Tag Archives: performance bond

Why it is Essential to Supervise Professional Installers

Why It Is Essential to Supervise Professional Installers

In an ideal dream world, one would be able to hire a professional installer and know the job would be done right, without the need for hands on supervision.

RYAN in ELLENSBURG recently contracted out the roof steel installation of his new Hansen Pole Building kit package and this was his report:

“My roofer finally showed up yesterday and I wasn’t able to supervise the installation, so several mistakes were made but the one I’m most uncertain of is that the ridge cap was installed with diaphragm screws instead of stitch screws. He also left off all of the closures so the ridge cap has to come off anyway. My question is whether or not it can be reinstalled with stitch screws because of the difference in screw profile.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

It is a shame to have invested in a professional for installation and not be able to leave them alone and expect the job to be done correctly. The diameter of the diaphragm screws is larger than a #12 stitch screw (which was provided to attach the ridge cap). In the event the roofer placed the diaphragm screws so as they were driven into the solid wood of the ridge purlins, then you could do the same once again. Otherwise you are probably going to need to invest in some #14 diameter stitch screws.

Well, it turns out it was worse than originally imagined, as Ryan wrote back:

“Yes, I agree. That’s just the beginning of the list of issues with the installation. On top of that none of the insulation seams were taped together, screws that missed the purlins were just left in place with no wood block placed behind them so they will leak at some point, the insulation was placed over the peak of the roof so the ridge cap that is supposed to be vented can’t flow any air, and none of the closures (vented closures and eave closures) were installed. It’s really disappointing because he did the roof on my house 3 years ago and I thought he’d done a good job on that, now it makes me wonder what corners were cut on that job, too.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru:

There are ways to avoid being sadly disappointed by a contractor:

(1) Do it yourself. Hansen Pole Buildings are designed with the Do-It-Yourselfer in mind. The step-by-step construction manual covers every aspect of assembly. If you can and will read the instructions, chances are you will have a better finished product than what any builder will construct for you.

(2) Still want to hire a “professional”? Require a performance bond. (read more here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/).

(3) If you hire a contractor, familiarize yourself with the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual and be onsite during construction to make certain the contractor does the work correctly.

 

Vetting Out a Building Contractor

Do not let this happen to you… not vetting contractors
Long time readers of this column have heard me preach this sermon repeatedly – do not let yourself be scammed by nefarious pole builders.

From the Danville (New York) Evening Tribune (dated February 21, 2018):
“A Dansville man was sentenced in Allegany County Court and ordered to pay over $17,000 in restitution and other fees after being charged with two counts of grand larceny.
Michael Oldfield plead to two counts of petit larceny, the Allegany County District Attorney’s Office reported Tuesday. Oldfield, 50, was sentenced in connection with incidents in New Hudson on May 25, 2016 and in Clarksville on July 27, 2015.

In both cases, Oldfield allegedly gave quotes for two separate pole barn construction jobs and requested a deposit for each job. Both victims wrote a check for the deposit and Oldfield kept the money. After taking the funds, he cut off all contact with the victims, and failed to deliver construction of the pole barns.

Oldfield was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution on the first count, and $9,500 on the second count. Both counts included a $200 surcharge and DNA fees, as well as time served.”

Whilst these folks might actually see their money returned, most are not so lucky. Please, I implore you, follow these steps:

Deal only with a licensed building contractor.
Many states, as well as smaller jurisdictions require contractors for construction services to be registered or licensed. The license number should be displayed on all business cards, proposals and any other contractor materials.

Verify the license.
Do not just assume the registration is valid. I once hired a contractor who provided a copy of his license to me. Only later (when there was a problem) did I find out it had expired and had been altered. Call the issuing agency to confirm it is valid.

Require insurance.
Require both a certificate of insurance showing liability insurance coverage AND proof of workers compensation insurance for all workers. Some contractors are registered with an industrial insurance account, however they report their workers as having zero hours, and pay no premiums. The workers are NOT covered.

If someone is hurt, and uninsured, the building owner can very well be held liable.

Know who you are dealing with.
Doing business with a Contractor who has a good reputation for doing the job right, in an ethical manner, at a reasonable cost is the ideal situation. Ask for references and then verify them.

Understand what you are getting.
Before agreeing to any work (as well as making any payment), require a written proposal describing in plain language what work will be done. A statement regarding compliance with applicable Building Codes should be included. If the contractor is doing building permit acquisition, it should be stated in writing and a copy of the permit should be provided prior to work starting.

A total price should be as inclusive as possible. Any unforeseeable work or unit prices clearly addressed (like what happens if holes are difficult to dig). If the contract is not understandable, have it clarified in writing. Maintain all paperwork, plans and permits when the job is done, for future reference.

Familiarize yourself with the terms.
Contractor’s proposals and Contracts should contain specific terms and conditions. As with any contract, such terms spell out the obligations of both parties, and should be read carefully. Be wary of forms which are extremely short or are vaguely worded. A well written contract should address all possibilities and may very well take more than one page. Payment terms may vary, however most will require payment in full upon completion of all work. Do not pay for all work until the Contractor has finished the job.

Don’t let price or warranty be your only guide.
Many building owners subscribe to the idea of obtaining three bids and if they all appear to be roughly the same, take the low bidder. This is simply not always a good practice, especially if there is a large disparity between prices. Be extremely cautious of prices which are substantially lower than others. It can mean a mistake has been made, or something is being left out. The Contractor may be planning on shortcuts in quality which can make the building owner the ultimate loser.

Be wary of unusually long warranties as an enticement. It is reasonable to expect a year or two of warranty for labor.

Keep in mind a good contract is written to provide clear communication between two parties.  It also protects both parties, and should never be “one sided”.  From my years as a general contractor, a well thought out and spelled out contract (in writing) made for the smoothest projects. When clients followed all of the above suggestions, I knew they cared enough to do “their best” and I was on the same playing field….the one where both of us “played fair”.

Require a performance bond.
For as little as a few hundred dollars, a legitimate contractor can acquire a performance bond (read more here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/) which will ensure the contractor will complete the job according to the contract. If they fail to perform, the performance bond guarantees no money will be lost in bringing in another contractor to complete the work.

Don’t Hire a Contractor Unless You Are Willing to Take a Risk

From The Dalles (Oregon) Chronicle December 26, 2017: “A theft report was filed Wednesday morning concerning a theft by deception when a woman reported she paid a contractor $30,000 to build a pole barn on her property by the end of October and no work has been completed.”
Most people assume when they hire a contractor to erect some or all of their new post frame (pole) building or pole barn, they are minimizing their risks.

Let’s define exactly what risk is:
Risk (according to the sum of all human knowledge Wikipedia) is the potential of gaining or losing something of value. Values (such as physical health, social status, emotional well-being, or financial wealth) can be gained or lost when taking risk resulting from a given action or inaction, foreseen or unforeseen (planned or not planned). Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty.  Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, and uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty.
Risk perception is the subjective judgment people make about the severity and probability of a risk, and may vary person to person. Any human endeavor carries some risk, but some are much riskier than others.

Now, gentle reader, please pay attention to, “risk perception is the subjective judgment”. Subjective judgments are made without clear analysis of objective facts.

Hiring a contractor is a game of chance, there is risk involved. Significant risk.

Numerous possible outcomes are the resultant of hiring a contractor. The ideal outcome is everything went perfect – the project was completed satisfactorily, the building successfully passed all Building Department inspections, it was built according to the engineer sealed plans, there were not cost over runs and it was built in a timely manner.

Back in the day (the 1990’s) I participated in a contract writing class for building contractors put on by the WBMA (Western Building Materials Association). The course was taught by an attorney. The attorney prefaced the discussions by saying if we (the contractors) had over 50% of our clients satisfied with our work, we are doing extremely well.

Let this sink in – 50% satisfaction as a benchmark for success as a building contractor?
So, what happens if the outcome is less than ideal?
The worst case is paying for a building and getting nothing.
Other less than fun outcomes include (in no particular order); Some or all of the building is completed and mechanics liens get filed on your property due to the contractor not paying his or her suppliers or the help. The building won’t pass inspection and/or was not built to the engineered specifications. The building has warranty issues the contractor will not or cannot fix. The building gets partially built and contractor absconds with more money than earned. The building collapses – killing you or a loved one.

Scared yet?
YOU SHOULD BE!

How to minimize risk:
Demand your building be constructed according to plans prepared by an RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer).

Invest in a complete building kit package per those plans, it avoids potential material liens and you can control the design.

Vet potential contractors fully, by following these steps: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/contractor-6/.

Require a Performance Bond from the contractor you select: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/.

How big a risk are you willing to take?