Hi Everyone… I need some guidance on a second townhome that we purchased for rental. Thanks to everyone here, our first rental unit went smoothly, it is now rented and the tenants keep the unit “spotless” and very well maintained. Here’s my story on the second unit we just purchased.
The second unit we just purchased is located and adjoined to our first unit. The gentleman that occupied the unit for 30+ years unfortunately passed away, and we were able to purchase it from his daughter. The unit was filthy, and not touched (by this I mean painted, plumbing problems, filthy carpeting, foul odors, etc..) … so basically it is a rehab type unit. Knowing that most of the repairs needing done were beyond our capability we seeked out a contractor to do most of the work. We handled the painting of the bedrooms, removal of the padding under the carpeting, etc… The contractor hired was basically to rip out the bathroom (take out the tub, toilet, sub floor, replace the ceiling drywall, etc..) and to completely redo the kitchen (part of the ceiling drywall was missing due to a water leak from the bathroom, rip out the sink, cabinet, etc.. and put in new sinks (kitchen and laundry area), garbage disposal, cabinetry, etc.. everything in the kitchen was basically being replaced. We did not check the contractor’s references, or if he was licensed / bonded, etc… There is no contract signed or in place, the total job for labor was to be 2,200. We gave him a 1,000 deposit to start the work. His quote to us was written on spiral notebook paper and basically detailed the work that he was going to do (i.e. replace bathroom tub, repair bathroom walls), etc.. His business card states a company name and his name/phone number (which probably means very little).
The contractor started on Thursday March 6th, worked that Thursday, the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Up until then, he ripped out the toilet, tub, sub-floor in the bathroom, and we ended up having him take all the drywall down in the bathroom and put up new since the walls had paneling and were a mess after the removal of the paneling. During the teardown phases of this project, we had no issues with his work. However, on that Wednesday/Thursday, he started to do plumbing work that was not satisfactorily or professional done, his drywall work was very sub-par and not done correctly, the stucco on the ceiling that he did was very poor and not professional at all. The first issue of the plumbing not being done right was pointed out to him during the day and he had it corrected the following day, but still it certainly did not look like a professional job. Plus there are burn makes on the studs around the plumbing for the bathroom indicating that care wasn’t being taken during their work on the pipes. Upon seeing the ceiling stucco work (which looked like he just took a mop/sponge, dipped it in plaster and just slapped it on the ceiling) was hideous. He indicated on the phone Thursday evening to my partner that he would be over on Friday to correct the issue. I then went over there and found several other things that were not correct… i.e. the window moldings were not professionally done (not level and looked incomplete), the banister was not level, etc.. On Friday, he did not show – however, at the beginning of the work, and during the time that he worked he did state that he would not be there on a Friday, but did not mention this fact to my partner that Thursday evening and instead stated that he would be over to fix the ceiling and give it another coat.
On Friday, we called and basically fired him from the job, and did not give him a chance to fix any of the issues, and told him that we wanted our 1,000 back. He said that he would not refund our deposit, and wanted to come over and pick up his tools. Long story short that weekend he showed up with the police in order to get his tools back.
We now have another contractor in completing the job and fixing the areas that we were not satisfied with from the first contractor. So there is time and materials for the correction.
The magical question is… do we have a case for small claims court? Is the work that he did during the teardown and the hours he put in entitled to compensation? Is it worth the time and money to pursue this, or just walk away and cut your loses.
I have talked to the local court. They could not advise me to file or not file, but warned that the contractor may counter claim and say we owe him money for the materials and some of the labor work that is above and beyond the deposit. Plus the court cost is 89.00 and collection is up to us. If we win the case, they said it only states that the other party legally owes us money, but we have to collect.