Lie Number One
We were approached by Ducky Johnsons and Capstone in early April of 2015 in regards to completing a NY Rising home elevation and remodeling project at our address, 67 Shore Road, Amityville, NY . We reviewed and fine tuned scope of work for month and did our due diligence. We checked license and read the reviews on houzz.com as well as calling several references. There was not a lot of info out there on them but what was there did no seem negative. Both the owner, Lee Moser and the salesman, Blair Rocchio came off as very accommodating and we thought everything was going to go smoothly. They promised us we would be back in house in 2 months or less. I even added that to contract and was explicitly a condition of lease. That was lie number one.
Getting That Bad Feeling
Things went wrong from even before we started job. Once we submitted deposit it was all downhill. We had planned and to move out and singed a 3000 a month lease agreement to live next door at my neighbor’s house, commencing October 1st Capstone delayed the start of job a whole month after we had agreed to start on October 5th. Tehy could not egt paperwork correct, they could nto seem to get plans for their subs, they kept getting window list wrong. that was an indicator of things to come.
“Can someone manage this project please”
Right from day 1, they failed to properly manage their subcontractors or the project, causing both errors, extra labor, and delays. For example,
- home was elevated to incorrect height due to Capstone not supplying them a plan or instructing them on height. at start of job no subcontractors even had plans. They also did not support chimney properly-had to come back twice
- . They damaged asphalt and left the jobsite in a total mess for months (and counting).
“Pay the subs will you please”
They did not pay the very first subcontractor Prime as per his payment schedule, causing subcontractor, Prime, to threaten to lien house. Blair Rocchio told me they paid Prime and simultaneously told Prime they did not have funds as they did not collect money from me yet, meanwhile I had given them over 100k in funds. DBAG They told me they removed first sub due to poor performance. I discovered later from talking to said sub is that they did not pay him so he ceased working for them. Capstone Remodeling then switched concrete subcontractor to CAE midstream instead of paying Prime, so they could save themselves money. DBAG It seems they would choose the cheapest subs without regard to quality of workmanship, so they can save themselves money.
Seriously I think they should take a page from Rod Tidwell and just write this on all paperwork as its their motto. Lee would actually come to the house and ask of money. Only time he really got involved and its become something of joke between customers as its the only time you would see Lee. Project management no, collect money yes. Lee hounded us for money before work was even completed .
Both Lee and Blair tried to collect extra for items that were included in scope and also for labor costs cost due their own errors managing project.
- Example 1- they came to pickup money last day house was elevated as the contracts stated 30% due on house elevated- to me and architect that meant house permanently elevated, to Capstone that meant house in sky on cribbing. I gave them 15% and then we found out that house lifter needed to come back to adjust chimneys still.
- Example 2 they tried to charge extra for dewatering on concrete pouring when it was NOT excluded from scope and was discussed and was a general condition of project as per NY Rising. They stated they did not foresee having water there and it was an unknown. Who would have thought that there would be water on a waterfront property 20 feet from canal being elevated because of Superstorm Sandy when it flooded? Never would have guessed that right??? They had the soil bore survey stating that water was encountered at -3.1. feet, yet they could not figure out that if you were pouring at -3.8 feet you would run into water. Seriously???
Fluid Mechanics 101
Additionally, both Capstone and CAE did not have to equipment or expertise to actually complete specific components of project. Their plan was to pour the concrete right through the water in the submerged pile caps into the mud, but my architect and I knew better and stated they would need to have multiple pumps running for 2 days. They did not have the pumps of which I advised Blair Rocchio to go buy 42 pumps or dig a big trench and deep holes and drop several massive pumps. Instead, Blair informed me that he picked up one trash pump in which he planned to run 42 hoses to, with no check valves. Does anyone know how much water a pump, with 40 hoses spliced to the pump outlet, removes when just when 1 hose starts to suck air? He didn’t evidently, but I enlightened him with the obvious answer, NONE.
Back to Lie Number One
It was explicitly written in contract that we were to have moved back in with 2 months from commencement of project. We were to be back in by December. Currently, Capstone has roughly around 80K of my funds (assuming all vendors are paid) and my house has been in the sky on cribbing for almost 3 months and will likely be there for another 3 months. essentially they breached contract and was rather unapologetic to the time delay or extra costs that were incurred by additional rent and utilities. that’s roughly 3500 a month.
“Lien on Me”
Once I found about potential lien and the lies to both parties, I instructed them pay them as I had given them by this point in excess of 143K, but they still refused to pay the Prime stating 16700 was too much even though my ecr stated an allocation on 19k for demo. TO avoid lawsuit and having to pay Prime just $16700, they terminated Billy CAE Construction and gave job back to Prime for Primes original contract price of 196k. So they just told Billy to pack up his stuff and get off Jobsite. Wondering when will be seeing Billy’s lien.
Around the merry go round for one last time
When I thought it was finally settled Prime informed Capstone that it would be 3800 dollars more to complete cold weather concrete as you need additive in concrete and hot water, thermal blankets. Capstone informed Prime that they would not pay it. Then Blair tried to et me to agree to wait till it got warm, DBAG. So again we were at standstill because Capstone refused to take responsibility. Had they not thrown Prime off job and managed project in an efficient manner they could have poured concrete in October, November or December. all of those months were extremely warm. This was directly and solely Capstones fault.
What about Blair’s commission!!
I spoke to Capstone and we agreed that this job was not financially profitable to them, that they should just refund my money less what was spent and I would the give the whole job to Prime, and i would be able to take care of Primes monies owed directly. Capstone was given a week to supply waiver of lines and receipts for monies incurred I stated they should give me back all monies without markup as they clearly did not show any reason for deserving it. Blair said to me very matter of factly” well you know there is my commission. Capstone owes me 5k per contract.”. I almost pooed in my pants. I told him you want commission on a contract the is unraveling, no one gets commission on a deal that falls through. That was an in-house thing and my contract had nothing about commission. He stated he was not part of Capstone. I said really then how come the Capstone business card in my left hand has your name on it. He then mentioned the cost regarding Billy and his cost to build forms and then take them down. I told him you really expect me to pay for nothing. Billy essentially did nothing. Zero added to project. Finally he brought up Ducky having to return to jobsite to lift higher to which my response was, “I am not paying for your stupidity, and the extra for Ducky was because of your negligence not anyone else’s.”
It was was at his point I had enough I called my attorney.
My 2 Cents
My advice, DO your homework, research the owners via their names on Google, check the BBB and your county’s consumer affairs and get a real contract drawn up and reviewed by attorney beforehand with firm payment and time schedule, escrow, liquidated damages, time is of the essence clause and personal guarantee.