When taking on such a grand project as building your home, you have to have a blend of good research, applied knowledge and a heavy dose of blind fate. No matter how well organized you are or how much detailed planning you have put into your project, there are always unforeseen variables that will challenge you. That short gap between creating a project and realizing it is a metaphoric descent into darkness. The un-known road ahead presents itself like a dark plain waiting to be crossed as you search for the light of clarity and possibility. What we don’t realize is that often it’s the people you have involved in your project who are the light bearers. This is why the best price isn’t always the best option, it’s equally important to meet people face to face to get a feel of how they are as individuals.
We took the time to meet each member of our team and for the most part, we were quite happy. We chose smaller businesses and local entrepreneurs with lots of experience and good references. They had to be on board with our vision, which included working along side us rather than just FOR us. Cooperation was a must and if this posed a problem or if we were considered to be ‘ in the way ‘ then our relationship simply wouldn’t have worked. Honesty was another key attribute, and another reason to meet people face to face rather than just sealing the deal over the phone. Especially when discussing costs and project details, it’s easier to weed out those with dishonest intentions. If they can’t look you in the eye or if they overhesitate when confirming final details, it’s safe to say that you’ll be picturing them holding up a big red flag later on. Yet, saying all this, the age-old expression of trusting your gut takes precedence over everything else. This is where we made the mistake with our excavator. After shopping around for over a month, it was hard to find any body within our budget. The cost between Excavators in Megantic versus Magog / Orford was incredibly much higher, in fact, most were asking almost triple of what we had been quoted at our previous residence. This definitely swayed our judgement. When our potential excavator fulfilled our requirements and agreed to all our terms he seemed like the right choice. However, when meeting him face to face, my gut had told me otherwise. He was a little too accommodating in retrospect and that would later be the thorn in our side. He turned out to be very opinionated and pushed for his own connections to work on our home. It got to the point where we had to confirm with him if he would actually ‘work’ with the rest of our team. He assured us that it wasn’t a problem yet his actions spoke otherwise.
Looking back, I can’t understand why we didn’t get rid of the guy early on. We had done away with our original electrician who started raising their quote the moment he set foot on our site. The most memorable moment being when the electrician, literally stepped out of his truck and told us that we would need to install a telephone pole for $1200. We later purchased a reclaimed one for a mere $300. This paled in comparison however as the excavator began shaking the boat on day one, when his team had come to dig out the land for the foundation. He sent a couple of rude, uncooperative goons who acted as if they had no clue what they were there for. The drama continued when our foundation company arrived on site to over see the excavation. Our excavator made a brief appearance, simply to voice his negative opinion and to confuse the matter further giving quick, poorly thought out instruction on how the hole should be dug in respect to the foundation footing. After a quick exchange of words beside his pick up , he rushed to leave the site. It became obvious that he had no intention of cooperating with the foundation company we had chosen. He called them difficult and claimed they lacked experience. Little did he know that they were one of the most reputable companies in the region with over 25 years of experience. Once he sped off down our street like a bat out of hell, it was Jean-Marc Gaudreau, the owner of Coffrage Estrie, who took the reigns. Seeing our frustration and inexperience working with excavation he felt the need to step in to set things straight. We will forever be thankful for this moment, it was the turning point and a harsh realization that we had to be tougher and stand by our positions as contractors to our project. The excavator’s team was quick to fall in line behind his instruction and soon we had the proper dimensions cut for our foundation. Inter-Estrie stood behind their good name and were fantastic to work with. They were transparent, honest and were easy to get along with. We were very pleased with their work ethic.
Our excavator however, had us over a barrel and we stayed with him to the end. Once again, I look back and wish that we had been a little more brave and had thrown caution to the wind with this snake like individual. In the end he over charged us $15000 which we later contested, installed a pump to our septic system that he had originally told us we didn’t need for $5000 more, and inadequately compacted the sand in the interior of our foundation that we made him redo. He even tried to charge us for the second compaction! It’s amazing how one man’s dishonesty could cast a shadow over our project. To this day I will always harbour feelings of animosity towards this individual. Yet, the power of light can always shine through the darkness as the rest of our team shared their brilliance, which offset the challenges keeping us feeling positive and content. We were blessed to have met people, some of which we consider friends today, that came to our aid and helped us build the house of our dreams.