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Construction Programs & Results Inc

We Like to See The Good Guys Win!

He did the right thing - even though it might hurt

by Michael Stone

A client sent this note:

"I have an ethics question... I'm hoping that you might have some better insight than I. I had a client call me this morning... converting a garage into a rental unit.

I went out to take a look. Electrical was not done to code... original wiring wasn't to code either... indoor wire strung overhead to power an old beat up panel with knock outs open through out including the original two inch for the old main service it was from....

When I questioned her about the safety concerns, she gave me replies like... I was told I don't need an electrical permit, I'll find a contractor who is less concerned about permits, I don't have insurance so I don't care what they would think, I'll have the tenants sign a waiver that if there is a fire and it jumps to the house that they can't sue me, the house won't be sold until after I'm dead so what do I care about the next home buyer.

That is not made up, those are the actual comments that she made to me as I tried to get her to see what she was doing and the hazards it was creating... She just didn't care.

I normally don't like to report stuff like this... but, in this case, I felt that it was just too blatant, that she just didn't have enough concern for the safety of others... and the dangers are real... So, after struggling with it all day, I made the decision this evening to report it to the building dept for the city . . .

I'm really worried about the safety of tenants, but, in some ways feel bad for reporting it...

What is your take on dealing with these types of issues and customers. I'm not worried about not getting the work... but, I just am uncomfortable with reporting people and in a way, I think I am wrong... I should be worried about safety and to heck with the owner who might get upset...

There is no doubt she will know who reported it, since I was pretty clear, polite, but clear about my feelings on the subject.

Thanks for any input you might have."

In my opinion, he did the right thing. Especially since the home is a rental; if she was living in the building, she would be the only one in danger, but when people are going to rent from her and they don't know the condition of the electrical equipment, that is a different story. You can bet she won't tell any potential renters why she wants them to sign a waiver and I doubt that the waiver would stand up in court because of an electrical caused fire anyway.

Good for him. He might be trashed for doing it, but those who would take her side are not the customers you would want anyway.

Gang, there are all kinds of people in this world that we will come in contact with. Remember, you can fix ignorance but stupid is forever. And this potential client is not only stupid, but greedy and self-centered. Thanks to this contractor for doing the right thing.


Absolutely did the right thing. It is very important in life to stand for something. It just does not help anyone out be letting something like that go. I think the well being of others far outweighs the narrow scope or reality with which the land lord lives in that scenario. Dave

trevor garside (not verified) /

it beggars belief what i read about some contractors and customers have wrote in their articles.we in uk have tight rules and regulations regarding our working relations with customers,home and business.i am interested to know how your property maintenance engineers work over in the US.compared to what we have to go through to run our busines.

I think you absolutely did the right thing. Although this woman will probably harbor a resentment for a long, long time before seeing the light (IF she ever does see the light by waking up to her complete selfishness and self-centeredness) you can sleep easy knowing what you did was the right thing. Really, this is not about you or her: it is about the saftey of others, treating people with honesty & respect, dealing with consequences of one's actions (or inactions) and doing the right thing.


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