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Not Recommended - Review by John D | A1 Designs

A1 Designs


Not Recommended 1/25/2008

I have a small kitchen. I contracted with A1 Designs to start a remodel on 8/13. The remodel was to include new cabinets, granite countertops, sink, tile backsplash and installation of appliances I bought. I also contracted with them to replace some old knob and tube wiring in the original part of the house. I stressed that the job had to be done by October 1st since I had family coming to stay with me. If they weren't sure they could meet that date I asked them to start after October 15th. They had my cabinets in stock and they guaranteed (no problem!) that they would be done by Sept. 24th. I stressed the importance of this at least 5 times. They showed up in late August and ripped out my old kitchen. The electricians took about a week to replace the old wiring. Then no one showed up. For weeks. Phone calls to A1 went into voicemail and were never returned. The cellphone number Lena, the administrator gave me was disconnected. Emails went unanswered. (uh oh.) I called the granite supplier and asked if A1 had paid for my slab yet with the money I put up front for that purpose. They said it hadn't. I explained the situation to them and they were nice enough to give me the owner (Hector Fonseca's) cell phone number. I contacted Hector and he said they were waiting to schedule the electrical inspection, that was the reason for the delay. I called the building department and A1 had not even pulled a permit, let alone tried to schedule an inspection. I called Hector back and told him I was going to pull a permit myself and schedule the inspection, and if he didn't get started I would file a complaint and take him to arbitration. At that point they finally started work. However, my family had just arrived, I had no kitchen, all my kitchen equipment was in my guest room and there was nowhere for my family to stay. I let them stay in my room and slept in a sleeping bag in the basement. The workman they sent to install the cabinets worked for a few days then asked me to pay him directly to finish the job since Hector wasn't paying him. I contacted Hector and worked out an agreement where I would pay the guy and deduct the cost from the balance I owed him. This was now OCTOBER 12th. The guy was cutting wood in my garage and there was sawdust everywhere. In my toolbox, shelves, storage boxes, on all my equipment. There was no effort to cover anything with a tarp. Garbage was piling up in my garage making it unusable. After they installed the cabinets they again disappeared. I kept calling Hector and asking what I had to do to get them to finish the job. He asked me to pay for the granite slab with a credit card so that they could install it. (I had ostensibly already paid for it, but I paid anyway and deducted the expense from the balance.) They were clearly having financial problems. At this point I was wondering if they were going to finish the job at all. The granite installers did eventually show up. With some pressure, A1 sent a workman over to do the tile backsplash and install the appliances. They completed the majority of the work by November 10. There was still the final inspection, one broken hinge on a cabinet door and a pile of garbage in my garage (I had paid them for all refuse disposal). At this point I had to leave the country for 3 weeks so the final inspection would have to wait until I got back. I never imagined the job wouldn't be complete by November 15th. On my return they failed the final inspection for running a flex gas line through one of the cabinets where a frying pan might cut it and cause a gas leak or explosion. This was December 19th. After a month of trying to get a hold of Hector to get him to fix the gas line, I decided on January 19th that the $2K that I still owed him wasn't enough of an enticement to get him to come out and fix the problems. I bit the bullet and hauled the trash away myself, drilled and re-tapped the stripped screw on the hinge, and hired a plumbing contractor to re-do the gas line correctly. The plumber had to cut a large hole in the back of my cabinet, which I had to cover with veneer after the fact. It's now January 24th, four months after the "guaranteed" finish date and I finally have everything finished. (Assuming it passes final inspection tomorrow.) I about broke even on the $2K I still owed A1, which needless to say they are not getting. So in summary: They outright lied to me several times. They made an awful mess, some of which was never cleaned up. Much of the sheetrock that was patched due to the electrical work could have been patched better by a third grader. They walked away from the job without passing final inspection. I had to front money outside the contract agreement to get the job done. I had to do significant work myself to finish the job. On the plus side the kitchen looks great, and the price was reasonable. more
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