Monday, 08 September 2008

The Builder is fired!

Claire and I signed an offer to purchase our house in March last year, in May the owner finally got this tenants (squatters) out the house was transferred into our names. The house after a few years of abuse needed a renovation and Claire needed a studio for her business so we bought it as a fixer upper to get exactly what we wanted in a home. Market conditions as the time saw house prices increasing nearly daily and the entry level houses were getting more and more expensive and needing more and more work. We bought 167 with grand plans, which are still grand, just delayed.

Then we started looking for a builder. Most of the builders I interviewed never bothered to quote, obviously they had too much work and my project was not valuable enough. Of the few who did quote, most thumb sucked a number and said we can do it for that. When I asked for a breakdown of the costs (so I can prioritise) they never came back to me, I am guessing that they didn't really know what they were doing and that were sure that they could make a profit for the amount they wanted to charge.

George Schutte, of Massgro Construction cc, started off great. An itemised quote came in, breaking down all the work on all the parts of the house. It was in detail down to the number of hours needed to dig the foundation trench. Price wasn't bad, bit of quote adjusting and time to check references.

References where great, quality of work was good (not for me), completed on time (not for me) and he done a lot of well known brands (Primi, Newscafe) in SA through S&V Construction. Great stuff, things are looking good. We sign the contract.

Work was scheduled to take 3 months and to start late December just before shutdown. End of March was the date we could move in. Wrong! To cut this short and save my forearms from another breakout of RSI, the main points are bulleted below:
  • He never had materials on site.
  • He never supervised the labourers:
    • windows went in upside down
    • ceilings like a gentle rolling ocean
    • cornices like a roller coaster
    • plaster work like a hail damaged shed
    • poor structural work
    • etc.
  • He never had tools on site.
  • A big team was coming through tomorrow to finish and fix and sort it out x 34325748975 times.
  • He never kept promises.
  • Regularly would not return my calls, for weeks.
  • Hired contractors who where useless. My beautiful wooden doors are scared!
  • Lied about cash flow problems - sent me his suppliers bills to pay.
We eventually offered to help by getting the materials ourself and taking it off the contract price, we supported him through tough times of his mentor drowning, his dad dying and his kids being in involved in the Ashley Callie (Link2) accident.

We did everything on our side, including breaking the cardinal rule and giving him a bit extra cash in front of his progress payment (not to much lost, but enough to piss me off) but George kept breaking promises, his workers doing things wrong and generally setting us back and keeping us living with the Parents-in-Law.

Overall, DO NOT USE George Schutte at Massgro Construction. Sportsman's Warehouse - beware - you may not get your new store. Looking back, I should have seen it coming, but so sue me for trying to believe in the good in all people.

This has not dampened my renovation spirits, but next time I'll back myself to supervise and organise it all myself. Self-reliance and confidence in oneself is a great strength and asset, but man I would so like to say just once: "that if you want something done right, <insert name here> will do it".

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