Morningside Renovation

Our Journey Through The Renovation Process Of Our Future "Forever Home" In Morningside (Atlanta,GA)


Not Throwing in the Towel – Just Yet

As for our little project, if you’re a glass half-full type then you could say that we’ve made a wee amount of progress. Wee as in tiny, small, minuscule,slight, etc… But, at least we’re moving forward.

Interesting last several days which I’ll try to recount: first I received an interesting call from two past clients of our former GC.  One just wanted to compare notes as to the various issues which they’ve uncovered as well as their past experiences with him while the other wanted to get my opinion on our experience with him and if we would consider using him again.  Pretty easy guess as to my answer – I really can’t believe that he’s still out there marketing himself, hopefully through various efforts that we’ll be short-lived.  

Now, on to that which is positive.  As you may know I’ve tried to divorce myself from this house and our dream quite a few times and while I’ve come so very close numerous times, presently I just can’t find the strength (sense) to do it.  So even though there is a significant financial gap as to what we’ve budgeted and what it will now take to complete the task, I’m determined to make it happen.  How? I’m not totally sure, but I have faith that somehow we can get it done without sacrificing quality of finishes or our initial plan (maybe there’s a little touch of insanity). We have a couple of highly competent GC’s that we’re deciding between which have thankfully offered to assist us in various ways, however I still have a fairly large hill to climb.  No doubt that it’s going to take more than a team effort so please feel free to offer any advice, tips, suggestions, etc…but Please- only positive talk.  I know 99.9% of the population would have abandoned this “dream” weeks ago but it’s something that I just can’t let go of, at least not yet.

First step, the architect which was hired by our GC contacted my wife and offered to assist in any way possible.  He had heard about all that had transpired and volunteered to do whatever he could to make it right and assist in any possible way.  His first task, re-draw our roofing plan. We’ve been told by numerous contractors that our current roofing plan was a little extreme, basically it required over double the amount of materials as to what a similar home with a comparable square footage would require.  His second task is to confirm all of his past measurements as we’ve had questions arise as to the inaccuracies of them, not sure if this will reduce the overall costs but hopefully it will help to eliminate some of the future surprises. Last, review and look for inefficiencies and ways we can achieve our overall goal that could also reduce the construction costs, not expecting much with regards to the last request.

Truthfully, after discovering that a few of our past issues were created due to the architect’s inaccuracies I haven’t been his biggest fan but almost everybody deserves a second chance.  We gave our former GC 3 to 4 “second chances” so Julie talked me into granting the architect a second one.  We shall see but I’m not really sure how it can hurt.  We need to utilize every resource possible so hopefully this will prove fruitful.

Second Step…hopefully coming soon


We Need You to Speed it up a Little GC

Due to both slabs being poured incorrectly we have had to get our Structural Engineer to design a new framing as well as roofing plan, versus “figuring it out in the field (extra cost to us).  It looks good but it’s going to require the GC to cut, excavate and pour new footings.  We have asked and are trying to get our GC to have this accomplished before the end of the week since our Structural Engineer is going out-of-town for several days.

Let’s put our Heads Together

Since our GC didn’t dig the basement deep enough we have had to go with an alternative for our joist system/floor system to get us closer to the originally planned ceiling height throughout the basement.  Being such there is a lot of nice joist material sitting on our property which we’ve been told will be trashed.  I hate that, seems like such a waste.  So, I asked our GC, Architect and Structural Engineer to see if they can find a way to utilize that material somewhere.  I’m hoping that they’ll find a way to use them, seems as if it would be a win – win for everyone.  We’ll see.

The Punches Keep Coming

After inspecting our new slab the Structural Engineer we hired feels pretty confident that the slab doesn’t have the necessary grade beams which were in the plans.  How is this missed? My opinion, lack of supervision and possibly cutting corners.  Question, what is to support the fireplace on the above floor?  I think I know the answer, nothing.  Glad that I caught it now instead of 5-10 years from now.  And… the recently RE-POURED walls for the carport, well they’re actually foundation walls and not retaining walls.  Meaning that our Structural Engineer will need to redesign our carport/deck plan – thanks Mr. Architect, great job.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, the walls aren’t deep enough which means that we will need to redesign the plan since our GC has stated that he won’t dig it up.  Totally doesn’t make sense with his stance, he screwed up so wouldn’t one think that he should replace it.  Please make this stop, please!!!

We Pay For You Being Incompetent? Naw, Not Us!

So today Julie and I met with our GC at San Francisco Coffee Shop to discuss all of the issues going on at the house and how we can resolve them and hopefully move forward.  I prayed a lot before the meeting for the strength of silence and to be reasonable but from the moment he walked in it proved to be difficult.  Forget the fact that he was late and sat down with his arms crossed while leaned back in his chair, it was more of his defensive and aloof disposition while making us feel as if we were crazy and the ones being unreasonable that tried my patience as well as tested my limits. 

The purpose was to discuss and resolve the issue of the basement not being dug deep enough and how could we accomplish what was on the plans, an 8′ finished ceiling in the basement.  He was quick to shift the blame to everybody except him; architect, subs, property, etc… but when I pressed him further it basically came out that he measured/calculated the needed depth incorrectly and never came back to oversee the work of his subs.  While he was quick to pass the buck to everyone but himself, he is supposed to oversee the job, what really ticked me off was when we started discussing the various options that would bring us closer to that which is in the plans.  It was quickly obvious and then blatantly so when he informed us that he was not going to pay for his mistake.  If we wanted what was in the plans as well as discussed numerous times then it didn’t matter if he messed up, it would cost us extra, we would be the ones having to pay the extra money for a new joist system. I’m not sure if it was his arrogance or ignorance as to where his standing originated but after using a fairly elementary analogy we eventually had an agreement.  Basically it was decided that he would pay for the new joist system as well as take the construction through framing and roofing all under the guidance of a structural engineer hired by us.  After all was completed we would evaluate everything and decide at that time whether we would continue to move forward with him, my hope is that we would – probably stupidity, but I still want to believe in this guy. 

What got me was his parting shot, he had the nerve to tell us that we had to use him, that we “had no other option than to stick with him”, that we either would have to stick with him or sell it.  What an arrogant ass.  I thought we were moving forward and possibly starting to move forward despite his attitude but to level such a stark comment was beyond professional.

One other interesting fact from the meeting with our GC, I would think that he has a fairly good idea about our plans.  As we discussed the plans it came out that he had no idea that we were planning on connecting the existing and new basement, even though it is in the plans along with being discussed verbally and in emails numerous times.  He then arrogantly informed us how that couldn’t happen but quickly backed off as I showed him on a napkin that it was achievable.  I guess all of my experience of building a bird house when I was a kid paid off. 

How? How did we, No how did I let this happen?  How did I put us in this position?  I thought that we had done the needed due diligence, we talked with his references but the guilt of putting Julie and myself in this position is unexplainable.  I trusted him, thinking back there were little signs that I should have read, but this experience has become all of the bad you ever hear about dealing with contractors.   Sure, I blame him, but I blame myself. I feel that I’ve tried to except some of the mistakes but this one effects not only the functionality of the house but also the value. 

Sad thing is that he’s correct, we’re trapped.  He knows it and I truly feel that he’s taking advantage of it.

We Have a Problem

We have a problem, after being framed I knew that it would look a little smaller but I decided to measure the room sizes anyway.  Somehow we lost 2′ 6″ from the depth/length of our basement/flex room.  Our downstairs bedroom is smaller and the stub for the plumbing is in the bedroom, not the bathroom.  Just one huge mess.  I sent our GC an email letting him know that it wasn’t acceptable and that we would like to meet with him ASAP.  Also noticed that the carport is smaller than what was noted on the plans.  GC wrote back that “we lost some space from the plans”.  No Shit!!  A lot of space and we’re having to bring it to your attention, I would think that you would have brought this up to us as soon as you discovered there might be an issue.  Were you not going to tell us?  Amazing!!!  His reasoning is that the elevations in the plans are wrong.  Ok, doesn’t make sense to me but I’m willing to listen, plus doesn’t it say on the plans to field verify all measurements and to notify the architect if the existing field conditions are different from what’s on the plan?  We’re meeting him on Saturday and I am beyond pissed.  This portion of the construction is new and we’re not constrained on any side for our footprint – we shouldn’t be that far off, a few inches I understand but 30″, no way!!

Update, just spoke with our architect, he said that our GC never called him with any questions or concerns.  He said that is quite normal for our GC and that he keeps telling him that if something doesn’t make sense to call.