I love being outside. Absolutely love it. This last March, I finally decided to pull the trigger on building a patio in my small back yard to create some usable, enjoyable space. I got online, got a couple of bids, and I went with the guy who seemed to get my vision at a reasonable price.
Things started out at a quick pace. Lots of emails going back and forth with photos, drawings, and measurements. Once we had a prelim idea agreed upon, Mr. Contractor sent an invoice. I felt like I was getting a good deal, and the guy seemed legit.
There’s no bigger lesson in the world than learning you didn’t know how much you didn’t know.
Permits and licenses? Yeah, I should have probably done more research. I just figured Mr. Contractor would take care of any necessary paperwork. Mr. Contractor, by the way, is Frank Cameron of Artisan of Texas. I’ll be spreading that name far and wide in the next few days.
Got that Google?? Frank Cameron and Trey Cameron of Artisan of Texas and Artisan Decorative Concrete.
Once the design and pricing was decided, construction began with pouring a concrete slab. Did they level the yard like I thought they would? Nope. But hey, it’s OK. Let’s move on with construction. Next steps were supposed to be scoring the concrete to look like tile, then building the structures which would include a grilling area and a fire pit. Did Frank show up when he said he would? Well, no, but he was a busy guy!
I missed lots of little signs, like Frank asking for additional funds ahead of schedule, finding concrete all over the wall of my house, trash being left at the site each day, nothing being done in the order we discussed, and Frank asking me to order materials I thought were included in his quote.
We made some progress on the structures, and we moved on to installing the electrical wiring. Did I even think about permits or licensing? Nope. Thought it was handled if Frank was going to do the work. (Yeah, yeah. I know.) Frank mentioned he would be waterproofing an extension cord with silicone and duct tape, and yes, that’s when the first red flag started to fly. I did a little research on the internet, realized I was putting my home insurance policy at risk, and I called a licensed electrician to check out Frank’s work.
I talked with Frank last Thursday morning out on the patio, and he told me 3 of his checking accounts had been hacked, leaving him unable to use his debit card. Wut?? He asked for his last payment, which I refused. He said no problem, and I went on to work. Huge red flags flying at this point, by the way. Imagine my surprise to find a new invoice from Frank waiting for me in my email, with most of the charges increased. I replied with plenty of questions about the increases, and I also included some questions regarding permitting for the electrical and gas work. All of my emails and calls since that day have gone unanswered.
I met with a licensed electrician today. It is now perfectly clear why I haven’t heard back from Artisan of Texas. Frank installed interior rated wire in an exterior project, wire that was too small, installed illegal connections in my breaker box, and all sorts of other things I didn’t understand. I now face new expenses to have it all ripped out and rewired, but it’s worth it if it is done right and it is insurable. I wont even go into all of the issues with the gas line, but they will involve tearing out part of the concrete to run new gas lines.
Contracted services left unfinished include concrete caps installed, staining the concrete, painting the damaged wall of my house, and installing permitted electrical lines and gas to the grill and fire pit. As a special goodbye gift, Frank’s group left 3 bags of nasty, maggot-infested trash in my driveway and behind my house, along with abandoned trowels, buckets, mortar mix, broken tools, broken tile, etc. I also have to replace a missing padlock, gate clicker, hose box, and 2 garden gnomes which also ended up covered in concrete.
A lot of you will say I deserve all of the issues and extra expenses I will encounter to get this job completed in the correct manner. You may be right. It’s just money, and I’ll make more. My big, huge lesson here? Ask lots of questions before starting such a project. Get referrals, and check with friends and colleagues to see if I’m going about things the right way. And do a much better job of knowing what I don’t know. #LessonsLearned
**If you would like to help me spread the word about Artisan of Texas, please feel free to share my blog far and wide. I’ve filed complaints with the BBB, the FTC, Attorney General Gregg Abbott’s office, the People’s Lawyer at the Houston Chronicle, and www.RipOffReport.com. I’ll add additional complaints over the next few days. I’m also looking at my options in the courts, if only to get Artisan of Texas’s shoddy business practices on the record.