Home Depot hero... a tale of a good house gone seriously wrong

Nothing against Home Depot. Probably wasn't even Home Depot where they bought the paint and tiles. 

But the previous owners should have left the finishing to the professionals.

So here's how the story goes: 

I love Linwood / Lindal cedar post-and-beam homes, always have, always will, and this one caught my attention. 

From the thumbnail picture, shown here, we couldn't be too sure on the details, so we drove the 2 hours, with kids in tow, and set out to find the truth. This could be the dream property for us, the one we've been hanging out for.

First step, view the property.

Nice drive up the hill, the realtor who came along with us was glad I had an SUV (they do come in handy when you have a long, unplowed driveway in the winter, saved getting out the snow shoes).
 
The long winding driveway was great, what a cool piece of land. I love it. 12 acres of paradise, pines and firs, georgeous view of the valley. 12 minutes to the beach/coffee shop, and 20 minutes to the ski hill, a true Canadian happy medium.
 
We get to the house. Oh oh. First impression ... something's not right. Those of you with an eye for screwups on the jobsite will know what I mean.
 
You can tell when craftsmanship checked out before the work began. Unfortunate. The custom cedar post and beam shell is beautiful, the sighting of the home perfect, what a shame the previous owners played "home improvement". I think my wife said "what were they thinking?" a few dozen times. I probably won't introduce her to the previous owners :-)
 
They used Hardi Plank for the exterior, a cement fibreboard siding that is quite popular in these parts. Bonus. Paint is peeling though, after only 2 years. Minus. Did they prime? Doesn't look like it. What paint did they use? Who's idea was it to use those colours (pale yellow)?
 
We enter. I can live with the reddish tile floor, though the colour would be near the last on my list of faves. The glulam beams are impressive, I'm liking it. Go to the kitchen. Where's the stove? Oh, they forgot that beauty, but I did find 220 behind some drawers. Cabinet doors are missing. What's up with the kitchen island? Inches way too high, and not very useful, unless Mrs. Previous Owner was 7'-6".
 
Living room - inspiring. Small, but inspriing. The view will sell this house, if everything else is screaming "don't buy me". The fireplace looks like an afterthought, but glad it's there. The geometry of the room was odd. My daughter asked, "what's this space for?" Guess it could be where I go when my wife gives me time out.
 
Blue, red, pistachio walls, brown carpet, red tiles with a clashing baseboard to, er, match, what's up with the colors? Why do people think they can go to the local home improvement store and be a hero? Oh, what $200 worth of interior design advice from a professional would have done for the value of this house!
 
I look up at the ceiling in the hallway, and main bath, water stains, oh oh, the house is only 2 years old. Enter the main bathroom. How on earth did the 12 inches between the tub and the sink pass code? Will have to ease up on the twinkies if I want to make it to the toilet in the corner. Oh, and the baby blue tile? See previous paragraph.
 
The deck is a bit of a concern too, wood looks weathered, not sure how many years it will last, and water is pouring off the prow roof onto the deck in front. Some detailing issues, but I was made aware of a few of these from the friendly neighbourhood building inspector.
 
I could go on. And I will for a bit, this is fun. The master bedroom in the open loft is a cool concept if you're kidless and the honeymoon is still going strong, but I'll either need to put locks on the kids' bedroom doors that lock from the outside, or buy 15 years supply of ear plugs for 'em.
 
The mechanical room is impressive. You can tell we're from the "city" when we saw the big water jug in the basement, the size of a Volkswagon Bug. My better half thought it was a crude sauna, and I was hoping it wasn't some fancy new sewage treatment system. I ascertained pretty quickly it would be our H2O. Wouldn't want that baby to spring a leak.
 
No sabotage that I can see from the previous owner. Looks like they left in a hurry, kids stuff, office stuff, garbage, computer, toys all over the house. Shame it ended in a mess for them. This is a court ordered sale, and often they can be a bit messy.
 
'Nuf said. Can you believe despite all this, I haven't ruled it out? Am I crazy?
 
In my humble opinion, the only one who's crazy is the guy who didn't accept the previous offer of $half a mil. Anyone who offers more proves the theory of irrational buying behaviour. This place will need many $10K's of fixin's just to get it to it's assessed value.
 
With no warranty, and still no occupancy permit (final inspection pending), this one may remain on the for sale list for some time.

BuildIT could have helped all the "professionals" who got the house to lock up, no question.

But left in the hands of a homeowner with bad taste to finish, the poor castle didn't have a chance.

Have you ever had someone butcher your work, desecrating the thing you poured hours into?

Let us know, we'll post it here for the rest.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

What Moses saw, a sad little hose, and what’s your story…

I drove up to the jobsite and got a whiff of smoke. Definitely not the neighbor's BBQ. Besides, it was early afternoon on a weekday.

A BIG waft of smoke suddenly came round the side of the house and I kicked into high gear and headed in that direction fast.

For the first time in my life, I got to see what Moses saw – a big freaken burning BUSH – plus a couple of freaked out painters, dancing in front of the fire, madly waving a sad little garden hose that had obviously been borrowed from the neighbours yard – in a real big hurry.

I grabbed a shovel and started putting dirt on the bush faster than a roadrunner on steroids. Ten minutes later, the fire was out. Score: Painters 1. Bush 0. Too bad it wasn’t politics.

Turned out the paint contractor had a hired new guy that had come to the brilliant conclusion that a big bush close to the house was a good place to store his solvent soaked rags. Guess he was wrong. Maybe his mother just dropped him one too many times.

Got me thinking though: what if the bush had been a few feet closer to the house? What if no one had been there when the bush went up? What if the neighbour didn’t have a sad little hose? 

Lots of what ifs… all of which could have made the whole thing WAY WAY more expensive (not to mention embarrassing).

We all know things can go sideways fast in contracting. And in my years this wasn’t my only things-gone-sideways story. I had seen quite a few first hand and knew of way more. Do you have a story? Sure you do. Everyone in contracting does.

Tell us your story. Just take a couple of minutes to write out your story, anywhere from a few lines to a few pages, it’s your call. Grammar and spelling don’t matter – just as long as it can be read.

Then e-mail your “Things-that-went-sideways” story to: support@builditsystems.com or if you’d rather write by hand, fax it to: 1 604-648-8428.

Here’s to good work, good workers, and fewer things going sideways,

Craig Harte (BuildIT's Big Cheese)

PS: If there are some good stories - funny, gruesome, plain old stupid, embarrassing, whatever, we’ll share them - so no real names (but send pics if you’ve got them!). Come-on, it’ll take 2 minutes and we’ll all get to share in a few moments from the “other side” of contracting.

The nastiest thing I have seen - big old Gus

It was a normal day on the front lines of construction.

Materials didn’t show up. Neither did a crew.

Another crew was a half day late because they had been finishing up the last 2 minutes work at another job site.

There was a drawn out voice message from customer - something about a bunch of extra work they thought should be included because … well the reason seemed to make sense to them.

Nothing too unusual … then things changed fast … something happened which will forever be scorched into my memory.

I would pay anything to have the vision, er, I mean the trauma erased from my brain.

What I saw was, quite possibly, the nastiest thing I have ever seen … 

Right in front of me was a huge big sheet of drywall, the biggest of the big, being held to the ceiling but bending down at either end - to the point of breaking – being held up in the center by a chubby dude facing the other direction.

Now, I knew from the chubby outline that this wasn’t just any guy, it was none other than Gus, a wall boarder of European decent.

Gus would brag that he could make wall board fit, anywhere, anytime, pretty much every time, and if the wall board broke he would buy a round of drinks for everyone who saw it happen.

I had never heard of him buying anyone drinks because the truth was, he was real good at what he did.

But this time things had gone horribly sideways - Gus and his proud European ego were taking a spectacular pounding.

It seems his belt had recently decided it was tired of holding up his pants - after all, he did have pretty big pants.

It also seems that his pants were not the only thing that had fallen down at the same time - gravity had taken it all off - if you know what I mean.

Now, the thing is, the mystical forces that hold belts together could have quit anytime, but they decided the best time to let go was right when Gus was holding this big daddy sheet of wall board - way above his head.

But Gus, being the proud stubborn guy that he was, had decided many years before that he was never going to be buying anyone drinks … ever.

So there he stood … in a deadlock with the wallboard.

At the same time a few of his co-workers, being the understanding guys that they were, had decided to make a noise and let everyone on site know it was time for Gus to start buying drinks – and if that meant offering him a little friendly encouragement to drop the wall board, well that was ok.

My timing had been flawless; I had innocently walked in right in time to get a front row seat as handfuls of drywall mud were being pelted at a very-exposed-glowing-white-back-end – belonging to Gus.

Now trust me on this one, it was not a pretty sight.

Then boom. Maybe it was the wallboard, maybe it was Gus, but things snapped.

The air was filled with dust and the foulest language you can ever imagine. And as fast as he could, Gus bent right over to pull up his pants.

The problem is, fate had given me a front row seat, only few feet behind him – truly the wrong place at the wrong time. I witnessed the whole thing - in what seemed to be slow motion.

There was Gus fumbling and stumbling, and I got to see it all.

To this day no amount of therapy can undo the horror of what I was exposed to. I still have nightmares. They may never go away.

In the end (no pun intended), Gus finally cooled down and even managed to see some humour in his brief encounter with being on stage.

But when it comes to buying drinks, forget it, Gus won’t budge, he’s not buying drinks for anyone.

Score: Wallboard: 0. My trauma: -1 Nobody won this one.

Yet, every cloud has a silver lining - I can always be grateful that Gus wasn’t facing my direction when I walked in.