HABITAT

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Renovations preformed by superMar 14, 2017

I needed some work done in my apt. Rather than get an outside contractor I used the services of the building super. The managing agent gave the OK and no board approval was necessary. Other people in the building have used him without incident. But he does not like me because I yelled at his kids about 5 years ago and he was not our super at the time. I did not mind the skate boards or basketball on the concrete patio below my window because kids need activities and the neighborhood is dicey. But when the youngest one started having screaming meltdowns every 15 minutes I blasted them. He has held a grudge ever since and made it very clear when he took on the job. It looks like he did it for spite. He created a larger than necessary hole to do the plumbing work. When he finished he told me I had to plaster it up. But when he does work for other people in the building he has his underlings plaster it up. I remained silent because I knew this was done intentionally. When he returned and saw that I had not done the plaster work he questioned me about it. I told him that I would rather have a trap door to access the plumbing since it is so old and the building is leaking like a geiser not to mention the rust water that made me feel as if I was living in flint Michigan. He did not complete the work although he was paid in full. I called him and asked him when he would return to finish it and he began yelling at me that he was sick. I said ok ok calm down, I hope you feel better soon and then you can come over to finish it. He never came back but he tried to scam me out of $20 for a lock out fee. He told me to slip it under the door when I had cash since he does not take checks. I decided to hold off on the $20 so he would have to come looking for it and then I could get him to complete the work. He never showed up and after speaking with the MA I discovered that there was no lock out fee. I explained that he was not returning to finish the work he had started the MA became quite nasty and unreasonable. He told me it was between the super and myself because I hired him. I don't find this reasonable at all. If the MA gives the super carte blanch to do any type of renovation they should make sure he is competent to do the work. The MA also stated that the work was done during his private time. This is not the case it was a weekday during regular working hours which he was being paid for. Finally the MA told me that my kitchen was a non reality and he would discuss it with me when it became a reality. It was Friday he had plans good-bye. I hired another contractor on Saturday after getting some prices from him. I told him I did not need an estimate his prices sounded good just come over ready to finish the job. He was appalled at what he saw and had to correct some of the supers work to bring it up to specification. He wanted to know if I was going to sue. I told him I did not want to sue anyone I just wanted the work done. Where does this leave me, I don't want to sue him but I don't appreciate the rip off. The MA claims they have nothing to do with it despite the fact that the OK for him to do the came from him. Is he not insured to do the work? When the MA gives the OK shouldn't they stand behind their employee. I would not have hired him if I was made aware that there was no guarantee.
What is standard protocol and how should I go about rectifying the situation.

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Super renovations - Marty Mar 14, 2017

This situation is complicated. My first thought is that you state in the first sentence that you declined to use an outside contractor. This implies this is a renovation. That would normally require your contractor to have insurance.

Your super did not have insurance, and I don't think the co-op's insurance would cover his work because he did a renovation, which I think is beyond the scope of the co-op's normal insurance coverage - even if the MA gave the okay. The problem is that YOU knew he wasn't a licensed contractor, yet you still agreed to let him do contractor type work.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, only a Board member, so take my opinion for what it is.

My second thought is that you hired a guy who has a grudge against you. This is an accident waiting to happen, and it did. It sounds like you wanted to save a few $$ by using the super, but this super had it in for you. Not a good game plan.

You're now at the point where the work has been corrected by a real contractor. That's the most important thing. It's your home.

As far as suing, I think you might win something, but certainly not everything you want to recoup. I don't believe your case shows a clear cut victory for you because you agreed to let a non-contractor do contractor type work.

That opens up a can of worms because I think a judge will say that knew that before he started the job. Even if the MA said he's qualified, you're the guy that hired him, so I think a judge would hold you accountable for your decision.

Also consider the court costs of suing in a case where you definitely have some liability. Thats a factor, too.

I don't know how much $$ you had to spend in total, but I think this is one of those situations where you should chalk it up to experience and let it go, even if it cost you some money. Life is too short.

The work has now been done correctly. Consider that $$ well spent. In the future, only use a licensed contractor for renovation work, and keep your contact to a minimum with the super. Let him in your apartment to do only the basic necessities. The co-op is responsible for those types of repairs and upkeep.

I might suggest that if the super is coming to your apartment for any needed repairs, you should take a video of the area to be worked on BEFORE the super does his work. Just in case he has any type of ulterior motives to do you wrong. It can't hurt.

Good luck to you, and I'm sorry for your troubles.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)
Super side jobs - MK Mar 16, 2017

I did not hire an outside contractor for several reasons. They tried talking me into things I did no want. I was also told that what I wanted done was impossible. I did all the work myself and I will be 60 this August. It consisted of all new appliances and I needed plumbing work because I was installing a dish washer. I removed 2 layers of tile the glue was so thick it was like playing with mud pies. I leveled some dips in the floor with wood filler rather than the carcinogenic self leveling compound that a contractor recommend. I removed old cabinet doors and sanded an painted them. I purchased an unfinished cabinet so I could paint it to match. I removed the draw and turned it into a sink front tray, and cut out a section of the back for plumbing. All I need from him was plumbing and to cut my butcher block countertop. The MA gave the go ahead for him to do the plumbing. If they can not stand behind their employee them they should not recommend him. I had no idea he was uninsured in fact maybe he is insured. Why would a MA allow an unlicensed individual do this work. It sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. I am the victim and I find his behavior unacceptable and in fact criminal. Contractors who walk off the job and rip people off are criminals and that is a fact. I am the victim and you are in effect "blaming the victim". It is not all about the money and saving a buck either. Several years ago I paid a contractor for a complete rip out of my bathroom it cost 10 thousand and it looks great. I could have hired the super for that job ( a different one who was fired) he wanted the job but when I discussed it with him he did not seem to know what he was doing. I could have "saved money" if I hired him, but I did not. All I needed was a little help with plumbing something I don't do and don't want to do. For any MA or board to allow an employee to continuously do side jobs and recommend them for these jobs without any guarantee is ludicrous. The MA and board are fiduciaries. Allowing an employee to do this is a complete failure in this regard. He did it during regular business hours and it appears to me that they are working on his behalf instead of mine. Also offering him this side job was that same as offering him a fig leaf, he took it snapped it in half and threw it in my face. Excusing this behavior because he has a grudge REALLY! I am sorry to say that I completely disagree with your point of view, but you are entitled to your opinion. So I guess we can just agree to disagree. Yet I do appreciate that you took the time to give it consideration and provide a response
Thank You

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Renovations by Super - Steven424 Mar 17, 2017

First lets get a few legalities out of the way, even though I am not a lawyer. Only board members are considered fiduciaries and they owe their fiduciary responsibility to the co-op corporation. The MA is an agent of the corporation and the board is responsible for their actions. If you have a beef with the MA you need to address it to the board. Same with the super. He is an employee of the corporation. Any problems need to be taken up with the board.

You may have received a recommendation from the MA and they may have approved your alteration (dumb without an alteration review or any form of pre-alteration oversight), but you contracted privately with the super. The MA had no involvement at all in the transaction. It is your responsibility to sufficiently vette the super or any contractor who performs work for you.

In your original message you said that the super had performed satisfactory work for other shareholders. As far as the MA was concerned, there were no red flags that would prevent them from making the recommendation. If the MA were to assume any liability with regard to the super's performance, it should have been stated very clearly up front, and they would need to be compensated for taking on the risk. It doesn't sound like you had any agreement or guarantee in effect with the MA.

The fact that you tried to make amends by offering the super a paying job is admirable, and it's a shame that he didn't reciprocate. No one is excusing the super's behavior, but it sounds like you and he were flying at different altitudes. Did you say to the super anything to the effect that you realize there was bad blood between you in the past, but that you wanted to end the animosity, and would he be willing to accept a paying job from you. Did you give him any indication that the job was a de facto peace offering? Invite him in for a cold brew while the two of you discussed what you wanted him to do? If not, what lead you to believe the super had any idea about what you were thinking?

Hopefully you will remember this episode the next time you need work done in your apartment. Not all contractors are scam artists, most are on the very up and up. You will need to perform you due diligence by reading reviews and performance rating websites to learn about others' experience with perspective contractors. The red flags will appear pretty quickly.

Best of luck with future renovations.

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Wouldn't it be prudent to end this practice? - MK Mar 23, 2017

No I did not invite him for a brew. I hired him to do a job. I treated him with dignity and respect. In return he was malicious. There is no excuse for his behavior. It is just that simple. Any other questions regarding what I may have done to make amends is irrelevant.
More to the point is why does the board and MA allow it. If he is not vetted to do the work wouldn't it be prudent to warn potential customers. Or better yet enforce co-op policy. But that is the dysfunction of co-ops. I feel like Alice in wonderland. Instead of pointing a finger at me and coming up with all the things I could have, should have, and would have done. I suggest you look at the situation in its entirety. Then come up with a could have, should have, would have list for the super, the MA, and the board.

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Renovations by Super - Steven424 Mar 15, 2017

I want to reinforce everything that Marty wrote. His answer is well stated and spot on. You are fortunate that this did not escalate into something more serious and that your apartment is back together.

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