Monday, September 28, 2009

NOT Recommended: Around the Home Handyman Services

Company: Around the Home Handyman - Norm (Norman) Richter - NOT RECOMMENDED

This company is NOT Recommended. Here is a link to their BBB listing. Note that the Around the Home BBB rating is not an "A" as noted on other sites.

(something I don't usually do here is comment on individual businesses or go on non-technical tirades. This is an exception to the rule - so if you're looking for tech comments, please ignore).

On a personal note, I can appreciate people can't work for free these days. It's tough - but any company who offers a one-year guarantee for their work should not be charging for problems with existing work (new work, yes - but work that they originally did? Absolutely not).

We have used Around the Home handyman services, owned by Norm Richter (also listed as Norman Richter) for two separate pieces of work: roofing and flooring. The roofing job was done extremely well and on budget. After the flooring work, we will never use them again.

The flooring job was a mixed bag. We were originally quoted about $1600 for a kitchen and mudroom renovation. Since we were paying by the hour, it was expected to go higher. The final tally was over $3000. Originally expected to take 3-4 days, it was over a week. Time was ADDED to the bill that was never received until we forced the issue as noted below.

The initial tiling looked great - but had some problems that were evident 3 days after the job was completed. This is where the problems began.

There was a crack in one of the tiles and several holes in grout around the floor. The biggest problem however is the supposed one year guarantee. FOUR months after we initially called and reported the problem, Norm finally came around to fix things, saw and reviewed the problems with the tiles and grout. The next day, they only fixed the tile (and replaced another) but did not correct the grout problems, blaming us. Keep in mind this was FOUR months after we tried to get them to come in.

Subsequent follow-ups was that he couldn't do the work for free (even though it was part of the original work) and that we should have used an insurance company's tilers to fix the grout that was caused by his work. He then subsequently blamed our floor.

I wish they had told us up front that they could NOT do the job properly.

Needless to say, I would NOT recommend them for any flooring work.

16 comments:

  1. As a follow-up on this, we just had someone come in to look at re-grouting the floor and their comment was "oh, so we can regrout 15 year old floors like this"

    Good job...NOT!

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  2. I have also had a bad experience with Norman Richter and Around the Home. Workers were to be on the job at 9 am and rarely were. When challenged on this, I was told "well we always need to get a nail or screw"; this was all on my hourly dime. Workers would show up for half a day and then be gone for 4 days. Work that should have taken 1 day took 1 week. Richter's A rating is now down to a 'B'. It's a well deserved slippery slope.

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  3. Andrew MacNeill's comment comes at a funny time because they had their entire ceramic tile floor replaced following a flood in their home. Instead of having that tile company repair a fault in the structural support for the ceramic floor you ignored it. Following that you called back and asked that the floor be fixed, and group of tiles were replaced. Then you asked for "other" work to be done that wasn't due to structural faults but rather damage from some other cause, wear and tear... etc. We didn't mind doing the warranty work but you abused that privilege. We simply needed to be paid for the extra work.

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  4. Denise's comment's show that she wasn't around most of the time when work was done over many week. The entire rear addition to this home was removed and replaced. Because it had all rotte3d out it was framed with new internal support beams to meet code. We also had to add rim joists, blocking and also add shething and finished with vinyl siding. The exterior was almost 14 feet high. Due to probhlems of personnel going to retrieve materials we have implemented a very detailed time sheet that each personnel must review with the job site supervisor and then once this is done the client is asked to review and initial. In doing, we have been able to
    eliminate misunderstandings and also permit free movement of personnel to go to the washroom or leave the site for materials or even to work on another project if an emergency arise. This way the client ONLY pays for the time each person is on site and nothing more.

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  5. Andrew MacNeil's second comment also supports my first response regarding "problems with structural support" in that area of the kitchen and hallway. The constant movement under the tiles is grinding the grout to the surface.

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  6. 1. We didn't have our entire floor replaced - the only place it was replaced in the area where it flooded. Case in point, there are no cracks or any problems in those areas.

    The areas that continue to have problems are in the areas where the Richter team did their work.

    The first crack was caused by poor workmanship putting in the first tile. When that was pulled up, Norm discovered another problem. Well, guess what? That's not abusing the work - that's fixing what was originally done badly. If there are problems with grout 7 days after the installation, there are obviously problems that were there from day one. You pay for work done certainly. What we certainly didn't expect was that we would have to pay for his work on one area over and over again. A tile would go down - you pay for that time. When the contractor cracks the tile or has to replace it because of their workmanship, you shouldn't have to pay for that time - yet we did (which is how a $1600 quote turned into $3000+)

    The point of hiring a contractor is for them to provide their expertise. As I have learned since this experience, there are ways to deal with shifting and older floors. What is the point of saying you can do work of this nature when you can't and then blame the environment for it?

    Contracting is always a case of once bitten, twice shy. I can only come away from dealing with Norm with two strong bits of advice:

    1. Get a fixed price or fixed-price ceiling quote. If we had known Norm's work would have cost over $3,000 when he originally quoted $1,600, that would have triggered an alarm. If he couldn't give a quote on sight and wanted to look at more details, there shouldn't be an issue to pay for an "estimate" (although many company's don't).

    2. A guarantee, like a contract, is only worth the paper it's written on. Without a written guarantee, you're left with a contractor's excuses and that's what we were left with when dealing with Norm Richter. As you can see from the comments above, the excuses keep flowing.

    We're now looking at re-doing the entire floor all over again because of the cracks. Keep in mind that this was work done just two years ago.

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  7. This situation has been exaggerated beyond all common sense. If this client had been sober even once, when we did work at their home they would have observed that the "only" spot where their had been problems is "where" the support is the "poorest" under the support floor. The types of beams he still has in his house are being "replaced" by neighbours, who have similiar models and are observant enough to see the obvious defects.

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  8. "sober even once"?

    That's a new low for you, Norm Richter. We went out of our way to be good to you, feeding you and Jerry, letting things slide with coming in late or not showing up. Your workmanship and integrity speaks for itself, especially with your comments.

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