Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products
Volume 44, Issue 8 October 2005
A Dealer's Perspective
Beating a Dead Horse ... to Life
Never - Ending Complaints on Improper Window Maintenance
by R. Mark Reasbeck
My dad was a frequent user of the phrase “beating a dead horse.” I never fully understood what he meant until he showed me that no matter how many times I pulled the rope starter on my go-cart, the engine was fried and it would never start. The horse was dead. This month’s column is kind of like that. I’m going to revisit a never-ending facet of my window business; I wish this horse would stay down.
Time is a Terrible Thing to Waste
Our “new and improved” Nevada law now has a provision for subcontractors to be able to inspect residences before a full-blown construction-defect suit is pursued.
I recently received a 34-page document, with a choreographed schedule to inspect six homes on the hour, starting at 9:00 a.m. Actually the day began at 7:30, when we attended a pep rally with the national builder in front of a subdivision that is now four years old.
It was a gated community, and I noticed that the entrance sign was resting against the entry gate because someone had missed the gate on their approach. Parking was at a premium because the project is known as a “cluster community,” which means 36 dwellings to the acre.
I found a spot, backed in my truck and looked at the car next to me, an ‘82 Caprice with the back door window shattered and tempered glass all over the parking lot. Nice.
There were about 25 of my subcontractor brethren at the 9:00 house, led by Bonnie, the construction-defect attorney’s coordinator.
With a four-week notice, the homeowner still couldn’t keep the appointment. We waited literally an hour to visit the 10:00 home two doors down. Once there, we were asked to remove our shoes or wear “booties” before entering the homes. I approached the entry, looked inside and said my shoes are staying on. The once blue carpet had taken on an iridescent landfill color.
The “boiler plate” lists were basically the same for each house. My window “problem” was a construction procedure reserved for coastline applications. Looking around the two-story house, I noticed water stains on the living room ceiling.
Wow, I thought, this house has some serious roof problems to penetrate all the way through the second floor. Then the A/C guy came running down the stairs laughing and said, “You’ve gotta see this, I’m going for my camera.”
Above the living room was a bedroom. In the bedroom, a 500-gallon aquarium ... leaking. Leaking to the point where someone had tried to pull some carpet out of the closet and patch it.
A defective smoke alarm was also on the list. I’m no electrician, but I would think that they may have a problem when the entire electrical box is ripped out of the ceiling, with wires a-danglin’.
Next items, “defective” A/C return lines and “dangerous electrical connections.” I was really surprised they hadn’t yet found a fried pooch on their patio, because the “defective” lines were full of dog tooth impressions. I would have rather seen lawyer tooth impressions, and maybe a carcass.
What’s Behind Door Number Three?
The 11:00 house was then ready for us. My list read, “Windows hard to operate, damaged frames, scratches and dents.”
I asked the homeowner if she could give me specific locations on the ones that didn’t operate properly. Her response was that she didn’t know because the attorneys had produced the list. Nice. I then went back outside and searched for Bonnie. I approached her with the “defect” list and asked her why there were no specifics for exact problems to windows in a particular room.
Bonnie, who works for the attorney, came back with, “I don’t like your attitude.”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t like being here.”
“I don’t want you on this jobsite,” she replied, “I want you to leave.”
So now the national builder had to take a little walk with me and tell me to be nice. Luckily, one of the other subs had heard the conversation and came to my rescue, telling the national builder that it wasn’t my fault.
“Let’s just all get through this” was the basic message. I went back into the home and asked Bonnie if this was the appropriate time to ask a question about the windows. (Come on, I was trying to be polite.)
“Ask the homeowner,” she said.
Of course, I knew the homeowner wasn’t sure because of her previous comment. Finally they directed me to the upstairs. For the sake of time, I’ll sum up what I found: two windows were hard to move, one window had missing rollers. Four years ago, we delivered it with rollers: who stole the rollers?
I went back downstairs and asked, “When was the last time you lubricated the windows?”
“Ah, didn’t know you were supposed to,” was the homeowner’s anticipated answer.
I had by now invested way too much time in this whole “cluster” fiasco, so in the nicest way possible, I said to the homeowner, “We recommend lubricating the windows three times a year, and we would be happy to send you some replacement rollers since the originals seem to have been misplaced.”
Then I turned to Bonnie and said, “I’m out of here. Everything I have seen is related to home maintenance, and I have got more important things to do. Count me out of the next three houses.”
I went to my truck and was grateful there were no piles of tempered glass next to any of my doors.
R. Mark Reasbeck is owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door, a Las Vegas-based window dealership. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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