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

By robo_dev ·
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[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 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.

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BTW there oughta be an app for that setup...

by AnsuGisalas In reply to To Answer Ansu's question

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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Got that covered already

by robo_dev In reply to BTW there oughta be an ap ...

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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Sounds like they probably just wanted to do something shoddily...

by AnsuGisalas In reply to Got that covered already

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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Ugh...the saga continues

by robo_dev In reply to Contractors must die: "ac ...

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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Oh Dear...

by cmiller5400 In reply to Ugh...the saga continues

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

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Oh yeah!

by AnsuGisalas In reply to Oh Dear...

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

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The good news, perhaps

by robo_dev In reply to Contractors must die: "ac ...

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.

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Don't you mean "The opportunity has been that ..."

by AnsuGisalas In reply to The good news, perhaps

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

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