Tuesday, August 28, 2007

YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH - CONTRACTORS POST KATRINA

DAY 28



O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength,

but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

--Shakespeare - Measure for Measure




NOTE:

If what you are reading looks like this: it is my opinion and commentary.

If what you are reading looks like this: it is from the Rebuild Green website and the contract from Rebuild Green with Mrs. G. who has given me her full permission to publish the terms of the contract, her quotes, her story and pictures of her home.

If what you are reading looks like this: it is from Mrs. G.

I you would like to read more about Mrs. G and how I met her:




I don't know who put in the doors and the doorways. What I do know is they were not put in according to code - they are too narrow and the sill where you walk - has nothing under it supporting it. Whomever did this to a 74 year old woman has something seriously wrong with them!


From the Contract between Mrs. G and Don Paul, President of Rebuild Green in the Common Ground Community Development Corporation:


Rebuild Green shall repair and renovate four aspects of the house’s interior: Electrical, Plumbing, Walls and Ceiling, and Flooring so that each becomes functional so that the house becomes habitable for Mrs. G.”


You decide - did Rebuild Green fulfill their contractual agreement?




The space around the air conditioner - unfinished with a piece of wood hammered over it.

Notice the finishing work on the trim, in the hall closet the trim falls out.

The window - unfinished, no trim and notice the gap in the wood in the center of the sill.



Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:

7. Baseboards
(With the exception of 1-1/2 rooms of installation - NOT INSTALLED - some base boards were left in pile on the floor in the kitchen)





"Flooring shall include a plywood base and a topping veneer over all of the house’s approximate 1600’ square feet of interior floor space."

(Note: I have been told by other contractors who have come to estimate fixing Mrs. G's house so that she can move in, that the type of veneer Rebuild Green used on her floors absorbs water, to put down a carpet over it to avoid water getting on it and that if there is another flood the floors will be destroyed. In my opinion, if this is true, then putting in these floors was not a “green” solution.)




Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:

7. Baseboards
(NOT INSTALLED with the exception of 1-1/2 rooms)



The sheet rock is already cracking and it is bowed out. I have been told by contractors that this needs to be repaired.




Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C___ Street in New Orleans:

7. Baseboards
(NOT INSTALLED with the exception 1-1/2 rooms)



"Walls and Ceiling shall include sheetrock to cover the ceiling and all studs in the fully gutted house." "Painting and taping included. "




* * * * * *

"Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:"


"10. Ceiling fans"
(NEVER RECEIVED - NOR INSTALLED)

* * * * * *



From the contract:
"Electrical shall include the house’s power boxes, it’s interior wires, circuits, outlets and switches:"





Hmmm... the wire hanging out of the ceiling? I was told by an electrician that a carlon box is supposed to be there so a light can be hung. I believe this is part of the electrical in the contract.




Some of the windows were left with no glass in the panes. Notice how the light comes through the framing of the window in the last picture?

Question: if the wood was salvageable around the windows where the flood waters did reach, why was all the wood crown molding removed where the flood waters did not reach? And if gutting was done (and charged for - see terms of contract) why was it not done on the 2 back rooms where there is wood slats and where a mold problem is now developing?



Although the picture is not of good quality - I give thanks to the volunteer who took some of these photo's on behalf of Mrs. G in March before I met her - it shows the wood gutted out of the house. Mrs. G tells me that the floors used to be tongue and groove oak and the crown molding Mrs. G told me, was beautiful.


So I will ask this question on behalf of Mrs. G again - "Why was the crown molding on the ceiling which had no water damage due to flooding removed and tossed into this pile and the wood molding around the windows which was under water left?"


And guess who hauled out most of this wood to the curb?
A 74 year old woman, a couple of pieces at a time each day.



"Sprayed on popcorn "style ceiling - which was then painted. The paint is peeling and needs to be scraped and repainted. Another repair Mrs. G is now responsible for.



Again, I am no contractor or builder, but why would you spray on "popcorn" in a bathroom shower and then paint it? It is already peeling and she hasn't even used it. Imagine what it will be like after taking showers and baths when water and steam get built up on the ceiling. Am I wrong about this?





From the contract:
Plumbing shall include a cleaning out of all existing pipes and the installation of faucets, toilet, and bathtub.

(These are the original bathtubs. Did Rebuild Green mean that they would install a new tub? Why write in the contract that you would install a tub if the tubs are already in the home? All that was done to the tubs was to leave them a mess, each has to be refinished.).


Notice the lack of a shower head - faucets?




Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:


12. Sink
(TO MY KNOWLEDGE - NEVER INSTALLED IN ANY OF THE BATHROOMS)

Sinks were not installed - with out the sink - faucets cannot be installed.


From the contract:
Plumbing shall include a cleaning out of all existing pipes and the installation of faucets, toilet, and bathtub.



Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2334-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:


From the contract:
2. Kitchen cabinets, floor to sink, 3’ to 4’ high and composing a total length of 12’ feet for each kitchen of the double shotgun house.

(NOT COMPLETED NOR BOUGHT)


The only reason there is a kitchen sink and cabinets is thanks to the volunteers from Plenty Inernational Sarah, Stu and Nate and the college kids from Chicago.


They are not responsible for the horrible tile work - the tile work was done by another contractor who did not even level it, grout it and left it unfinished. The contractor, Sterling Contractors was paid.


Sterling Contractors was also responsible for hanging the light fixtures and finishing the electric and trim work. The electric was not finished nor was the trim and 3 out of the 4 fans hung did not work as they were improperly hung.


The "ungutted" back rooms:




From the contract:
Walls and Ceiling shall include sheetrock to cover the ceiling and all studs "IN THE FULLY GUTTED HOUSE" . Painting and taping included.


See the wood slats in these back rooms? Even I know that water will sit in between the studs and these pourous walls if the house has been flooded.


This house was NOT FULLY GUTTED as stated in the contractural agreement - "fully gutted house" - now there is a growing mold problem that could eventually make Mrs. G very ill.



The back room.



The following photo's are from the left side of her home. She owns a double shotgun - on the contract under materials purchased it states:


Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:

The following are photo's of the uncompleted work done by Rebuild Green on the 2324 side of the house:







Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:



From the contract:
2. Kitchen cabinets, floor to sink, 3’ to 4’ high and composing a total length of 12’ feet for each kitchen of the double shotgun house.

(NOT COMPLETED NOR BOUGHT)




From the contract:
Plumbing shall include a cleaning out of all existing pipes and the installation of faucets, toilet, and bathtub.

Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2334-26 Congress Street in New Orleans:


12. Sink
(NEVER INSTALLED IN EITHER BATHROOMS)


13. Three face bowls

(?) I am unsure of this. I know Mrs. G bought 2 vanity/sinks since I have been helping her. There is one broken "face bowl" sitting on the floor in her bathroom.







The only reason these doors are secure from people breaking in and sleeping in this section of the house is because in early June of this year, Stu who was with Plenty at the time, took care of them for her. No one has broken into her house since.



Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:

7. Baseboards
(NOT INSTALLED)



From the contract:
"Electrical shall include the house’s power boxes, it’s interior wires, circuits, outlets and switches."




(Again - I am no contractor or builder - but to me the last 2 electrical outlets - I am amazed as to how they were cut into the wall and then left. It seems like sloppy work in my opinion - 2 of them are not even screwed in one is just on the bottom!)




* * * * * *
"Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans:"

"10. Ceiling fans"
(NEVER RECEIVED - NOR INSTALLED)


* * * * * *


I have typed the following as written from the original documents with the contract from Rebuild Green:

Materials (paid for) by Mrs. G’s house at 2324-26 C__ Street in New Orleans

1. 100 panels of 4’by 8’ sheet rock


2. Kitchen cabinets, floor to sink, 3’ to 4’ high and composing a total length of 12’ feet for each kitchen of the double shotgun house.

3. 50 pounds of Joint Compound

4. 600 square feet of laminate flooring

5. 400 square feet of ceramic tiles

6. Six 5-pound tubs of grout

7. Baseboards

8. Outlets, switches


9. Alarm


10. Ceiling fans


11. Heater tubing


12. Sink

13. Three face bowls




From the Contract between Mrs. G and Don Paul

President of Rebuild Green in the Common Ground Community Development Corporation:


“Rebuild Green shall repair and renovate four aspects of the house’s interior: Electrical, Plumbing, Walls and Ceiling, and Flooring so that each becomes functional so that the house becomes habitable for Mrs. G.”



Electrical shall include the house’s power boxes, it’s interior wires, circuits, outlets and switches.

Plumbing shall include a cleaning out of all existing pipes and the installation of faucets, toilet, and bathtub.

Walls and Ceiling shall include sheetrock to cover the ceiling and all studs in the fully gutted house. Painting and taping included.

Flooring shall include a plywood base and a topping veneer over all of the house’s approximate 1600’ square feet of interior floor space.



All materials included in the $18k price.



The work and schedule of payments shall priced on a stage-by-stage basis.
November 14, 2006: Gutting of ceiling to begin--to be completed in tree days.
First payment, $2000 to Rebuild Green


November 20, 2006: Plumbing and electrical to begin
Second payment, $5000 to Rebuild Green


November 27, 2006: Plumbing and electrical to continue-- to be completed by December 2, 2006. Third payment, $5000, to Rebuild Green

December 4, 2006: Expected completion of all aspects of renovation by December 10, 2006.
Fourth payment, $6000, to Rebuild Green



“It is thus Rebuild Green’s intention to do the work for $18,000 total (about 1/3 the amount estimated to do the work by a General Contractor on November 10, 2006). Rebuild Green reserves the right to add $2000 to its charges if unforeseen expenses arise in the course of renovation.


Mrs. G paid in full she estimates about $22,oooo. The checks she paid with had disappeared so I took her to her bank and we asked the bank to make copies of the bank statements when the checks were written, so she has proof that she paid in full and then some. ..



On the last page of the contract:


“…Rebuild Green recognizes the tremendous contributions and possibilities that M__ G__ has as a leader for an Upper 9th Ward community which urgently needs the kind of vigorous, compassionate engagement she can offer. We remain hopeful that we can fulfill our intention of making this house a fine base for her life and work.”


Don Paul President of Rebuild Green
in the Common Ground Community Development Corporation.



Why it means something to me when a non-profit claims that it is "they" who are serving the elderly, women, the poor and are against exploitation and fraud and then this happens to an elderly, African American woman they are claiming to protect and uphold:


"In the Upper 9th Ward Last weekend fifteen home-owners of New Orleans' Upper 9th Ward agreed to consult with Rebuild Green and Invest Construction of the Common Ground Collective on rebuilding or repairing their houses in a sustainable way.

All of these home-owners are elderly or middle-aged and eleven are women. All are African-American and all are long-time residents of New Orleans. All, too, report the same story in terms of difficulty in accessing the funds they need to begin or complete work on their homes.
...These 9th Ward residents' problems are reminders that the battle for New Orleans remains ongoing. The forces contesting for this city are now to a stage of the battle less obvious than when Black and Brown residents were abandoned in floodwaters or refused the right of return to their homes. The message from above these residents to them, however, still is: You don't matter. Or, at best: You matter less than other people.

Rebuild Green and Invest Construction of the Common Ground Collective want to address these problems head-on. We want to build safe, strong housing that can withstand the next hurricane and flooding. We want to use recycled materials. We want to offer renewable-energy features and geo-thermal heating and air-conditioning. We want to employ low-income communities in a sane, equitable, humane reconstruction of their city. "

We're already doing some part of all the above tasks. With the help of donors such as yourself, we've begun to make material progress. Clearer and clearer to us, however, is the reality that we have a lot more to do and that good changes can only come through independent, uncompromised, non-exploitative means.



Mrs. G tells me, "this hurts her the most," she feels betrayed. She told me "Malik of Common Ground and Don Paul of Rebuild Green promised me that my house would be a 'showcase' house for Common Ground and the community."



"People see this car and think I have money. It is all I got left. I am on a monthly income from Social Security."

"I am just tired".

"It grieves my spirit, it leaves me very upset that I am still living in this trailer after I gave Don Paul Rebuild Green all my money."


I can't end this blog posting with the words IN PEACE - for I am not. My heart is deeply troubled and I am angry. To paraphrase a qoute of Miss Elizabeth's: I feel the anger of one who witnesses injustice committed upon another by those who claim for all to hear that "they" come in the name of ending injustice".



Oh, I have suffered

With those that I saw suffer!


--Shakespeare - The Tempest



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