Thursday, April 27, 2017

My letter to management

When I wrote my last post I realized that I hadn’t actually blogged about the whole insanity of the house being ‘fixed’ after the flood.  I’m posting the letter I wrote to management on April 7th about it...3 weeks ago tomorrow and they have yet to respond.  I’ve sent two more messages since asking for a response but still nothing…They had responded to my initial request for monetary reimbursement but were offering us $200 off our next rent...which is a slap in the face given our next rent is when our increase happens and that’s $62 a month.  Plus they owe us for a can of paint they said they’d reimburse for, which was almost $50.  So the ‘compensation’ would be a few dollars at best.  Unacceptable.  Also, I speak of the back door and window getting replaced in this letter...it has yet to even be discussed when that might actually happen.  They had people come in to finish the vinyl flooring (adding a strip to separate the floor from the bathroom, and to switch out a few planks that were cut really jagged, and to add baseboards to the downstairs bathroom which wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t been able to ‘find a baseboard somewhere’.  When they were here they told me they were also told to ‘patch up’ the area by the back door but I refused to allow that because if they did that, I KNOW they would claim the back door no longer needs replaced, even though in reality it needed replaced before we even moved in over 4 years ago, and besides that it wouldn’t fix the problem of the structure of the building ROTTING AWAY because they keep doing nothing about it…

Anyway, here’s the letter...

April 7, 2017

ATTN: Management
(company name removed)

I appreciate that you responded to my letter.  There are a few things I wish to clarify and hope that we can re-negotiate what is being offered, as we feel $200 is not an acceptable amount given the circumstances.

While normally I would agree that ‘flooding due to the pipe failure could happen at any property,’ the reality in our case is that this time around it was avoidable.  We had a leak in the exact same spot in December of 2014.  I remember it vividly and I saw exactly where the pipe was that was ‘fixed,’ and it was in the exact same location this time around.  If the job had been done properly just that short time ago, the fitting should not have been able to break apart so soon.  I honestly, and sadly, believe that the shoddy workmanship is what is to blame for this happening.

Living in the state our home was in for two weeks, and nearly the entire time without walls in many places, was extremely challenging, in particular with three small children.  They basically couldn’t go downstairs unless absolutely necessary, and certainly never unsupervised, or without wearing shoes which they sometimes forgot and ended up with scrapes on their feet from some areas of the concrete.  There were days when we could use the kitchen for some things, but it wasn’t entirely functional for cooking proper meals because of the amount of dust that was on everything and the stuff that we were storing on the counters, etc.  Believing in the beginning that it would only be a few days before the drywall would be going up, it didn’t make sense to do a lot of deep cleaning to ensure a safe space for cooking larger meals, as it would just be getting dirty again.  (I did clean in that time, but  there was no way around a lot of things being dirty, or inaccessible).  The fridge and stove also had to be pulled out for some time in order to dry the sides of the cabinets and walls where the water had seeped in, so during that time we couldn’t access the kitchen at all.  We definitely ate out more than we ever normally would in that span of time, and not because we wanted to but because it felt necessary.  We didn’t have access to our dining area for most of the time either because we had nowhere else to pile a lot of our belongings but in that space.  The downstairs bathroom also offered zero privacy for that entire duration as there was a hole in the wall large enough you could look out the living room window from the toilet!  Basically the entire downstairs was unlivable for much of that time, and given the amount of belongings we had to bring upstairs from downstairs, much of the upstairs was in total disarray also.  We literally lived in the master bedroom for that time.

In terms of the efforts made to deal with the flooding…unfortunately ‘effective’ is not a word that comes to mind.  The drywallers were given one day to do the entire house, and we didn’t find out they would be working till 9pm until they showed up to start the job.  It’s impossible to do that much work between two people in that many hours and be completely effective (for example, drywalling around a shelf without actually removing it to do it properly).  They also told us upon leaving that no painting should start till later in the afternoon the next day at the absolute earliest because the drywall wouldn’t be dry yet (which makes perfect sense).  Yet the ‘painter’ (I have to use the term loosely since the job he did still horrifies me to think about - I’m not exaggerating) showed up shortly after 9 to start priming and painting.  I told him the walls hadn’t been sanded, and I also told him several of the walls still felt wet.  He went ahead and started painting anyway...Mind you, he started with the walls that didn’t need painted, and like I said before, got paint on my curtains and did a sloppy job in general.  The one and only wall that he actually painted that NEEDED to be painted ended up with the paint cracking and splitting apart by the next morning due to having been painted when the drywall wasn’t yet dry.  I will attach a picture, which only shows the portion above the shelf that we ended up putting in that spot so as to cover the hideous wall, but the whole length of where the new drywall is has completely split from the wall and the entire thing will need to be stripped, sanded, and redone.  

When he was about to start painting yet another wall that had no damage and didn’t need painted at all (which I had told him several times by that point), I had no choice but to tell the ‘painter’ to stop and that I would do the painting myself later once the new carpets were installed (even though that was supposed to be done the next day) not because I wanted to do the painting myself, but because he was not doing a good job, and kept painting things that I told him not to paint.  I literally couldn’t take it anymore.  I have since managed to paint all the main walls and all under the stairs, and in the hall closet, but haven’t had the time yet to do the bathrooms because of all the other work I’ve been doing to try to get our house back in order.  The thing is, as much as I don’t want to have to paint the bathrooms myself either, I feel like I don’t have a choice unless I want to run the major risk of having our personal property damaged, since that seems to be the norm with the workers.  It causes me too much stress to deal with.

Unfortunately everything has not actually been done within 15 days of the incident.  I will include pictures below with examples of areas that still need attention, such as the closet door for under the stairs that was broken from its track and is currently propped up against the front hall closet because when it was propped in the living room it nearly fell over when our kids were playing, which obviously is completely unsafe.  My dad has since gone out and purchased parts to fix it for us, which he plans to do this weekend, because it needs to be done sooner than later.  He also had to bring us a special cleaner and spent about two hours scrubbing away the primer paint that one of the workers had tracked from the front door right to where the carpet starts.  I am very upset that we weren’t even offered for someone to come and remove that for us.  Yes we received brand new floors, but they shouldn’t have been left damaged for us to deal with ourselves.  Primer is meant to stick, so you can imagine the elbow grease required to remove footprints of it off the floor.  Another example of something not completed is the back door issue, as currently there is a big hole in the corner where the wood is rotten, and we can’t even attach the cover to the furnace vent because of the damage.  I was told someone would be coming to look at it at least a week ago but haven’t heard anything since.  (That being said, we do appreciate that the back door and window will be getting replaced - could we please get a timeline as to when this will be happening?)

Our time is worth something, too, which is one of the other reasons I feel that we’re owed more than $200 for compensation.  My husband having to take a ‘vacation’ day, in part to help with the craziness of the day of the flood but in larger part because his computer power cord drowned in it so he couldn’t work until he replaced it.  Those two things alone equal more than $200, not to mention having to eat out when we normally wouldn’t.  But it’s also bothering me a lot that my time seems to mean nothing.  The massive amounts of clean up I’ve been having to do have already taken many, many, many hours and will take many, many more before everything is back to the way it was before this happened.  There is drywall caked on to several of the panels that cover the lighting in the kitchen (picture for reference, which shows a couple of the spots), there are chunks taken out of the paint on several of our cupboard doors, which the only way to fix will be to sand and re-paint them, and I know that will fall on me to do.  There is still dust on everything as it continues to settle, and I am constantly finding more areas that need to be cleaned.  Because I was told by a worker that it ‘wasn’t necessary’ to remove anything from under the bathroom sink, I had to take everything out and wash each item because there was dust covering literally everything.  That was totally avoidable as I could have much more easily just removed everything and kept it clean.  Even the driveway is disgusting and we’re still tracking drywall dust back into the house constantly because it’s all over the driveway, which would need to be power-washed to properly clean now.  

I had our house in excellent condition before this happened, so it’s not like I needed to be doing a deep clean of everything.  Now I’m finding myself plugging my kids into the TV and am not as focused on them because I’m stressed out about all of this, and trying to pick up the pieces and fix the house so it doesn’t feel so dirty and unhealthy to be in.  We’ve all had eye issues in the past several weeks, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence given the amount of dust we’re dealing with.  I was not once offered help with any of the cleaning throughout this entire process.  Had I hired someone to do all that I’ve already done myself it would be many hundreds of dollars, so why is it that I feel I’m doing it for free, (not really for free - it’s costing me money for all the cleaning products!) when again I strongly feel that this all could have been avoided if the work had been done properly a few years ago?

I realize this is lengthy but I feel I have to offer such details to show you where I’m coming from.  After enduring as many leaks as we have over a short number of years living here, and the way things have been done this time around in particular, I truly feel we are deserving of more compensation than $200.  I hope you will take this into consideration in your reply.  (Please see pictures below).

Sincerely,

Elizabeth
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This is how the drywall was left under the stairs, which I then had to stuff with steel wool as it’s a gaping hole.  Especially in light of the fact that our neighbours on that side had a mouse infestation while all of this was going on, I didn’t feel comfortable with big gaps in the walls.  To me that was left unfinished, and I was left to do something with it.
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This is the way the drywall was done in the laundry room.  Around a shelf, rather than removing the shelf and actually drywalling the wall.  If  we ever decide to remove our shelf, the wall will be an absolute mess where it’s visible.  When it comes time to paint this room, it’s also going to be a challenge figuring out what to do with this area.
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Shards of razor blades I found strewn across the vinyl floors after all the workers had ‘completed’ their jobs.  Not safe whatsoever - what if my kids had found them before I did?  There were also several of these in our carport, which could have also been a hazard to our kids, the neighbours’ kids, not to mention our tires as well!

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This is some of the primer paint that took several hours to scrub from the floors after trying three types of cleaning methods.  Not a job we should have been left with.
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It was like this throughout the entire hallway.
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Areas where I told the ‘painter’ NOT to paint, and in particular because it would be the wrong colour - and yet he painted anyway, and got the wrong colour in places so that I had to go back and fix things that were fine to begin with.
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Drywall caked onto the panels by the kitchen lights.  Several of the other panels also have this, which is going to take a lot of time for me to clean.

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The pipes for the toilet in the downstairs bathroom.  This looks unfinished.  As well as again with the issue of a gaping hole, perfect for rodents to come through should our neighbour still be dealing with her infestation.  Stuffing this with steel wool (which I don’t have any more of and will have to go out and buy) will help, but will be an eyesore.  Shouldn’t this have been drywalled?
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Yet another gaping hole I found while removing everything from under the sink to clean because there was dust on everything in there.  Also needs to be filled/covered.
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This is right by the front door.  The vinyl planks are cut all misshapen.  Actually, there are many areas of the flooring that were cut uneven like this.  I thought they would be coming back to put some sort of strip there to cover this?  They told me if water gets underneath the planks they will lift up and need replaced, which concerns me for washing it when it’s like this, because water will easily go underneath areas like this.
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The baseboard is sitting beside where it’s supposed to be attached, and the two baseboards here don’t even match up no matter how we try to configure them. This is in the front door area.

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Not attached.



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Our closet door to under the stairs currently sitting in our front hall area because the track pieces were broken when the workers took the door off.  

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The area between the hall and downstairs bathroom needs to have a strip that separates the two floors.  The part on the left already looks like it’s starting to lift because it’s not properly attached to the ground.  I was told people were coming back to finish that, and in fact the people who did that flooring said they’d be able to put the new baseboards in the bathroom to match up with the hall, since it still has the gross rubber ones, but that never happened.
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One of the spots on my relatively new curtains that has paint dripped onto it.  That is completely unacceptable.  Who paints a wall with the curtains still up, and a wall that was said did not need painted??!  Our personal belongings should not be damaged by workers (as well it reminds me of my great grandmothers’ antique sugar container that had been used as a step stool and as a result the lid is now indented...I’m not OK with that).
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This is the current state of our back door area.  I had been told that this would be dealt with before the carpet was installed but that didn’t happen.  The wood is clearly rotting, and the furnace vent can’t be attached.  I do hope that the door and window can be replaced soon so that this issue is dealt with.
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The line across the cupboards in the kitchen was not there before all of this work started.  Because of the ugly condition of the cupboards when we moved in, and with permission from management, I sanded, primed, painted and even updated all the cupboards with proper knobs a couple of years ago.  I put a lot of time, energy, and money into the project, and as a result have taken very good care of the cupboards because it meant something to me to have them nice.  The only way to fix problems like in the picture above would be to sand it down and start all over again.  So we end up having to just live with it (or re-do all that work ourselves, which hardly seems fair), when it’s not something we caused damage to, and something that wouldn’t have been damaged if the workers weren’t so careless.  
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This is the kind of mess I am up against.  Look at my children’s toy guitar, for example.  That will take an insane amount of time to clean.  If the workers had covered our belongings like I thought they were going to (I saw them cover one chair so figured they would keep going, but in reality that chair was literally the only thing they covered!) this stuff wouldn’t have happened and I wouldn’t be left completely overwhelmed with trying to clean and fix everything.
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This is the aftermath of one small portion of the wall where the drywall wasn’t dry enough to be painted but the ‘painter’ went ahead and did it anyway.
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I would need help to move the shelf we put in front of the ugliness of that wall, but suffice it to say, this is what it looks like along that entire strip of wall.  That alone will be a time consuming job to repair the damage that wouldn’t have happened if the jobs had been spaced out enough to ensure they could all be done properly.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




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