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A Reno Horror Story

Written by
Published on
April 15, 2014

Bill McGarry is a trusted project consultant with Ottawa General Contractors LTD. He has seen it all from jaw-dropping renovations to unfortunate renovation disasters due to careless contractors. The following is a cautionary tale he recently shared with the entire team…

The Lowest Price is not The Best Price

I received a request for help from a gentleman who was looking for an expert opinion on assessing deficiencies in work performed by another contractor. It sounded like his situation was possibly a classic Mike Holmes horror story. I thought I could leave him at the very least with good advice, so I agreed to visit his home to review the challenges. Upon arrival, he brought me to his newly-constructed garage and pointed out aspects of the construction that he was concerned about. While the construction was somewhat “adequate” – the workmanship did not reflect Best Practices. We discussed how it should have been done. As I was preparing to leave he asked, “While you are here, will you have a look at the addition they built?”

That’s when the true horror story began to unfold!

He had contracted a local renovation company to build a second-storey addition to his bungalow. The addition was to create a new master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, as well as to create new kitchen, living room and dining room areas. The first obvious major deficiency was that the floors were noticeably out of level! The kitchen cabinets were also out of level. Windows were installed in the wrong places. The walls were not located to design specs, resulting in the stair framing being too narrow. This prevented the ability to transport furniture to either the new master bedroom or down to the recreation room in the basement!

The quality of the finishes were amateurish to put it kindly. To make things worse, the contractor had walked away from the job leaving it unfinished and refused to return to complete the project or to correct the many deficiencies. It was at this point that I discovered that the reason this gentleman called Ottawa General Contractors LTD was that we had bid on the job as well. Here’s the kicker… our price was only about a few thousand dollars higher. The other company had exceeded that difference in “extra” costs they sprung on the client during construction and they had left the job unfinished – with an excess of $100,000 in deficiencies. All this in spite of the fact that their client was an RCMP officer!

To “save” a few thousand dollars,  this unfortunate homeowner was out in excess of $100,000 and  was left with no practical recourse to solve his problem.

Bill discussing a project with a client

The very reason OGC exists is to counter this type of practice in our industry. This is why we have a careful and thorough design process to define the Scope of Work as clearly as possible. This allows us to “drill down” every aspect of the project and create an accurate Build Budget before we sign a contract. Our goal is to eliminate the occurrence of “extra” costs during the build phase. By keeping client budgets on target, we eliminate a major source of stress from the build process and everyone is happier! Our policy is to not only complete the project “Deficiency-Free” but to also offer an industry leading 5-year warranty to assure continued peace of mind for our clients.

The moral of the story is: sometimes the lowest price will actually cost far more!

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