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Contractors must die: "accidentally" hanging jacket over my security camera

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1 Votes
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Contractors must die: "accidentally" hanging jacket over my security camera

robo_dev
[Part Two of my saga about getting my wood raised deck replaced by a contractor who means well but sometimes fails to deliver].

On Thursday I about blew a gasket since I thought they destroyed or vandalized a security camera. I am at lunch with my boss, and I check on the live video via iPhone, and suddenly one camera just goes all fuzzy and dark. This is a vandal-resistant wall-mounted dome camera.

So I drive home, ready to kill someone....it seems that the contractor 'accidentally' hung his hooded jacket on the end of a ten-foot board and 'accidentally' leaned it directly onto the camera. I took a photo of that, then moved it.

The good news is the project is now 99% complete, no punches have been thrown, I did not have to call the cops, and no lawyers are needed at this point.

We figured out most of the issues, and once they pass final inspections we're done. For all intents and purposes, I have a well built good looking raised deck, built on budget.

It DOES have rail posts that have both 3/8" and 1/2" fasteners in each notched 4x4 post, the corner post centers are notched-out (making them much weaker), and the posts are set in concrete, with dirt backfilled into the hole (soil contact is bad).

Plus there is a big $1600 engineered beam that is there only because they goofed on the the plan, and it was too late to fix it once we got there. I argued them down to around $800 on that. (I also noted that they ordered the WRONG beam the first time, which delayed the project by a day).

There are still a couple of issues that are, in my opinion, done poorly, but it 'meets code' and someone with no knowledge of construction would never notice.

At this point I am so 'over' the whole project, that I would really prefer that they just get off my property and and I can fix these things myself.

Key Learning: Before a project, SPELL OUT EVERY DETAIL

Don't assume they will use the correct fastener, or even any fasteners at all, get it on paper. Require detailed specs about EVERYTHING and get it all ON PAPER. Inspect EVERYTHING and photograph EVERYTHING every step of the way.

After the fact, I figured out where they made mistakes from photos. For example, I have photos that show the concrete pad for the stair landing was poured AFTER the stairs were installed, which explained the goof around the pad.

I THOUGHT I had done all this right; I asked a hundred questions and had what I thought was a fairly good plan. Wow was I wrong.
  • +
    2 Votes
    PurpleSkys Moderator

    Mike Holmes? I love his shows. He "makes it right" after folks have work done by contractors that do a shoddy job or have a bad house inspection before buying what they believe is a good quality home. makeitright.ca :) for some of his work!

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    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    To some extent you tsk-tsk and get mad at contractors who did what they did....without knowing who they are.

    Would it not be more fun if Mike chased the guys down and rubbed their nose (literally) in their awful substandard work?

    If ABC can do that 'catch a predator' show, then surely Mike Holmes could 'catch a contractor'??

    Also, surely the contractors who did the bad work also did the same thing to MANY others, and they might still be in business doing the same lousy work.

    It almost seems cruel for one of those others to see how Mike makes it SOOO perfect for that one family. Sorta like taking one homeless starving guy off the street and giving him a $1000 dinner, vs somehow helping 1000 people with $1.

    Somehow if there were a business providing 'poor workmanship' insurance for each home project, so that you pay a few bucks and if it goes right, no problem, but if it all goes to heck, then the insurance pays for Mike Holmes (or Norm Abrahms) to come and fix it.

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    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    And it would make the insurance company keep track of a number of decent contractors... which would in the long run improve the odds that the good guys make a better living than the homegrinders...

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    1 Votes
    cmiller5400

    I'd have burst an artery if that had been me. How DARE they mess around with the security system. Probably a good thing it wasn't me, my temper of late hasn't been my strong suit...

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    3 Votes
    robo_dev

    I was ready to call in the cops, seriously.

    When I watched the video, it looked as if somebody had smeared something on the lens. If he had done that, I was going to charge him the full retail cost of the camera, which is something like $450 and maybe charge him with vandalism. (Granted, I got it for $20 on eBay, but that's not the point).

    Of course, there is the chance that the video might end up on a certain popular video sharing service :) I do have some good ammo in terms of both photos and high-quality video footage.

    Did I mention that I have a GeoVision PC-based security DVR AND an Everfocus pro-grade DVR that record at the same time? Thus each video channel is recorded to three hard drives at the same time (PC has raid mirroring). Of course these are in a locked server rack in a locked room covered by a camera.

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    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Did it look like they did it on purpose?
    Also, you can compare shots of before and after to see if any of your stuff "magically" shifts around in between... even if they found nothing worth taking, knowing if there was intent to burgle would help you decide what to do next...

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    0 Votes
    .Martin.

    but at least it is nearly over.

    and as the saying goes "If you want a job done, do it yourself"

    hope there is not too much more pain for you

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    0 Votes
    markp24

    Im not a contracter, but im qualified enought to do my own "handyman" services" and when i renovated my house, i could nto be there all the time, but when i was, i was correcting the contractos guys on, everything from roof shingles to sistering floorbeams, to proper insulatinging and not using Screws in framing but nails!
    I even had to redo some tile work because the guy didnt use the plywood and concrete board i cut to size and supplied to put under the tile (over the hardwood floor), (i actually only broke 2 tiles pulling them up!) (opnly reason i notices was because i saw a piece of the plywood in the garage, with the markings "use for entranceway tile" marked on it,.

    unfortunitly you do need to monitor them ever step of the way. I wish i had the time to do it all myself. (but again, theres alot i still can learn too)

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    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    From a thievery perspective, all the work was done outside the house.

    My dog would eat them if they did work inside, and believe me, I would rig up temporary cameras with sound if they were doing work inside.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    If there are parts of the security or powerline setup that can be attacked or prepped for sabotage from within the view of that camera, double check them.
    Better safe than sorry, eh?

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    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    During dark hours it ought to be possible to have the cam monitor the visibility of an outside lamp (small enough not to create glare), then have an app trigger an alarm if the lamp is obscured. If there is lots of wildlife moving through the yard a specific period of obscurement could be set... or the height of the light can be adjusted (wont work with deer of course). A movement sensor can be spoofed, so if someone manages to get close to the cam, if they cover it up, they'll reveal themselves.
    Bonus; it might also trigger when the damned wildlife is eating your flowers

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    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    The cameras have Infrared illumination for night vision. And since they record on motion-detect, anything that moves in the dark gets recorded.

    Of course there are four separate motion-sensing floodlights light up when someone/something walks near the house, and if the floodlights come on, that is considered 'motion' by the DVR, and that is recorded too.

    Remember, on the backyard I have four security cameras, so the chance of someone approaching one camera without being seen are less than zero. The recorders record video to HDD on motion-detect. The cameras are out of reach of any person of normal height, and in some cases, like the dome cameras, the wires are covered by the base. The dome-camera in question is rated for usage at prisons, so it has a waterproof IP-66 rated cast-aluminum housing, and an impact resistant polycarbonate tinted dome fastened with tamper-resistant stainless steel screws.

    These systems can send all sorts of alarms (even alarm contacts) and send text or email messages when they detect motion, but keep in mind that branches blowing in the wind or the neighbor's cat on patrol are all recorded (as is the neighbor's dog drinking out of and/or toppling the concrete bird bath). So unless the camera is in a place where there should not ever be motion, those features cannot be used.

    The humorous footage to watch is someone walking or parking their vehicle where they 'think' they are out of the range of the camera. Thus my contractor parked his silver truck waaaay down the street, and walked up through the neighbor's yard to do some last-minute bolt-tightening before the inspector showed up.

    Ignoring the fact that he turned around in front of the house (which was recorded) and one camera covers all the way down the street, when he snuck under the deck, he was on camera.

    I admit I have a gap in the armor, such that the far side of the house has spotty camera coverage, but I do plan to fix that. I have been hesitating since those cameras might appear to look-into my neighbor's house, and I don't want them to think I'm putting footage of his wife on YouTube or some less appropriate website.

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    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    like the bad ones are wont to want.
    Sometimes one feels like a kindergarten teacher holding them responsible for their "work".
    Other times it feels more like training a puppy, showing it the puddle and/or pile it left on the floor, and saying "Bad puppy! Bad!"

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    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Now that the project has failed two building inspections, the inspector noted yesterday that the deck-to-ledger bolts are incorrect (carriage bolts not allowed) and that the bolting pattern/spacing is not correct (meaning new holes must be drilled).

    More days of pounding and drilling to come...yippeee.

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    0 Votes
    cmiller5400

    If it's failed 2 inspections, insist the builder rip the bad deck down and start over ]:)

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    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    The only risk is that they stomp off in a huff and refuse to answer calls (but don't send the bill, either).
    It's funny how they often have "professional pride" that is inversely proportional to their professionality: it doesn't make them go the extra distance, but it sure can be hurt... and then the moping will know no end

    A bit like poorly adjusted teenagers

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Is that the deck, overall, will most likely end up being structurally sound and nice looking.

    The challenge has been that the process of getting there has been one headache after another.

    If I had no knowledge of construction, I would be blissfully ignorant and believe this company was wonderful. But perhaps, in ten years time, I would wonder why the wood was rotting, the rails were loose and dangerous, or the structure easily damaged in a storm.

    It is the details that make the difference in terms of things not rotting, coming loose, or causing other issues (e.g. causing water to flood into the house, or people to get hurt).

    I have this odd idea that when you build something, you should not only do it to 'meet code', but you should also do it right.

    The code violations that have been spotted are all fixable. Getting them to first understand what the code is, and then getting them to fix them properly has been the challenge. To their credit, my local building officials have been very helpful and responsive.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    That's why the spirit of entrepreneurship is is such bad shape: we're linguistically conditioning ourselves to flinch away from "Business Opportunities"

  • +
    2 Votes
    PurpleSkys Moderator

    Mike Holmes? I love his shows. He "makes it right" after folks have work done by contractors that do a shoddy job or have a bad house inspection before buying what they believe is a good quality home. makeitright.ca :) for some of his work!

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    To some extent you tsk-tsk and get mad at contractors who did what they did....without knowing who they are.

    Would it not be more fun if Mike chased the guys down and rubbed their nose (literally) in their awful substandard work?

    If ABC can do that 'catch a predator' show, then surely Mike Holmes could 'catch a contractor'??

    Also, surely the contractors who did the bad work also did the same thing to MANY others, and they might still be in business doing the same lousy work.

    It almost seems cruel for one of those others to see how Mike makes it SOOO perfect for that one family. Sorta like taking one homeless starving guy off the street and giving him a $1000 dinner, vs somehow helping 1000 people with $1.

    Somehow if there were a business providing 'poor workmanship' insurance for each home project, so that you pay a few bucks and if it goes right, no problem, but if it all goes to heck, then the insurance pays for Mike Holmes (or Norm Abrahms) to come and fix it.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    And it would make the insurance company keep track of a number of decent contractors... which would in the long run improve the odds that the good guys make a better living than the homegrinders...

    +
    1 Votes
    cmiller5400

    I'd have burst an artery if that had been me. How DARE they mess around with the security system. Probably a good thing it wasn't me, my temper of late hasn't been my strong suit...

    +
    3 Votes
    robo_dev

    I was ready to call in the cops, seriously.

    When I watched the video, it looked as if somebody had smeared something on the lens. If he had done that, I was going to charge him the full retail cost of the camera, which is something like $450 and maybe charge him with vandalism. (Granted, I got it for $20 on eBay, but that's not the point).

    Of course, there is the chance that the video might end up on a certain popular video sharing service :) I do have some good ammo in terms of both photos and high-quality video footage.

    Did I mention that I have a GeoVision PC-based security DVR AND an Everfocus pro-grade DVR that record at the same time? Thus each video channel is recorded to three hard drives at the same time (PC has raid mirroring). Of course these are in a locked server rack in a locked room covered by a camera.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Did it look like they did it on purpose?
    Also, you can compare shots of before and after to see if any of your stuff "magically" shifts around in between... even if they found nothing worth taking, knowing if there was intent to burgle would help you decide what to do next...

    +
    0 Votes
    .Martin.

    but at least it is nearly over.

    and as the saying goes "If you want a job done, do it yourself"

    hope there is not too much more pain for you

    +
    0 Votes
    markp24

    Im not a contracter, but im qualified enought to do my own "handyman" services" and when i renovated my house, i could nto be there all the time, but when i was, i was correcting the contractos guys on, everything from roof shingles to sistering floorbeams, to proper insulatinging and not using Screws in framing but nails!
    I even had to redo some tile work because the guy didnt use the plywood and concrete board i cut to size and supplied to put under the tile (over the hardwood floor), (i actually only broke 2 tiles pulling them up!) (opnly reason i notices was because i saw a piece of the plywood in the garage, with the markings "use for entranceway tile" marked on it,.

    unfortunitly you do need to monitor them ever step of the way. I wish i had the time to do it all myself. (but again, theres alot i still can learn too)

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    From a thievery perspective, all the work was done outside the house.

    My dog would eat them if they did work inside, and believe me, I would rig up temporary cameras with sound if they were doing work inside.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    If there are parts of the security or powerline setup that can be attacked or prepped for sabotage from within the view of that camera, double check them.
    Better safe than sorry, eh?

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    During dark hours it ought to be possible to have the cam monitor the visibility of an outside lamp (small enough not to create glare), then have an app trigger an alarm if the lamp is obscured. If there is lots of wildlife moving through the yard a specific period of obscurement could be set... or the height of the light can be adjusted (wont work with deer of course). A movement sensor can be spoofed, so if someone manages to get close to the cam, if they cover it up, they'll reveal themselves.
    Bonus; it might also trigger when the damned wildlife is eating your flowers

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    The cameras have Infrared illumination for night vision. And since they record on motion-detect, anything that moves in the dark gets recorded.

    Of course there are four separate motion-sensing floodlights light up when someone/something walks near the house, and if the floodlights come on, that is considered 'motion' by the DVR, and that is recorded too.

    Remember, on the backyard I have four security cameras, so the chance of someone approaching one camera without being seen are less than zero. The recorders record video to HDD on motion-detect. The cameras are out of reach of any person of normal height, and in some cases, like the dome cameras, the wires are covered by the base. The dome-camera in question is rated for usage at prisons, so it has a waterproof IP-66 rated cast-aluminum housing, and an impact resistant polycarbonate tinted dome fastened with tamper-resistant stainless steel screws.

    These systems can send all sorts of alarms (even alarm contacts) and send text or email messages when they detect motion, but keep in mind that branches blowing in the wind or the neighbor's cat on patrol are all recorded (as is the neighbor's dog drinking out of and/or toppling the concrete bird bath). So unless the camera is in a place where there should not ever be motion, those features cannot be used.

    The humorous footage to watch is someone walking or parking their vehicle where they 'think' they are out of the range of the camera. Thus my contractor parked his silver truck waaaay down the street, and walked up through the neighbor's yard to do some last-minute bolt-tightening before the inspector showed up.

    Ignoring the fact that he turned around in front of the house (which was recorded) and one camera covers all the way down the street, when he snuck under the deck, he was on camera.

    I admit I have a gap in the armor, such that the far side of the house has spotty camera coverage, but I do plan to fix that. I have been hesitating since those cameras might appear to look-into my neighbor's house, and I don't want them to think I'm putting footage of his wife on YouTube or some less appropriate website.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    like the bad ones are wont to want.
    Sometimes one feels like a kindergarten teacher holding them responsible for their "work".
    Other times it feels more like training a puppy, showing it the puddle and/or pile it left on the floor, and saying "Bad puppy! Bad!"

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Now that the project has failed two building inspections, the inspector noted yesterday that the deck-to-ledger bolts are incorrect (carriage bolts not allowed) and that the bolting pattern/spacing is not correct (meaning new holes must be drilled).

    More days of pounding and drilling to come...yippeee.

    +
    0 Votes
    cmiller5400

    If it's failed 2 inspections, insist the builder rip the bad deck down and start over ]:)

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    The only risk is that they stomp off in a huff and refuse to answer calls (but don't send the bill, either).
    It's funny how they often have "professional pride" that is inversely proportional to their professionality: it doesn't make them go the extra distance, but it sure can be hurt... and then the moping will know no end

    A bit like poorly adjusted teenagers

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Is that the deck, overall, will most likely end up being structurally sound and nice looking.

    The challenge has been that the process of getting there has been one headache after another.

    If I had no knowledge of construction, I would be blissfully ignorant and believe this company was wonderful. But perhaps, in ten years time, I would wonder why the wood was rotting, the rails were loose and dangerous, or the structure easily damaged in a storm.

    It is the details that make the difference in terms of things not rotting, coming loose, or causing other issues (e.g. causing water to flood into the house, or people to get hurt).

    I have this odd idea that when you build something, you should not only do it to 'meet code', but you should also do it right.

    The code violations that have been spotted are all fixable. Getting them to first understand what the code is, and then getting them to fix them properly has been the challenge. To their credit, my local building officials have been very helpful and responsive.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    That's why the spirit of entrepreneurship is is such bad shape: we're linguistically conditioning ourselves to flinch away from "Business Opportunities"