My builder screwed up - what can I do?

Skooma

Member
May 24, 2020
6
Florida
Hello TFP!

[[Florida. Gunite Pool. New Build]]

My builder screwed up. We were supposed to have two LED bubblers into our sundeck [we have small kids so effectively a splashpad for them] and they poured/sprayed the gunite without running the conduits. We expressed our concerns before the gunite was sprayed, but we were told to not tell him how to do his job and that the bubblers would be there at the end of it.

Fast forward two weeks, the builder is claiming they're on backorder [despite the fact I can seemingly order them online], that they wont be part of the finished pool and he's not discounting/refunding anything.

Not really sure what to do at this point.
 
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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,678
Tallahassee, FL
WHAT???? So what does your CONTRACT call for???? The contract is a LEGAL document and as such he HAS to honor it! Put a full stop on any more work on the pool until this is resolved.

Now the important part..........get EVERYTHING in writing! If the above was verbal then send him an email saying "On XX day we spoke about the bubblers and them not being installed and you said............" A certified letter would be even better!!!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
22,223
Northern NJ
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How much have you paid the builder so far? What is your payment schedule?

As Kim says put the builder on written notice.

Most of the leverage you have is around the remaining payments.
 

Vukota12

Well-known member
Jul 3, 2020
53
New Jersey
Besides the contract the ability to leave reviews online should be enough to get the PB to do the right thing. It’s a hassle to have to litigate but if the need to do so exists then don’t hesitate. Also make it your mission to write well written and factual reviews all over the place. The time and effort to do that is certainly a hassle and something you shouldn’t take glee in but if that’s what it takes to hit him hard in his pocket going forward over something as benign as putting in a light that’s he’s contractually obligated to put in correctly then don’t hesitate to do so.
 
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Skooma

Member
May 24, 2020
6
Florida
We've paid 2/3rds

He has one last payment that is apparently due now - the contract just says 'tile'. But, there is still a lot of work remaining.
Pad for pump etc.
Equipment
Footers
Deck
Pool Finish

When we originally signed, I wasn't comfortable with the payment schedule as I wanted something to be paid upon completion [ a lesson I learned scouring the forums here before we started], but both the builder [and my husband] disagreed and said its industry standard to get payment before the job is completed.

The contract is very, very simple and simply says 'Bubblers'. The agreement was two bubblers in the sundeck and they're on our engineered plans. We also realized today that we are missing two steps in the spa as well.

With so much work to be completed, I'm worried about retaliation and the work not being completed in a professional manner.
 

RU4Cycling2

Gold Supporter
Sep 12, 2020
38
Edmond, OK
I’m sorry Skooma. It can be so frustrating. I don’t have great legal, bargaining, or leverage insight but my advice is don’t let this take over your life. It’s not cancer - just a temporary frustration with dealing with a bully. Second advice is don’t sign a contract where you pay before work completion. You’re not alone and we are here for you!
 
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Skooma

Member
May 24, 2020
6
Florida
I’m sorry Skooma. It can be so frustrating. I don’t have great legal, bargaining, or leverage insight but my advise is don’t let this take over your life. It’s not cancer - just a temporary frustration with dealing with a bully. Second advise is don’t sign a contract where you pay before work completion. You’re not alone and we are here for you!
You are right, and I shouldn't get myself in a tizzy, but its hard not to when you're investing so. much. money. He's supposed to come over tomorrow and we'll be having a chat when he's done working for the day. I've typed up a written notice basically stating "install the bubblers, or remove them from the bill. And finish all the work laid out on the engineered plans. "Hopefully things go well.
 
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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,678
Tallahassee, FL
Good plan..................shoulders up and straight. Strong eye contact. Paper to write notes on. NO emotion. Just the facts. Have him sign beside each talking point as it is made. Try to get him to allow you to record it (not very hopeful on this one.)
 
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Skooma

Member
May 24, 2020
6
Florida
Good plan..................shoulders up and straight. Strong eye contact. Paper to write notes on. NO emotion. Just the facts. Have him sign beside each talking point as it is made. Try to get him to allow you to record it (not very hopeful on this one.)
Aaah I'm gonna try so hard with the no emotion part. I'm one of those silly people who cries when they're angry soooo my fingers are crossed I can be levelheaded about it.
 

pb4uswim

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2020
90
Michigan
All I can say is that I feel your pain. I had to give all the money up front on my build. I know how crazy that is, but we did our homework and thought we had a great builder. If fact, he did do a good job, but the mistakes he made are material and he’s not fixing them. He says he will, but it hasn’t happened. In my case, the laminars (water jets/fountain into the pool), were not installed correctly. There’s no easy fix as now they are concreted in - incorrectly. I may just have to end up filling them in and trying to get a refund.

My point is not to tell you my tale of woe, but to give you some hope. The builder did get us in the pool for most of the summer and I can tell you that the grandkids had a great time. Sure, I focus on the negative and how crappy I feel being taken for a fool, but the kids were the reason for the pool and in that regard, it’s been a undeniable success. So, I‘ll reiterate what others have said. Stay on the builder, but don’t let it ruin your life. There’s probably a heck of a lot of fun in that pool, even without the bubblers. Good luck.
 

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jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
3,182
Morris Cnty NJ
I wouldnt cut into the shell at this point. Its very invasive to install them now. Hold off money til hes further along. Never pay a PB in full til hes done. 5 to 10 percent is pretty standard here for final payment
 
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Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
700
Gilbert, AZ
Aaah I'm gonna try so hard with the no emotion part. I'm one of those silly people who cries when they're angry soooo my fingers are crossed I can be levelheaded about it.
I'm one of them too and it can be so frustrating! I will be so mad at myself for crying because I know it isn't helping and probably making it worse. :cautious:
 

TampaKathy

Gold Supporter
Oct 2, 2020
144
Tampa, FL
Is there anything else you could get that you think is fair and still possible? I don't know the exact order of things or if it's too late but could you get some deck jets?
 

setsailsoon

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Oct 25, 2015
3,804
Stuart/FL
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Wow! I hate to see people get in this shape. Too late to get a fair payment schedule and the PB seems to think he can bully you into completely unreasonable "my way or highway" terms. He's in breach of his contract but he knows it's not going to be worth a lawsuit. It's his fault he didn't buy in time to meet his obligation to you, not yours. Put all this in writing with a letter. Spend a couple hundred $ to have a lawyer do it if needed. You should be able to turn his breach into leverage to change the payment terms so you don't pay 100% until complete and performance tested. Also get release of liens before payment. The fact this isn't worth going to court over works both ways. Make it work for you too. Then get your pool finished and enjoy it never looking back. Count it as tuition. Education is never cheap.

Good luck!

Chris
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
22,223
Northern NJ
Pool Size
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Small claims court in FL is $8,000 or less as of January 1, 2020. The bubblers are worth less then that. Document the value of what the builder is not delivering in the contract. Present it to the builder in writing. Document all conversations with dates, times, and people involved. Build a pile of evidence to bring to a court. Tell the builder if he does not deliver as contracted or reduce the price you will let a judge decide.

Research what is involved with Small Claims Court in your area. It is usually consumer friendly.
 
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poolnoobgrandma

Gold Supporter
Sep 15, 2018
547
Seminole, FL
We've paid 2/3rds

He has one last payment that is apparently due now - the contract just says 'tile'. But, there is still a lot of work remaining.
Pad for pump etc.
Equipment
Footers
Deck
Pool Finish

When we originally signed, I wasn't comfortable with the payment schedule as I wanted something to be paid upon completion [ a lesson I learned scouring the forums here before we started], but both the builder [and my husband] disagreed and said its industry standard to get payment before the job is completed.

The contract is very, very simple and simply says 'Bubblers'. The agreement was two bubblers in the sundeck and they're on our engineered plans. We also realized today that we are missing two steps in the spa as well.

With so much work to be completed, I'm worried about retaliation and the work not being completed in a professional manner.
Don't make the final payment until it's done, or hold back enough that it will be worthwhile for them to address the issues.
Once you pay in full, they're gone, and the headaches are all yours.
 

bluewater813

Gold Supporter
Apr 27, 2020
45
Tampa, FL
100% on withholding payment...document everything in writing...social media and reviews are effective but a construction lawyer is worth his/her weight in gold
 

poolnoobgrandma

Gold Supporter
Sep 15, 2018
547
Seminole, FL
100% on withholding payment...document everything in writing...social media and reviews are effective but a construction lawyer is worth his/her weight in gold
And your actual gold is worth that, too! Until they get paid, it is WAY cheaper for them to make it right.
They aren't going to take you to court for not paying for something that wasn't done, or done correctly. Hold that final payment, and have a frank discussion.
PLEASE don't pay until they make it right. You probably won't need a lawyer at all if you keep that leverage.
 

pb4uswim

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2020
90
Michigan
if you keep that leverage.

Just a note on leverage. Let’s assume the job was $100,000. The OP said they‘ve paid 2/3rds so about $33,000 is still outstanding. But, per the OP, there is still a lot of work yet to be finished as well as the issue of the bubblers. So, it’s doubtful that the OP could get another builder to touch the incomplete job let alone get someone to finish it for $33K. The current builder knows this. Therefore, who has leverage in this case? My opinion is that in most cases, once ground is broken, the buyer has little leverage. The remedies are just so much less palatable than dealing with the existing builder. Sure, keep the money and be professional and work through this, but don’t be fooled into thinking that holding the money will give you a significant advantage (leverage) in the process. All the builder has to do is say “fine, I’ll see you when the check clears” and at that point you may have burned any goodwill that might be left. He‘ll be onto and focused on his next job and you’ll be looking at a pool you can’t swim in until he gets over being butt hurt and feels like gracing you with his presence.

I sincerely wish the OP all the best and I hope this turns out well, but my current situation and past history with contractors tells me that once a problem like this comes into being, the customer ends up losing. Just a matter of what degree. Hopefully in this case it will just be a trade of the bubblers for some other suitable outcome like money refunded or alternative water feature.
 

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