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An honest dollar for an honest day’s work, what a concept

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POSTED March 18, 2009 4:46 a.m.
Patrick Heany of Manteca Roofing, Todd Roddan of New Bud’s Nursery and the family business that did my fencing are why I have confidence in America’s future.

They believe in an honest day’s work for an honest dollar.

One of the byproducts of the easy money era that went along with the liar-loan mortgage mess that is collapsing like a house of cards was shoddy workmanship.

Eighteen months ago touring the first foreclosures you could see it in things such as pseudo Styrofoam-style stucco columns, window sills and even walls already starting to deteriorate to just plain sloppy work. A lot of it was lost amid the physical damage that disgruntled home owners losing their house did as well as squatters who moved in afterwards. It was there, though.

Chase – through a Stockton real estate agent – had secured a contractor to update the house I made an offer on and ended up buying. I picked it for the home’s location, layout and how it was solidly built. Unfortunately, the contractor the bank’s representative retained did his best to try and destroy it.

The bathroom upgrade they did was a joke. The bath tub wouldn’t drain, the toilet wouldn’t flush and thanks to an extremely diligent real estate agent – I used Carol Bragan – I discovered they put new flooring back in and forgot to replace all of the subfloor. Bragan made it a point to pressure the bank’s agent to make sure they did the work right. The contactor ended up replacing the toilet – they tried to pass a used one off as new – and then took the shower stall out and put it back in twice before they got it right. As far as the bath tub drain, I got the paint out of it that they apparently poured down it. They also put the entire subfloor back in place.

They laid the new tile in the kitchen on top of several layers of linoleum which is not a good thing. They put a new sink with a new faucet plus a Formica counter in the kitchen. They managed to install the faucet wrong and had to come back to fix it.

They painted the inside not once, but three times as each inspection – including one time by the bank’s agent – found large areas they had missed.

They used latex paint on wood and in the bathroom and the kitchen which means it already started to peel.

On of the reasons I fell in love with the house was the hardwood floors which the bank covered with carpet. The only thing that would have stopped the carpet from going in would have been a full cash offer. That wasn’t going to happen.

They got paint over part of the floor in one of the bedrooms. They painted a natural wood floor board.

I finally started taking the carpet up this week and found more of their handiwork. They applied the carpet in the living room while the baseboard paint was still wet. Nice touch.

They also laid the pad and carpet down without sweeping the floor first. There were screws, dirt, dust and paper under the pad.

I was told that they had dropped heavy equipment on the den floor. There’s proof from gouges in the hardwood floor that I discovered when I pulled back the carpet pad.

Despite his best efforts, the Mr. Haney of contractors (think Green Acres) didn’t ruin the integrity of a well-built house.

Since then I’ve seen dozens of foreclosures that banks had upgraded before selling. They obviously hired firms that are run by reputable people who don’t believe the way to success is through easy money made with shortcuts every chance they could take. It’s Chase, after all, how would they find out?

It is part of the larger malaise -  buying homes with nothing down and only partial interest payments for three months, looting equity for toys,  massive bonuses for driving firms such a PG&E to the edge of bankruptcy, and not earning your pay.

The world is not a free ride. Companies – and individuals – that built their net worth on shoddiness, dishonesty, and financial flim flam schemes  aren’t going to stand the test of time.

The strength of America is built by people like Patrick and Todd.

The termites that threaten to undermine it are the Mr. Haneys of the world out for a quick buck at any cost. They are from the same cloth as the robber baron CEOs that bloated their personal wealth by smoke and mirrors.
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