Over, but not done

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Our view for the next few days.

We made it through. Four gruesome days of arbitration with the builder of our beach house. It was simply, AWFUL. So many lies and accusations flying around the room, my head was spinning. During their testimony, the other side, both the former owner (contractor on our job) and new owner (foreman on our job) were caught in numerous untruths and yet in the end, the three arbitrators asked questions of our attorney that did not imply that things are going our way.

I lost it Friday morning during the cross of our designer. The other side’s attorney was verbally abusing him and throwing little tantrums if the answers didn’t suit him (he’s such an asshole), and yet the arbitrators just let him go on. I mean after our attorney objected, they sort of told him to simmer down, but not in a convincing way. The questioning actually affected me so much I started crying. A recess was called, and I just could not stop bawling. When we returned to the room, I was still not so silently sobbing. I couldn’t control myself, but I also didn’t want to miss out on testimony as I was next up. It was simply physically, psychologically, and emotionally traumatizing. I had chronic back pain all week that felt like someone was stabbing me in the upper left hand side of my back. I also had a stress headache that wouldn’t go away, not even after dosing myself with multiple types of pain relief. I don’t often get headaches that aren’t sinus related (which I get a lot and am totally used to). This one even hurt when I moved my eyeballs from side to side.

In hindsight, I think the crying was a bit of PTSD because my father is an abusive bully and I think this attorney reminded me of my father. It took a while for me to calm down. The stress of the whole situation is overwhelming and it hurt for me to see our designer and friend being verbally attacked. They are basically saying that our architect and designer had our permission to authorize all the overages on our house, which he didn’t. And even if somehow they misconstrued lack of authorization on our part, the facts showed that the contractor didn’t get any bids, didn’t build our house on time or on budget, and there were no paper change orders. The other side is arguing there were implicit verbal change orders from our architect/designer that authorized them to spend whatever it took to build that house. They actually blame all of their own negligence on our designer.

My testimony was short and sweet. Our attorney was affected by my break down. He let me talk about my house and he asked some questions about the process and about the fact that we never authorized anyone to go over budget except in two areas. Our architect had chosen the roofing and in an email asked me if I was willing to pay for an extended (lifetime) warranty on the roof. It was a $750 up charge. I said yes, of course and he promised he would do everything to stay on budget. He came in UNDER budget on the roof. Also, when I found out the loft area (what we lovingly called my painting studio) would have real stairs and be a real room (versus a storage/furnace room), I asked for wide plank hardwood floors. The rest of the house has heated concrete. It was an upgrade, but at that time I assumed it would be covered in the 6% contingency line. I had no idea the construction contractor had eaten up most of the contingency in the first three months of construction, on the foundation. The asshole attorney on the other side didn’t really do a cross of my testimony. He asked me two simple questions and stated he was done with me. I’m sure he didn’t want me to burst into tears and for him to look like the misogynist bully he is.

From the beginning it was very clear to everyone because we told them dozens and dozens of times that we didn’t have any money to build that house that wasn’t included in the construction financing budget (created by the construction contractor) that was provided to the bank for interim construction financing. We had already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the land plus all the architect fees + permits + geotechnical + interior design fees +++. We never wavered from that position.

When Blue Eyes first found out that the construction contractor had gone “way over” on the foundation, he called a meeting with the contractor, the designer, and the foreman. He rang his meditation bell and asked for everyone to remember that this house was to be a sanctuary for us and they were a team working for the sole purpose of building that house on budget and on time. This was months after foundation had commenced, but also months and months before the house would be complete. Neither of those things happened and our house was actually mostly finished (as it was never completely finished by the contractor, there was no final walk through, critical items were left unaddressed, the foreman stopped work for non-payment long before we received the final invoice) about seven months post contracted completion requirement. This cost us thousands of dollars in penalties from the bank. At the same time, it became obvious that things that were originally in the construction budget would no longer be covered, so those things would now need to be paid in cash, by us, like landscaping and window coverings. When the contractor abandoned our house, the yard was a mud bog. There was still a port-a-potty and building debris in the front yard. We also needed to furnish the house and get in the window coverings to cover those monstrous windows, then we received the $450,000++ bill from the construction contractor.

The other side is arguing that we agreed to pay the overages because we never told the contractor to shut down the project for overages. We didn’t know about the overages until it was far too late to try and draw any more money from the construction loan. Our forensic accounting expert witness testified that invoices were being held back from the construction loan draw requests. She testified that during the draw process, there was really no way we could have known how far over budget the contractor was… and yet, one of the last questions by one of the arbitrators was… “there seems to be some discrepancy from both sides on how much the home owners actually owe to the construction contractor. I would like an accurate number on what is owed.”

WTF? How about me don’t owe that idiot anything. The arbitrator was asking about that final invoice because during this arbitration process both experts found items that were double-billed. Not a lot, but some. The contractor also charged his 15% on soft costs that were drawn (i.e., not his costs). Although it was probably oversight, it sure sounds like theft to me.

The more I write and talk about this situation, the more obvious it is to me that our contractor was negligent, from beginning to end. No bids, no oversight, no accountability, hidden invoices, significantly behind on construction schedule (which they also tried to attribute to our designer), no interest in our house, and he broke his own contract numerous times. We don’t have an answer yet. Final briefs go to the arbitrators on Wednesday, then they have as long as it takes to make their decision.

If there is anything that I have learned in the past six years, it is that life simply isn’t fair. Things don’t always go my way. No matter how competent, honest, and kind I am, I don’t always win, and that is still a hard pill to swallow.

Now, back to paradise.

 

29 thoughts on “Over, but not done

  1. Some people suck. And it sucks even more when we trust them to keep their word and be honorable. I believe in karma and that everyone gets theirs at some point even if we aren’t around to witness it. Still sucks though. Hoping for a ruling in your favor!!!
    Off topic, my sister and I are planning a weekend together. Portland is on our short list. When is a good time to come? Weather, crowds and price are considerations for us. Thinking just before or after peak season. I’ve done some googling but figured a local would know best 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! We just sent off our last notes. The attorneys are writing final briefs today, due tomorrow. I think the arbitrators will take some time to metabolize it all. We have another week in Paradise to relax before heading back to the real world!

      So, if you do end up with Portland as your choice, you must let me know so I can at least meet you and maybe treat you and your sister to dinner? At least? Weather is a big one. You can almost never rely on a certain type of weather in Portland. We’re in a somewhat volatile weather flow and weather is always unpredictable. We seem to have tourists year round these days, but weather usually starts getting dicey about now. We rarely get snow or torrential downpours, but clouds and light rain are common November-April. Of course there are beautiful days/weeks in there as well, but we never know when they will be. People really have to go with the flow in Portland. We truly appreciate sunny weather and the city explodes with bikers/walkers/runners, etc… on nice days. It’s pretty right now with Fall colors especially at our Japanese Garden. The Rose Test Gardens are gorgeous from end of June through Fall. Downtown and Pearl District are fun places to shop/shop for Christmas (we have no sales tax), and far fewer tourists at that time of year. We have amazing food in Portland, year round. They’ve moved a lot of the food trucks (something the city is known for) out of downtown to make way for a Ritz Carlton (very sad), but the carts have just moved to other pods, so they’re still out there, just not all in one place anymore. We have dozens of pods and hundreds of really good food trucks and limitless good restaurant options including vegan. People also come for the coffee, and beer, and outside Portland are dozens and dozens of beautiful wineries, lots of Pinot Noir, that’s our thing. The Oregon coast is a sight to behold, but relatively desolate. We just don’t have a big population up here in the Pacific Northwest. In my opinion the coast is a great year round activity. Prices in general stay relatively stable except hotel prices seem to fluctuate a lot. We have a lot of hotels and more being built, but weekends out of season (Nov-April) should be the least expensive. Prices run high during Rose Festival (end of May/beginning of June) and throughout most of the summer. You wouldn’t need to stay in downtown and depending on what you want to do, a car might be good (unless of course you let me be your chauffeur). Good luck in your search for the perfect sister getaway. Planning can be half the fun! ❤️

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    • Yep, truth is a dying art.

      To those of us who value the truth, cherish it really, it’s depressing. So many self serving people. No more golden rule. It’s no wonder people are always at odds these days.

      It’s sad that BE begged the contractor to adhere to the budget and the contractor promised he would, and now testifies that he was never bound to any budget.

      If this was a case where just my husband was paying the price for someone else’s lack of integrity, it would be a difficult lesson learned. He sees the irony. Unfortunately I am also taking yet another hit. It just seems really unfair at this point. 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry to read this, Kat. There is just nothing good about litigation. It’s hard to say how any case might be decided, so stay positive. It truly is like rolling the dice. I’m glad you are recovering in such a beautiful place!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re hoping for the best, but planning mentally for the worst.

      Right now we’re just enjoying ourselves. Took a beautiful scenic plane ride around Kauai and the Na Pali coastline today. So much gorgeousness!

      The bully attorney’s mother passed away yesterday, so they have asked for an extension. Wanting this to be over already. Adulting is hard! 😘

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      • Oh wow. So attorney is being a bully while mom is dying. Well, his time will come. Smh. What is wrong with some people? Jealous of your trip although we are having beautiful fall weather here in central Ohio!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, he was quoted during arbitration as saying she better not die this week. Next week is okay. And that’s what happened. How convenient that his Mom died on his schedule. Such a jerk!

          I think the weather is good back home too! And I do love autumn, but today is BE’s Birthday and he loves Hawaii. 🌴🍍🥥 We are almost always out of town this time of year. Last year we were on that whirlwind Europe trip and I had bronchial pneumonia, so this is much better! 😁

          Happy Fall!!! 🍁🍂🎃 🧡

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  3. I am so very sorry that you and BE had to deal with this this. Arbitration used to be a godsend, but now it’s just court-lite… just as expensive, just as time consuming, and just as much a roll of the dice as taking a case to trial. And the saddest thing here is that your contractor never would have gone that over-budget unless he felt sure he could get you to pay for it. He screwed you because he felt sure you could afford to be screwed. That bites.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Court-lite is right. Slightly less intimidating as it was in our lawyer’s conference room, but still so stressful because it was personal to us. Everyone else was there for their job, or because of their job, but for us, we had to take 4 days away from our business to potentially be required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars after spending nearly $250k on attorneys. We tried to settle at mediation, but he said no, he wanted the whole thing. I think part of it is he does have wealthy-ish clients, but he should know better. Our house is a fraction of the size of most of the custom houses he built, but nicely designed and right on the ocean. He didn’t have anything like ours in his portfolio (and he still doesn’t). This is the third such suit he’s been in in the past couple years. He lost the others. But records are sealed, so… I think he’s just a bad businessman who lost complete control of this job in particular because he was leaving the biz. I think his attorneys are milking him for every dime, but they’re his buddies, so he can’t see it clearly. I do think they believe they can get money out of us, but damn sure they shouldn’t be able to by law. I’m not convinced, but everyone else is that he actually paid 380k+ (the rest of the bill is his profit markup) in additional invoices on our house. There was so much weirdness in his records… loaning subs money during our job, zero bids, most of his subs are also his buddies. It’s a mess. Still don’t think we’ll come out on top though. This industry seems a bit (or a lot) corrupt. Our house is already over built before these “overages,” so whatever we pay will come out of pocket, ie, our business, which BE busts his ass for every day while this ex-builder is living in a $3m house in So-Cal, getting ready to open a brewery using his last name (same name as on his construction company). I just want it all to go away so we can truly enjoy our sanctuary. 🤦🏻‍♀️❤️

      Liked by 2 people

    • With technology it seems like things are getting much worse. People aren’t people anymore they’re a name on a screen. With this building situation the contractor doesn’t have that excuse. He sat right in front of us and lied. We got fucked, for sure! 😔

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    • Thank you, Paula. We are having a wonderful time. It’s nice having the kid with us. We don’t have to do selfies, lol.

      I’m tired of being mistreated. Really tired. Sometimes I want to climb into a hole somewhere. Find some place where people can’t hurt me anymore. ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      • I understand the TIRED. Literally, figuratively. Re: climb into hole. At least make sure it’s a cool and cozy hole like a Hobbit’s house with comfy areas to rest, a fire, and lots of yummy snacks and tea. 🙂 (p.s. A Hobbit house is one of my “safe spaces” I established in trauma therapy. Love my imaginary Hobbit hole.) Enjoy your trip.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hey beleeme, if you scroll back far enough on my Instagram you will see me and BE in front of our hobbit house, lol! My closet used to be my physical safe place (apparently deep inside my head was the safest). I feel much safer out in the world now than I once did, but there are still days where I don’t want to interface with anyone. 🤗🤗🤗❤️

          Liked by 1 person

          • :::hanging head in shame::: Haven’t gone onto Instagram . I will. Now I have to see your Hobbit house! omg – Sometimes I’ve gone (literally) into my closet, too. Enough room to lie down, stretch, or whatever.

            Horses – are you from NZ? Wow!

            OK. So. I know you two won’t think I’m out of my gourd (or maybe you will – lol). The last time I processed “the” terrible near-death trauma sequence under hypnosis, the therapist asked me to call on a “wise guide” to be there with me. In flew a shimmering black-purple dragon ho took care of business. And also my grandmother. My grandma took me away to FL after the whole ordeal, saying, “This is horse shit!” (And we laughed and drove away with her little camper.) She was the coolest grandmother. Wild and wise.

            Ever since that session – no more flashbacks or nightmares about that incident. I hope it sticks.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Omg, lol. No shame for not looking at my insta photos… there’s 3000+ and “our hobbit house” is the “photo op” house, so it might look familiar. I have a walk-in closet. It was actually the nursery for the original owners, so when it’s clean, there’s plenty of space.

              I do not think there is anything crazy about your wise guides. They sound amazing!!! 🤗🤗🤗

              Liked by 1 person

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