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Question DetailsAsked on 10/19/2011

V
What should I expect to pay an engineer to inspect a renovated home and write a full report of "shoddy" work done by a contractor?

We hired a local contractor to repair and renovate an old farm house (huge job/expensive). At this time the home has multiple leaks, electrical problems, crumbling sheet rock, broken toilet seats, broken sinks, moldy walls covered over with new sheet rock, bathroom tiles and grout coming up, shower body separating from wall, water damaged soffits covered up instead of being repaired and/or replaced and flooding where the basement was waterproofed. The contractor will not come back. Additionally, the property has been treated by a termite company for the last several years and the termites are not gone. The termites are eating there way through the sheet rock. I have had some professionals in to view the damages and do some repairs but I need a complete evaluation for safety as well as repairs. I have been quoted over the telephone $300-$2000. So, I am not sure which type of professional to hire and how much I should expect to pay to review the entire house.

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2 Answers

1
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Unfortunately you have learned the hard way why hiring a licensed design professional at the beginning of the project is a good idea. You need to have someone knowledgable about your project to oversee the work and clearly define the work to the contractor.

You can hire an engineer or an architect for your purposes. The examples you listed are not the type of items engineers may be interested in (they tend to deal more with structural issues, code compliance and interaction of materials). A licensed Architect would be able to inspect your home, draft a "punch list" of items to be corrected, repaired or replaced and establish a budget for the work (some mistakes may not be the fault of the contractor, thus negotiated, for example).

Assuming you had a construction loan or similar used to pay the contractor, you need to notify this lender immediately that the work is not satisfactory and no further funds to be released. The banks have their own investigative services that may be able to assist you in getting the contractor to repair shoddy work. Also your home owner's insurance may have coverage for your situation, and often will have allowances included for hiring a design professional to assist in the work.

For your actual project, you will need a copy of your contract with the local contractor plus any drawings, plans and permits that were filed. When you meet with the architect, they will want to review what was agreed upon, what was done under permit and what was done without a permit. It is possible the architect will be able to convince your contractor to return to the job and make corrections (If the contract isn't clear and the contractor feels like you kept 'adding' more stuff for him to do, he may have just left / given up. It also sounds like the contractor bit off more than he can chew. An architect will be able to draft a concise contract with a clear scope of work, which protects both you and the contractor. The architect may be able to convince the contractor to return and fix those things he is skilled at, and give a credit for those items he had trouble with.)
Ultimately, you have a moisture problem. Moisture means rot, mold, failing gypsum board and termites. This needs to be addressed immediately, because older homes especially take longer to dry out and get back in balance.

Ultimately, you have a moisture problem. Moisture means rot, mold, failing gypsum board and termites. This needs to be addressed immediately, because older homes especially take longer to dry out and get back in balance.

Your termite concerns are actually a separate issue; not the problem of the contractor, per se. I personally have never heard of termites eating gypsum board (drywall) material since they are more about wood products, so I have doubts that termites are causing this damage. Termites are where moisture and wood are; so it is possible the termites destroyed the supports of the gypsum board, the gypsum was wet, thus the walls caved in or out? It is also possible the gypsum board is failing because of moisture, and not termites.

Either way, if you have paid for a termite treatment system, review your contract. It should state how often inspections will be performed and what the company's liablity is if the termites return. Odds are good it will say they only do a visual inspection can cannot guarantee against termite infestation. Even if it does cover damage, there will be a cap to the amount recieved. Unless you carry a rider, your home owner's will insurance will not cover termite damage, either. Having an architect review this damage will allow them to generate a report so the termite company will have documentation of the damage, and can reach a settlement with you (if covered).

So your first step is to get the termites located, and see if your current termite treatment people will treat (and hopefully cover) the existing termites. You need to hire a Licensed Architect to inspect the termite damage (the archtiect may recommend an engineer's review, or use one from their own team). There is no sense correcting work if you have structural damage.

Next you need to address the moisture. The problems will just get worse or return if you don't get your building dried out.

From there, you need to address the items incorrectly done by the contractor. By working with your bank, insurance company and architect, you hopefully will be able to get most of the items addressed.

In the future hiring a 3rd party to review the work, oversee the performance and provide budget and material options like an architect will do, will help prevent situations like the one you have found yourself in.

The cost of an architect is typically between 6% and 10% of the total project cost. It depends on the amount of work and services you request. For a review of the work, you will probably look at a flat rate which will allow for a few hours to inspect and a few hours to write the report. Architects charge between $60 and $180 per hour, depending on the service provided. Since architects can be held legally liable for any report, drawing or recommendation, their hourly rates are higher than other design professionals. An engineer will charge typically around $100 to $200 an hour to inspect, research the loads or requirements and write a report. They will also typically do a flat rate for a simple inspection with a report. Both can be hired out at an hourly rate, with a minimum number of required hours. (Each visit, for example, you will pay for 2 hours minimum no matter how long they are actually there. This can be negotiated.). These rates do not include charges for incidentals like copies, filing, mailing, etc.

The cost of the architect is often returned in peace of mind, not to mention cost saving and design improvement suggestions. They also ensure the quality of the work and that the work is performed legally (permitted).

Best of luck on your project.

Source: http://www.herlonginc.com

Answered 7 years ago by Kenny Johnson

0
Votes

Kenny Johnson gave you a really nice synopsis of your situation and solution.

Just a couple of amplifications/additions:

1) as he said, you have a moisture problem - termites like moist wood to live in, especially ground as opposed to flying/dry wood ones, so that is aggravating your situation. Also, in an old farmhouse, it is likely they have build extensive nests in the ground under the house, as evidenced by continuing infestation - you need a serious nest detection and poisoning solution IN ADDITION to the building treatment, and an on-going barrier treatment afterword to keep them out.

2) Most of what you describe sounds like architectural rather than structural/foundation issues, so like he said, you need an architect to do a written, photographic report on the conditions, and prepare a cost estimate for repairing the defective work. He can call in a structural if needed to supplement his report. I would expect a minimum of $500 for this, and likely more like $1000-2000 for a photo-documented inspection and estimate, but you need that as proof of the "damages" - your insurance company may or may not cover the cost, depending, so check with them first.

3) the drywall issue is interesting - I have not heard of termites eating through drywall either, though silverfish and earwigs love damp drywall paper - maybe that is what you are seeing ?

4) one thing Kenny did NOT address, which is critical - PLEASE say the contractor was bonded ? If so, you need to get with the insurance company and an attorney (who your homeowners insurance company may provide for you) to start a claim against the bond ASAP. If this is the type of work this contractor does, IF he was bonded it is likely there will be other claims coming against it, so you need to get your claim filed so it has priority, and before the bonding company pulls his bond coverage. An attoreny can also advise you if you can file a claim against HIS insurance company, particularly if he has Inland Marine coverage (general company business operations liability coverage).

5) I hate to say it, but yours sound like a typical scream for help in the night - too little, too late - for a major rehab you should have had an architect on board, and surely you saw some of these problems during the work - you should have scremed STOP as soon as you say shoddy workmanship, not let it go the entire job. I presume you have already paid him - if not, stop any payments in process, as well as notifying the loan company.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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