The following represents the entirety of my experience with Curtis Saffian, his business, Curtis Saffian Restoration Services (aka SRS, Inc.), and all the efforts I have gone to to get relief against his unconscionable lack of professionalism.
A little background first: The home that I hired Curtis Saffian to work on at 2705 Heathersmith Court, Raleigh, NC, was owned by my uncle. He is a 76 year old man with Autism. He has a severe communications disorder, is only marginally verbal, generally illiterate, and not competent (according to his doctors and his family members) to contract or negotiate. Because his parents (who died decades ago) never sought guardianship, he remains “legally” independent. But his sister (my mother) and I function as guardians to the degree we can, with his cooperation.
The renovation project undertaken on my uncles home was done so on my uncles behalf, with his sanction. I had a limited power of attorney filed in order to give me legal status to contract this work on my uncles behalf.
February, 2015 – On the recommendation of Weather Master Services (plumbing & restoration), I contacted Curtis Saffian by phone to request an estimate on undertaking the restoration and remodeling work on the house at 2705 Heathersmith Court, Raleigh, N.C.
We met at the house and discussed the work that needed to be done. The project included:
— Remove and replace carpets throughout house (upstairs and downstairs).
— Remove and replace vinyl flooring in bathrooms (2).
— Remove and replace the wood laminate in kitchen and dining room.
— Repair and re-paint cabinets in kitchen.
— Replace vanities in 2 bathrooms.
— Replace all cabinet doors in kitchen.
— Replace all cabinet hardware with new fittings, hinges, handles. (Kitchen and 2 bathrooms.)
— Replace water damaged cabinet in kitchen and move sink location from corner to under kitchen window (about 1 foot from original location).
— Replace counter tops in kitchen and bathrooms (2) with granite.
— Replace sinks, faucets, etc. in kitchen and bathroom (2).
— Refinish/restore surface on bathtub insert in master bath.
— Install a sliding shower door on master bath insert.
— Remove divider wall and door in master bath which separates toilet, in order to open the space.
— Make general repairs to sheet rock throughout house.
— Repaint interior of house, upstairs and downstairs.
— Sheetrock unfinished garage.
— Power wash and repaint exterior of house, replacing/repairing trim or siding boards as needed.
— Re-stain the back deck.
Mr. Curtis Saffian took photographs and measurements of the work, and promised an estimate within the week.
At the time of this walk-through there were still several items of furniture in the house that I indicated I would remove (which I did shortly), or that I needed to stay with the house; specifically two large size California shelf sets that were to remain in the garage and convey with the property upon sale.
I communicated to Curtis Saffian that my goal was to have the project completed by the end of April, in order to have the house listed for sale for the spring showing season. He agreed and said the project would take no more than a month.
March 5, 2015 – I received an estimate from Mr. Saffian on March 5, 2015 via email. (See PDF below.)
The amount of the estimate was $20,000 for the entire project. He requested (via phone call), ½ the amount down payment as deposit to begin work. I agreed.
March 10, 2015 – Mr. Saffian and I met at my bank, and I paid him $10,000 down payment on the project.
I gave Mr. Saffian a key to the house (my only key, as the others remained in the possession of my uncle, the homeowner). He said that he would place a lock box on the door so that I could access the house, as well as subcontractors.
In the days that followed Mr. Saffian lost the house key, having failed to place a lock-box. I called Marshall’s Locksmith Service in order to gain entry to the house, and re-key the front door at a cost of $124.78.
March 20, 2015 – I went to the house to check in on progress, and found a little work done in the master bathroom (part of the wall removed), and the cabinet doors in the kitchen removed and stacked in the garage. Other than this there was little progress. I sent Mr. Saffian a text message, requesting an update. He responded via text, stating, “Cabinet doors are ordered Robert demo the wall in the bathroom, we removed the cabinet doors and the countertop today. We are going to do some repairs and get ready for paint for next week.”
Via a phone call a day or two later, Mr. Saffain requested $5000.00 in order to purchase the balance of materials for the project (granite counter tops, carpets, flooring, etc.) I agreed, based upon his repeated assurances that he would finish the project with two weeks.
March 25, 2015 – Mr. Saffian and I met at my bank and I drew a check paid to him, in the amount of $5000.00.
Last week in March, 2015 – Mr. Saffian contacted me to let me know that his plumber was having a great deal of difficulty making the changes to the plumbing in the kitchen, due to the poly-butyl plumbing that remained in the house. He advised replacing the poly-butyl pipes with plumbing that was up to code, at an additional fee of $1500.00. I agreed.
March 27, 2015 – I met Mr. Saffian at my bank and drew a check in the amount of $1500.00 to cover the additional cost of replacing the plumbing in the house.
In the days that followed this work was completed by the plumber.
Between the end of March and the middle of April, 2015 – I visited the house on a number of occasions, and saw no progress, except that the carpet and laminate had been removed and piled in the garage for disposal. I attempted to contact Mr. Saffian by phone and text message, but received no response until the third week in April. He called me, and said that he and his family had been on vacation, and that the painters “should have come” while he was out of town. He promised to get the project back on track and that he would finish by the first week in May, 2015.
Around the 20th of April, 2015, new carpet on the lower level was installed (living room, master bedroom, guest bedroom). There was no new carpet installed in the upstairs office area or the bonus room.
2nd week of April, 2015: The painters (interior) showed up to paint the house. I happened upon them, having come to check and see if there was any progress. I walked in and found a young man and a young woman working downstairs with a sprayer. The young man was smoking in the house while painting. I asked them not to smoke in the house, but due to a language barrier, I am not certain I was clearly understood.
I called Mr. Saffian to express my concern about this issue. I got voicemail and the call was not acknowledged.
From the 3rd week of April to May 1, 2015 – There was no further progress on the house. Despite many phone calls to Mr. Saffian and his assurances that he would finish the project ASAP, the only thing that was accomplished was the removal of the refuse from the garage (discarded carpet and damaged cabinets).
May 3rd or 4th, 2015 – I notified Mr. Saffian that I no longer needed his services. That he had neglected the project and disregarded the deadlines, had not purchased the materials required to do the job as estimated, and had not supervised his workers adequately.
On that same day (later), I visited the house in order to remove the lock box and found a worker alone in the house, painting the cabinet doors. [NOTE HERE that the cabinet doors were to be replaced at an estimated cost of $2150.00, and that Mr. Saffian communicated to me via text message on March 20, 2015, that he had ordered the cabinet doors.] I explained to this worker that I had ended the project with Mr. Saffian and I needed him to leave the premises. He told me that he had not been paid for the work he had done (hauling refuse and painting cabinet doors), and that Mr. Saffian owed him $200. I told him that Mr. Saffian had been paid, and he should request payment from him.
I took photographs of the work done to date, and the state of the house at the time I ended Mr. Saffian’s involvement on the project. (See photos.)
The following is a list of the work that was completed, as per the original estimate/agreement:
— Cabinets pulled out (kitchen and 2 bathrooms).
— Carpet and flooring removed throughout house, and refuse removed.
— Refinish tub insert in master bath. $1000.00
— Demolition of divider wall in master bath. $150.00
— Sheet rock installed in garage. $195.00
— Exterior pressure washing.
The following is work that was begun, but only partially completed, or had to be redone because it was done poorly:
— Carpet installed on first floor only. It was impossible to perfectly match the carpet installed, and so had to install a “near match” on the stairs and in upstairs portion of the house. The result was not ideal.
— Interior painting. This was done very poorly, without masking outlets, without paying attention to trim. Much of this work had to be corrected after the fact, and a cleaning crew had to be hired to scrub spray off of interior windows, kitchen appliances, and outlets.
— Painting of cabinet doors (as opposed to replacing them, as per the original estimate.)
— Finish work on half-wall in master bathroom. The wall was left with exposed 2×4 and rough drywall.
The following work was not begun at all:
— Install new cabinets in kitchen, and move sink to new location. $1050.00
— New cabinet doors installed with new hardware $2150.00 (doors), $325.00 (hardware)
— New sinks, faucets, etc. in kitchen and 2 bathrooms. $400.00
— New vanities installed in 2 bathrooms $550.00
— New wood laminate flooring in kitchen. $1012.00
— New vinyl flooring in 2 bathrooms. $395.00
— Cabinets and drawers in kitchen and 2 bathrooms repaired and repainted. $1375.00
— Granite countertops in kitchen and 2 bathrooms. $2400.00
— Installation of sliding shower door in master bath. $350.00
— Painting of house exterior, with repair/replacing of trim and siding as needed. $5250.00 (Note this amount included on original estimate included interior painting as well as exterior.)
— Staining deck. $400.00
May 5, 2015 – I sent Mr. Saffian a spreadsheet via email, listing all the work that had been originally estimated, versus what had actually been accomplished, allowing credit for the work done, against the balance of work paid for but left undone. At that time I estimated that he owed me a balance of $11,490.00.
May 7, 2015 – Mr. Saffian contacted me by text message to acknowledge receipt of my email. His message was, “I did get your email. I am working on the numbers that I have spent on the job I will try to have a firm number to you by this evening.”
From that day forward to today, I have heard nothing more from Mr. Saffian, nor have I received any compensation for the monies paid against work left undone.
May 10, 2015 – I entered into an agreement with another contractor, Tim Drew, to pick up the project and complete it.
Due to the losses incurred with Mr. Saffian, we agreed that he would estimate the project, accordingly:
— With standard counter tops rather than granite in the kitchen and 2 bathrooms,
— No sliding glass door in the master bath.
— No new cabinet doors, instead simply repainting the existing doors and re-installing the existing hardware.
Mr. Drew’s estimate to complete the work was $12,950.00. He agreed to finish the project by June 1, 2015 – which he did, to my complete satisfaction.
— Upon initiating work on the project, Mr. Drew notified me that he could not find the cabinet hardware or fixtures, the bathroom towel racks, toilet paper holders. I had to buy these items to replace what had been removed from the house, at a total cost of $380.75. (See receipt.)
— I also discovered that the two California racks which had been designated to remain with the house had been removed. Replacement cost for these items is $149.96.
— In addition to these missing items, several cartons of new light bulbs for the various fixtures around the house, were also missing. Estimates replacement value $50.00.
May 11, 2015 — Several days after beginning work on the project, Mr. Drew notified me that one of Mr. Saffian’s sub-contractors (for the carpet work) had come to the house complaining that Mr. Saffian had not paid him for the work done. I contacted Mr. Saffian by email on May 11, 2015, to let him know about this issue, advising him to please resolve it. (See PDF of that email below.) I received no response.
TO DATE: Based upon my request (via email on May 5, 2015), for repayment of $11,490.00 against work left undone, as well as expenses related to replacing cabinet hardware and bathroom fixtures ($380.75), the California shelves removed from the property ($149.96), and having to re-key the doors due to lost key, I believe that Mr. Saffian owes me approximately $12,145.49.
October, 2015 – I contacted an attorney, Robert Meynardie, to assist me with this issue. Mr. Meynardie’s office prepared a demand letter and sent it via registered mail, to Mr. Saffian. That letter was returned, unsigned for. Mr. Meynardie followed up by sending the demand letter via first class mail as well as email. No response was ever received. I was then advised that my only recourse was to file a lawsuit, but that given Curtis Saffian’s business history it would be unlikely I would ever get relief. (See PDF of letter below.)
IN CLOSING, It’s important to note here that Curtis Saffian was well-aware of my uncle’s age and disability, his vulnerability, and his distress at not having the work accomplished. My uncle’s disability causes him to experience these sorts of frustrations in a uniquely troubling way. Unlike most of us, he doesn’t process the fact that some people are criminal assholes, and there will never be any recourse against them. He doesn’t understand why he can’t get his money returned to him.
Mr. Curtis Saffian took advantage of a disabled old man. If he’ll steal money from an old person with autism, he’ll steal money from you too.