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View Full Version : What would you Do ? Shoddy contractor



Marc Jeske
02-26-2018, 1:17 AM
Had a contractor start yesterday on a retaining wall to my design.

First day his job was to install 11 posts.

Simple, in a row,3' OC, along my placed line.

I have done this kinda work when I was able, always was accurate end result.

Partially disabled now, so hired it out.

So when they came to start, I went over the job again.. they didn't want to hear it like it was already clear to them ..so I sat 30ft away, saw them be very hurried, concerned, watched for a few hours and noticing odd practices.. commented a number of times, was told "If you want, you can pay us for what we did so far, and we can leave"

Seeing as how I live in an area where it's like impossible to find help, and I need this wall done NOW to proceed w other stuff, I went sat back down.

Few minutes later, I saw more weird stuff like concrete being dumped w C-C at 38" (not 36) pointed it out and was CLEARLY told to " !!! Let us do our job, check it when it's done !!!

So when I noticed that larger gap of 38, they had already poured mud in about 4 more holes, and CONTINUED to pour the rest.

So now, my horizontal plank butt seams will be offset 2" from post centers on S4S 6" posts, among other issues.

ANDDD... Due to a few posts out of plumb left-right, some seams may not even fully land on a few posts !!

See, they were filling w Sakrete w posts in ROUGH position, then trying to final position w the hole partially filled..

But NOT even one at a time..

They had 3 guys, and they had sakrete in the 6th or so hole BEFORE they even final positioned the FIRST post.

And all the time having a rushing hurry up !! attitude.

And NO x-y bracing, just tied at grade w a long 2x6, and then later they moved it to the tops of the row.

I've never seen that, but they said they done this work many time

I was clearly an aggravation to them, so I said OK, and went in house.

I can certainly understand tying posts together like that, but not w/o ANY additional bracing.

I already had done not only a stringline, but also both end of the line posts fully installed in concrete to gauge from. (Post #1, and post #13)

I had pre done this to minimize any "misunderstanding".

His job was to install 11 6x6 posts 3'0" OC.

Auger to spec'd depth and backfill w sakrete/water.

Was clearly told, and could see posts are 1/2" from string.


Later in day after he leaves, I go check it out.

3-4 of the 11 posts are arguably OK, close to Plumb, proper c-c spacing, distance from line.

Still not at all accurate as mine, I would get them more accurate, but arguably OK.

Now to the other 7 posts...

ALL are leaning in different directions.. measured w a 4 ft level (So, amount off of plumb in 4' height) - 3/4", 2" , 1 1/2" ,1 1/2" ,1", 1 1/2", 1 3/8".

Of those posts, 3 also also leaning about 1- 1 1/2" in the other axis.

Also, up to 1 1/2" deviations in few places of C-C spacing.. I can live w that though.

I called him yesterday eve, calmly explained the issue, he hung up on me.

NO money has been paid yet, and material was all onsite supplied by me.

-- I can figure out my physical options, but summarized , those posts are unusable as placed., it needs to be totally re done.. So I'm not asking for advice on that.. too hard to do w/o seeing the whole picture.

What I'm asking is -- How would you deal w the contractor ???

First, no matter what, he is Fired.

Thing is, I'm pretty sure he will demand payment "for what he did"

In reality, "What he did" was burn up $400 + of MY material.

.60 treated CCA posts that I had delivered from 130 miles away cause I can't get them closer, and about 25 80 lb $4 bags of Sakrete.

So know I have to settle for .40 posts local, or drive 260 miles to replace my .60.

Very aggravated, and even more so cause I anticipate he's gonna posture that I'M the crazy fussy one.

So the picture below shows a view of the worst part down the row view at about 4ft above grade.

That belly in the 2x6 is cause preponderance of those posts were leaning that way.

Ya... Marc

379824

Frederick Skelly
02-26-2018, 6:41 AM
Man, that's aggravating. Sorry to see it.
Speaking personally, I wouldn't pay the guy if the work is shoddy and he won't correct it.

It sounds like you're pretty remote. But is there any kind of county inspector, etc who could write a letter or something confirming that this guy did a shoddy job? That plus pictures would help you if he goes to small claims court to get what he thinks you owe him - or if you decide to recover the cost of materials and having the bad ones taken out.

Rich Engelhardt
02-26-2018, 7:24 AM
Take pictures....then take more pictures.....then some more and more and more and more pictures.
Write down every detail you can think of as well as any documentation you can think of.

Try very hard to trade text files with him where he confirms what you wanted.

Make sure you have all the dates & times written down.

This will probably end up in court & thanks to my wife and her obsession with court TV shows....

It the one with the best documentation that usually ends up winning.

As an FWIW - we also ended up in court once with a bad tenant & it was the pictures and documentation that got us most of what we wanted.

Lee Schierer
02-26-2018, 8:14 AM
Did you have a written specification that the contractor was given? Did you ask for, receive and check any references on this guy before he started your job. Have you paid the guy? If not, it will be your word against his that the posts were to be on 3 foot centers. The sloppy workmanship might get you some relief with documentation. I would first contact the BBB and file a complaint with them, though it sounds like this contractor may not be a member.

Joe. Rivera
02-26-2018, 8:31 AM
did you have a contract with him?
if not, tell him to pound sand. if he shows up, call the sheriff.

John C Cox
02-26-2018, 10:16 AM
A verbal contract is assumed to be legal in business... And if you decide to go at this in court - get your ducks in a row... Get all the evidence in order. The legal standard in most places is "workman like" or "customary" work - they won't enforce perfect or how you think it ought to be..

Most likely the fellow has already filed for a contractor's lien on the property.. You will have to go to court to get that resolved.

My own thinking is that this is one reason I really like to contract out the whole job to one fellow as much as I can.... If he is responsible for a finished fence - and his guy sets the posts wrong, it's his problem to deal with.... He can't charge you extra because his own worker does shoddy work.. He has to eat that...

Now, though - the job was a row of posts and there is a row of posts. What happens to the of posts now is not his problem...

In hind sight - the correct thing to do when they aren't working to the standard you need and won't to listen to you about the results you need is to stop work immediately and don't let them restart until the results are agreed upon. If you can't - run them off the jobsite. Get the owner out there and make sure the standard is agreed to... Because the owner also needs to know his crews aren't doing good work....

As for where you are now - get the owner out there personally. Hang up your strings and demonstrate the problem... Work to get some agreement on the resolution - and keep records.... Exhaust that route before you go to court - this also demonstrates you tried your best to get it sorted out prior to involving courts....

Marc Jeske
02-26-2018, 11:38 AM
John - Again, 7 out of 11 posts are ALL at least 1 1/2" out of plumb in 4 ft rise (4 foot level) in some direction.

About 3 of the above are 1 1/2" to even 2" out of plumb on BOTH x and y.

Is that just not sufficient for MY PERSONAL " how you (I) think it ought to be..", but sufficient for "workman like or Customary" ?

Are you saying you would accept the described work, and feel it is "workman like" ?

Hard to believe you would think so.


Everything considered, it is wisest to cut posts off at concrete level, and re start new posts along same stringline, but offset 16" L or R down the line.

Trying to in any way "pull" out or "Move" these posts will reduce support and could result in a vertical excavated wall 10" from the line shearing.

In THIS case, big picture alll considered, There is NO overall practical or $ wise benefit to try to re use the posts..


The rest of your post I have done and/or are doing.


O, and I am the Homeowner.. AND they WERE supposed to do the wall start to finish, other than the end posts and stringline I set to avoid "Misunderstandings" by unsharpest in the shed tool types.

Now, after installing these posts and leaving for the day, and me checking the work done, They have been told NOT to come back other than pickup their Tractor, and I would let them know in a few days what our position will be.

They will be paid nothing, and we ask to recover the $500 of burned up wasted matl.

If we do not receive check within 1 week, then see them in SC Court.

Tractor was picked up this morning w no interaction, no incident.

Marc

John C Cox
02-26-2018, 11:53 AM
Marc,

My point with "Customary" or "Workmanlike" work was not to throw a rock at you or make any claims pertaining to the quality of the work in question.... Just to simply illustrate the typical legal standard which will apply unless you have a written and signed Statement of Work agreement with the contractor...

Did the work meet that standard of "customary" work on a retaining wall? I am no authority to make a judgment either way.. Unfortunately - you would probably have to pay a licensed inspector or Professional Engineer to give you a written statement if it comes to that in court.. And unless you have a P.E. friend who deals with this sort of thing - that likely costs more than the job...

Just for your own sanity - please make sure nobody files a Contractor's Lien against you.. Remember that any of the fellow's workmen can file one if they don't get paid.. It happens all the time when a contractor fails to pay his subcontractors - they go file a lien against the homeowner....

Julie Moriarty
02-26-2018, 12:10 PM
Marc, sorry you had to go through this.

Having worked in construction for 35 years, my two cents is what Rich said, document everything to protect yourself in case the contractor files a Mechanic's Lien. If you can show a judge pictures of the shoddy workmanship along with the information you provided here, the judge will probably remove the lien and may even require the contractor to reimburse you for your losses.

As for the contractor, the fact he hung up on you tells me he has no plans of righting the wrong. But it's in your best interest to continue to attempt to give him the chance to do so. Send him a certified letter. Contact the building department. Do whatever you can to make sure you have done all you can to provide the contractor with the opportunity to fix the problem. Remain unemotional. Don't make threats. Just make reasonable communications that can be documented. If the contractor doesn't file the lien but you want to be made whole by taking him to court, your thorough documentation will go a long way in helping you achieve that.

andy bessette
02-26-2018, 12:53 PM
MJ--pay them what you owe them. You should have stopped them when you saw they could not work to your standards.

Malcolm McLeod
02-26-2018, 1:31 PM
MJ--pay them what you owe them. You should have stopped them when you saw they could not work to your standards.

I'd not pay them a dime until the job is complete. They didn't perform the work requested: install posts to a designated location (a string line). And, they didn't discount the job because Marc was the paid supervisor, so not Marc's responsibility to tell them they're in over their head or when to quit. Also, most of the work to-date is not 'customary workmanship' - in this part of the world a 'wall' is typically and customarily level and plumb.

I'd at least offer them the chance to remedy the situation, but i'll leave that to Marc to decide how: either refund the material cost and depart; or, correctly install the wall (w/o further damage).

FYI - My basic understanding is that a mechanic's lien simply 'clouds' the title to the property. It has no impact on the owner until they wish to sell or otherwise transfer title to the property. Not that I'd recommend it, but if you plan to live there until someone pats you in the face with a shovel, you can let your heirs worry about any lien.

Jim Koepke
02-26-2018, 2:06 PM
My former neighbors down in California did better work than this. They were in construction, but they knew how to do it right.

jtk

Roger Nair
02-26-2018, 3:58 PM
Is this a case where unlicensed contractors were hired? If so, Let it go. Seems like you were trying direct supervision and failed, that's on you. Find out what the licensing requirements are, but if you hired on people without enquiry into license, workers comp. and builders liability insurance, you should just acknowledge the risk you have undertaken and your failure to do the prudent thing.

If they are licensed, file a complaint with the correct authority..

Bill Carey
02-26-2018, 5:16 PM
"So when they came to start, I went over the job again.. they didn't want to hear it like it was already clear to them ..so I sat 30ft away, saw them be very hurried, concerned, watched for a few hours and noticing odd practices.. commented a number of times, was told "If you want, you can pay us for what we did so far, and we can leave""

The answer to this question is always YES - send me a bill. You probably knew from the first 1/2 hour that they not gonna give you a job you liked. Why hesitate? I hired a carpenter once who didn't start getting his tools out of his car until 7 on the nose. And then he moved sooooo slow that I knew it was not gonna be worth it. Paid him his show up and sent him on his way. But I understand your frustration - there is a lot of stuff I used to be able to do that I need help with now.

John C Cox
02-26-2018, 5:45 PM
Where you are at now....

To ensure nobody can take this out on you for nonpayment or whatever - poke around at Church or your favorite civic organization/brotherhood/lodge/VFW or wherever and find a friendly PE.. Even a retired PE golf buddy will do..

Ask a favor and have him write a letter on Letterhead, sign, and seal it. Now you have official legal proof... Keep it in a folder with pictures just in case...

And now - if push comes to shove and you have to take the guy to small claims court to recover costs - you have admissable legal evidence... I bet the guy didn't take any pictures - so it would be his word vs a state licensed, certified Engineer + pictures...

And now move on... Get a good contractor and get your wall built.

Roger Nair
02-26-2018, 6:30 PM
John C Cox, I disagree with your advice. It is likely that a retired PE will not maintain a license and insurance due to costs, thus becoming an exPE. Second an engineers report should be an unbiased document that assesses design and performance of the work, such a document will go beyond the cost of the work at issue and really do you want an engineers report on a vernacular or even jackleg design. Pay for the day, get a release and move on.

Marc Jeske
02-26-2018, 8:36 PM
Very rural here - No Permits or licensing here, no inspections, not even Mechanicals, only exception Aerobic septics.

And, a VERY heavily demographic of retirees, VERY hard to find workers to do decent work and actually show up.

Marc

Bert Kemp
02-26-2018, 11:13 PM
Yea I understand that. When I lived in NH backwoods youcouldn't find anyone who wanted to work it was crazy. Now I'm in a Rural town in AZ Put an ad out for a house cleaner. Women emails me said she'd like the job. I emailed back and asked her what pay rate she worked for. She email me and said it depends on the size of the house and how messy it was.I emailed back said keep lookin for work LOL

Marc Jeske
02-26-2018, 11:34 PM
Ya, that reminds me of one time I checked their post spacing cause space looked to big at a distance.

So I take the tape measure.. hold it against the right side of one post and measure to the right side of the next post.

I show him - "See? 38", not 36"

He immediately scoffs and says "You have to measure them CENTER to CENTER"

So I said, " OH ! OK, go ahead"

He measures using his "correct way" and is surprised to find it still 38"

I silently walk back to my chair... leave them to wrestle this and the few next posts already partially Sakreted.


OMG please take me now.
Please !

Marc

eugene thomas
02-27-2018, 2:53 AM
Not really sure why you are not wanting to pay. You knew he was doing crappy work and let him finish. You can go on and on but you could of fired him once not happy with work.

Marc Jeske
02-27-2018, 3:23 AM
Not really sure why you are not wanting to pay. You knew he was doing crappy work and let him finish. You can go on and on but you could of fired him once not happy with work.

Well, he kept promising "It will all be good when they are done"

Clearly, more than once was asked"Let us do our job.. and check it when It's done"

So hey, I let them do it thinking maybe they have like hidden talents or something.. I dunno.

I figured let them do it.. if it's proper they get paid.. if not, they won't.

But I never thought that not only could it be bad labor, but also burn up materials.. cause that concept is so foreign to me.

I've made many mistakes on my projects over the years.. but can't
recall ever really ruining a big amount of $ that was not reasonably fixable.

Thanks for your opinion.

In retrospect, I may be a part time idiot.. but the full time one is still him.

You weren't here, and/ or maybe you have less faith in others.

I presume innocent till proven guilty.

Personally, coming from a charmed suburban upbringing, I never really realized such morons existed.

Marc

Marc Jeske
02-27-2018, 6:44 AM
Also, he did not "Finish".

All he installed was posts for one wall.

A similar second and seperate row of posts was yet to be done.. and THEN covering both walls.

He kept saying "You will be happy" and "Will all be good", so I let them work to the point I did.

Marc

Matt Day
02-27-2018, 8:27 AM
MJ--pay them what you owe them. You should have stopped them when you saw they could not work to your standards.

The homeowner isnít the superintendent. Homeowner didnít even need to be home.

Depending on what code says, thereís likely some fraction of an inch over a foot allowable out of plumb. Same thing with c-c measurements. Likely 2Ē over 3í isnít even close to tolerance though.

In my book the contractor needs to correct the out of spec posts before he gets paid a dime, otherwise the contractor should pay the homeowner for wasting material by improperly installing it.

eugene thomas
02-27-2018, 9:26 AM
This thread remind's me of the stair crappy work drama. Thread got shut down and never did hear if he took the fight it out in coart advice or pay and move on, but he sure did post a Lot of pictures.

Mike Hollingsworth
02-27-2018, 11:32 AM
This thread remind's me of the stair crappy work drama.
I knew it. I've been here before.

Bruce Wrenn
02-27-2018, 9:12 PM
Post can be salvaged by renting a good sized back hoe. Wrap a chain around them , and pull straight up. No backhoe, use a bar and chain. Use sledge hammer to break concrete collar. Find a fence contractor to set posts, but don't be surprised if they set them with no bracing. Usually two strings, one about a foot above grade, and one near top. They do this all day long everyday.

Marc Jeske
02-27-2018, 9:47 PM
Bruce -

In many cases what you suggest would work fine, but not in this case.

Don't forget - You don't have all the facts cause you haven't seen the entire situation.


At least 4 of the posts have belled bottoms due to cavin in bottom part of hole from high spring rain water table.

The bells may be about only 15" between them.. the posts would be rock and rolled before pulling and all the soil would be loosened of virgin settled cohesiveness.

Additionally.. there is a up to 4' high plumb excavated dirt wall within 1' of the posts.

By a miracle it has not shear failed since it was dug, especially w recent rains.

So, if posts were pulled, what was a standing 4' wall of dirt, I would have a 8' wall of dirt.

VERY high risk then of major shear failure.

There is absolutely no overall benefit, only elevated risk, in "pulling" the mposts.


The best solution is to cut posts off at top of concrete elevation, and start over by augering all new hole about 18" down the original stringline, (between the underground "bells" ) and install new posts.

Marc

Pat Barry
02-28-2018, 4:02 PM
If its just a retaining wall I would look again at whether its close enough to get the job done, because it sounds like this is going to be backfilled anyway. If so, does it really matter? OK, the post spacing is 38 inches instead of 36 - cut your lumber to fit. I could see finding another contractor for the rest of the job, and show that guy what you don't want.

ryan paulsen
02-28-2018, 6:20 PM
The rails are going to overlap the posts not sit between them right? Any reason you couldn't shim the posts so the rails lie straight? Kinda like sistering joisrs to level asubfloor? Subtract the cost from what the original cost was. Just throwing an idea out there,

Marc Jeske
02-28-2018, 8:05 PM
I know you guys are trying to suggest how to save what was done, and I appreciate it.

But again, 7 of 11 posts are a MINIMUM of 1 1/2"out of plumb in 4', in different directions, in different amounts.

All the others are also crooked, but to lesser degrees.

THAT is the main problem, not so much the C-C deviations.

I am not interested in creating 11 unique to each other custom shims on the bearing faces, nor sistering 22 like 2x6's that would involve buying and using like GRK RSS screws or through bolting.

Still would end up a sub standard end result.

Even if I was, they would show to anyone looking at the wall, and anyone that knows what end of a hammer to hold will assume I am smoking crack.

I don't care much about what the Jones's think, but I do care about prospective future buyers, etc.

Lastly, I am definitely not an overall "Prideful" man at all, but I DO take pride in building to the best I can.

I am not totally dismissing these suggestions, still will ruminate a bit on options.

But I'm pretty sure the chainsaw will be seeing some action.

Marc

Neil Gaskin
03-03-2018, 2:22 AM
I wantTo be clear upfront it looks like you got a crappy job. It does not Look professional or well executed. In the interest of full disclosure Iím a contractor and have a skewed and biased opinion.

disclaimers aside. I would let this go. Iím not suggesting you pay the man but I am suggesting the small claims court etc. idea is fruitless and a waste of time. Itís 500 bucks worth of material and some time to start over. Lifeís too short To turn this into a large matter. Even if you ďwinĒ You will have spent more time and energy Then this can ever be worth.

Putting my contractors hat on for a moment I will say that some of what I read in your original post sent up red flags as a difficult client. Iím not suggesting that itís your fault the work was so shotty But there is a good chance that you made it worse. Starting out and watching 30 feet away, making several comments, worried about 2 inch on center difference for post placement for this project, etc. probably just aggravated and frustrated more than anything. People do not perform the best under those circumstances. It may have been best To go inside and let them fail on their own. At that point they probably wouldnít have been so aggravated and you may have had more chance of resolution to your satisfaction.

Frank Pratt
03-03-2018, 3:32 PM
I wantTo be clear upfront it looks like you got a crappy job. It does not Look professional or well executed. In the interest of full disclosure I’m a contractor and have a skewed and biased opinion.

disclaimers aside. I would let this go. I’m not suggesting you pay the man but I am suggesting the small claims court etc. idea is fruitless and a waste of time. It’s 500 bucks worth of material and some time to start over. Life’s too short To turn this into a large matter. Even if you “win” You will have spent more time and energy Then this can ever be worth.

Putting my contractors hat on for a moment I will say that some of what I read in your original post sent up red flags as a difficult client. I’m not suggesting that it’s your fault the work was so shotty But there is a good chance that you made it worse. Starting out and watching 30 feet away, making several comments, worried about 2 inch on center difference for post placement for this project, etc. probably just aggravated and frustrated more than anything. People do not perform the best under those circumstances. It may have been best To go inside and let them fail on their own. At that point they probably wouldn’t have been so aggravated and you may have had more chance of resolution to your satisfaction.

Very good comments. Especially the last paragraph. Nothing is worse on a job than having a customer breathing down your neck & telling you how to do it. It not only pissed people off, but gets them flustered & more likely to make mistakes.

A more reasonable approach would be to leave them to it & then do a progress inspection once they're a few hours into it. At that point deficiencies can be noted & corrected.

Perry Hilbert Jr
03-03-2018, 4:33 PM
Two years ago, we hired a contractor to tile a back splash over the kitchen counter in a new house. We got his name from the builder, but made a side contact with this bozo to do the backsplash. He showed up three weeks late on a Sunday in an old two door car with some tools in his trunk. I had been to the show room to hire the guy and saw a nice work truck outside. Beautiful showroom. The top was to be bull nose tile, he did not have it. Said he would be back with that. Two weeks later he shows on a Saturday and no bull nose tile and he is cutting the tile freehand with a angle dgrinder., He tears out trim under the kitchen window and says the tile will go all the way up to the window sill. I frown, he says it will look good. The grout he used was like cement mixed with fish bowl gravel. The grit kept coming out of the grout and falling on the counter top. Three weeks later I call to ask when he is going to finish, and he gives me a song and dance about his daughter being sick in the hospital. He shows up a week lateer, while I am away and spreads some more grout over the stuff and then announces that the job is finished and we owe the contract price. he got nasty and threatening with my wife, she called the police and told them about how he started screaming at her and she wanted him gone. The police officer made him leave. There was no bull nose edge, the grout was still falling out of the spaces between the tile and the tile was not finished up to and around the window.. He calls me and starts yelling. I told him is he ever sets foot on our property again, I will turn the dogs on him. He starts badgering the Mrs. by phone and she mails a payment but marks the check, under protest, job not finished. He tried to cash the check and the bank refused, because of what she wrote. I filed a complaint with the4 home improvement licensing board and it turned out, despite the truck and fancy showroom, he has no license. They shut him down. Six months later I go by the show room, and he is there outside talking to somebody and the truck has a different first name but the same last name on it. I hired a different contractor and had him tear out the old tile and do it over. Paid him $100 more than the contract with the first guy, but the job is beautiful and no grit falling out of the grout. It is finished up to the window and cabinets, etc. Only took him a day and a half.

Marc Jeske
03-03-2018, 4:34 PM
I generally agree w you guys on the non hovering.

Reason I did it was because of their attitude.. very uncommunicative, harried, hurried, w a disrespectful air .

If I would have had other contractor available, I may have told them to leave.

Heck, I didn't even know they were coming that day, if ever.

Last I talked to him was on phone 3 days ago.. all he said was he would talk to his partner.

Bottom line is you guys weren't there, you don't know the whole situation.

So, I do understand your thoughts.

Sad part is if they only would have relaxed and took a little more time.. cared about their work, used their tape measure and level more, it could be totally different now.

Marc

Marc Jeske
03-03-2018, 4:41 PM
Perry said - "He tears out trim under the kitchen window and says the tile will go all the way up to the window sill. I frown, he says it will look good"

Yup, that's how it was here... "Check it when we're done..you will be happy"


Marc

Perry Hilbert Jr
03-04-2018, 9:07 AM
Where you are at now....

Ask a favor and have him write a letter on Letterhead, sign, and seal it. Now you have official legal proof... Keep it in a folder with pictures just in case...




That letter may be ok to send to the guy as a reason for non-payment. But unless your state has very, very different rules of evidence, a letter written by a so called expert will be excluded as hearsay. Hearsay is any out of court statement, written or verbal, introduced for the truth of what it contains. Hearsay evidence in general is not admissible. There are many exceptions to the hearsay rule, for instance for medical records or business records certified as accurate the the custodian of records. Or a statement by a party to the litigation which is against interest. In Pennsylvania, a repair invoice for repair of damage is admissible in small claims court, but a letter that work is not up to par, by an engineer or any one else is not. Your engineer buddy would need to come to court. Now whether his license is still current would go to his credibility and whether he is aware of current standards. A well known contractor with an ongoing construction business would be a better choice as an expert. Your expert would have to: 1) testify as to his qualifications, 2) that he is aware of the standards and practices in the industry 3) You would need to request that the court accept him as an expert witness 4) He would have to be accepted as an expert by the court, 5) give a detailed factual basis of his examination of the project and pictures and 6) that is his opinion as a professional (whatever) that the work done was below standards, 7) why it was below standards and 8) within a reasonable degree of probability, what it would take to correct the work, 9) that is is familiar with the costs in the community for that type of work and 10) what it would take/cost to correct the work done.

There are very specific steps and procedures for such evidence. You must lay the foundation for the opinion evidence or a court will not hear it. There is a reason for these steps that goes back centuries to make sure court cases are tried fairly and with logic. (seems ironic with some decisions) I practiced law for 45 years. I had fun litigating cases in courtrooms. I tried cases in Va, DC, MD, PA and DE. The rules of evidence and procedure are like a very complicated chess game, involving strategy and preparation. Yes you need to get your evidence in line now. But understand there are even some simple hoops to even using the photos. 1) who took them, 2) when and where taken, 3) that they fairly and accurately show the way the job was left on x date, 4) then you can move them into evidence 5) then hand the picture to the bailiff to give to the judge, or hand it up for the judge 6)then point out the flaws in the work shown in the photos. In some courts you must have a copy for each party, as well as the judge and the photo might have to be numbered and have an evidence sticker before you can even bring it up. Small claims courts have some streamlined procedures, but they still follow the rules in general. For instance in some courts if you fail to move the photo into evidence, the judge can't consider what was in the photo

Roger Feeley
03-04-2018, 11:27 AM
Marc,

I agree with the posters who say that documentation is key. This will probably end up in court. Maybe you can get away with small claims.

Going forward, it seems to me that there is a labor shortage where you live and that you can offer some valuable knowledge. Could you find a couple of coachable kids and hire them? Maybe you can work a deal where you teach them what you know and they do the work at a reasonable price using a combination of your tools and rentals. Then they could go out and compete with the folks that did such a poor job. That might be your ultimate revenge.