Joshua Garfinkle and NHCRS
or Home Repair Follies
or Always Read the Fine Print
by Ric Werme (not Paula!)

Paula, who is a lawyer and knows better, and I, who found some people displeased with work by NHCRS, should have not entered into this contract. However, we did drop some stuff that it wasn't time for, and most of the remaining work was pretty straightforward so I figured things wouldn't go too far wrong.

It turns out quite a bit can go wrong with a simple job. Oh well, I had been meaning to recaulk the bathtub for a long time.

Overlapping the work, NHCRS Services, LLC was getting some attention from local news media about shoddy work, delays, and their non-disparagement clause in their contracts. There are significant issues about whether that clause is enforceable, but I didn't sign the contract, so I'm off that hook.

Paula wrote up a review of their work that's well worth reading, concluding

WE ARE VERY HAPPY WITH THE WORK DONE BY NHCRS AND JOSHUA GARFINKLE'S SUBCONTRACTORS. It is clear they did the work as stated in the contract, and did it well. The caulk lasted almost six weeks before it had to be completely re-done. I couldn't find any evidence that there was any mortar mixture behind the tile to apply caulk to, but if it was in the contract, I'm sure it's there somewhere.

The caulking is a bit of a mystery. I think it's siliconized latex, which is cheaper than 100% silicone rubber, but the difference is in the noise, so there's no reason not to use the good stuff. The installation was poor, the excess around the bead wasn't cleaned up, but I noticed it wasn't adhering, and heck, even the main bead rubs off with a light touch. Very odd, perhaps the caulk got damaged by freezing. I'd like to know where that went so wrong.

However, the main goal of this page is to collect some of the references we've found around the web to make this a focal point for people are looking into hiring NHCRS. If you've already had some work done by them, well, I'm sorry to hear that, and hope that the experience hasn't been too harmful.

News coverage.

NH's other TV station, Bill Binnie's WBIN in Concord ran three reports on Garfinkle by Celine McArthur and Freddy Wheeler:

Reviews

Keep in mind that people are much more likely to post negative reviews on things that go wrong than good reviews on things that go right. However, people are also a lot less likely to post reviews when they have have signed a non-disparagement clause with a $7,500 cost if they violate it.

Oh - note that any negative reviews linked to here are not our reviews!

About that fine print

The contract from NHCRS was a thing of oddness and befuddled me for a while. It came to us as a .pdf file, which is fine, but the text was too small to read without stretching the viewer as wide as possible on my 1600x1200 display.

For example, here is a screen capture of a piece of Paula's .pdf file:

Here is the work item for the mortar and caulking. Yeah, pretty expensive, especially since it looks like no mortar was applied, but I thought the ceiling work, given that the house was built in 1840, would contain surprises that balance things out:

Here's the non-disparagement clause. Try reading a full page of this stuff!

Here's a closeup showing how few pixels each letter has. The "high frequency noise" of the square pixels actually makes this harder to read.

It turns out that a fundamental problem is that the proposal was created in a spreadsheet instead of a word processor. This lend itself to large, nonstandard size pages, 13.93" x 18.03" in this case. The gray on white text also causes problems as all of the pixels picked up some of the light background.

Printed on a laser printer, the text wasn't much more readable, it was still well too tiny to read easily. What may be easy is to argue in court that the fine print was designed to discourage people from reading it.

On Licensing Contractors

The NH1 stories point out that NH doesn't license contractors and implies it would be good if we did. In general I support the Libtertarian ideal of a small government with few regulations, and still oppose licensing.

On the other hand, it's very important that citizens be able to choose a contractor (or hair dresser, or car driver) so I don't support allowing non-disparagment clauses to have the force of law. In fact, there should be a trade - in return for not licensing contractors, contractors should not attempt to block public review of their work. The existing slander and libel laws should provide adequate protection from vindictive customers and others looking to disrupt someone's livelihood.

Caveat emptor!


Contact Ric Werme or return to his home page.

Written 2016 Aug 14, last updated 2016 Aug 14.