From Exciting Garden Project to a Looming Disaster

CluckNDoodle

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Jan 12, 2019
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This is going to be a really long post, but I desperately need opinions! My husband originally built my gorgeous raised bed garden for me but I insisted on untreated wood and we ended up with termites and had to tear it out. My husband's health isn't what it used to be so I finally bit the bullet at hired someone to install the same garden beds, but with cinder block.

I printed a very detailed blueprint for this guy and everything. Well it would be a NOVEL for me to share every little thing that has gone haywire, excuses, poor communication, not showing up, using my stuff without asking (and ruining it, almost $200 worth that I didn't even complain about), asking for more money overall because he "miscalculated on materials" so I subtracted an entire bed and said I would still pay him the same amount for 3 beds as he quoted me for 4 because I'm too nice, then he needed an advance on top of the deposit I has already given him.

...well in all of this headache I've gotten so many excuses as to why he doesn't show, etc, etc...I've been dealing with this for a MONTH and he has been here a total of 6 days and is usually only here for 2-3 hours each time. To top it off, he finally put down the first blocks on the footer, 12 blocks to be exact...and I actually had to go out there about point out to him that there is a top and bottom to the blocks, some were upsidedown. I didn't even tell him to undo it, it's not going to hurt anything because it's just a garden bed but he's CLEARLY not experienced in this as he would have liked me to believe.

I'm not a professional block layer but I managed in the installed sales office of a building materials store for about 7 years and my husband did it for a living when he was young, so I know what I'm looking at and I know how this is supposed to work...I'm mildly terrified of what I'm going to end up with when all is said and done. Not to mention how long it's going to take...

What do I do? He has half of the money now because on top of giving him the deposit he needed an advance for materials that I also gave him but it certainly hasn't expedited anything! I'm worried I'm going to end up with a huge inexperienced mess when all is said and done and he has only started on the two front beds which SHOULD be the easy ones! The back bed it the difficult design and I'm starting to think he isn't capable of doing it even though he kept saying, "We can do this, no problem."

😭 He's seems like a nice kid, minus the excuses and not showing, but this is giving me so much anxiety and it's really expensive! He charged me like a professional, but he's not one!

I do realize that construction sites will be messy, we constantly have some kind of projects going on, that isn't my gripe. I do feel like I should have more than 2 footers (that aren't even built properly or to specs) and 12 blocks laid after a month of dealing with this.

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AmesHillFarm

In the Brooder
Jan 31, 2020
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So this guy is like an independent handyman sort of fellow then? He doesn't work for or own a company or anything?

If this is the case, in your situation I would try having a sit down/serious talk with the guy first. Have everything that you're going to say planned out in advance and don't let him interrupt or bully you. (I myself am tend to be too nice to people and get walked over, so I have some experience with this sort of thing unfortunately.)

Say something like, "Dave, I'm not feeling very good about how the project is going. I know that you've been having some trouble getting here, but I really feel like things should be further along by now. I'd like to set up some deadlines and expectations.....etc." If he's not amenable to this approach I'd consider cutting your losses and look for somebody more professional to finish the job.

Also, definitely don't give him any additional advances. My landlord had a guy this summer that did some painting for him. He kept asking for advances and then wouldn't show up for several days, turned out he was spending his advances on getting high.

Anyway, good luck! I hope you manage to get your beds done to your satisfaction.
 

CluckNDoodle

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Premium member
Jan 12, 2019
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So this guy is like an independent handyman sort of fellow then? He doesn't work for or own a company or anything?

If this is the case, in your situation I would try having a sit down/serious talk with the guy first. Have everything that you're going to say planned out in advance and don't let him interrupt or bully you. (I myself am tend to be too nice to people and get walked over, so I have some experience with this sort of thing unfortunately.)

Say something like, "Dave, I'm not feeling very good about how the project is going. I know that you've been having some trouble getting here, but I really feel like things should be further along by now. I'd like to set up some deadlines and expectations.....etc." If he's not amenable to this approach I'd consider cutting your losses and look for somebody more professional to finish the job.

Also, definitely don't give him any additional advances. My landlord had a guy this summer that did some painting for him. He kept asking for advances and then wouldn't show up for several days, turned out he was spending his advances on getting high.

Anyway, good luck! I hope you manage to get your beds done to your satisfaction.
Thank you so much! I think this is what I needed to be told.
He's a landscaper that supposedly does hardscapes as well. Gave me tons of examples but I think he was stretching the truth...maybe a lot.
I haven't been completely silent (other than the expensive wheelbarrow and shovel of mine that he ruined, I just cut my losses on those). At first I was thinking maybe I was asking for too much because I've been trying to point out things as they happen to prevent a major disaster but it's like this is his first time doing it and I started to feel bad that he was messing up so much!

I don't mind giving a little guy a leg up in the world, you have to start somewhere...but he basically lied by saying he had all of this experience that he clearly DOES NOT HAVE. If anything, if he were honest, my husband and I could have taught him so much because of our experience, without it having to be awkward like I'm correcting a kid and every time I point something out he butters up another lie and I'm not going to sit there and argue with him calling him a liar so I just let it go because I assume he's embarrassed...

I used to manage multiple contractors, so you would think I wouldn't be such a pansy, lol. I think the difference is that this time I'm paying someone to do the work for me, rather than being paid to keep people in line...there shouldn't be a difference but I'm a total softy at home and I quit that job because I didn't like being the bad guy. :lau

Anyway, thank you again! I think I just needed to know that I'm not exaggerating and this really is something that needs to be handled.
 

AmesHillFarm

In the Brooder
Jan 31, 2020
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I used to manage multiple contractors, so you would think I wouldn't be such a pansy, lol. I think the difference is that this time I'm paying someone to do the work for me, rather than being paid to keep people in line...there shouldn't be a difference but I'm a total softy at home and I quit that job because I didn't like being the bad guy. :lau

Anyway, thank you again! I think I just needed to know that I'm not exaggerating and this really is something that needs to be handled.
Sure thing! I understand about work vs. private personality stuff. I work in a retail pharmacy and spend most of my day dealing with patients in person and on the phone, some of them quite unpleasant at times. In my private life I avoid confrontation and almost never answer a phone unless I know who it is.

Good luck. Who knows? Maybe if you approach him kindly but firmly he'll fess up to his exaggerations and you can start over on better footing.
 

CluckNDoodle

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Jan 12, 2019
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So I guess between me expressing that I was getting a bit impatient yesterday and trying to talk to him some more today he worked his record of 4.5 hours and "says" he'll be back tomorrow to work and will bring the materials. It looks good right now, just a matter of what's going to happen now that he has to cut a couple blocks for the corner. At least he's saying "cut" and not "break" now.

Now the trick will be getting him to bring all of the materials here as I requested because I would feel a lot better if I can see that's what he's spending my money on...

Fingers crossed! :fl Thank you for listening to my plight today. It really really helps to be able to talk it out with someone.

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AmesHillFarm

In the Brooder
Jan 31, 2020
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Now the trick will be getting him to bring all of the materials here as I requested because I would feel a lot better if I can see that's what he's spending my money on...

Fingers crossed! :fl Thank you for listening to my plight today. It really really helps to be able to talk it out with someone.
Oh jeez, I didn't realize he had purchased things and hadn't brought them to the work site. That would make me nervous too. If I were in your situation I'd start keeping a record of exactly what hours he working and ask him to provide receipts for his materials purchases. Sorry if this is too prying, no need to answer if you don't want to, but did you agree to a flat rate that was to include all materials?

I don't like to be negative, but definitely seems a bit shady. :hmm

Also, glad my input could help. I deal with a lot of social anxiety, so I worry that I'll say the wrong thing pretty regularly. But, I really enjoy chatting with nice people online.
 

CluckNDoodle

Hatchaholic
Premium member
Jan 12, 2019
2,887
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Georgia
Oh jeez, I didn't realize he had purchased things and hadn't brought them to the work site. That would make me nervous too. If I were in your situation I'd start keeping a record of exactly what hours he working and ask him to provide receipts for his materials purchases. Sorry if this is too prying, no need to answer if you don't want to, but did you agree to a flat rate that was to include all materials?

I don't like to be negative, but definitely seems a bit shady. :hmm

Also, glad my input could help. I deal with a lot of social anxiety, so I worry that I'll say the wrong thing pretty regularly. But, I really enjoy chatting with nice people online.
Well, that's the thing. He was telling me he couldn't find cinder block anywhere for 2 weeks, then he tried to tell me it was all broken where he went and that he had to dig through to get the blocks that you see set from today. Even if that were the case we have like 6 hardware stores conveniently located around here and the one closest to my house (10 minutes) has over 3000 blocks in stock. I didn't want to get too dramatic and list off all of the stuff that has come up in this job here on BYC, lol, but it has been extremely stressful for me, to say the least. The reason he couldn't pick up the blocks today was because his truck wouldn't start...

You're not being negative, the whole experience has been sort of shady, it's been one thing after another, but a little bit keeps happening and at this point I'm kind of just hoping to get at least something for the money I've already given him.

Honestly, I'm usually cautious about sharing anything to do with finances, but in this case, I knew I was throwing a ton of money out there so that I wouldn't have to worry about it, lol, not worrying definitely isn't where the investment has gotten me unfortunately BUT I'd be happy to share my sticker shock with you. :lau First of all, it's not a simple job, but what he built is already way out of specs so there's no telling what I'll end up with. This is the drawing and there was a 4th bed in the back that isn't shown in the drawing

...you ready? I agreed to pay $2300 for the 4 garden beds, this was to include everything, materials, labor, and apparently it also came with free migraines in the small print, lol. Well, he told me he messed up and didn't charge enough, I basically said I didn't have any more in my budget for the garden, because I don't, but I would work with him on the design so it didn't cost as much...so now I'm only getting the 3 beds shown for the original price. Original deposit was $500 and he said he was short on purchasing the materials and needed another $500...so I'm $1000 in and you see what I have to show for it.

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