Monday, October 29, 2007
Help Me Howard: Construction
If you have gone outside in the past few months and looked up, you might have noticed condos and office buildings seem to be going up on every other block and to borrow from an old phrase, what goes up, well sometimes comes down. If you are under a building, that can be a pain, but what can you do if debris falls off and damages your property and the builders refuse to pay, make one call. Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Abraham Echeverria: "We repair Ferraris, Porches, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Mercedes, Jags."
Expensive cars with extensive damage. Enough to drive you crazy, unless you get paid to fix them.
Abraham Echeverria: "Ninety nine percent is just high-end European cars. I like cars to start with, and I make a good living out of it."
Lately though, Abraham is spending less time fixing cars and more time trying to fix a nearby problem.
Abraham Echeverria: "Debris falls all over our cars, cement, glasses have been broken. It's just been an ongoing problem since day one."
An office building is being built a few feet from the body shop where Abraham's employees work and park, but the distance doesn't stop the damage.
Abraham Echeverria: "Concrete splatters and debris that falls from the roof like nails and pieces of wood and rocks that fall from their construction site."
And it's not just employees who are getting hammered from above, customers' cars are getting dinged as well.
Abraham Echeverria: "If you have a car, and you have a Ferrari, and somebody splashes concrete on your hood or your fenders, you don't want your car to be repainted. Once you repaint one of these cars, it loses value."
Of course when a customer's car is damaged, Abraham has to repair it, and the money is pouring out of his pocket every time concrete pours out of the mixers at the construction site.
Abraham Echeverria: "I can tell you we probably have, in damages, $50,000 worth of damage easily."
And not only is the site damaging his cars, on one day, they even shut down his business when their crane broke and leaned over his lot.
Abraham Echeverria: "We had to close down for a day and a half. A crane fell over."
Abraham Echeverria: "We had no revenue for a day and a half, and, with a business like ours with almost 40 employees, a day and half of business is a lot of money for us."
As you can imagine when Abraham's customers find out their Ferraris and Lamborghinis had concrete polka dots, they aren't going to be happy about it.
Abraham Echeverria: "Hurting the reputation and my business completely."
Abraham Echeverria: "These are customers I may never get back ever again just because of the negligence of the construction next door to me."
Armed with pictures and police reports of two dozen damaged cars, Abraham asked the owner of the building to pay for the repairs.
Abraham Echeverria: "At the beginning they said they would take care of it and have done nothing about it."
When he asked the construction company, they blew him off and lately have gotten belligerent when the damage occurs.
Abraham Echeverria: "And last time they broke one of my employee's back glass on his Mercedes, the guy got rude, and he wanted to start a fight, and one of the city inspectors had to call the police on the guy."
Abraham's employees would love to park somewhere else, but this is Coral Gables and space is tight.
Abraham Echeverria: "We own the property, and this is the only area we have to park. We have no other parking."
No place to park and no luck getting their cars repaired, but is the construction site responsible? For a concrete answer, let's turn to that guy from Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "Whether you are building a building, or just painting your home, you have a responsibility to insure that no debris no dust or materials damages your neighbor's property. If it does you have to pay for it."
When we spoke to the construction company's attorney they would not admit their work damaged the cars, but they said they submitted Abraham's claims to the insurance company for reimbursement.
Coral Gables' city manager told us they have been to the site several times demanding it be maintained better, and to guarantee it is, the city has issued the contractor an ultimatum:
Keep it clean or face fines.
Howard says if the construction company tries to dodge responsibility, they will fail.
Howard Finkelstein: "When their attorney refused to admit they were responsible, that's lawyer talk. Listen, there is concrete on Abraham's property. There is a building going up across the street. Despite what some people think, the law does use common sense occasionally, and, in this case, it's clear who damaged the cars."
With the claims submitted Abraham hopes the repairs are made, and, with the structure, the days of damage will be done.
Abraham Echeverria: "I understand they have to do their construction, and I understand that accidents happen. If accidents happen, just admit it and take responsibility for what you did and pay for it."
Since Abraham talked to us, and the city of Coral Gables issued the ultimatum, we are told everything has been fine.
Abraham says the debris has stopped falling, and the streets are clean.
In other words, he called us, and the the contractor paid attention.
Seem like troubles are falling from the sky? Don't head for cover. Head over to us. We can't build a shelter, but we can construct a concrete solution.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: