If you splice together boards along a structural ridge beam instead of using full length boards as called for by the plans, things can go south in a hurry. If you don’t tighten any of the nuts on the foundation bolts, and a strong wind comes up, I suppose things could go “north” in a hurry…
The following is a cautionary tale about what can happen when you don’t hire the right contractor. Rather than write a series of posts, I’ve decided to update this one with new information at the bottom of the post, with the dates when I’ve added something new.
Before starting to outline my complaint against James P Hood Construction Company, let me say that I don’t dislike James or Ty Cook, who to my knowledge continues to work for James – whether as an employee or a sub, I don’t know. Both have their positive qualities and competencies and I don’t wish either of them ill. I’d just like financial restitution for the tens of thousands of dollars owed back to my wife and me – and an apology by Ty to my neighbor. As I told Ty months ago after that and a few other incidents which I plan to elaborate on, if you can’t be trusted with a relatively small project like mine, when and if you are ever awarded a much larger project involving much larger sums, things can really go bad for you.
I don’t enjoy airing dirty laundry thusly, or do it lightly. Weeks ago, I was voicing such misgivings to someone who replied, “Andy, if you don’t, someone else will have to go through the same things.” The truth of that was confirmed from a comment I received on Nextdoor, where I am also posting these complaints. A current client of James wrote the following: “I am belatedly finding this post. This company is currently working on my home, and they seem to be making many mistakes. I am concerned too.”
Sooner or later, word gets out.
Before I get into the meat of my ongoing saga, with documentation, I wanted to explain why I’m making my complaint about James P Hood Construction Co public. I have five reasons.
First, I have given James ample time and opportunity to begin to make amends in a more private setting. That option seemed to close when James walked out of a meeting I had with him and a volunteer mediator from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a national non-profit organization that counsels business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, on May 19, 2023. Just before exiting the room, James said that [rather than make financial restitution] he would be contacting his bankruptcy attorney and that, as a result, “nobody will get any money [back].”
Second, I wanted to make readers aware of SCORE itself. SCORE is an organization where, from their website, www.score.org, one can “access free, confidential business mentoring in person at more than 230 local chapters and partner locations or remotely via email, phone and video. SCORE mentors are experts in entrepreneurship and related fields who meet with their small business clients on an ongoing basis to provide continued advice and support.” I reached out to the organization and was matched with a mentor with extensive construction related experience, who has reviewed my documentation and assisted me in a months-long process to hopefully recover funds owed to my wife and me by James. I’ve used the organization at least a half dozen times over the years and they are really top notch. Keep them in your back pocket for any business-related advice or assistance you may have now or in the future.
My third reason for making my complaint public in this forum is to warn prospective clients of James P Hood Construction Company LLC, or any of the various other trade names he operates under, or will operate under in the future, to think twice before hiring him. My problems with the company have been multifaceted but generally relate to what I’d call “structural issues”: poor workmanship, budgetary mismanagement, and mismanaged employees and/or subs.
In addition to the series of blog posts I intend to write, I have broadcast negative reviews on sites such as Yelp, Nextdoor, Facebook, and a number of others. Some sites like Thumbtack or Porch don’t allow reviews of companies unless you hired the company through them, but at least now if you spend a little time Googling James P Hood Construction Co., you should find my one star and, where half stars are allowed, half star reviews. However, business names can change, reviews can be deleted, etc. That’s the fourth reason I’m writing these posts. I’m the only one who can take them down, which will only happen if James P Hood makes good on his contractual promises.
In addition, especially since James’ business is currently accredited with the BBB, I have begun the complaint process with them, which requires a response from James and hopefully ends with James honoring the contract he wrote up and he, my wife, and I signed. Of course, the BBB may see things differently after hearing both sides and viewing documents. Time will tell.
Here’s a copy of my complaint on the BBB site, highly condensed, due to the site’s limit on the number of characters:
Consumer’s Original Complaint:
September of 2022, my wife and I hired James P Hood Construction (hereinafter JPH) to complete two studio apartments and all parties (my wife and I, JPH) signed JPH’s “Construction Proposal/Agreement” outlining the scope of the work and the total cost for the two projects, $103,000. JPH has been paid over $83,000 to date. Early in November, JPH informed me that he only had enough money left in the budget to pay subcontractors, not himself or his primary helper (not sure his title). He also informed me that his helper had misappropriated $5,000 of the project funds, but that JPH would “take care of it” rather than attempt to get the money back. At that time, JPH suggested that I supervise the projects from that point on to allow him to get on to other paying work. I was amenable to this arrangement. However, later on, we realized that not only did JPH owe us the misappropriated $5,000, but that the amount we had overpaid JPH, relative to the work he had done, was over $30K, which can be substantiated. In December I reminded JPH of the need to be repaid the $5K. This time he responded with a list of items that he said I owed him money for, erroneously. I availed myself of a SCORE counselor with extensive construction experience to help mediate. The SCORE counselor and I just met with JPH today (5-19-23). The meeting ended without a plan for financial restitution. JPH said he would be contacting a bankruptcy attorney and that, as a result, “no one would get any money”. The exact amount we are requesting to be refunded has not been determined. It would be easiest to explain the reason why over the phone (limited by characters). Also, due to the scope of the project, I feel that there would be too many documents to upload. Again, a phone call with a BBB rep would, in my mind, help to outline the factors. We do have all supporting documents, including a hand-written note where JPH mentions the misappropriated $5K (again, that amount would not resolve this complaint).
Consumer’s Desired Resolution: Refund
My fifth and final reason for writing this is to hopefully provide some tips on how to evaluate the right general contractor before you hand them your money, learned by yours truly, the hard way.
Lest you think I didn’t do any due diligence, let me say in my own defense that I did Google James P Hood Construction Company as well as check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints or negative reviews. In addition, I asked James for references and he provided at least three, which I contacted prior to hiring him, and which were, to be fair to James, all generally positive.
Mine, currently on Yelp, and elsewhere, however? Not so much:
“Do not hire James P Hood Construction Company LLC, (who also goes by a variety of other business names – see photo from the BBB website) for any management (GC) related projects! He also operates under the following names:
Complete Bathroom Remodeling
Complete Bathroom Remodeling, LLC
Complete Bathroom Remodeling LLC
Licensed Handyman, LLC
Tiny Home Contractor
Just a few reasons: A) JPH didn’t tighten any of the nuts for the bolts connecting the sole plates to the concrete foundation (which, incidentally, even the framing inspector missed, but thankfully I, the homeowner, found before the drywall went up – they were literally loose enough to spin by hand). B) JPH spliced boards along one side of a structural ridge beam rather than using full length boards, which, had the inspector not caught this mistake, could have resulted in the roof sagging or even collapsing. C), D), E), F) – more of the same shoddy workmanship.
But the kicker is that JPH told me his main sub, Ty, misappropriated $5K of our funds (after which, JPH continued to work with him) but that he (James) would “take care of it”. Two months later, different story. Ty also took down the security tape and parked his truck on my neighbor’s 4 day old concrete pad, then told my neighbor that the concrete contractor she hired had told him he could. She was rightfully upset and asked the concrete contractor, who said he hadn’t told Ty he could park there. I was only told about this after the fact, from James, who, again, continues to work with Ty. Despite my attempt to smooth things over with my neighbor, she is still upset with me over this incident.
Also, JPH no longer agrees that he owes us money for allowances he listed in the contract that he would purchase which, in order to get better pricing for higher quality items, my wife and I paid for with separate funds. For example, JPH allowed $1,000 for stock kitchen cabinets from Home Depot and a Formica countertop. Way low, even for a kitchenette, but we knew that when we signed the contract. We bought better cabinets and a stone countertop with separate funds, having been told by James that he would reimburse us the $1,000 he was paid by us for that allowance. (I asked him early in the project if we should be getting reimbursed along the way. He said it was more typical to do so at the end of the project.) Now that we’re nearing the end of the project? Again, different story. Same for a long list of other allowances. All told, on an initial contracted amount just over $100K, JPH has been paid $83K and by my rough calculations owes us over $30K in reimbursements for allowances he didn’t pay for and labor he/his subs didn’t provide, to say nothing of the additional costs associated with repairing JPH’s shoddy workmanship. Or the time I’ve spent trying to get the company to stand by its contractual promises.
I met with James and a mediator from SCORE recently, during which, James had the temerity to use this line of reasoning (paraphrased): “There are thousands of contractors in Colorado Springs and you chose me, someone who had only built one house before…” In other words, I should have realized that he wasn’t experienced/competent to manage our projects before hiring him! Let that reasoning sink in. Then compare it with what his website says – it shows the same photo of a home that his ad on CraigsList did, and says that JPH has been building semi-custom homes and remodeling existing homes since 2003. If I could leave a zero star review, I would. As a first step to recovering lost funds, I have submitted a complaint to the BBB, which should be visible on their website soon.
Finally, James effectively admitted that the initial $103K number was not thought through; that he simply wanted the work and hadn’t put pencil to paper sufficiently.
All this to say, there are thousands of contractors in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Don’t choose James P Hood Construction Company.
Since starting this review of James P Hood Construction Company LLC two days ago, due to extensive mismanagement issues my wife and I are experiencing with him, James has edited the home page of his website. Thankfully, I had taken a screen shot of the prior version:
Next, the current, edited version. Note that in the second paragraph, the words “has been building semi-custom homes” has been removed:
Hmm… sounds like James realized he was making false claims. Contractors may make false claims about their qualifications or experience to win contracts, resulting in incompetent or unqualified contractors being awarded projects.”
Ty Cook, who, as I mentioned, works with James (either as an employee or a sub) has called me a few times over the past few days. I have not answered the phone, intentionally so. Why?
Last fall, when James and I were on a better footing together, he made me aware of two problematic incidents that involved Ty.
The first one, corroborated by a neighbor of mine across the alley and her concrete contractor, Bobby, occurred when my neighbor hired Bobby’s concrete company to convert the asphalt parking lot behind her home into a concrete lot. During the period of time Bobby and his crew were working on the job, Ty asked him if he would bid on my project. We needed a concrete foundation for one of my two builds, as well as additional flatwork for parking and walkways to both units’ front doors.
A few days after Bobby had poured my neighbor’s parking lot, Ty took down the security tape that was blocking vehicles from entering her new lot and parked his work pickup truck on the relatively new (app. 4 days old) concrete.
My neighbor, seeing this, exited the house and confronted Ty, asking him why he thought he could do that. Ty evidently responded that Bobby told him he could, but he moved his truck elsewhere.
My neighbor then contacted Bobby, telling him she was thinking about not paying him the balance for the work he had done for her, since he was allowing Ty to park on the concrete pad before it had cured sufficiently. Bobby responded that he hadn’t told Ty that he could park there.
This has caused a rift between me and my neighbor, although I didn’t know anything about it until a week or two later, when James informed me of it.
The second, and even more problematic issue that James related to me around the same time involved $5,000 that James told me he gave to Ty with the understanding that Ty would use it to pay James’ painting subcontractors and purchase kitchen cabinets from a supplier Ty said he had in California.
It was about a month into the project when I asked James if he knew when the cabinets would be arriving and he said that Ty told him there were factory delays. That’s often the case these days.
A few weeks later, however, James admitted to me that Ty did not in fact order the kitchen cabinets or pay the painters with the $5,000 of my wife’s and my money that James had given him. What he did with the money I do not know.
At that time, I asked James if he would be suing Ty to recover the funds. He hemmed and hawed but said he wouldn’t – that he, James, would “take care of it”, meaning he would reimburse me those funds. After all, he said, he was the General Contractor and ultimately responsible. More about this later, because it was the reminding of James that he owes me these funds back, and his response, that ultimately resulted in the current state of affairs.
However, I also asked James during that same conversation if he would be firing Ty. Incredibly, he demurred, and, as far as I know, continues to work with him to this day. This despite the many misgivings about him that he voiced to me during the initial few weeks of my project.
Finally, in early October of last year, I had a few additional conversations with Ty that left a bad taste in my mouth, and finally told James that I didn’t want to deal directly with Ty anymore. Ty attempted to smooth things over with me but I responded in text that I thought it would be best to talk with James present, so everyone was on the same page. He responded that that was fine, but then asked if I was upset with him. I asked him to review the previous text.
We operated this way for a few weeks, but I was always careful to steer clear of any situations where Ty and I might be alone. It was not ideal to say the least.
Then, in early November, both James and Ty moved on to other work, after James and I agreed that he could do so, leaving me in an unpaid supervisory role for my two projects, under James, an arrangement which I was amenable to. I only saw Ty again once after that, during which time I mentioned the $5,000 James told me Ty had misappropriated. Ty denied this. Ultimately, since James had told me he would be repaying me, I was unconcerned; happy I wouldn’t need to address this further with Ty.
I haven’t seen Ty since, but, starting about a week ago, have noticed that Ty has tried to call me a few times. However, at this point I don’t want to dialog with either Ty or James without a mediator present.
The final text in the screenshot below was sent to me yesterday from Ty’s phone.
Are these valid arguments?
During the brief meeting I had with James P Hood and a mediator from SCORE a week ago today, besides his not being able to provide evidence that he had purchased certain items for my project which I am able to document that my wife and I purchased with separate funds, expecting to be reimbursed by James for the amounts he included for each item in the contract he wrote up and we all signed, he used the following three arguments (paraphrased):
“You (I) enjoy working on the projects!” (as I have been supervising the projects since November of last year). To which I responded, “I do, but what does that have to do with what you owe us?” In hindsight, I wish I would have responded: “I do, but even more than that, I enjoy creating art, as well as getting paid for that art, and I’ve been neglecting my art practice for nearly seven months now in order to supervise these projects for you, sans compensation I might add, allowing you to focus on other paying projects.”
James’ second argument was an insinuation that I came up with the 103K number that he included as the total budget for the projects. The SCORE volunteer calmly replied that a judge would view the contract that James wrote up, along with his signature and ours, and that that would trump any arguments he might make about the unfairness of the inadequate size of the budget. No one forced him to write it or sign it.
But his third argument he used was even more incredulous. Again paraphrasing his words since I didn’t record the conversation, James said, “There are thousands of contractors in Colorado Springs, and you chose me??” He went on to briefly describe himself as someone inexperienced in home building, despite what his website said at the time. The home page said that “James P Hood Construction Company has been building semi-custom homes and renovating existing homes since 2003 in Colorado.” After our unsatisfactory meeting which ended abruptly with James saying he’d be contacting his bankruptcy attorney and “no one will get any money [back]”, and a subsequent Better Business Bureau complaint I opened against the business, along with a complaint to the state’s Attorney General, the words “has been building semi-custom homes” was hastily removed. But not before I took a screen shot of the original website. Both versions were sent to the BBB, and have been included in my file against the currently BBB accredited, A+ rated company. It’s amazing to me that he was basically acknowledging his lack of competence as a general contractor, as well as hoping to lay the blame for all that has transpired at my feet for choosing James P Hood Construction Company LLC to work on our projects.
Sorry. As a friend of mine from Texas might say, that dog don’t hunt.
Here are a few more items in a long list of things my wife and I are requesting to be reimbursed for by James P Hood Construction Company:
• The concrete foundation for one of our builds, which shouldn’t have been lumped into a change order for a couple parking pads and walkways to the two units that I paid for with separate funds. Kind of hard to do a slab on grade build without the concrete slab…
* The amount James would have paid for labor and materials to do an 8’ x 12’ gravel parking pad, included in the contract, which my wife and I decided we didn’t want, opting for a larger concrete pad instead. Again, I’m not asking James to pay for the larger concrete pad, just to reimburse us for what he didn’t have to pay for the gravel pad.
• The building’s roofing. Rather than going with a shingle roof, my wife and I decided to get a more expensive metal roof instead, and paid for that with separate funds. We need to be reimbursed for the cost James would have paid a roofing sub to install a shingle roof.
• The dumpster fees to remove construction waste, all of which (approximately five dumpsters full) I paid for with separate funds. The contract stated that James would haul the construction waste to a landfill at his expense.