We lost a lot of our net worth in the 2008 economy crash, so we had to sell our home in a more expensive part of Connecticut and move to an older home in Shelton. An old in-law apartment that had been part of the Shelton home had to be repurposed into office space for my small business. Jason Timmerman, who operates under the name of JET Construction, offered his services. He had done some work at the Stamford house that was necessary in order to sell it. He had done excellent work on a tight deadline and we were very happy with him.
He also wanted to do the work on the Shelton house. He said it was a win-win because he needed to expand his capabilities, so in exchange for a photo portfolio of his work that he could use to attract more business, he would give us a terrific rate and allow it to be paid in pieces on a weekly basis as the work progressed instead of having to pay big chunks. [continued below]....
..... He also needed more tools than he had, so part of the deal was that I would purchase the tools, and after the office reconstruction (which I would pay for) he would do additional work on the main part of the house to pay off the tools. All of this was a real financial stretch during a difficult time, but we couldn't afford the traditional way of going about this, and he convinced us this would work for everyone.
The work ended up being very significant because the underlying construction was so poor. Eventually Jason decided it had to be stripped out to the studs and joists and completely redone (I believed him, but in retrospect I have no idea if he was right).
We started to run into certain kinds of performance problems early on. It started with slovenliness, with cigarette butts being left all over the place even though we asked that they be disposed of properly and food containers being dropped on the property, nails and screws being left in the driveway and that sort of thing. Then it was tools being left around so he had difficulty finding them when he needed them. With lots of dialog going on about what needed to improve, his performance grew steadily worse. His appearances became more and more erratic; he wouldn't just be late, he'd be FOUR HOURS late, routinely, after making arrangements with us so we'd be there to let him in, then be left standing around waiting for him.
He also brought some REALLY questionable people in to work as subcontractors. One fellow named Carl was brought in to do the plumbing work. One night in the middle of the project Carl went out and got drunk, stole a car, and got into a hit and run injury accident on a major highway. Turns out Carl is a "recovering" heroin addict who still had an active problem going on. Just who I wanted in my house. Another guy named Kevin got info a physical fight with Jason over an operating table saw on the property, then after that was broken up, he managed to fire a nailgun nail into one of the heating pipes. Exit Kevin. More delays. I kept cursing the fact that I didn't have the cash to do this the right way, because now I was in REALLY deep.
The completion date for the project became a moving target. Since I needed to be able to bring clients into the office, I was very limited in how much of my business I could operate (and I needed to attract a new client base because I had relocated, so this was slowing down my ability to prospect for new work). It became a vicious circle in which Jason slowed my business down to the point where I couldn't make enough money to replace him but we could trickle along and I could keep praying that he would put on a burst of speed and finish the darned thing.
Finally when I realized I had paid Jason and his subs more money than it would have cost to do the whole project the "right" way, AND that it had taken months longer than it should have, I sat down with him and asked for a commitment to a completion date. He gave a date a few months out and confidently told me that if it wasn't done by then, he would not charge for any work after that date.
You know the rest. The date came and went, his visits became more and more infrequent (always with a "dog ate my homework" excuse), a promise to be there the next day or the day after which would be broken as well, all in an endless cycle.
Jason lives with his mother. A long talk with her and with other people who know him reveal that this is Jason's life. He did this with classes in school, he did this with every job he ever had, and now at about 30 years old (as of 2011) he does this with customers. He'll start a project, reach the point of true commitment (like when all the walls have been torn out of a building) and then abandon it and start something else in another place, with another employer or client, and repeat the cycle.
I'm coming up on two years into a project that should MAYBE have taken three months. Jason has done no work in the last month and a half, though he has promised every few days to be there in the next few. The room is together enough that I can do SOME work, but it's nothing like what it needs to be. And the rest of the house, which was supposed to be done in exchange for all the tools I bought, is a disaster. As for the tools, he was so careless with them that they are unsaleable, so that's a loss as well.
Meanwhile I hear he has recently started other projects with other people I know. I warned them about my experience, but Jason is very charming and engaging. He convinced these other people that my expectations were unreasonable and that I was impossible to work with, and that his departure was my fault. In one case he managed to get several thousand dollars out of one of these folks for re-siding a house, then once he had the money he stopped working except to show up every week or so for an hour or two and take a halfhearted poke at the job. That person called me to express his embarrassment at not having taken my warning more seriously. And he's a smart guy who can usually spot a problem in advance.
Jason will pretend to have a home improvement license (required in the State of Connecticut). He doesn't. JET Construction is a real company based in Stamford, Connecticut, but it's not his nor has he ever worked there (JET just happen to be Jason's initials, so he uses their name without their knowledge or permission). He does a lot of business via his Facebook page, but he carefully removes all negative or critical posts from clients so a prospect won't see them. For example, a post to his page that says "You've promised to be here for the past 3 days and keep no-showing - what's going on?" will be removed as soon as he sees it. He does not return phone calls though he will occasionally answer the phone when it rings. Text messages are returned occasionally, usually with an empty promise to show up in another day or two.
Of course it doesn't start this way. In the very beginning he's all over your project and you won't be able to imagine that the ball of fire whizzing around sizing everything up and making plans will turn into what I've described. Believe me it will. I've been there.
Recently Jason confessed to me that he is a "recovering" cocaine addict who has fallen off the wagon. That, of course, explains his behavior completely. So before you engage Jason for a project or hire him as an employee, know who you're dealing with. He is intelligent, well-spoken, and when he makes an effort to clean up he can appear quite professional. And when he does work, the work product is good. He WILL fool you. He can charm the plating off a chrome bumper. He WILL make you believe that the story you're reading here is just a story from an unreasonable customer. But his personal issues, his additions (to both cocaine and alcohol) and his near-compulsive need run away from projects make him someone to avoid at all costs. Don't make the same mistake I did.