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Ms Sparky gets duped by a contractor

Posted August 9, 2010 By Ms Sparky

This is an exterior photo of our 28'x40' shop. It still needs painted to match the house.

As most of you know I try to refrain from posting personal stuff on MsSparky.com. Occasionally my grandson does something that has me beaming with pride and I just can’t resist sharing it. Today I make another exception.

My husband and I have been planning and saving to build a new shop/garage on our property. We did not want to finance it we wanted to pay cash. This is not a pole barn. This is a nice building, it’s 28′ x 40′, has 2″x6″ exterior walls, 10′ ceilings plus attic storage and designed to match the house. We even moved our septic drain field so we could put the shop exactly where we wanted it. That cost us.

One would think that my daily dealings with unethical and corrupt defense contractors I would have a heightened ability to detected and ward off contractor issues. Apparently not! I thought I had done the appropriate amount of due diligence when checking out contractors. This contractor came highly recommended and was licensed and bonded in the State of Washington. After the designing and permitting phase, work finally started mid April 2010.

I am an electrician not a carpenter, but I have an eye for “square, plum and level”. The carpentry work was great, no issues. Anyone who knows me is aware, if I had any issues, the contractor would know about it immediately.

Because we were building during the rainy season the contractor opted to pour the 28’x40′ slab after the building walls were up and the roof was completed. I didn’t see a problem with that.

Working feverishly to get that slab poured.

The day game to pour the slab…woo hoo! It was a chaotic but exciting time for me. The pouring of the slab meant we were almost done with the exterior and I could focus on the interior. There were two concrete trucks, a pumper truck and numerous vehicles parked down our country road. There were 6 people working the slab, 2 working the pumper truck and two concrete truck drivers.

At this point it appears all was well and ALL 15 yards of concrete were poured. The trucks left and it was like the calm after the storm. The cement finishers went to work. They worked for hours “floating” the floor. I had told the finishers I was intending to painting the floor so I didn’t want a glass smooth finish. I needed something for the paint or other finish to adhere to. We has specifically discussed something between a “broom finish” and “smooth as glass”. What I eventually got was nothing close to either.

I checked on the finishers periodically and they claimed all was good. When I could see they were about done I mentioned a very rough spot about 8 feet in and Tim the lead finisher patted me on the shoulder and said “Don’t you worry about that, that’s just an optical illusion. It’ll all be gone in the morning.” I know nothing about concrete work and took him at his word. Tim told me not to walk on the slab for three days and informed me it wouldn’t be totally cured for almost 30 days.

The next morning I went out to look at my new slab.  OMG!! The “optical illusion” was still there and in the daylight I could see other “optical illusions” as well. Some of the trowel marks are so bad they are tripping hazards. It looked as though my 7 year old grandson had finished the floor with a Mega Blocks! (click HERE for floor pics) Now I am getting very very concerned. The carpenters show up to work and I told them I didn’t want them walking on the floor for three days. I show them the floor, they agree it looks pretty bad and I sent them home. I contacted the contractor and expressed my concern about the finish. Keep in mind, I haven’t been able to closely inspect the entire floor as of yet because I was told not to walk on it.

The contractor stated he would make good on refinishing the floor but never did, so I fired him and contacted other concrete contractors to come out and bid on refinishing the surface. That’s when I am informed we had a MUCH MUCH BIGGER problem with the slab. The slab does not slope correctly. According to code it is required to slope out towards the garage doors  and this one does not. I actually found out first hand when a rain storm hit and water was flowing in under the door and puddling inside the garage.

In order to better determine what was truly going on with the floor, I divided it up into an approx 6’x6′ grid and used the intersecting lines of the grid as reference points (RP) for measurements. I hired a contractor with a laser transit to come out and measure the height of each reference point. I gave that data to my very smart husband and said “Here honey turn this data into a visual depiction of our concrete slab.” And as any very smart husband would do, he said “Yes, dear as you wish!”

He used 3-D graphical analysis software (don’t ask me anything about that) and input the data I gave him. He also input data of what the slab should look like using the industry standard of a 1/8″ per linear foot slope from the back to the front of the shop. (Note: It is difficult for the naked eye to discern measurements as slight as these, so the “Z” or vertical axis on both graphs have been adjusted to better illustrate the elevation changes)

This is what our garage floor should look like with the darkest red being the lowest point where the garage doors are and the lightest red being the highest point in the back of the shop where two storage rooms are.

This is what our garage floor actually looks like. With the dark red being the lowest points and the light red being the highest. You can see the highest point is near the center of the floor and slopes in all directions. Also, the lowest point RP31 in the front is where the water puddles when it flows in under the garage door. Note how the water will flow back towards RP01 into my two storage rooms

I have had several concrete contractors come out to see if there is any viable repair other than ripping out the slab and starting over. Everyone one of them stated there is no repair for this FUBAR’d floor. So the cost to rip out and replace the defective slab is an additional $8000. OMG!!!

The contractor is refusing to warranty his work as per the contract and now I have to sue him in Washington Superior Court just to get to his bond. Even with that there is no guarantee the bond company will pay. They are nothing more than an insurance company and we know how they operate. We are completely held up on finishing the interior until this floor issue us resolved.

I am asking all my REALLY REALLY REALLY smart readers for their opinion on this one. Any legal advice and or repair/replacement advice on this would be appreciated. This is going to be costly and I want to make sure I have thought it through thoroughly.

I am refraining from publishing the name of the contracting company at this time in an effort to make sure he doesn’t acquire any new “corporate” allies or financial benefactors in this fight. He is already claiming to have dissolved his LLC in an effort to not pay for this screw up.

If some of you have been wondering what has me a little distracted from MsSparky.com…….this is it!

Ms Sparky

Happy 105th

Posted May 22, 2010 By Ms Sparky

Some have said we are polar opposites! Haven't you heard....opposites attract!

Behind every psycho serial blogger who is committed to exposing corporate corruption in the Defense industry is a wonderfully patient husband who doesn’t give her too much grief for blogging and investigating 10-14 hours a day for free.

With that in mind, as my husband and I prepared to celebrate another year of marital bliss I feel the need to thank him for a few things.

Thank you for not getting too upset when we are talking on the phone and a call comes in from…Iraq, Kuwait, DC or wherever and I put you on hold for “just a second” and then don’t get back to you.

Thank you for not being too upset when the phone rings at 4am on a Sunday morning because someone in Iraq forgets we are on Pacific Standard Time not Houston Time.

Thank you for not being too upset if I forgot do do something important (like pay the cable bill) but can remember the names, dates and places of each electrocution victim from Iraq.

Thank you for not being too upset about the half finished projects that were started and then interrupted by “breaking news” or a “hot tip” from the Middle East. The blog post got finished but the project(s) is still in limbo.

Thank you for not trying to keep me from blogging even though you don’t understand where my passion comes from.

Thank you for 15 great married years (20 total) or as you would say, 105 dog years! I know it’s not easy being married to Ms Sparky so I’m sure there are times when it actually feels that long!


Even Ms Sparky needs a vacation!

Posted April 5, 2010 By Ms Sparky

Posing with his 3rd place Board Breaking medal! Woo Hoo!

After working on MsSparky.com 10-12 hours a day virtually 7 days a week for months on end….while at the same time maintaining my parental and domestic duties, even Ms Sparky needs to take an occasional break! Working those hours is reminiscent of my time with KBR in Iraq, only more interesting!

I’ve always been of the opinion when one goes on vacation and leaves the cat to guard the house, it’s probably not a good idea to blog or tweet about it prior to or during the trip. Unless of course you blog the code to the security system and ask them to clean the litter box and feed the cat while they are stealing your stuff. That’s why I didn’t officially announced my Spring Break trip.

For those of you who sent email asking if everything was OK and wondering why I haven’t been blogging, how thoughtful! Thank you.

I have been on an “almost” totally non-working Spring Break with my 7 year old grandson. Our Spring Break started with his first ever USTF Taekwon-Do tournament.  He’s a 9th gup and competed in the Pee Wee division. He earned a 2nd place medal in patterns, 3rd place medal in board breaking and 4th place medal in pad sparring. Yep I’m proud!

The following Monday we flew to our “2010 Spring Break” destination. I know exactly how I would feel after wading through security, spilling my coffee,  hauling my stuff to the gate, dealing with rude people, waiting in line, finally locating my seat only to find I was seated next to a 7 year old boy. I wouldn’t say anything out loud, but the conversation in my head would be “Shit shit shit shit shit! Valium? Anyone got a Valium?” And who could blame them? I do my best to minimize any potential periods of restlessness with plenty of low sugar snacks and activities. I try to keep the flights between 2-3 hours long even if it means more connections. You just can’t expect any child to sit still for longer than that. I am proud to say my grandson is becoming a well seasoned traveler and received quite a few compliments from the flight attendants and fellow passengers who were seated around us. He was more polite and better behaved than some of the adults on our flights.

My grandson and his "OMG elephants sure do stink!" face

At seven, he has mastered the four most important things in an airport, getting through security, finding our next gate, locating the restrooms and most importantly to me…..locating a Starbucks. He also manages his own bags. But, for some reason I can not seem to impart the importance of “keeping to the right” and pulling your bags in a straight line. He seemed to prefer the more tactical serpentine pattern and power walking on the moving sidewalks seem to be a favorite airport activity. He has mastered getting his bags on and off the up escalator but I am not ready for him to practice handling bags on the down escalator so we normally take the elevator which he is quite capable of “driving”.

I saw many tired parents with tired children and more often than not they were all crying, the parents included. I felt a sense of relief and no small amount of pride that we were actually having a good time at the airports.

After our week of traveling, visiting and sightseeing we headed home just in time to color eggs and enjoy a nice Easter dinner with husband. My grandson is now back in school and I am rested up and ready to hit it hard again.

My special thanks to Forseti who contributes consistently and who dutifully and without hesitation takes care of MsSparky.com whenever I need a break.

To everyone who keeps me informed of the dubious deeds of these nefarious Defense contractors and keeps me aprised of breaking news and events, you provide and invaluable service to MsSparky.com readers. I am but one person, and can’t possible follow it all. Thank you.

So for those adversaries and critics who assume I am just some former disgruntled KBR employee phsyco serial blogger with no life…..FOOLED YOU! I actually have a most amazing life!

Ms Sparky

Happy Halloween

Posted October 30, 2008 By Ms Sparky

I just love Maxine!

Very scary…Both of them! I’m voting for Maxine!



The Pumpkin Patch with my boys

Posted October 16, 2008 By Ms Sparky

Here are some pics of my two grandsons at the Pumpkin Patch. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

I had a lot more fun than I thought I would. Lucky me!

Ms Sparky