Tales From The Contractor Crypt

I would like to state for the record that I am NOT in the habit of complaining.  I tend to see the good side of things; priding myself on being able to see past the dust, the crumble, and the broken to what is possible after some patience and love.  Also, I am not a fan of complaining blogs; especially mom blogs that drag on and on about the challenges of every day life.  They make me tired.  I want to be inspired and to see what is possible in every day life.  I love when people focus on what they are thankful for… like the little things we all take for granted at times.  BUT… and here comes the big BUT.  I am chronicling our family experience with renovating the little red house.  And with that comes the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I don’t think I should leave out the truth of this process just because it bums me out… and might bum you out too.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve gathered from the title that we are having a bit of trouble with our contractor.  And you would be correct.  We chose buildPROS during the process of closing on the house after interviews and quotes were submitted from 4 different contractors.  I must have called about 20 contractors throughout the two weeks we needed to get the quotes together!  Many of them were not familiar with our particular loan process, as we ended up needing a 203k or renovation loan.  With this loan, contractors do not get paid up front and there are several inspection points required from the bank where they receive installments upon each successful inspection.  There’s also a fair amount of paperwork required from the contractor.  Rouben Balagian from buildPROS seemed competent and confident that he and his crew could do the work within our budget in a reasonable amount of time.  (We were quoted 8-10 weeks). He also had experience with our lender and doing renovation work with 203k loans.  I made sure that his licenses and insurance were in good standing as well as checked for any negative complaints or reports.  Everything checked out.  All was good to go!  The only red flag that we noticed during the closing of the loan was Rouben’s tendency to take longer than ideal to return phone calls and paperwork.  Also, if he said it would be there on Monday, we learned to expect Wednesday or Thursday.  We figured, that was typical of contractors as things always took longer than expected and turning out paperwork was probably not in his wheel house of talent.


I’m just going to bullet point our list of concerns and complaints so far.  I don’t want to editorialize too much.  Maybe you all can respond with your opinions on the matter.

  • Its’ been almost 3 months and buildPROS has maybe put in 6 days of work.  Maybe.  Technically, the contract gives them 6 months to finish the project, which pushes us into January.  However, Rouben told us differently.  We were told 8-10 weeks.  We should be moving in right now.
  • Several missed appointments.  About a month ago there was a span of 3 appointments he cancelled or missed 3 days in a row.  We were already there (all three days), babysitters arranged for 2 days in a row.  On the third day, I organized one of those master plans and brought all the kids with snacks and iPads and baseball in the yard.  The appointment was at 4pm, we got a text at 7pm saying he got caught  at the DMV and couldn’t “mentally handle it if he drove down to the house and we weren’t there”.  Apparently his phone had died somewhere in there so he just went home instead of meeting us.
  • Josh sent him a text back (ticked that texting was our contractor’s chosen mode of communication at a time like this) saying that he felt like Rouben didn’t value our time and that is was unprofessional to miss so many appointments without proper notice.  Josh also voiced his concern that the job hadn’t even really started yet.  Rouben blamed Josh, saying that it was because the demo wasn’t finished on the day we indicated….BUT (another one of those big BUTS), come to find out, some time later, our contractor hadn’t even applied for the necessary permits yet!  He ended up applying for them almost TWO months after closing.
  • At another walk through appointment (I feel like we’ve had 10 walkthrough’s with no follow through’s!!) Rouben asked if our boys wanted to meet his dogs who were in the car.  The dog’s came out and seemed a little too jumpy and excited.  We only had the little two boys with us;  I picked up Braedon, so the dogs wouldn’t knock him down.  Then came the makings for one of the most terrifying days of our lives as parents!  Preston got nervous and ran around the house to get away. The two dogs ran after him and as we came around the corner after them, we saw my little boy… my Preston, on the ground in the fetal position, screaming.  Both 60lb dogs were jumping on top of him with their faces down on his head in a prodding motion!!!!  We were panicked!!!  We couldn’t tell if they were attacking or playing!  Josh, myself, and one of Rouben’s employees (Nick) ran toward the dogs.  I went for Preston and pulled him up from between the dogs while Josh and Nick tackled them, wrangling them away and back into the car.  I held Preston who was still screaming and started searching him for injuries.  THANKFULLY… the dogs were “playing” with him and did no physical damage.  However, Preston was frantic and scared.  Josh and I could barely breath, the rush of panic made us both lightheaded.  We just kept repeating, “He’s ok.  They were just playing.”  Now, what could Rouben say, you ask? “YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR KIDS NOT TO RUN FROM DOGS!”  I’m not kidding.  Now this has nothing to do  with his job performance necessarily, but it does add to my growing distrust and dissatisfaction with the process of working with him.   I told Josh I won’t meet with him anymore and we both agreed that we just want this whole thing over with ASAP!  (OK…this was a bit editorialized, but definitely deserved with that story!)
  • We’ve been told on a few occasions that he would “have his guys in there next week,” for which we would wait with baited breath for them to show.  They wouldn’t and weeks just passed by.
  • He called to “borrow” $5,000!  (What the…?!)  We did NOT lend him the money!!! He said he would pay us back in 2 weeks and the money would be used to get our project started.  (Say what…?!)

We keep trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that some day soon the work will commence full force and we can relax a little.  It’s now coming closer and closer to a date where I don’t know if the job can be done by the deadline laid out by our contract with the bank.  This week we are in are one of those week where Josh was promised to see “some guys” at the red house working… none so far.  We just want to see people working!!  There’s a whole pile of cash waiting if they just get started!  I think we are steadily approaching a serious decision of releasing Rouben from our contract.  We don’t want that; just because we are loathing the additional time that will be lost to the project assigned to the process of letting our contractor go and finding a new one to do the job, within budget, and a reasonable time frame.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this.  Maybe you have some special insight into our situation that could be helpful!  In any case, thanks for reading and caring!…(I promise more pictures next time!) 🙂

Til’ next time, be blessed!

3 thoughts on “Tales From The Contractor Crypt

  1. Ain't Elaine says:

    I don’t know much about these things, but I think I would definitely start with a new contractor. The only problem being….how much $$$ do they get for their approximate six days of “work?”
    I’m so sorry this happened to you all. 😦


  2. Mimi visokay says:

    Have you talked to your lender about it? Maybe they would call him and light a fire under him. If he wants to get work from them again I would think he’d want to please them.


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