Friday, July 22, 2005

Needing to vent...

I have been trying to keep this journey in the proper perspective these last few months but this week I am failing.

The more I discover about Dave Exline and Three Little Pigs Construction, the more I am shocked, awed, and amazed that he is still in business. His name has showed up at least 3 times on the court dockets in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties so far this year. At least 2 of them construction related. From what I can tell, he has spent more than his fair share of time in civil and small claims court. Of course in typical american justice fashion, going to court or settling a lawsuit is not an admission of guilt or wrong doing but it does make you wonder. Exlines current attorney(he has been represented no less than 5 attorneys the past 5 years) says he is a salt of the earth kind of guy, honest as the day is long, blah, blah, blah. If being in various stages of litigation is an indicator of saltiness and various court appearances are a sign of honesty, I would have to agree with those statements.

In this situation, the neighbors would tell me that the Three Little Pigs crew would show up at 7am and leave at 11am. That some days they would not come out, that they would look to be talking and joking and not working. I am positive that the only person with a Genreal Contractors license from Three Little Pigs Constrution, spent less than 25% of the time on my site. AND IT SHOWS. The crew he had out there were not real job site managers, or carpenters. Tim Exline(Dave Exlines son) may not have anything more than a high school diploma and he was the job site manager?!?!? Perhaps a closer look at Tim's history in a future post, will bring some clarification to the quality of the work and the work ethic the neighbors mentioned.

Is this a I hate Dave Exline site? No, it's that I hate what contractors are allowed to do to people site.

I have the perspective of someone who grew up in a very bad area. Where there were gangs, drug dealers, thugs and scam artists, etc. I have seen the hustle and the game played up close. The Contractors lobby has twisted the game in such a way that it puts almost ALL of the onus on the consumer to be educated, informed, and on top of things. Even then, it would be almost impossible to protect yourself from a bad contractor. You can call the police after someone has stolen your car or broke into your house. When a contractor screws you over, try getting the CSLB on the phone. Really, try.

The true problem is not so much with Exline but with how contractors are allowed to operate in this state. His actions and behavior is a learned behavior. In effect, contractors can legally take your money, not deliver the goods and services, not pay THEIR bills and leave the owner holding the bag. The bar to getting a complaint on a contractors record is more prohibitive than anything else. The best way I can describe it is this way. The CSLB must have consulted with the IRS's audit team about the level of documentation required to clear an audit in developing their complaint procedure.

In short, contractors have a better game than, the Pimp Game, the 419 Game, and the Three Card Monte scam. The reality is, a high school graduate with no real business or financial skills becomes a contractor and begins to build houses. Before you know it, this person is building 2-3 houses per year at an average cost of $375k. So you have this contractor dealing with subs, permits, owners, etc, and they have over 1 million dollars of budget responsibility. Some contractors handle this well, some do not. Some pay subs on time, some do not. Some play the shell game of "pay me for plumbing and then apply it to something else", where as some keep everything above board. Guess which one I got...

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