Our experience with Contractors/Service people in east TN - Part 1
By Dirty Girls Restoration, Oct 27 2016 03:50PM
This is a 2 part blog of our experience to date on the work we have had performed on our Mid Century house in TN.
As most everyone is aware we do the majority of the restoration work ourselves, ie: plumbing, general wiring, drywall, painting, tiling, flooring, etc.... However things we don't do are roofs, HVAC replacements, whole house electrical and panel re-wires, or specialty work such as large concrete jobs.
After closing, our first order of business (inside the house) was electrical.
Electrical contractor - We called a total of 4 electrical contractors that were highly rated and recommended to replace our fuse panel with a 200amp. 1 contractor never called back. 1 called back but never showed up to give an estimate. 1 called back, showed up (on the wrong day), gave us an estimate on the spot which was very high (and purposefully inflated in our opinion). 1 called back, showed up, however it took 2 weeks and several phone calls for him to provide the estimate. We went with the latter because they were the only ones that provided a realistic number on their quote. They were a larger, well respected (and insured) company, and our friends had used them in the past. Plus we were tired of trying to get another electrical contractor to show up or even return a phone call.
The 2 guys that showed up to start work were nice, polite and seemed to know what they were doing. The work they did was quality, however they did leave trash behind in their work area that was not appreciated. Overall we were happy with the company we hired with the exception of leaving our house dirtier when they left than when they showed up. The final bill ended up being lower than what was quoted.
HVAC - For HVAC, we needed the unit looked at because it wasn't cooling properly, discharging large amounts of condensation which left a stream of water in the basement, and the upstairs duct-work was only 3". It needed to be replaced with standard 6" ducts, we wanted vents moved to the floor, and there was no return upstairs which we needed to add. We actually wanted to cut in the new duct-work ourselves, however we had a home warranty and had to call anyway for the unit issues so we had them give us a quote for the ducts as well. (Because of the warranty, we didn't have the option of screening contractors, we had to go with who they called - however the company they called we were told was "the best in the business" by several local people.)
The tech that showed up to look at the unit was there a total of 10 minutes, told us the unit was frozen and said he would have the office call us to reschedule. This was on a Thursday. Apparently he did something (that we couldn't figure out) which removed all power to the unit - aka we went from having some cool air to no air. This was during a week of 90-100 degree temps. It was scorching. The office didn't call. We had to call them and were told they "might" be able to come out Monday. We were furious. They didn't show up until Tuesday, we went 6 days with no air conditioning when the average daily temp was 95 degrees. We bought loads of ice and fans....the dogs were panting non stop and getting sick from the heat, we did not sleep. We tried everything we could think of short of taking the AC unit apart to figure out what the guy did to make it not work, and were unsuccessful (we later found out he removed the fuse). We were done with this company just from that alone. Normally HVAC service people would leave the AC unit in the same condition (aka cooling) until they could come back out, with instruction to possibly turn it off 24 hours in advance of the appointment if it was frozen. In Ohio, customers matter. If it was that hot outside they would work over the weekend...or heck, even work past 2pm on a Friday.....they would make it right. Anyway - the tech finally shows back up Tuesday, tells us the unit is "overcharged" removes Freon and leaves. There is no change to our cooling - it was just like it was before we called them. We call the warranty company again which in turn calls this company again.
In the mean time we had requested the quote for the duct-work. The "estimator" comes out, walks around the house, seems to have no idea what he is doing, is shaking his head the entire time and saying over and over "I don't know how we are going to do this". He seems to have a condescending air about him as well, because anything we say he immediately dismisses. He then calls the owner of the company for help.
Half hour later the owner shows up, they figure out how to run the duct-work, however they want to drill an opening for the return in the original paneling of the house right when you walk in the front door. Um.... absolutely not! Our first words to them when they walked in was "do this if you can but if you have to drill into the concrete floors or alter anything architecturally significant that cannot be replaced, then we don't want anything done". We offered suggestions of where they could run the return and ducts and they were promptly dismissed as was every suggestion we offered. The estimator told us to cover all the windows (we have walls of glass), and other nonsense suggestions for which we could tell the man was clueless about Mid Century design. The more we dismissed his suggestions on what to do with our house (which we didn't ask for) he becomes more and more angry, which in turns makes us mad because we don't care what "he" would do to "our" house. He continues to talk down to us and shakes his head with the air of "women have no idea what they are doing". The owner was great, the estimator was an ass.
So at this point, our AC is still not cooling well...there is still condensation all over the unit and basement, and we are waiting for them to start work on the ducts. We get a start date, which was supposed to be in the morning. After several phone calls they finally show up at 2pm. The estimator shows up with the tech who will actually be doing the work. The estimator is beyond rude. Any time we say something we get a "now girls...". Within the hour they both leave. I contact the owner of the company and tell him I do not want that estimator setting foot in our home again. The tech comes back to actually begin work. He is a nice guy, we have no problem with him. We have to run out for awhile. We get back, he is done...gone... and it is not done right. Nothing was cleaned up from the work they did. The flexible ducts were not taped at the seams - aka air was coming out. The flexible ducts were not even attached to the ceiling - meaning they were hanging down in the middle of the rooms downstairs. We immediately call, complain, they come back out and fix the mess they left.
At this point...we STILL have the problem of the AC not cooling correctly. Once again the warranty company calls this company, they determine the coil needs replaced. The warranty company will cover the part but only 10 gallons of the Freon and the Freon (which remember they just removed because the unit was "overcharged") is going to cost us $700. Whatever, the part is ordered.
In the mean time....we have been getting quotes for polishing of the terrazzo floors on the main level of the house. This is something you need to be certified for, it is specialty work and requires grinding a 16th of an inch off the top of the floor.