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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Angie'sList or Angie'sBust? You Decide!

Message Sent To Angie'sList On January 23, 2014: 

I'm looking at a contractor I reviewed (poorly) a few months ago, Terravest Custom Homes, yet my MEMBER review does not appear while two "A" reviews from 2012 do! This is not the first time this has happened and is telling about the honesty and/or accuracy of the service I am paying you for. You can read more about my concerns with Angie's List on www.InstitutionalTerrorism.com.

I have had nothing but trouble with Angie'sList since day one. I gave up a previous account in Kansas City due to their underhanded techniques and favorable treatment of the contractors and service-providers they are supposed to provide "objective and unbiased" reviews of.

I found that my negative Angie'sList reviews were magically not appearing on the pages of companies with "apparently" PERFECT RATINGS. I also filed a dispute with Angie's List against Ryan lawn and Tree (Kansas City, MO) after my home was damaged to the tune of nearly $1,000 by squirrels Ryan's inadequate tree-triming failed to alleviate as promised. Ryan failed to trim trees and in one case trimmed a healthy tree that was not part of the estimate, causing damage to the tree.

As is the case with all Angie'sList reviews, IF A NEGATIVE REVIEW APPEARS AT ALL, the contractor/service-provider always has the final say and, as was the case with both Ryan and Terravest, they lied through their teeth, leaving readers with a false impression that the consumer, me, was wrong.

The only reason I paid for an Angie'sList subscription after moving to Lawrence, Kansas was because of the unethical contractor, Terravest Custom Homes, and so I could submit an unbiased review to help other consumers avoid wasting time and money as I had done. In the end, the two times I logged-in and checked the review in question, it was not posted and did not figure into the grade as was the case in the video recorded today and presented here.

Here is the review in question:


Company Name: Terravest Custom Homes
Category: Remodeling - General
Services Performed: Yes
* More Weight is given to a review where work has been completed.

Work Completed Date: October 18, 2013
Last Modified Date: December 09, 2013
Hire Again: No
Approximate Cost: $600.00

Description Of Work: We asked for an estimate to build a double garage on our lot.

Angie'sList Member Comments: 

"We contacted J. Stewart, the owner of Terravest Custom Homes, LLC, about building a two car garage BEFORE winter. We budgeted $20,000 plus or minus 10 percent for the project, being prepared to pay $18,000 to $22,000 in cash. Mr. Stewart seemed like a nice person when he came to do the estimate, seeming willing to work with us. We told him what our budget was and what exactly we wanted, a simple 24 foot by 24 foot two car garage on a cement slab with a double door, one window, one door, and electricity. We also wanted a quote to install a sidewalk from the garage to the front door. Mr. Stewart told us that he would try to keep costs down and estimated $30 to $40 a square foot for what we wanted, bringing the total to between $17,250 and $23,000 and very close to our budgeted amount. He told us that he could not provide a "final" quote until we had plans drawn up, so he recommended an architect whom we met with the following week.

When Mr. Stewart and the architect came to the house, we went through the process again, spelling out exactly where the garage would go, the size, and other details in order for the architect to draw up the plans to submit to the city. He told me that it would cost $600 to $1000 to complete the work and, trusting Mr. Stewart, we decided to go ahead with the plans in order to finish the garage before winter. That was on September 11th, 2013. The architect said that he should be able to finish the plans in a week.

A month went by with no word from either Stewart or the architect, so I contacted both and asked what the delay was. The architect said that it was taking longer than expected and that he would go to the city to see if there were any restrictions as well as come back to the house to measure the house, lot, and other things necessary to finish the plans. We finally received the plans on October 17th, 36 days after we were promised they would be done in one week. Winter was quickly approaching and we wanted to get the project going ASAP.

With plans in hand, Mr. Stewart scheduled an appointment to come by with his quote on Friday, October 17th, he was about 30 minutes late. As I looked over the quote, I was drawn to the total which was well over $30,000, FAR ABOVE the $30 to $40 a square foot we were quoted ($30,500 divided by 575 square feet comes to over $53 a square foot). I told Mr. Stewart that we could not afford $30,000 and he said "I can suggest some metal building companies", to which we replied "we already have a quote and it is only $6,000 for a metal garage". He quickly left without saying another word or offering to make things right.

I am disappointed by his behavior, making us wait nearly six weeks then coming in $10,000 (a 50 percent increase over his estimated price) over his original quote, but I am more upset with myself for trusting the man. We now have no garage, winter weather will arrive in a few weeks, and we spent $600 we could not afford to have plans drawn for a garage that may never be built. I should have known better than to trust a human being after what we have been through in the last 5 years, but J. Stewart seemed like a nice man with integrity, so I thought he would do the right thing. He did not, so DO NOT BE FOOLED by his friendly demeanor and empty promises. We paid and are still paying for trusting J. Stewart and Terravest Custom Homes, LLC, so we believe you should proceed very cautiously before hiring him for any project, particularly one with tens of thousands of dollars on the line."

Company (Terravest) Response:

"I am very sorry that the Angie's List Customer was dissatisfied with my presentation. I had as well hoped the project would have priced out at a lower price as we had hoped but the facts are not stated correctly. Several costs were presented as allowances which the client could opt not to spend. For example, we priced a $350 walk-in door with two small windows in the upper portion of the door to allow light into the garage while maintaining security and a window was added on the side of the building which again we gave the client the ability to deduct theses additional expenses. A standard 6 panel door could be selected for less expense and the window could have been deleted. When it was evident that the price was just to high for the clients we did discuss the metal building because I wanted to help them get some structure that could be affordable for them, I was willing to recommend a competitor just to still help them get a structure done before winter hit. The price they are quoting they got from someone was the metal building only with no foundation. We were asked to provide a concrete foundation, a garage concrete approach to the garage and then we were called back and asked to include 30 feet of sidewalk and an option to run more concrete to the front of the house. The person who is writing the review I have never been introduced to and dont know if I ever even met. There was a woman who showed up at the same time I did to present my presentation that I was thirty minutes late for but I had contacted the client in advance to let them know I was running behind on my schedule. The garage was also bid with other upgrades, a Heritage type 3-D roof versus a 3 tab, electrical wiring and a lighting allowance was added and a insulated garage door with an opener all which could be deducted or down graded. For example the garage door was an insulated door being installed on an un-insulated garage but this was included on the thought that the client would eventually insulate the garage. When we notified the client that we had all the bids together and we were assembling the bid we were also asked to include regrading the drainage on the lot which was also included. The cost of the city building permits were also added to the actual cost of the garage. The architectural drawings were suggested because there was a historical concern mentioned and more importantly it was explained to the client that the client would own the plans and they could therefore use the plan to get alternative bids from other contractors if I was unable to meet their budget expectations. Because the client worked directly with the architect, I was unaware of the delay in getting the drawings and I should have checked on this and did so the minute the client called me with concerns of delays and I did get the proposal to the client within ten days of receiving the blue prints as I had originally promised. When the client called and asked for additional drainage work around the garage, it was also determined that the sewer line for the house ran under the foundation for the garage and additional steps to taken to remedy any this problem as well is the removal of the line of trees along the alleyway and the pad that needed to be built up so that we could correct the rest of the drainage issues for the client. We even included an allowance of $250 for fine grading and seeding of the rear lot after the work was completed. Leaving in the cost of regrading the lot and removal of the trees but removing the additional upgrades the cost would have been at $48 per foot which was still too high for the clients budget and we apologize that we could not meet the expectations of the client but this is why we went through the bidding process to insure the client of what we could do and if the client feels that we have intentionally over priced the project, they own the plans and are free to do the project with another contractor of their choosing and we would be happy to provide any of our bids and estimates to the client or another contractor. We informed the client (a gentleman with a different name than the person submitting the review) before we started the process that it would be extremely hard to meet their budget expectations but we were willing to try if they wanted to have a third party draw the plans to insure that we were bidding apples to apples with anyone else that they choose to have bid the project. We again apologize for any misunderstanding and wish that we would have had the opportunity to involve this person in our discussions about the project and find it very disappointing to have these things written about our company from a person whom we have never met and this is what often happens with third party discussions and it is always good to take notes and ask the contractor to clarify any expectations in writing prior to the start of any project to make sure that everyone's expectations are equal. J. Stewart

Angie'sList Review Addendum (Dated 12/9/2013)

"Very odd, but when I searched Terravest Custom Homes today, my review and grade were nowhere to be found with Terravest receiving an "A" on recent reviews.  I have had this problem with Angie's List before.  Poor reviews are either missing or the service provider lies through their teeth (as is the case again here) and I, the consumer, has little if any recourse to tell the truth.

This account belongs to my wife, Elisa F, "the woman" referred to in the 10/21/13 response, and Mr. Stewart was introduced to her the first time he came to our home and again when he dropped off his ridiculous bid.  Let me just clarify a couple points made by Mr. Stewart in his lengthy, confused, and misleading response (there are so many inaccuracies that I will not attempt to answer them all):

As far as the "grading" and "upgrades" are concerned, Mr. Stewart is lying when he said that they were "added on".  We spoke about the grading ($250), the roof, door, electrical, and roof the first time we met and the second time when the architect came to plan his drawings, so Mr. Stewart's account is intentionally misleading.  The architect can attest to this fact if asked. Even then, we are talking about chump change compared to his overall bid of $30,000. I never called and asked for "additional drainage work", so Mr. Stewart is indeed a liar.  Take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to hire him for a job.

Winter is now here and my wife and I are scraping snow off our cars and freezing our buns off because of Mr. Stewart's incompetence.  Hopefully, Angie's List will DO THE RIGHT THING  and publish my review on Terravest's page so that other consumer's will not waste their valuable time or money.  I am downgrading my review to an "F" because Mr. Stewart is a liar and as a retired AIr Force lieutenant colonel and disabled Veteran, I have ZERO TOLERANCE FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT HONOR AND INTEGRITY ... ZERO!


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