Mexican siding crew

We had the privilege to watch a Mexican siding crew side and install 5 new windows into a split-level house right across the street from our job; they had 11 men the first day 9 the 2nd day.

One of the dumbest things we saw was a man hung over the gable end of the garage to remove the fascia, soffit, and as much siding as he could reach he was not tie off at all.
Another thing we saw was a man removing siding with an extension ladder as though the ladder was a crew bar, just under the man on the roof.
If either of the 2 men would got hurt, would they have insurance to take care of the medical bills or would they sue the owner of the property. Granted the general contractor had insurance, but did he or the homeowner check to see if the subcontractor had workers comp. Or even liability insurance. If something happened the homeowner is responsible not the contractor.
Ohsa law requires safety first.

1.Some of the law that were violated were working below an other worker you must wear a hard hat (safety helmet)
2. About 8’ off the ground you must be wearing fall protection.
3. Scaffolding must have a walkway not less than 19” wide they were using 12” planks
4. It is illegal to use the step ladders as they did, you must open the ladder up and make sure all four feet are secure before standing on it also you are not allowed to stand on the top platform this is not a step.

They had about 200-220 hours on siding and replacing the windows on a house that had 3000. Square foot of siding or 1100 SF split entry house. It was impressive to watch but looking back at the man hours I was horrified to see so many hours we had on 43 hours for siding 1/2 the house across the street and 1 sliding door replacement. We were working on a 1200 SF hour and replaced 30’ of gutters in this time frame. While the Mexicans are sending out another crew to put the gutters on after the house is sided. Looking back what a lot of wasted time they could have done the whole job in 2 days with 5 guys.

Be informed about the services you hire

I was approached by another contractor asking me to give them a price on larger home in Minnesota. They wanted a ballpark price in 1 1/2 hours. They had worked weeks on the biding of this house and were still edgy about the final price. From what they showed me 2 different sets prints that were designed by an architect. The plans were poorly drawn as well as the traffic flow and design aspect of the print. In the details of the prints there is to be a cross elevation of different location of house to understand how the house is to be built. These pages were missing about 80% of the information. Leaving it up to the lumberyard as to the design of the building. Or in other words the architect drew a nice picture. The builder has to draw his own conclusions with no supporting data has to loads and wind resistance of the building. Back to the contractor, he has hundreds of sheets of papers from a bunch of sub contractors, with prices all over the board for the same job to being done. The lumberyard alone has had the print of the house for a month, and final estimate of the lumber bid is still a lure. Information from the contractor to the sub’s was sketchy at best. The contractor had photo’s of ideas what the owner’s wanted but wasn’t following the design of the photo’s. This whole project is doomed for hurt feelings as well as the contractor will leave the job with a bad reputation.

Exhaust fan problems I presume?

My heating contract was called into a house that was about 8 years old. The homeowner had a unique problem. In the master bedroom was located on the 2nd floor the toilet bowl was frozen and the bathroom temperature was 70°. The contractor though at first this was a joke. The owner insisted that he wanted the problem fixed. With a little bit of looking around the contractor saw the bath fan right above the toilet bowl. But the real problem was in the attic the exhaust vent from the exhaust fan was not insulated. With the out side temperature of –20F below. What happened the air inside the exhaust pipe being cold (and cold air is heaver than warm air) dropped from the ceiling fan and fell into the toilet because the husband left the toilet lid up the night before, Allowing the cold air to collect in the toilet bowl and actually freeze the water.

Another job site the homeowner had a new roof put on 6 months earlier and had the attic reinsulated. The first cold morning about –15 below 0 with a hot shower the ceiling fan started dripping water. So he called out the roofer to fix the problem, it was not the roofing but instead the exhaust fan piping again was not insulated. While the high humidity was being blown out and the metal piping was below 0 the humidity was condensing rapidly on the piping, then run back into the ceiling fan, through the vent louvers and end up dripping to the floor.
You have to insulate the entire exhaust vent to the exhaust point.

Foundation Walls Failing

There are a lot of basement foundation walls failing. Presently a whole lot of poor quality fixes. Some of which take up a lot of square footage of your basement to hold up the foundation wall, but don’t address all the problems.

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These foundation walls were built good but they were not designed for your soil type and/or hydrostatic pressure of your lot.

In the 2nd picture it shows that wall is buckling inward, with a closer look a the picture we see 3 problems.

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1. The ground is almost level with the top of block wall. This creates other problems that we will talk about on another post.

2. The yard next to the house is flat- when it rains where will the run off go?
If the soil you have is poor or unsatifactory; silty clays, organics, or peat,etc. these types of soil make great lakes, they don’t drain, they pond. Because there is no place for the rain water to go then it seeks the next available spot -loose soil. This type of soil has a lot of voids or air pockets. Every house that has frost footings and /or a basement has loose soil from 2′ and up to 8′ away from the house. The rain water runs into the soft soil and around the foundation of building. This inturn compounds the problem pushing hydrostatic pressure on the foundation walls.
3. Remember the wall has a horizontal crack it now lets water into the house

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1. Remove the dirt next to the house
2. Push the block wall straight
3. Install 3/4″ Rebar in block and fill the block with concrete
4. Install a drain tile system
5. Water proof the wall with Black dog Waterproofing system
6. Put a Geo grid system to keep the dirt from mixing into the rock
7. Install any size rock from 3/8″ up 1 1/2″.

Money and a fool is one big party.

Choosing a contractor according to the lowest price, is like a fox guarding the hen house. Having a poorly designed plan by an architect or even a draftsman only increases tensions and creating an adversarial relationship between the owner and the builder.

O the builder will do their “part” in the construction of the project, but won’t care that the project does/doesn’t get done time, or care to make the job flow for subcontractors on the job.

Remember this type of builder is already looking for another job, and yours is not even under way, it’s like a notch in his belt that he landed your job.

This type of builder doesn’t care the whys, where’s, who’s, when and/or for what purpose this project is even being done, he doesn’t have your vision or feel as to what you want to achieve.

Think about who you are aliening yourself with the relationship you start up now shall be set forth into the future for 10+ years.

You don’t know the building industry that is why you hired a contractor.

If you only pay the minimum remember that is all he himself has always done the minimum of studying in the industry and his work will show it.

Blunder-Trimming

In 1979 we were hired to frame a 2000 SF rambler with a 3car garage. The homeowner was acting as the general contractor.
The owner was going to trim and paint the house.

We were invited to look at the house after he was finished. We were witness to a homeowners trimming ability, he cut and installed all the casings on the windows and doors, all these joints were open by 1/8-3/16” but the worst was the base boards at the inside corner joints had gapes from a 1/4” to 1/2”.

The double front entry door was stained and varnished, but the varnished cracked (the finish coat was reacting to the lower coat) up on him, all he did was put another coat of varnish over the doors.

When he brought us through the house pointing out how great a job he did on trimming and painting.

If the house was to be put on the market all the base and casing would have to be redone.

Blunders-wet basement

I was called to a house in the summer of 2003; the homeowners built the house.
They called with a problem of water in their basement. When I got there, they had a new swimming pool in the basement. The county required a perk test done the property.

This was to tell which type of sewer system is required.

  • In ground standard.
  • Mound system.
  • On this lot because of high level of ground water a mound system was required.

    When it was time to build about 3 months later being a dry summer they dug 3 1/2 feet below the drain field system, to set the footings.

    The next 2 years were dry. But the spring of 2003 was a couple of wet months above average rainfall that spring and they had 3′ of standing water in their basement.

    Saved about $20,000.00 on construction fees, and lost about 26’x 42′ area in a lower level or lost about $54,600.00 resell value.

    Saved about $20,000.00 on construction fees, and lost about 26’x 42′ area in a lower level or lost about $54,600.00 resell value.