The Builder from Hell

Kenneth C. Hoffman

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Apartment living finally took its toll on our nerves. Though the rooms were of a generous size, my wife was forced to do the laundry in the cellar and the girl upstairs seemed never to take off her high heels. Click, click, click, all night long. Why couldn't she wear slippers in the house as we did?

Then one day my mother-in-law came through with an offer to loan us the down payment on a house. Excited, we found a nice ranch style home (my preference) and proceeded to pick out the colors, wallpaper, flooring, etc. I scouted out the land and chose a fairly level plot with a steep bank behind the property leading to a road, ensuring that no-one would build behind us. I even dug down two feet and found rich virgin soil, perfect for growing plants except for the plethora of rocks. The builder agreed (in writing) to fit the large picture window with diamond shaped panes as part of the original price. At extra expense we ordered a three foot extension for the master bedroom/bathroom.

Checking on the progress one day, I noticed that the open foundation contained three feet of water. The builder assured me that this was only rain water coming off the mountain above and the cellar would be dry when the house was built. We later found out that a stream passed under the house, exiting out the back, reappearing on the road behind our property. No amount of pumping would ever completely dry out our cellar and after a rain, the water poured in like a faucet.

One day a neighbor commented that she recognized the paneling in our family room as the exact wall panels that she rejected for having too many defects. I should have noticed.

On another day, I noticed that the picture window stored in the garage in preparation for installation contained the standard rectangular picture window. I immediately went to the office and confronted the builder. He informed me that diamond panes were much too expensive and I would have to settle for rectangles. I replied that the diamond panes were included in the price of the house and asked to use the phone. I got the window supplier on the phone and asked the prices of both versions of windows. I handed the phone to the builder to hear the answer: little or no difference in price. I got my diamond panes.

Then we found out that though the master bedroom was enlarged, the bathroom was excluded from the extension, making for a tiny bathroom. We elected to have the price adjusted downward to compensate rather than tear down the house. Then one day I observed two huge trucks filled with my nice black topsoil preparing to move out. I went up to the builder and asked him where he was going with my top soil. He got all red in the face and said he was just moving it to the corner of the property for safe keeping. I asked him if he minded if I watched him while they dumped it and he said, “No, but it might be a while. " I said “I'll wait. " Grrrrrr.

I can't understand why the builder couldn't place a fair price on the house and stick to the terms. A deal is a deal and the buyer shouldn't have to watch him every minute. I guess it takes all kinds.

My main philosophy is to do a good deed every day.

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