Where do we start? We got a reference of this contractor through ServiceMagic. Do NOT use this service ever!
We (my wife and I) are mentally, physically and emotionally drained dealing with this unscrupulous contractor who has basically cheated of $9600. Please help.
Here is the text of the final letter I sent to this contractor. It summarizes the ordeal we are going through.
Dear Sir or Madam:
This has reference to the contract that you signed with us – Prasanna and Deepti Uppaladadium – on September 6, 2008 to remodel a bathroom at our primary residence located at XXX, Edison NJ XXX. A copy of the contract is enclosed for your reference.
We would like to bring to your attention that you are in gross breach of the terms of the contract. You have continued to breach the terms of the contract despite several attempts by the undersigned to ensure that you comply with the contract.
The following is a list of the principal terms where you have breached the contract:
• Section 1 – Electrical. The exhaust fan that was installed was supposed to be extended outside as per NJ code. At the moment, the fan simply vents into the attic – this is a violation of NJ code. You have not fixed this in spite of repeated requests to do the same.
• Section 1 – Plumbing. A double vanity was supposed to be installed. For this, to comply with NJ building code, two pairs of inlet plumbing lines and two outlet lines (the drains) needed to be installed. At the moment, the plumbing done is for a single vanity. Add to this the fact that the drywall is already installed. To rectify this would basically involve tearing down the drywall all over again and redoing all the plumbing. We now also need to hire an electrician to relocate the connection boxes to avoid tearing down the drywall. This has basically ruined beyond redemption the bathroom project that was originally planned.
• Section 1 – Windows and Doors. The window currently installed is not aligned properly. This window needs to be removed and reinstalled. In an email dated 7/9/2008, you had stated that you will be installing Masonite 6 panel solid core doors. You have later denied this and tried to charge us extra indicating that we were changing our minds about the doors. As indicated in my email response, your email regarding the Masonite doors is dated 7/9/08. The contract was signed on 9/6/08 - a full two months later.
• Section 1 – Walls. Three coats of spackle were required in all sheet rock joints. This has not been done. Neither have the corners been beaded with corner beading.
• Section 3 – Time of Performance. You have not completed the contract despite the several warnings that were given to you over email and phone calls. The number of weeks that have elapsed since signing the contract is 15. As per this section of the contract, you are required to complete the work in 6 to 8 weeks.
• Extremely poor workmanship. The work done is very shoddy – every contractor that I have called for estimates to complete the project asked me if I had done the job. None of them had anything good to say about any part of the job.
• Refusal to provide bills for extra payments. You have time and again refused to provide bills for work where you have claimed that we have exceeded the “allowance” for a particular item.
Please note that on Nov 15, an email with an elaborate list of the shoddiness of the work done was sent to you. The text of the email is attached with this letter.
At this point, I have no choice but to ask you for my money back – I believe you neither have the intention nor the competence to complete the job in a professional manner and in a manner that complies with NJ building code. I will be hiring a new set of contractors to finish the job.
I therefore kindly request you to return a total of $9600 (US Dollars Nine Thousand Six Hundred Only) that was paid to Crescent Design and Construction via check numbers XXX (dated XXX for $XXX), XXX (dated XXX for $XXX) and XXX (dated XXX for $XXX). Please ensure that the payment is made by either a money order or a banker’s check. In either case, ensure that it is made in favor of Prasanna Uppaladadium, XXX, Edison NJ XXX. Ensure that you mail it to this address.
Please consider this my final notice to you. In case I do not receive your payment by Dec 27, 2008, please be advised that I will be seeking legal redress for the same. Also be advised that I am immediately forwarding a copy of this document to the Better Business Bureau for further action by them. I have also filed a formal complaint on https://www.complaintsboard.com
so that other people are aware of your deceit and incompetence.
Here is the text of the email that I refer to above. This should provide a good insight into the incompetent, unprofessional and downright fraudulent nature of this contractor:
You don't seem to read my emails. At the expense of repeating myself, I will say this one last time, so please read carefully.
Let me start with a review of the shoddy work you have done so far:
* Not using construction paper to cover the existing flooring while you guys were demolishing and working on the bathroom until such time my wife and I insisted that you do.
* Using inferior quality doors instead of the ones you promised (by email 7/9/2008 2:37 PM). I would not have signed the contract if you had told me you were going to use some inferior quality doors like the ones you have currently installed. Using drywall screws to screw the door jambs to the frame.
* Poor installation of the window. Your men could not even figure out the correct window size. My wife and I had to go and get the correct sized window from Home Depot. I am still in doubt if the window has been installed properly.
* Attempting to use inferior quality door knobs. My wife and I were careful enough to spot this right away and ensure that these were not installed. We had to get the door knobs and locks from Home Depot.
* Attempting to use an inferior quality exhaust fan. My wife was careful enough to spot this - which you changed upon our insistence. Even now, I am not sure if the exhaust fan's vent going to the roof is properly capped.
* Attempting to charge extra for the exhaust fan when it was included in the contract and then trying to claim that it is a "typo". I would not have signed the contract if it did not cover installation of an exhaust fan and venting it outside.
* Screwed up the heating on the second floor while doing the plumbing job. The entire family had to sleep on the floor in the first floor for 2 weeks as a result. We cannot count the number of calls we made asking you to fix it. The inconvenience caused was huge.
* Not communicating with the tile installer of the required tile pattern that my wife gave to you as a drawing. In the drawing, she had clearly specified that the tiles will be installed diagonally.
* Attempting to charge extra for the tile job for diagonal installation. I would not have signed the contract with you if you had said that you would be charging extra labor for diagonal installation. I would also not have signed the contract with you if you had indicated that you will be charging extra for installing 4 shelves in the bath. However, at the time of signing the contract, you were very clear on what needed to be done based on discussions with us.
* Repeatedly saying that we had an allowance for the mirror and then reneging on it by pointing that it was not written in the contract.
* Not promptly cleaning up the debris - until my wife and I started insisting that you do. The debris was dumped in our backyard and not in a dumpster as you had indicated originally. There is still some stuff that needs picking up.
* Not responding to my emails and phone calls until my wife opened a complaint with ServiceMagic.
Here is how you are in breach of the contract:
* As per the contract, you are required to finish the job in 6 to 8 weeks. The 8 weeks are up. Only about 50% of the work has been done so far.
* Not installing the doors that you said you would. This is already mentioned in this email thread.
Here is what you need to do in terms of resolving the issues we currently have to my satisfaction:
* Remove the $250 charge for installing the exhaust fan. As I have indicated, I am disputing this charge.
* Install the correct doors (Masonite 6 panel solid core) that you said you would. This job is not pending any payment.
* Start right away on the spackle and paint job. This job is not pending any payment.
* Start right away on installing the trims for the window. This job is not pending any payment.
* Pick up the remaining debris promptly and dispose of it.
* Indicate the exact price of the vanity and counter top by providing the invoice and receipts from Kraftsmaid or an authorized dealer for the vanity and from MSI for the counter top. Given the number of times you have tried to rip me off - I have absolutely no faith in your claim that I am exceeding the limit by the amount you claim. You have not provided the price in advance - you have only provided the allowance limit in writing by email. It is therefore perfectly reasonable for me to assure myself that I am exceeding the limit by the amount you say I am. You should have no trouble in doing this - unless you are trying to rip me off again.
* Indicate the exact price for the 4 marble corner shelves by providing the invoice and receipts from the company that you purchased it from.
* Indicate the exact price for the tiles by providing the invoice and receipts from the company that you purchased it from.
* Complete the project to my satisfaction by Nov 22, 2008. This is the maximum date to which I can wait.
Here is what I intend to do:
* I have no hesitation in paying you the extra money once I am convinced that the extra amount you are asking for is the correct amount. I can give you a check as soon as I see and verify the invoices/receipts.
* I will keep the complaint with ServiceMagic open until such time the issue is resolved to my satisfaction. I am also sending a copy of all our email exchanges to them along with a copy of the contract and images of the checks that I have paid you so far.
* If this project is not completed by Nov 22, 2008 to my satisfaction or if significant progress has not been made by that time, I will lodge a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I will also lodge a formal complaint with Edison Township and the State of New Jersey.
* If that doesn't solve my problem, I will seek legal help to compensate for my frustration, mental agony, inconvenience caused to me and my family due to lack of use of an important portion of my home, your breach of contract and attempt to defraud.