More teachable moments...

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    One of the values of the internet is to be able to share stories on the good, the bad and the ugly of Sun City. Hopefully it helps those reading of others misery come away a little smarter and able to avoid making the same mistakes. This is one of those occasions.

    I've written of late of my trials and tribulations on the home remodel we have been doing. About how Tru Builders and Max Christensen had fallen 8 weeks behind schedule and once i saw the game he was playing started shopping around for other contractors. That's another story for another time, but once Max realized he wasn't in line for the next portion of the remodel, he basically slowed to a crawl and finished with the worst possible outcome he could.

    I will spare you the details, suffice to say when he left i immediately brought in another contractor who fixed his mess and made the house livable for the renter who was coming Oct. 1.

    The good news is, it turned out gorgeous even after having to jack hammer out 500 square feet of concrete and re-pour new.

    I contacted SCHOA because Tru Builder is on their vendor list, and am awaiting their action. If nothing else, i don't want other Sun City home owners dealing with this, especially if he was referred by them.

    Here's where the story gets interesting. There are two organizations that we (home owners) rely on. The Maricopa County Planning Dept and the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) are there to insure we have protections. In the past 48 hours, i have come to understand just how inadequate they are.

    For anyone who has had to deal with a bureaucracy, you know the challenges of people who don't really care and who feel they are beyond reproach. This story gets ugly, and rather than make this thread longer, i will continue it after a good workout. Perhaps i will be less caustic, but i doubt it.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    So i get home from a good work out at Sun Dial, open my email and see another organization (SCHOA) looking like they are trying to avoid having to deal with this. We'll see.

    Back to the story: The Registrar of Contractors (ROC) is the licensing arm for the state for contractors. I used them last year when a "handyman" had walked off the job and not finishing the work i had paid him to do. He had far exceeded the $1000 limit for handyman and was in an ugly position. The ROC got him to agree to pay for the unfinished work. I was impressed and they told me they had more leverage over licensed contractors.

    Interestingly enough SCHOA encouraged me to pursue this latest complaint with the ROC and we did. We put together a significant packet of information and i sent it to the contact the SCHOA general manager gave me. I know they move slowly, but given all of the information we had supplied them, i was confident
    justice would be served.

    About week ago i got a letter from them telling me they needed to come out and see what Tru Builder had done, how they had left the project.

    I called them this week, Wednesday. talked to the guy assigned to the case and told him that would be impossible. There was a renter in the house and we hired a contractor to clean up the mess Tru Builder had left us in. He said, then the case is closed. I was dumbfounded, because nowhere on their site or in their paperwork did it tell us we had to leave the mess lay or we would lose our ability to pursue the matter. He just kept telling me the state statute was written as such and that was that.

    I then asked him how the case was to be dismissed. He said the parties would all be sent a letter telling them their "investigation" was concluded and no fault found on Tru Builder. I became enraged and asked, "what investigation?" I had supplied them piles of details of what had happened and it mattered not. He argued he did an investigation, even though it was nothing more than me calling him and telling him we had finished the crappy job Tru Builder had left us with.

    That got me nowhere so i tried calling the person the SCHOA GM had given me, and rather than returning my call he had some else call me. At this point, i wasn't even concerned about them pursuing the case, after all, the statute is the statute. I was livid over the letter that was to be sent that implied they conducted an investigation and TB had done no wrong. In essence, that letter would be an impediment to me filing suit against Tru Builder.

    I went another route this morning and wrote a lengthy email to the guy who refused to call me. My complaint was based solely on the claim there was an "investigation" and their letter suggesting there was no foul. Surprise surprise, no answer as of yet.

    Just to be sure of what i was saying, i went back to the complaint we downloaded from their website. There is a question asking "if any of the work had been completed?' We answered yes, but there was no further explanation. The simple fact is if they had stated up front they could not help because we cleaned up the mess, we would have never wasted our time reaching out to them.

    Lesson learned from us, and hopefully any of you buying or owning in Sun City need be wary. There's a boatload of crappy contractors out there, some of them on the SCHOA vendor list. Be careful and find contractors who come with high recommendations from people you know and trust, not just someone who buys their way unto a list.

    I will update this matter as i continue to try and work with SCHOA, and in the next post i will highlight just how poorly Maricopa County Building and Planning Department did their job.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  3. Cynthia

    Cynthia Active Member

    Would photographs have helped or he didn’t care about those either? Obviously people are not going to live in a torn up house waiting for an answer. Good you mention the name so at least others can avoid them.
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Nope, nothing mattered C; once we fixed the disaster, game over. God only knows why it doesn't say that on their complaint form. My guess is/was when they can close a case based on the owner cleaning up the mess, it looks good on their records/reports. After all, they work really hard on their "investigations." Said with a laugh.

    We had a renter coming in on October 1, so it was critical to move forward quickly. My new contractor was simply brilliant. He'll get the contract next year when we do the kitchens and bathrooms.
  5. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Bureaucrats, we just can't live without them, can we? For anyone looking for major remodels on their property, especially when adding square footage, permits are an important part of the process. Maricopa County has a permitting department and licensed contractors by the
    Registrar of Contractors will almost always tell you they need to pull a permit. That is a cost to the remodel that is significant, insures the added square footage shows up on your property taxes and generates revenue for the state on both ends of the equation.

    The upside is, those plans need to meet code and should insure the job is done correctly by the contractor doing the work. One could argue it's a win/win...but is it?

    Let's look at my experience this summer and you be the judge. We began the process early last year, infringing on our renters in March so we would be ready to go in April when they left. We interviewed a couple of contractors, one being Tru Builder and the other the guy who did our kitchen remodel in the house we are presently in. Both sounded good and my preference was the contractor we had previously used. Unfortunately, his architect couldn't get the blue prints done, so we lost some time waiting on him and finally gave up. Tru Builder became the company by default, and that turned out to be our nightmare.

    They got the blues done quickly and submitted them to the county, or at least that's what they told us. Turns out, they claimed the county wanted more information and that delayed the start date by better than six weeks. If that was the truth, strike one on the county.

    When the project finally began, it dragged along. The county conducts multiple inspection during the course of the project. That's a good thing in that they want to know the blueprints submitted are actually followed. No complaints there, though on the electrical inspection, they missed a number of switches that were supposed to be there (no big deal).

    The real deal is when they do the "final inspection." That's where the rubber hits the road. For some reason, we weren't invited to be there by our contractor for it and in truth where this entire process began to stink to high heaven.

    We had added a massive patio in 2016 with the plan to enclose 2/3's of it this summer. The patio floor was well below the grade of the inside house. It wasn't obvious until they removed the wall and you could see the drop off. The good news was, this building permit issued by the county noted that and in the permit issued under "Required Special Instructions" it said this: #4 Finished floor elevations (FFE) of new addition to match finished floor elevation of the existing residence. Verification of the addition's FFE will be completed by the building safety inspector.

    I don't know about you, but that's pretty darn clear to me. Interestingly enough, the building inspector issued a "final" approval, even with the floor an inch or more below grade across the 500 square feet of the addition. It was so bad, the day after Tru Builder left, we jack hammered out that 500 square feet of addition and poured a new floor to grade. It was cheaper than using a self leveler to bring it to code. The reality is, that was supposed to be done in this job by Tru Builder. His goal was to charge me for it in the next phase of the project.

    Had the county building inspector done his job, a final would never been issued until that floor was brought to code. I reached out to the county to find out how a final could be given when the conditions of the permit had been ignored? The guy i spoke to looked at it and said i don't know how that could happen, i should talk to the inspector directly. Got his number, called him and questioned how or why he passed them when the floor was below grade. He acted dumbfound anyone would challenge his authority and after 10 minutes of trying to say it should have been leveled in 2016 (really?), he asked what i was trying to say? Simple i said: "i'm just trying to see if you are inept at your job or if you took a payoff to pass the final." That went well.

    My calls back to the County have gone unanswered. Apparently no-one is accountable for screwing up...they just want to get their permit payments and move unto the next one.

    We'll let the dust settle and start tracking down someone in that department to see if anyone will own up to their actions. Should be interesting.
  6. Emily Litella

    Emily Litella Active Member

    I read the first two posts of this thread last night. It's aggravating to read, much less to live through.

    Does anyone (and I mean everyone involved in this process), give a crap anymore about the quality of the work they do or even care about doing the right thing? Seems to me the trend is to half ass it and pass the buck and problems to someone else. And sadly, that's become acceptable (almost the norm) nowadays.

    SCHOA is only the STARTING POINT when looking for a contractor in Sun City. The final decision should be made from seeing other work and word of mouth referral. Anyone can be on the preferred vendor list here - all that's needed is to pay a fee and provide three references. And maybe buy some additional advertising.

    And even then there are contractors who do shoddy work who have been around for a long time, and have been recommended through word of mouth. Our two week roofing project took almost three months, and a lot of back and forth, and people dropping the ball and not returning calls.

    The BBB check is useless, and the five star ratings online for anything here are at best questionable. Some of the worst offenders here have an impeccable online presence. (I'm talking real estate here now.)

    Anyway, rant over. It's very buyer beware here in AZ, probably even more than NC.

    Interested to read your upcoming posts.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  7. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Well said emily, it is as if no one cares anymore about anything other than getting paid. That was why our latest contractor was such a breath of fresh air. He told us what he would do and did it extremely well. He did it on time and on budget and if there was ever a glitch, he was there in a heartbeat to resolve the issue.

    I don't expect much from bureaucrats, they became absolutely adept at bobbing and weaving. Hard to pin them down and even harder to get them to take some responsibility for their actions. Sadly, you are spot on about AZ being worse than many other states, they have refined lack of accountability to an art-form.

    To be clear, your comments were hardly a rant, but more a tutorial on what anyone living here should be aware of. This thread will only be of value if folks learn from my misery. The jury is still out on SCHOA. You guys know how much i love the organization and the service it provides this community. The problem comes if they choose a business partner over the residents.

    Finally, so we are clear, i defy/implore the ROC, Maricopa County Planning Dept, Tru Builders and if this falls apart with SCHOA to come on this site and prove anything i have written as being inaccurate
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  8. Emily Litella

    Emily Litella Active Member

    Oh gosh, I hope I didn't come off as dissing SCHOA. They just have limitations in this area. Every time I have gone to the office, they have been nothing but gracious and helpful, and I do appreciate the many volunteers and the time they devote, especially to the EPCOR issue and keeping SC beautiful. I do think their first loyalty should be to Sun City residents.
  9. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    I didn't see any dissing going on E. The value in the story is whether people learn anything from it or not. And the story teller almost always tells it through his/her eyes. It's why i encouraged those involved to step up and speak out...maybe they see it differently.

    For example, what i am being told by SCHOA is the board (since my complaint) has decided a vendor needs two unresolved complaints filed before they kick them off the list. That's funny to me, because i know Tru Builder got caught up in a similar incident a year or two back and paid the guy some money to drop it.

    If we are arguing about shoddy work, that's one thing. If it's a contractor who tried to get out of finishing a project by changing the contract language, that's just flat out dishonesty and no amount of money makes that right. In the end, if they have no integrity, they have no business on our vendor's that simple. Let's be clear, i can prove they did that.
  10. Emily Litella

    Emily Litella Active Member

    The thing that bothers me a lot is that there were no rules in place for the regulation of the preferred vendor program already. I assumed that there were.

    I don't understand the "making the rules" as you go approach to some things that I've seen here in Sun City. My old condo association did that. And not having things in writing and/or preparing for the "what-ifs". An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When the rationale for every decision is all about money (and not spending it wisely), this is how things are run. But, of course, I was the only one who thought that way. I know a few of you, especially some that have decided not to post anymore, have been in the same shoes. I now understand. Sometimes experience is the best teacher.
  11. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    That's why this gets interesting E; are they actually trying to do the right thing or insulate the contractor from being bounced?
  12. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Hate to sound like a conspiracy theory freak, but do you think all these spam threads are being started by the ROC, Maricopa County Planning or SCHOA?

    Too funny :smile-new:
  13. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Today should be interesting. I expect to hear from SCHOA and the timing is perfect. Got a call yesterday from a couple who had hired Tru Builder and had exactly the same experience i did with them. Difference being they are contractors and watched in total disbelief as they tried to fake their way through the remodel. They got some relief in their final bill when SCHOA intervened, but it was hardly an experience anyone living in Sun City should have to go through.
  14. Cynthia

    Cynthia Active Member

    Have you considered a write-up on Yelp? Tru builders only has 3 and mostly positive. People should be made aware. That's one thing I don't like about the SCHOA way to check actual people's experiences. I understand if they don't want to monitor a site for that, but it helps to hear real people's responses. I always check Yelp. And yes I know it's not perfect. They claim no one can pay for good reviews but they do have a way of manipulating. I've heard they ask for money from vendors and if they don't get it they threaten to take down all the reviews. Still I always read Yelp and if they have enough good reviews it's helpful. And the bad reviews are a warning, though also not always helpful if only a few.
  15. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    I have and I will. Just waiting for SCHOA to take some action. Tru Builders sent us an email on the social platforms they want us to post positive comments on, including links. I know it's not much, but negatives are always something they hate. Too bad they don't hate them enough to try and do a good job.
  16. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Clearly the ROC and Maricopa County Planning have washed their hands of their ineptness. Guess when you are a bureaucrat, you don't answer to anyone or have any sense of doing your job right. That's just plain tragic.

    Good news is i am meeting with a couple this afternoon who had hired Tru Builders and going to chat about the crap they went through with them. Interesting thing is they are contractors themselves and watched in horror as Tru Builder screwed things up every step of the way.
  17. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    I see we have more of the stupid going on with the spam. Too bad isn't it?
  18. BPearson

    BPearson Active Member

    Interesting meeting yesterday with a couple that hired Tru Builder back in 2015. Horrible experience for them as well. Months behind with delays, shoddy work, workers not showing and non-existent communication. All the same crap we experienced with them. The difference is when they complained to SCHOA, one of the compliance guys told them not to file a complaint, he would get TB to refund the up charges he had shoved at them.

    They told me of another TB incident with a neighbor, but i will hold off till i get more details.

    SCHOA has been in touch with me and said all of this takes time. Okay, i have time. It's just frustrating to look out my window and see the Tru Builder sign in front of a house they completed 5 weeks ago. Another one of Max's favorite games, get signs up fast and leave them there as long as possible. Back in the day, when i was at SCHOA, they were supposed to come down when the project was done.

    Ultimately TB cost us about $5000, no small number, and that's to say nothing of the two months we lost. Funny thing is, at this point, it isn't even the money. They have no business on the SCHOA vendor list. But that's just my humble opinion eh?
  19. Cynthia

    Cynthia Active Member

    In this case it's not just your humble opinion, it's your experience with the vendor. Very different.
  20. Emily Litella

    Emily Litella Active Member

    I miss the old days (70s) with less surveillance where you could just sneak up to a sign while walking your dog at night and write the word "SUCKS" in big letters underneath the name.

    Speaking of compliance, how about that house on Mead that still has the Trump/Pence signs in the front?

    Things that make ya go hmmm....
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017

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