Avoid this Spider’s Web
REconstruct recently completed (January, 2019) a project in my home, two bathrooms remodeled. Although we love our new bathrooms, we were appalled by their project management incapacities and feel scammed by their billing.
2 Final Invoices
After completion of the project we received a first bill that was several hundred dollars over the project estimate, which fit with what they had been telling me for weeks. Two hours later I received another invoice, without any preamble or warning, with an overage of several thousand dollars.
REconstruct repeatedly replied to my queries about the surprise 9% overage that they had a contractual right to charge me any amount and offered no explanation about how and why they sent two final invoices, two hours apart, with a difference of several thousand dollars.
It’s a Jungle Out There
We had two bathrooms needing remodeling. We talked to dozens of contractors over several months. Some of them did not sound legitimate. Some babbled incoherently. Some had a contract that looked like it had been written by a 3rd grader. Some had no contract, or estimate, and claimed they “Go just on a handshake” and “Figure it out as I go.” One wanted $750 for an estimate and one sent us an estimate and contract that was as thick as a Stephen King novel, and one estimate was enough to build a new house. REconstruct appeared to be the right choice.
REconstruct, throughout the entire fourteen weeks, was never able to answer the question, “Where are we on costs in regards to the budget?” with a solid number. Indeed, the first project manager seemed annoyed at all our questions and queries about the project in our own home. She was fired, but from thereon they replied to my budget queries with “We are fine,” or sent me, attached to emails, invoices that left me to decipher and interpret the numbers, invoices that often were error-filled, had numbers in wrong columns, calling their accounting capacities into question. In essence, I was led to believe throughout the project that we were under budget, and in the final stage of the project that we were a couple hundred dollars over budget, due to upgrades. I don’t think they ever really had a handle on our budget. My request for a corrected final invoice, with numbers in the right columns, was refused.
I requested the detailed project document, that they were contractually obligated to maintain, and contractually obligated to share with me upon my request, and all they sent me were invoices from vendors for tile, appliances, etc. We never saw anything resembling a master cost tracking spreadsheet, only the invoices. It appears they are trying to use an invoice application to do project cost tracking, which would explain a lot.
The Good News
Is that the crews, the guys who do the actual work, know what they are doing and do good work. No qualms there.
REconstruct is recently under new ownership, and that might be the problem. Chatter amongst the crews suggested that. Regardless, REconstruct as it is now, in my experience, has no tools or temperament for project and costs management, and no qualms about over-charging clients.
ALWAYS have a lawyer review any home remodeler contract you are considering, especially if the estimated amount is $10,000 or more. But, even if the estimate is for several thousand, the $75 for a lawyer to review the contract is a good investment.
NEVER sign a contract that does not have a cap on budget overages. Force them to track and manage costs, and if they do not they absorb those costs, which would be due to their administrative failures.
NEVER sign a contract that does not require the company/contractor to maintain project documents for all project costs and timelines, including labor and rental fees. Simply saving invoices for tile and other materials does not suffice.
It’s a good idea to ASK a contractor what tools and processes s/he or they have in-place or will use to track schedules, materials, labor, and all costs. Maybe not necessary for a house painter, but definitely a factor for any remodeling project in your home. You want to avoid those geniuses that keep it all in their head.
I knew all these things. I’ve been involved in legal suits and situations over the years, and am a project manager myself, but my frustration in finding a decent contractor made me careless. Don’t be careless.