Villains...My Non-working Partners
They shall remain nameless....or my
attorney will get angry.....
have had MANY great work partners over the past 7 years, helping me do the work here and bring this
dream to fruition, there have also been way too many workers who
turned out to be 'low integrity'....a generic word for those who cheat,
lie, rob and con. I write this to warn those of you who may fall into
the same category that I did.
I suppose I better start this by saying that
I was clearly way too naive to deal, singly, with some of these
street-smart Maine construction men. In all my years of saving and
'playing fair'....even those years when I was working with a friend as
his Assistant General Contractor in Connecticut....I had never stuck out
as a 'target'.
I just worked and saved, worked and saved and
lived a low profile life.
However, some time after my arrival here in
summer of 2006, one of the local septic men told me that there were two
kinds of Maine construction workers....the honest kind and the kind
whose motto was "catch 'em and skin 'em". What do you mean? I asked. He
explained that those people 'from away' who came to Maine to build a
home of some sort always had more money than the locals. So, they became
targets of those who were low integrity and who wanted to catch 'em and
take as much of their money as possible.
I had already experienced this, and now had an understanding of why.
When I arrived in Maine, and determined to
renovate one building and build another, to develop an Inn and Retreat
Center, so that hundreds of people could enjoy this gorgeous plot of
land in this beautiful mid-coast part of Maine, I became one of those
'from away' who had to be plundered.
And I had two other strikes against me...I
was a SINGLE WOMAN from AWAY.
Three strikes, you're out...oh, no, I'm not!
So here are some of the
anecdotes of these villains
1. The first was an architect who spent my
entire architectural budget doing a drawing of the Cape building as it
was...rather than a quick sketch of the current, with more focus on how
I wanted to renovate it. She disappeared, taking the chosen builder who
was her friend, with her.
2. The second was her replacement, an architect
who drew a series of buildings that neither fit the site, nor my
budget...and who padded his invoice when he was confronted about it.
3. The third was a fellow who owned a
building-moving company, who had done a good job of moving the barn that
was originally attached to the Cape. This made sense when I found that
it only cost 10% more to move the barn, than to lift it up and put a
real, safe foundation under it...and the barn move was mostly
However, when I was unable
to design an addition to the Cape where it sat, I asked the same fellow
to move it over near the barn, out of the wind and on its own firm
foundation. He agreed, and started the process, but he got a more
lucrative offer to move a building in Augusta, and left my Cape in the
air for over a month. This might not have been disastrous, except that
his friend the foundation pourer, had only left two holes in the
foundation, for two eyebeams...and the Cape badly needed a third
eyebeam, in the center of the building, to keep it from defracting. He
would not add that beam, the building defracted over the month it was
stuck there. As a result, every wall cracked, every ceiling cracked
and the original chimney broke apart.
4. The fourth was a carpenter who seemed to be a
good guy...laid out a plan that sounded good and seemed reasonable. I
chose him over the other two possibilities I had interviewed.
He was a talented carpenter, but my 'magic men',
Richard and Harold, observed him doing some unacceptable things while I
was in Connecticut, that he wasn't doing when I was in Maine....he was
training a young man as a carpenter, while charging me $35 per hour for
the trainee's time, as well as the full amount that he was making
himself. So, rather than train him on his time, or at a lower fee, he
was charging me $70 per hour, and getting far less done than he would
have if he were doing the work himself.
He also claimed to be a skilled chimney
brick-layer, and seemed to be that too. However, the chimney that he
built has a flu that is so small, it doesn't allow a woodstove to be
And finally, he claimed that it was Maine law
that I must pay for breakfast breaks for his crew. When these breakfast
breaks started to be 30-45 minutes long, as the men left the site to
pick up and eat breakfast, I started tracking down the actual Maine law.
When I confronted him with the truth, and withheld the sum he had
charged for those breaks, he quit, mid-stream, and slapped a lien on the
5. The fifth was a plumber who
never showed up on site himself, but took his men's statement of hours
as fact, never checking to see if the men had actually been working on
site for those hours.
Again, my 'magic men' were on site and watching over the place, while I
was in CT working, and they counted the hours and filled me in on the
They also saw his men
attempting to leave the site with hundreds of dollars worth of copper
pipe...the kind that can easily be traded in for cash. Just as they were
about to leave, my men caught them and made them take the pipe out of
When I spoke to this plumber
about the padded hours, outrageous invoices, and attempted copper theft,
he too, placed a lien on the site. Seems like a ploy that many of the
low integrity construction types execute and the courts allow. When we
finally worked out a reasonable, closer-to-fair final price, I paid him
and he took the lien off.
6. The sixth was the worst of all. When I'm
completely over it, I'll add the story here as a warning to others 'from
away' who might like to build on the Boothbay Peninsula.
7. The seventh was the most discouraging. Here
is this well driller who acts like he's the grandfather of everyone,
pretending to be kind and caring...giving advice to 'save' one when he
is really just spreading rumors and making unsuspecting people doubt
those that aren't his buddies. And then, when the economy tanks, he
supposedly attempts to repair a broken well, but actually melts the
plastic liner down into the bottom of the well, and reports that I need
a new well. We met in court a couple of times to straighten out the
balance on the 'new' well, but the courts seem to support the local
workers, not the 'intruders', and I got to pay for both the 'repair' and
the 'new well'.
8. And the sixth and seventh are close
buddies and collaborated to spread rumors and lies about me all over the
Boothbay peninsula. It was pretty slick, actually. They spread the lie
that I don't pay my workers, and backed it up by telling everyone about
the liens that are on record in court....those that are paid off, and
those that are there because the carpenter and building-mover tried to
dupe me, but didn't dupe my 'magic men'. As you might imagine, these low
integrity types don't like to be caught, never like to be confronted,
and wouldn't admit that they were con artists to save their hides.
So...beware of those who tell you bad things about other people....it
may be that they, themselves, are the scoundrels.