Are you a subscriber but don’t have an online account?

Register for full online access.

 
 
 
 
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 22
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    rural Montana
    Posts
    27

    Default tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    First post here, I've been reading the forums occasionally and derive great benefit from the experience of the members here. Thanks, all.

    The issue at hand involves trimming windows. I deal with small residential remodel projects as a sub - GC takes care of the sales, estimates, materials, paperwork, etc and I take the take the whole job for labor. The job I'm working on now was to replace windows, exterior doors, and siding on a small one bedroom home, including soffit, fascia cap, and interior trim. It's a job funded completely by a government grant, funded via a regional nonprofit, so labor intensive work is generally discouraged.

    The house is a farmer built affair, and the job has gradually expanded due to improper building methods. This has caused a number of arguments with the homeowner, who states that the guy who built the place "was an engineer, because he built the house SO WELL"

    ...meanwhile, I've sheeted and reshingled the roof because there was no drip edge or gutter apron to direct water over the eave. Steel cap over fascia became new fascia and ply soffit. The eaves themselves were not part of the original build, but hung from 2x2's TOENAILED into the wall sheeting, which meant additional reinforcement. A lack of flashing on an add-on porch meant new sheeting and more unplanned repairs. So begins my list of problems with the home.

    The homeowner has a number of concerns of her own, which I have been unable to alleviate due to a combination of limited hearing aptitude, willful ignorance, and my own impatience. I'm blowing in R45 in cellulose over the ceiling, but she's upset that I tore off the ancient brick-patterned asphalt 'siding'. Tearing off the old shingles also removed 'a lot of valuable insulation'. The brand new and perfectly plumb exterior door was installed 'crooked' because it did not line up with the leaning wall I placed it in or the well settled concrete steps leading up to it. My courteous attempts to explain basic insulation and framing principles have led to a great deal of tension on the jobsite.

    If you haven't been pushed away by the windy background, here's the meat of my question: how to trim the windows. The interior walls are clad with some kind of loosely packed sawdust based sheeting. The wallpaper placed over this was cut to the edges of the old trim, and is barely hanging on the wall, and has been painted several times.

    After replacing the windows, I am left with a curled edge of decaying wallpaper anywhere from 3" to 5" from the window jamb (with custom-cut jamb extensions to match varying wall depth.)
    Standard practice on these jobs would be to mud to the jamb and use finger-joint pine ranch casing. I don't want to do this, because it seems likely my mud would fall off with the wallpaper. I can't peel away the wallpaper, because A. I'm left with a strange seam arbitrarily placed along the wall, or B. I have to tear off ALL the wallpaper, and mud/tape the entire exterior wall to make it presentable. These solutions don't provide the quality level I require, or the cost level the funding org. requires.

    Finish work isn't really my thing, but I try when I need to and things usually turn out well enough. My solution was to use 1x4 trim, sometimes with 1x6 on the top and bottom, covering the wallpaper edge and leaving the appearance of a 'finished' wall - a solution the GC agreed with. After completing 80% of the trim, the homeowner decides 'the boards are too big' and indignantly requests I match the existing 2.5" trim. I explain my thought process, and that I didn't feel entitled to adding on another 5K or so of work, but that piece of the job soon grinds to a halt when the elderly homeowner's son places an irate phone call to the nonprofit's PM for the job. They're having a meeting tomorrow to decide the appropriate course of action.

    How would you handle this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Portland, ME
    Posts
    6,302

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    How are you getting paid here? Hourly? And what's the non-profit, an agency that has taken on the repairs to this house? How do they decide the budget? Who is the ultimate decision maker? And who do you take orders from ultimately - the HO, the non-profit or the GC?

    I would do whatever the person who writes your check tells you to, or move on. Sounds like a poorly-run job with a poorly-informed client. Get decision makers to put it in writing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    rural Montana
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    The chain of authority is fairly well established. Homeowners apply to the program through the municipality, who meets with the nonprofit to determine eligibility and job scope. Contractors are invited to walk through the home with the PM, at which point my GC usually points out where the job scope should be revised, which the PM amends and the competing contractors take notes on. After the non-profit and the municipality approve the estimate, the GC contracts me on either an hourly basis or piece by piece for the entirety of the job. I prefer hourly, given the unpredictability of homes built by hacks and suffering from prolonged disrepair. I have the terms established by the GC and PM, signed off on by the HO, to work from - but many of these details are not established. I agree the project could be handled better - but honestly, in this area, this arrangement is well above par. Others seem to charge the same or more for substandard work, and would not notice or care about details that I add on, out of the necessity of proper building practices, as the job goes on.

    Ultimately, I report to the GC. I work pretty closely with them and have a good working relationship. It would be easy to point to the terms of the job and tell the HO to call someone who cares, but as the man on site, I try to be helpful to all and not rub people the wrong way. I'll end up doing whatever the PM and homeowner agree upon. I'm curious how others would handle the situation from this business perspective - as well as how others would physically trim out the windows, given budget constraints.

    I know there is some wiggle room worked into the price, but I turn over the decision when the scale is this different. Very minor issues I decide on site, which the GC generally supports. Bigger issues I escalate to the GC, who decides if the original estimate allows for the additional labor (I generally keep ahead of schedule), and if the issue is major (in one case, an entire home needed new insulation and sheeting when I discovered a double vapor barrier had led to rotten sheeting and soggy insulation) the GC escalates to the PM, who presumably either makes a spot call or escalates to a faceless Board.

    In the end, I guess it isn't my problem. I just want to learn as much as I can from the experience.
    Last edited by PeteOfTheNorth; 09-13-2009 at 03:42 PM. Reason: clarify escalation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    5,576

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    Pete,

    I also would have used the 1x for trim. The only difference is I would have chosen one size most likely the 1x6 and not tried to get to "fancy".

    She is elderly and used to the way things are and have been "forever".

    I'd be more pi$$ed at the son for not, understanding the situation. I sure he got a phone call from mom who was upset, but he needs to know you are truly there to make it better for mom.

    Good luck with the chain of command.

    Tj
    Last edited by tjbnwi; 09-13-2009 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Forgot th capitilze Pete
    http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

    Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    sonoma ,calif
    Posts
    1,854

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    well usually i explain the situation just like you did and sometimes i kick myself for talking . Sounds real frustrating,hope it isn't holding up your working. From what you said and how you wrote it I would say you are on the right track .if they want to pay more you will either mud existing wall or cover in rock .recently to cover a funky wall i put second layer of rock up to cover a mess and also got to plumb my wall surface at the same time . i would think the 1x4 or 1x6 is a basic fix for the project .let us know how it ends up .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    St Louis, Mo for the past 25 years
    Posts
    7,485

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    I did work that sounds similar to what you describe. A government grant to help out folks with home repairs that a non profit outfit was running. Good for me that most of the folks in the non profit that could make the decisions were not really construction savvy. They were great at finding people, doing all the background checks and such, approving the work to be done. But most of the decisions on the work allowed was left up to me. I knew that the budget was so much and did not have lots of room for extras unless something else was taken out.

    Said all that to emphasize that if you have a chain of command then I would use it. For some folks hearing the options from a 2nd person or the person making the call on the way the work is done other than just the worker can make a difference. We had to do that on one job where we had an uncooperative homeowner. Wanted the work done but wanted us to start at 10 am and quit around 3 when her soap operas came on. It was said from the get go that we would not work that way. After about a week of our normal work hours she began to complain about the work bothering her. I listened and talked to her for about a week. Then called the director who came out and told her we would be glad to pull off the job if she would not quit complaining and let us do our work. That shut her up pretty quickly although it did make a tense last for weeks of work.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    rural Montana
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    tj hit the nail on the head - the geriatric crowd ban be very resistant to change. When asked about the color of siding, she said "I don't need anything special, don't go out of your way for me..." and chose the Acadia canexel, the closest possible match to the seafoam green paint on her old asbestos shakes. Clearly, it would be easiest for everyone if there were as little change as possible.

    m beezo, I think you are right in saying I should better utilize the chain of command, the GC is understanding enough. I've pulled off to another project until the dust settles, but I'll update here. The soap opera bit sounds farmiliar - this one is taking it as an insult that I dont want a 3pm cake and farm stories break when I'm behind schedule in 100+ deg weather. Not hungry, no thank you. And of course, she can't have anyone over with work being done, and she can't leave the house at all either. It helps to vent.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    North/Central FL
    Posts
    784

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    Does anyone else find it slightly irritating that the government is pissng away tax money on completely refurbishing this grumpy old lady's house?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Danbury area of western CT
    Posts
    4,441

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    I don't think that she is grumpy. Lonely maybe, scared maybe, where's your empathy dude?
    They don't do well with change generally. Pete, if you need to stay later or start earlier, do that to keep on track. Be a diplomat ;)

    phil
    It's better to try and fail, than fail to try.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    rural Montana
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    I've been putting in 10+ hours a day, phil, plus 1.5hrs travel each day. My empathy ran out during a conversation in which I had to both justify plumbing a door and justify removing old shingles (insulation) - for the third time - and she made some sort of "everyone is entitled to their/ opinion, and i'll have to just live with your mistakes" type comment. Willful Ignorance.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Kent UK
    Posts
    3,152

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    i might be from the other side of "the pond" but our legal systems work in similar ways

    get everything in writing (or confirm everything in writing/email etc) dead quick

    the person concerned might seem "off the wall" as far as you are concerned

    most of the time its a front..................

    never assume people who sound stupid are stupid
    Limey Carpenter

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Kent UK
    Posts
    3,152

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    these people do not SEEM to couch their agrumments in legal terms

    wrong................... (they are)

    be cute, couch your replys in the same manner
    Limey Carpenter

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    col. ohio
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    Do what the persan signing the checks says or tighten your shoe strings and run fast.
    The details you don't see are the ones that count the most.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    Am I correct in understanding that the homeowner is not paying anything for this work? If that is so (and you're in Montana, right?) I'd politely tell her not to look a gift horse in the mouth and then I'd finish up as quickly as I could and find a client who appreciates what you do.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    rural Montana
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: tricky situation with remodel of questionably built old home.

    When I started this thread, the PM was going to meet with the homeowner to come to a decision about this trim situation. I've pulled off the job until the job order is spec'd to everyone's satisfaction. I've stated I will return when this has been done.

    A week after the 'meet date' I contacted the GC, who tells me that the plan is now to have the PM, HO, and GC meet at an undetermined future date. The GC said this will happen when his partner is available to make the meet, then the partner will spend the rest of the day working with me towards finishing the project (it is an hour drive, and we work side-by-side fairly often. It's a small operation.)

    The implication here is that this process is hinging on my availability. I won't clear my schedule for an entire week so that I can be completely available on the day everyone else chooses, so I can be present on the jobsite, sitting idle, while they all meet for an unknown length of time to determine what I should be doing there.

    I think I'll stubbornly wait for a phone call.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts