to fix.  Oh well, I suppose if I didn't spot it until after four days of living in the house, potential buyers won't spot it in a walk-thru.  He did leave some paint for patch up work.  I just didn't have the time to do it myself.

I had to get my car back to Arizona before its registration expired.  While driving to the store to pick up an ice chest for all the frozen foods I needed to clean out of the freezer, my mobile phone rang.  I had been waiting for a couple of important calls, so I quickly flipped on my turn signal, pulled into a parking lot, parked in a space and answered my phone.  I noticed a cop come racing into the parking lot right when I was answering my phone.  I finished my conversation, put my phone away, threw the car into reverse to back out of the spot, turned around and found that cop right behind me running my plate through his system.  He probably thought my registration tag had expired.

I waited for him to put on his lights or indicate to me that he needed to talk to me, but he didn't.  I knew that when he finished running my plates, he would find out that my registration doesn't expire until Friday, so I drove off.  He didn't follow, thankfully.  I find it truly bizarre how other people can drive double the speed limit on a regular basis and not get pulled over, yet if my registration comes even close to not being renewed, I've got a cop on my ass in one second.  This is not the first time it has happened to me.

Then there's my, hopefully, final story about my annoying neighbors.  My friend picked me up at the airport and drove me to my house, after I thanked her for the ride by buying her lunch.  We went inside the house to check out the new flooring and paint, and when she opened the door to leave, she said, "Oh, there's a neighbor."

I looked out to see my nosy neighbor walking her dog back and forth at the ends of my driveway peering up at us.  She probably had seen a different car in the driveway and felt the need to come out to investigate.  I said, "She's the reason why I moved."

It astounded me that she had the time to come spy on us, because she had up to seven vehicles in her front yard all weekend while various visitors came and went...

The Calling Card Creeper, the Smoking Woman, and the annoying little kid were all there. Since I moved out, the Smoking Woman had set up a chair right against the fence to my horse paddock instead of smoking on the porch.  My neighbor friend also complained that after I moved out, they started moving the junk vehicles back into their front yard and never built the fence between my property and theirs.

The flooring people were there when our buyers inspected the property, and they said that the man did not want out of the contract for the various reasons that he cited.  He wanted out of the contract as soon as he saw the neighbors' place.  He said they were just too close, there were too many of them hovering around, and their yard was too junky.  I'm sure the jerks come running outside to stare every time a potential buyer comes around to look at the property.  I've given up.  I'm just going to wait for the real estate agent's contract to run out, and then try to rent the place.  I really don't need the added responsibility, but as long as these neighbors are next door, I have no control over what they do to ruin my chances of a sale.

By the time I left, I got most of the problems at the house resolved, but not all of them.  I dreaded returning to the new house, because I knew I would be greeted with a list of things that broke down there while I was gone.  Sure enough, the bunnies chewed through the drip system, so now we have a spray system that sprays the stucco off the house instead of watering the hedge.  We had to turn off our water until will can get that repaired.  An electrical outlet stopped working.  I am so beyond fed up with scurrying around to fix things as they break, that I'm about ready to give both houses away and live in a pup tent. 

I'm not a handyman, yet all the handymen I hire always end up screwing up the job somehow and breaking something else in the process.  Nothing is ever simple.  Something break / Hire man to fix / Man fixes / Happy day.  Nope.  That's not the way my life works.  For me, it's more like this:  Something break / Hire man to fix / Man makes it worse and breaks something else / I bring man back to fix both / Man denies responsibility and breaks a third thing / I bring in three more men who specialize in the three broken things, and each of them break something else in the process of fixing what someone else broke.  On and on it goes.  For now on no one is getting paid until their work passes inspection and until they take responsibility for the things they break instead of trying to cover them up and sticking me with the bill.

Oh yeah, and the home insurance company found out that the house we are selling is vacant, so they are threatening to double our premium since it is now a liability.  So, I have to get someone living in there fast.  I'm trying to get my real estate agent to spend some time at the house at least every other day to water the landscaping and keep the interior clean, but my gut instinct tells me he's a lost cause.  I told him before I signed a contract with him that I would need him to go above and beyond just selling the house.  I said that since I'd be out of state, I'd need him to care for the house and manage repairs.  He agreed to do that, but based on his performance thus far, I'd be crazy to renew his contract.  Good people are hard to find.


Mikey said...

As I was scrolling down, I just could not BELIEVE all the stuff wrong. That is inexcusable. What a mess!! Honestly, your agent couldn't pick up that tree? That's just common courtesy. I would be mad too, about all of it. I would be furious.
I hear ya though. We have the same problem. Every time we turn around there's something broken, or needs this and that to work. Town is 15 miles away one way, so nothing is an easy fix. The last two days both quads went down, one just died for no explainable reason, the other one started leaking gas. Wade told me twice it was fixed, but every time I got on, it would leak gas again. He says it's fine, I say I'm going to be blown up.
One horse I intended to do things with has a swollen leg, Wade's rope horse is still not better and he has a suddenly swollen sheath this morning. So guess who's cleaning sheaths today? And while I'm doing that, might as well bathe the whole horse.
Wade brought home this monstrosity of a pool filter. It just needs pool sand and a couple fittings. Meanwhile, the pool is turning green. I finally insisted he hook up the old filter system. I just know that the big filter is going to sit there in my yard all summer and never get used. End of summer, I'm throwing all of it away.
It just never ends. I think for some of us, life is just like that. I'm always astonished and suspicious when something goes right. Life is just never that easy.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mikey - No kidding. I get catatonic after a while and am just so afraid of making a move, because something else might spontaneously combust. And I've learned that men are really good at buying new stuff, but not so hot with applying it. I was just thinking that right before I left town, I saw a homeless man walking down the street. I should have picked him up, and taken him back to the house, and made a deal that he could stay there in exchange for being the caretaker of the house. I'm just so afraid of what kind of trouble that kind of move would cause. He'd probably turn out to be drunk and piss all over my new carpet that I had put in to replace another carpet that was covered in dog piss.

lytha said...

nuzmuz, i'm so sorry, i started to cry at the start of your post, and then it just got worse. i cannot believe how horrible this is, what you're going through. i cannot do a single thing to help you, only partake in your pain.

appydoesdressage said...

Wow, that is amazing. My only suggestion would be to buy a subscription to Angie's List and use handymen from there. They have a good reputation and are rated by people and you can leave a rating. Maybe that will help? You are just being followed by bad luck :(

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

AGHHHH!!! So aggravating!!!!!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

The handyman who screwed up my ceiling several months ago came highly recommended from one of those lists like Angie's List, only I didn't have to pay for a subscription. I don't think those sites guarantee anything. If someone is hungry enough, he'll say he has skills that he doesn't have. All the people I hired to fix up my old house came highly recommended through one person or another. You can do all the research in the world and it just doesn't make any difference.

Dreaming said...

I was fuming just reading your post and seeing the pictures. How awful for you. What a mess. It is so hard to count on people to do things these days. Argghhh!!

Cheryl Ann said...

Oh, Nuzz...I'm getting a headache just reading this! People these days...(shaking head)...I don't remember going through any of this when we sold my mom's house in the 1990's. GOSH DARN! The new buyers did want us to reduce the price because of the roof my dad put over the back porch, so we did. Then, they added a "grandma house" in the back. I still drive by that house whenever I'm in LA, which isn't very often. I hope all this gets resolved soon! :-)

Katharine Swan said...

I agree with the first thing you said: If you can't be there yourself, find someone you trust to be there for you! Pay a friend, hire someone, whatever. But I've always believed that most people are prone to sloppiness (if not outright dishonesty) if you aren't around to make sure it's done right.

Paint Girl said...

What a freaking nightmare. I can't believe that those contractors would do that. I mean, that is one way to ruin their business!! Very crappy job. I would be just as furious.
I don't even know what else to say to that. Disgusting. What has this world come to? Now you can't even pay somebody to get decent work done!

sydney K said...

What the heck!? I would be PISSED and be laying some smack down. That's so inexcusable! When I managed barns or took care of houses/barns etc. I always lived with the idea that I left a place as it was or better than it was when I left. Not once have I had a call from someone to come back and fix stuff.

fernvalley01 said...

Good grief, maybe the creepy nosy neighbors should buy it since it is so interesting to them ?

Reddunappy said...

Crap!! Nuzz muzz!!!! Just Crap!!!

My Dad was a flooring contractor, and very good. What you have had to put up with just disgusts me.
So sorry!

ABScharstein said...

Holy shit. What a sack of stupid! That supposed realtor is absolutely idiotic.

lilyrose said...

Geez. You never seem to catch a break...I honestly am floored by the shoddy work at your old house. You need to get rid of that real estate guy. He sounds like a lazy butt.
As far as things on this end...try going to - They are kinda like Angie's list, but local.

Laura said...

That is just awful workmanship. Where is the pride in doing a job well? I'm sorry you have to go through all of this and can't find someone that will do a job as advertised.

I just can't believe they would leave all that mess and improperly completed work. Ugh.

achieve1dream said...

I have no words..... that is unbelievable!

Jennifer Thompson said...

This happens every time when you hire home services providers. No matter you hire residential plumbers, flooring contractors or fencing contractors, at the end you stand responsible to sweep the mess and dispose off the garbage.