A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR SINGLE WOMEN BUILDING A HOUSE - 1010 Park Place
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A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR SINGLE WOMEN BUILDING A HOUSE

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I’ve progressed through the grieving phase and have moved from devastated to angry! I’ve been waiting for almost a year to build my home. This week the builder sent back my deposit—he’s had for almost a year—and informed me his homes and my “expectations of timing and level of customization are not compatible.”

The only thing not compatible is I didn’t fall for his song and dance about “getting me in by Christmas,” and I didn’t write him another check.

Every month, since last August, his representative told me they’d be ready to build “next month.” Next month turned into another month until last month—May—the woman I’d been communicating with said it was time to “choose my flooring.” Flooring? I don’t even have a floor plan, just a $1,000 deposit to get in line to be able to choose a lot on an unbuildable pile of dirt.

A month ago, the builder asked me to meet him onsite. He apologized for the “woman” who no longer represented his homes. As we sat in his truck he said, As one cancer survivor to another,” he wanted me to trust him; that he knew I’d put up with a lot of BS since last August, and he wanted nothing more than to start over and make things right for me. But first, I needed to choose my lot and write him another check.

I wanted to say, “Do you think I’m stupid?”

Instead I told him in preparation for our meeting, I’d called the head of the City Planning office to check on the approval process for his homes. The City said before he could even sell a lot—much less build—he needed to have a real street, curbs, and a completed infrastructure, then have it tested and approved by the City, and he wasn’t even close to having that done. Woah! He was not happy! He claimed he’d never heard of that person from the City. Yesterday, I paid the City Planning office a visit. BTW, it’s slightly bigger than my bedroom and is comprised of four people.

A few weeks later, another man from his office asked to meet me there, again. This time, they’d had a surveyor mark the lot they wanted me to buy with orange spray paint. I will say they’d made progress since the last time I was there. A giant, concrete drainage culvert had been poured… across the street from what would have been my front door. So that’s why he was going to give me $4,000 off the lot price!

Here’s part of my email to the builder:

“I trusted you. Any “expectations of timing and level of customization” came from you and people who represented you. You were well aware the only reason I sold my home was for the sole purpose of being financially able to build one of your homes. You knew I couldn’t afford to stay in my home–AND build one of yours at the same time–so I had no choice but to sell my precious home… the same home I shared with my husband who died there, on Christmas, five years ago. 

Home means everything to me. Online, I write, often, about “home.” My readers are women around the world who are cheering me on as I look for a new life after James’s death. It’s not just me they’re cheering on, or will be devastated and angry for, but themselves as well. They see themselves, or what may be themselves, in me. Baby Boomer women are a sisterhood: You hurt one of us, you hurt us all. Everyday, women like me, are downsizing and doing our best to protect what retirement money we have. Many widowed and/or single women have no one, but ourselves, to advocate for us, and every one of us fears being homeless, or having someone take advantage of us like this.“

Be cautious, girlfriends. We’re far from being our mother’s generation or having their naiveté. Even so… Beware.

Love, Brenda

37 Comments

  • Cathy Chester June 25, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Oh, that makes me so mad. How dare he treat you this way. Are you going to go ahead with him and this property? Buyer beware and all that. Brenda, you are so right about the sisterhood. I’m ready to get my pitchfork to come and stay by your side. GRR!

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Pitchfork… GRR! You’re sweet. No, I’m not going ahead with him and he obviously doesn’t want any part of me. I’m too smart for him. xoxox, Brenda

  • Esther Zimmer June 25, 2016 at 7:29 am

    I’m with Cathy, mad as can be on your behalf and poised across the pond with pitchfork in hand! Thanks for sharing such an important message but I’m so sorry to read that you’re going through this, Brenda. I know how much you were looking forward to having your home built and the plans you had made. You’re so right about the sisterhood, he hurt you and now we’re all hurting on your behalf. Sending so much love your way, Essie. xxxx

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you, my darling Essie! No, I’m NOT going ahead with him. I’m already looking for somewhere to live that involves good people and good karma. xoxox, Brenda

  • Meg Root June 25, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Extremely helpful. I haven’t had this experience around a home, but I feel very vulnerable when I take my car in for service. I saw an undercover news piece about the high percentage of mechanics who routinely—like 8 out of 10—charge women much higher prices and sell us unnecessary products. So maddening. I’m glad you seem to have your radar up.

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Meg, We all need to have our radar up and pass along these stories to our girlfriends. We are here to advocate for one another. Thanks, Brenda

  • cathy June 25, 2016 at 8:35 am

    I am in total agreement with Esther and Cathy! Makes me so mad! I just read a devotion that talks about being in the desert. It said even though it is tough and you may not feel like God is there, he is strengthening you. Soon enough, you can look back and know he was there all along taking care of you. You can use the desert time to help others, and look what you are already doing!!! You my friend, are helping others through that desert time! I know you will get a huge blessing from this horrible situation! xx

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      Thank you, Cathy! I also believe God uses situations to strengthen and temper us. He’s like a gold and silversmith, and because of Him, we’re being refined into a better person, worthy of meeting Him. xoxox, Brenda

  • Tara Sayers Dillard June 25, 2016 at 8:56 am

    G*d is moving you somewhere else. Once accomplished you’ll understand the path getting there. And be joyful.

    A client’s builder blamed their new house flooding on the major garden/patio installation I designed/contracted.

    Last of the boomer era, boy scout always prepared , we had pics of our work during entire process. Builder’s work caused the flooding. About a 2 minute find/send pics. Walked away. Cannot imagine the debacle without pics.

    Xotara

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Tara, I’m not surprised that you do good work and cover your backside! Brava! Yes, God is moving me somewhere else, and I’m so grateful He looks out for me. xoxo, Brenda

  • Barbara Hammond June 25, 2016 at 9:27 am

    I think this is a sign to move on to another location. The universe is guiding you where you will be better off than in this man’s development. But, if you need us to gather and picket or something, lmk! I’ll figure out a way to get there.
    xoxob

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Thank You!!! Don’t you just love all of the women in our sisterhood? We really lift one another up and look out for one another! The best thing we can do is share these kind of stories with the women we know. xoxox, Brenda

  • Lois Alter Mark June 25, 2016 at 11:16 am

    That’s infuriating. Just know that you have an army of us ready to fight with you. Just tell us what you need.

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks, Lois! Just tell all of the women you know to be aware when dealing with contractors, mechanics… and such. We need to share our stories with one another to raise our awareness.

  • Diane June 25, 2016 at 11:18 am

    There just seems to be someone in every arena, doesn’t there. Someone who will try to ‘take advantage’. The days of handshake agreements and trust are gone. So glad you had the chops (and the writing ability) to set this guy back on his heels. Well done, Sister!

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you, Diane! “From one cancer survivor to another… Trust me!” Ha! I wonder if he has any shame?

  • Alana Mautone June 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Standing up with a cheer. I still remember how someone scammed my mother in law over a driveway installation (one of these guys who showed up at her door out of nowhere) using the line “we are both (Italian)”. And there were the “contractors” who descended on my neighborhood after a devastating flood in 2011. Scum of the earth, those people who take advantage. Say it, sister. We are strong.

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Amen, Alana! Thank you! There are people… I hate to even call them “professionals,” who prey on the ones they think are the weakest, which is often single and/or older women. Unfortunately, our mother’s may have fallen for that, but I don’t think many of us will, do you?

  • Mamavalveeta03 June 25, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Hurray for strong women like you, Brenda! You’re nobody’s fool and no simple builder is going to fleece you. I find that the older I get, the stronger I get. I’m less afraid of not being liked. I stood up to an arrogant fisherman this week by surprising him from behind while he was attempting to do something he shouldn’t have. I sai, “What are you doing?” And that’s all it took. I told him that he needed to put the object down and step away. I felt like “Wonder Woman”!

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Yay, Wonder Val!! Let our voices be heard and share our stories with one another. xoxo, Brenda

  • Marika Burton June 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    So sharp of you to have had your antennae up! A few years ago (not that many) my sister and her husband put $25,000 down on a proposed condominium. Unfortunately, the builder went bankrupt before much was underway and they lost the entire amount. Hurray for you, Brenda! Seems as if it was not meant to be. On to the next challenge!

    • 1010 Park Place June 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Marika, Other than repeatedly asking how could they possibly start building & have me in by Christmas when they don’t even have the street in, and City approval? I asked him how do I know I won’t be the only finished or unfinished home out there? I know of a subdivision where for years and years, there was only one house. Really sorry your sister got caught in a bad scenario. xoxox, Brenda

  • Jennifer Connolly June 27, 2016 at 10:31 am

    You go Brenda!! I’m not surprised, and also delighted to hear you stand up and be counted. I detest being lied to and thus fellow picked the wrong gal. We have to do our homework and check detsils out for ourselves, always! Good luck.

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Jen, What angers me most is his line about “From one cancer survivor to another… trust me.” I once heard that if someone says, “trust me,” your antennae should be up. Sad, but that may be true. xoxo, Brenda

  • Haralee June 27, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Good for you Brenda. What a disappointment. I hate to think in 2016 we have to hide the fact that we are single or lie that our husband is out of town to get fair and reliable treatment in male dominated fields.

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Haralee, It’s so infuriating! Whether it’s getting our car or our air conditioner fixed, we’re soft targets. I really see how my late mother-in-law got to be such a mistrusting, crabby, old woman. Thanks!

  • Rena June 27, 2016 at 11:34 am

    I learned a lot about the building business as I watched my brother and I can tell you that it is all basically BS. I’ve never wanted to own my own home because of the things that I saw. I could never trust anyone with those kinds of decisions. It is hard when you only have to rely on yourself. Although, I’ve been married for years and years the decisions are always left up to me…even if I don’t want them to be! This is a valuable piece for any woman considering this process. What will you do now?

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Hi Rena, That’s alarming about the building business, but thank you for the input. I have a meeting this week with another builder that James and I had dealings with, so we’ll see. At this point, I’m just exploring my options. I’d rather have my money go toward building equity than just rent, plus my things have been in storage for 10 years. I want my things! I want a home that’s mine. xox, Brenda

  • Jen Lawrence June 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Oh this makes me so mad. I dealt with shifty developers who never closed out the building permit on a former matrimonial home and when it was time to sell it post-divorce, they refused to help me with the city inspector. Of course, that just gave me an excuse to sit in their offices and refuse to leave. I cannot stand people who take advantage of tough situations. Grrr.

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      Jen, I don’t know about you, but I’m counting on karma…. I can deal with anything as long as I know the facts, but lies… ? Grrr….

  • Jan Baird Hasak June 27, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I totally agree. It is furious to be scammed by con artists. You’ll find the right person, I know. Women baby boomers, unite!

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Jan, To think he pulled out the “cancer survivor’s unite” card on me! That’s really low. xoxox, Brenda

  • esrcornell June 27, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    A sign from the universe indeed… move along… you will find your place and you will instantly know that it is YOUR place… and I LOVE the idea that Baby Boomer women are a sisterhood… i’m going to tuck that thought in may back pocket for future use…!

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      I’ve been saying that all along, and yes, I believe I will know when I’ve found HOME.

  • Roxanne Jones June 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Arghh…I could feel my blood pressure rise as I read this! Good for you for doing your homework and standing your ground. Too many women (unfortunately) are afraid that advocating for themselves will tick people off. Well, it’s time we did both. Brava!

    • 1010 Park Place June 27, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Thank you, Roxanne. It’s been a real rollercoaster ride this last week. You’re right about women no advocating for themselves, and that scares me. I don’t know whether we need to “practice standing our ground” in front of a mirror or what, but it’s crucial we speak up for ourselves. Brenda

  • Susan Tolles June 29, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Oh Brenda, what a nightmare! Thankfully, you were rescued from navigating the entire process with such a disrespectful man. You have an army of women ready to march! But I know you will handle all this with such grace. God has something better in store for you! We will be excited when you find that perfect spot.

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