By Mitch Kuffa
Let’s talk about some “HORROR STORIES!” I’ve been wanting to do an article on some of the “horror stories” that our office hears from homeowners concerning their experiences in remodeling or building their homes. Some of these are somewhat humorous while others are tragic, but all should teach you to be careful when you try to fix or build your house.
A person called one day and said that he had a slight problem. He hired a builder to construct his “dream home”, signed a contract and was told that he would be able to take possession in approx. 5 months (a typical amount of time). It was now 19 months later and he still wasn’t in his new home. To add to the misery, he had sold his old house long ago (based on the builder’s construction projection) and was now paying a substantial rent to the buyer, so that he could still live there. HELP! Well, we got him and his family moved in within 30 days, but the problems on the job are still far from over.
A homeowner called and said that he had a problem with his leaky basement. He has been living in this home for over 35 years and never had any water, but suddenly the basement sprung a leak. He called an “experienced” basement repair company, entered into a $7,000.00 contract to repair leak area, they expeditiously finished the job, he paid them $5,600.00 and was ready to cut the last check for $1,400.00 when the basement started leaking in the same spot. HELP! His problem was THE ROOFER who recently replaced his roof and also installed a new gutter and downspout system. This contractor decided to relocate one of the downspouts and discharged it into a brick flower box on the front of the building. The water collected in this area and was not allowed to escape and leaked into the basement. A simple downspout extension (which would cost about $13.00) would have redirected the water and prevented the basement from leaking.
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Then there was a time that a friend of mine asked me if I knew someone that could put new gutters and downspouts on his older 1 story house. I called a sub-contractor that I knew, who said that he was very busy, but as a favor to me would send someone out to this house to do the work. His worker was standing on an 8’ ladder, fell off, broke his neck and died. How very, very, sad. And talk about lawsuits and insurance claims. I got sued, the homeowner got sued, the sub-contractor got sued, the ladder company got sued and the landscape company (who recently tilled and “fluffed up” the flower beds) got sued.
Crawl spaces bring to mind many funny or odd occurrences. There was the time that I was inspecting a “Michigan basement” under an old funeral parlor, after hours, and heard this noise behind me. I turned the flashlight in that direction and saw these eyes reflecting back at me. I was so startled, that I dropped my flashlight and was now in the dark. When I recovered it and turned it to the same area I saw the same reflected eyes which now blinked at me. After a little more investigation, I found that it was a raccoon.
Another crawl space had this relatively large, pleasant smelling pond of reflective blue water at the center which I found out later was from the blue toilet bowl chemical installed above. The sanitary pipe was profusely leaking into this area and no one had detected it in the past.
Finally, I entered this one crawl at the same time that two questionable plumbers were re-installing a hot water tank on the first floor. As I crawled around, water was dripping and running everywhere from their repair. The area was dark and I bumped into something hanging down which I instinctively pushed away. I then turned my flashlight towards the item that I pushed and found it to be an opened 220 electrical box dangling in the water that I was sitting in. Without getting into more detail, I was lucky to gently back out of there without being seriously hurt or killed. In summation, these stories are only a few of many. Be careful, hire professionals and use your head.
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Mitchell J. Kuffa Jr. has been in the construction industry since 1967. In that time, he has worked as a construction superintendent, general superintendent, and construction manager for several large developers in the state of Michigan.
He has been a licensed Michigan residential builder since 1977, was an incorporated general contractor for 11 years and has built and/or run the construction of approx. 3,500 residential houses, apartments, commercial structures and/or light industrial buildings.
In 1981 he started the first private home inspection agency in Michigan and to date has personally performed approx. 16,000 inspections for a fee.
Since 1981, Mr. Kuffa inspects properties and acts as a construction consultant for the Michigan Department of Mental Health (group homes), UAW Legal Services, numerous lenders, several non-profit organizations and for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Kuffa is a federal housing fee inspector and FHA 203K mortgage loan consultant, works with several attorney’s as an “expert witness”, has been appointed by the Michigan circuit court system to act as a Receiver in several cases concerning construction litigation and teaches a series of construction classes (for misc. school districts, community colleges, Michigan State Housing Authority, etc.).
Mr. Kuffa has been a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors, in good standing, since 1983.