Thursday, 22 September 2011

Good Neighbour Fence???

The fence

We will call them May & Jay.  At present May & Jay, my neighbors, are no longer on speaking terms with my family and I.  They communicate in grunts, groans and frequent exasperating sighs.  If we are heading out and our neighbors happen to be outside, they will loudly sigh, grunt and groan as they head straight into their house.  My daughter has said hi to May several times and this adult will completely ignore my 3 year old.  I come outside transporting an extremely large and pungent garbage full of dirty diapers, which is a daily event, and May is outside watering her plants again for the 4th time that day,  I am still trying to figure out what this 30 something woman does for a living, she will stop what she is doing, grunt loudly and head into her house.  I often wonder how immature can people truly get.

We use to have friendly conversations about the weather; the economy and we would even offer each other a cold beverage at times.  How did this relationship with our neighbors plunge into the depths of such disdain?  I am going to tell you.

I am going to start from the beginning.  Well not really the beginning, but they seem to think it is where all this started so I am going to start at May and Jay's beginning.

Erika smiling as usual

The beginning was 3 years ago when our other neighbor decided it was time to build a cement retaining wall in between our properties.  In doing so we would also get steel fence posts put in for future use.  After talking it over, my wife and I decided that it would be a good idea to get the other 2 sides done as well.  We approached May & Jay about the idea, that we had a contractor doing all the work and that he charged 18$ a linear foot.  They stated quite clearly that they would not be interested in splitting the cost of the retaining wall with us.  I told them that I understood and that we would be going forward with the retaining wall non-the less.  The work was near completion with the forms in place and the final touches being done so that everything was ready for the cement that was coming the next day.  That is when May approached me and asked if we were still interested in splitting the cost of the retaining wall.  I more than gladly accepted.  Then May quickly ask to add a couple more posts and a couple more feet to the project.  I saw no issues and the contractor made quick work of it having everything ready for the next days pour.   Then came time for the bill.  The contractor handed me the invoice which was very close to what he quoted me, he even broke down the cost of the shared fence so that it was very easy to figure out the split cost which came to 1300$.  I made a copy of the invoice and brought it over to May & Jay.  2 days later May came over to our house and handed me 800$.  I asked her if I would be getting the rest of the money when they got their next paycheck.  May explained to me that 800$ was how much they felt the work was worth and that is all they will be paying.  I remained calm despite my surprise and simply said "Oh, ok."
Trust me after I closed the door, my wife and I said a few unpleasant things about them, but we kept our heads and figured 800$ was better than what they had originally said they were going to contribute.  2 days later May was on my door again and she had the other 500$ in hand saying that they felt bad about agreeing to splitting the cost and then not following through.  I expressed my gratitude and we carried on with being agreeable neighbors.  We will remain bit leery of them but still an affable relationship.
Austin couldn't be happier

Last year my other neighbor started to put up his fence.  I jumped on the wagon and we installed a black chain link fence on our back part and on our shared fence line.  I approached May & Jay about putting chain link up on our shared side of the property and they begged me not too, saying they wanted to put up a wood fence.  Being fairly easy going I had no problem with such a request.  I asked when they wanted to do this and they wanted to wait till next year when they will have the funds to do so.  I agreed to their request and we held off on completing the fence.

Before the fence was up

Spring is almost over and summer is quickly approaching and no word as to if and when this fence project was going to start.  Then out of the blue May comes over to tell me that they will start work on the fence in 2 days.  With my job I require 90 days notice to be able to request specific days off.  And even that does not mean I will get approved for those days off.  I mentioned this to them many times during the winter, but I guess 2 days notice is OK.  In any case I told her I would help as much as I can.
Do you mind, I'm pooping.

Jay committed to welding the tabs on the fence posts while I was at work.  I got home around noon and went straight to their backyard helping them with the back part of their fence till diner time.  The day after I had to go out of town for a doctor's appointment for my son.  One of those 6 hour round trip.  Not something you make your wife do on her own with 2 young ones.  I got back at around 4 in the afternoon and still managed to help with the completion of the fence for another 5 hours.  After all was said and done, I brought out some beers and we chatted about stuff.  Jay said once he sat down and figured it out he would let me know what our share of the fence would be.

2 days later while I was at work again, Jay dropped off and invoice.  The invoice for the wood fence stated:

77 ft @ 25$ a linear foot = 1930$
1930$ / 2 = 965$

They wanted 965$ for our half of the fence.  The numbers didn't make sense to me so I went to a few places getting quotes on what it would cost to get a fence build out of wood.  The highest quote I received was 778$.  That included everything from wood to screws.  The 778$ was the total cost.  That would mean that our half would be 389$, but that is before you take of the cost of materials I provided as well.  The metal tabs Jay welded on the fence posts cost 178$ and he used 30 on our common fence and 20 on his back fence.  So I was having trouble dealing with this invoice of 965$.  Especially since 77 multiplied by 25 does not equate to 1930.  I knew exactly what they were trying to do, they wanted me to pay for the whole damn thing.  So I had to wait a few days before going over and having chat with them because I could not trust that I would stay civil when discussing the issue at hand.  I took counsel with my father trying to get someone with a cooler head and a wealth of knowledge in dealing with people and their ignorance.

I made my inquiries, checked with city officials and vented to many people.  Once I was confident in my position I went over to May & Jay and asked them how they arrived at the numbers showing on their quote.   May simply stated that they had put a lot of work into that fence and that they wanted to be paid for their trouble.  I asked for some receipts and stated clearly that in no way could they charge me for labor they did on their own property, especially since they had not even discussed it with me prior to the work.   She began to argue and then said she would get me the receipts but stated that she didn't have any receipts for the gas they spend on driving around getting the material or the electricity they used while welding.

The next day there was an envelope sticking out of our mailbox.  It was a letter stapled to a stack of receipts.  I siphoned through the stack attempting to piece together what all these receipts were for and to what avail.  After reading the letter I came to the conclusion that they wanted me to pay for half the tools they bought to build the fence.  I will not go into detail but out of the 1400$ in receipts, 836$ was applicable.  I included the pencils and the drill bits.  I did not include the wood they used for their back fence nor the measuring tapes and power cords.  I then subtracted half of what I paid for the metal tabs that went onto the fence posts.  I wrote them a check clearly writing that this was the final payment for our half of the fence.
Guess where I am sitting

The check that I wrote for 338.49$ was cashed.  I did not respond to their letter in which they declared me an a$$hole and they found it appalling that I would not pay them for their work considering if we had gotten a contractor it would have cost twice as much and that I would have had no problem paying for 50% of it then.  In reality I would never had agreed to pay for a contractor to put up our fence when the year before I was ready to do it myself and for an even smaller price tag.  The other issue I have is that they never took into consideration the work I put into helping them put up their fence or the work i put into my own fence.  My own labor and the materials I supplied were trivial to them but I am the a$$hole.  My father told me to take the high road and to not respond to the letter.  I am glad I did.  The behavior proves to me that they wouldn't have bothered to try and see my point of view let alone how the real world is.  
Monster Truck

May & Jay can continue to stew in their fenced yard ignoring my family and I with their grunts and groans.  As I look back on this whole situation, I regret actually not paying their bill.  Why you ask?  Because last winter I used my snow blower to clear their sidewalk and part of their driveway close to 12 times.  Now at the going rate I feel I am worth I figure i could have sent them an invoice for an easy 1300$.  And with winter just around the corner, I just think of all that potential income lost.  ***SIGH***   Hind sight. 
Austin trying to change Erika's bum

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