Tiella Interior Designs — Overbilling mismanagement - uncompleted tasks
Janis Rand (operating as Tiella Interior Designs or Bella Interior Designs) was hired as a decorator and general contractor for a remodel project on our house. To convince us to use her services she made all sorts of verbal promises regarding the quality of work, supervision of subcontractors, length of time she'd worked with her subcontractors, etc. We found out later that only one of the subcontractors had worked with her for any length of time. After the experience we had we certainly understand why that is the case.
The way she operates is very simple: she's an excellent salesperson and she'll say ANYTHING necessary to get your business. But the trick is she puts NOTHING in writing and there is a very good reason for that - she does not honor most of what she promises. After you have given her large deposits (based on the false promises) she starts using the phrase 'I never said that', 'I never promised that' or 'I don't remember that at all'. At that point you've got too much money tied-up to dismiss her and the game continues for her.
Some examples of things she did while on our job (not a complete list):
1) I asked her for invoices from the subcontractors and she agreed to provide them multiple times. But, of course, she never produced the invoices presumably because the cost of the services was a fraction of what she charged us.
2) Janis Rand and/or her subcontractors removed items from our property (from the demo work) and promised to provide complimentary or discounted services in exchange for them. After the items were removed all I heard was 'we never said that' and 'you said we could take them'
3) We were told multiple times that she was not making money on the carpet or blinds. When I obtained invoices for those items (directly from the subs as she refused to provide them) I found out that we had been upcharged a significant amount on those, too. When confronted with this fact she tried to claim the invoices didn't show the true cost of those items and that the subcontractors must have made a pile of money that wasn't listed on the invoices.
4) She scheduled subcontractors in order to collect as much money upfront as possible regardless of the fact that the order didn't make any logical sense. For example, she scheduled the drywall, texture and painters before the electrician. When the electrician came to complete his work he had to tear apart the drywall/texture/paint in multiple areas. When I pointed that out to Janis she simply said that we'd have to pay the other subs to come back and repair the damage even though it was caused directly by her scheduling. In another case, she installed the carpet before the painters or tile work was done. This caused additional work as it took much more time to install tile and paint next to carpet - and we had to pay for it.
5) Numerous appointments where she simply didn't show up. She usually would not call or email to let us know she wasn't going to show-up - when she did there was an excuse like 'I got tied up on another job'. Never an apology - not even once. Ironically, her subcontractors would do the same thing (not show-up for appointments) and she would get very upset at them.
6) Before work began she promised that our home would be treated with the 'utmost of care' and all the contents would be protected at all times. In reality there was absolutely no supervision of the subcontractors and, subsequently, they operated like they were working in an empty house. For example, there was drywall mud spilled on the fireplace, carpet, windows, etc. with no attempt to clean it up. Demolition was conducted without protecting any furniture so every item in the house needed to be cleaned.
7) Fixtures and furniture were ordered that didn't even fit in the space they were intended. Light fixtures were too large to be installed in the bathroom, furniture was too large to be placed in the intended room, etc. She took absolutely no responsibility for any problems caused by her. At one point she placed an order for multiple custom copper sinks. If my wife hadn't noticed that all the sizes were wrong we would have had a much larger problem.
8) She provided absolutely no detail when it came to billing. She simply said 'pay this amount' and, when we questioned the details, she threatened to pull all the subcontractors off the job.
9) Double-billing: she tried to charge me twice for the labor on the tile installation. When confronted she responded with 'oh, I overlooked the fact that you'd already paid that' - difficult to believe when the amount was over $11, 000. Later on she tried to double-charge for some electrical work. Even after the electrician and I sat down and agreed that all work had been paid-for she continued to demand additional funds. When I asked for detail on what was being charged for she would only say 'for other stuff that you haven't paid for'
10) Most of the items purchased for our home were bought in HER name instead of us as homeowners. Due to that fact the subs are hesitant to communicate directly with us and I'm skeptical about the validity of the warranties on those items since they're not in our names.
11) We paid for installation on all the carpet ordered. After about 1/2 of it was installed she claimed the carpet subs were refusing to complete the job even though I had paid for it. When I spoke to the installer he said he had only been paid install part of the house and we'd have to take it up with Janis.
12) She emailed one of the subcontractors that, because we were questioning her practices, she was going to 'gut us for everything we're worth'.
13) She refused to provide lien releases from each of the subcontractors even though they were promised.
14) She mis-ordered $2, 300 worth of custom mirrors and she sent them back to be redone. After I spoke with the mirror shop directly about getting the mirrors redone she asked me 'are they going to charge you extra for remaking the mirrors' even though it was her mistake.
15) Unauthorized credit card use - she had my credit card information for some authorized purchases. She chose to use my credit card to purchase a roll-away dumpster without my permission. The cost of demolition had already been paid to her but she tried to save a few bucks by deflecting this charge to my credit card.
16) She intentionally pitted the homeowners against the subcontractors. She would tell the subs that we weren't happy with their work and that we were ready to fire them. That would cause the subs to accept less money for their work. On the other side she would tell us that the subs want more and more money for their work. She was in the middle working both sides and reaping the benefits. It caused a very uncomfortable work environment when the homeowners and subs both thought the other side was taking advantage of them - when, in fact, it was the contractor working both sides.
17) After 6 months of living in a destroyed house it appeared she was simply trying to drag the project out as long as possible. We decided to dismiss her and finish the job ourselves. When we informed her of our decision she refused to return unused funds that were paid to her - approximately $3, 400.
18) We paid for a specific scope of work for the painting contractors. After much of it was done we were told that there was a misunderstanding between the general contractor and the painters. They said that we'd have to pay extra to get the work completed as the painters hadn't included the entire scope of work in their bid.
19) We gave her a specific budget for the entire project. When she was dismissed she had completed approximately 50% of the job and had exceeded the total budget by 15%. When I asked her about the budget early in the project she said 'just tell me when you run out of money'.
20) We were told the drywall contractor would provide his wife to do construction clean-up as part of his bid. When it came time to clean-up the jobsite we were billed $425 for the clean-up with the words 'I don't remember promising that' again.
I feel like I could go on-and-on with examples of how she took advantage of us during the project. The bottom line is she looked for every way to extract as much money as possible from us before we dismissed her. It's very difficult to put an exact number on how much money she cost us when you include over-billing, uncompleted tasks (that we paid for), rework due to job mismanagement, unreturned funds etc. but it's in the tens-of-thousands of dollars. Legal action may or may not be successful due to the fact that it appears that both Janis Rand and Tiella Interior Designs have very limited assets.
If you choose to do business with Janis Rand (Tiella Interior Designs or Bella Interior Designs) I suggest you get everything in writing and only pay for services after they have been completed. Janis Rand thrives on keeping control on the homeowner by always having too much of your money to dismiss her - don't let her put you in the same situation she did to us.