- Report: #1068187
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Aaron C. Kalmar
Aaron C. KalmarP.O. Box 870 Highland, Michigan USA
Aaron C. Kalmar Aaron C. Kalmar Landscape, Habitat Landscape Changing names doesn't change the service Highland Michigan
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So, apparently Habitat Landscape is no more. Aaron Kalmar now simply uses his name rather than the business name under which he worked for us. We originally filed a report with Ripoff Report back in 2009 about the work he did for us, You can see that report on here by clicking on http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/habitat-landscape/highland-michigan-48356/habitat-landscape-aaron-kalmar-landscaping-horrible-pond-installation-highland-michiga-466506
A few things we would caution you to do when hiring him to make certain you don't wind up with the same situation we did:
Ask if his employees are here legally. At the time, he mentioned several times to both myself and my wife that they weren't, and even used that as an excuse as to why he couldn't get out to service the poor construction on the pond. (He said that not all of his guys were able to make it back across the border and that he was backed up because of this.) Later, when he found out I had published the report, he denied this. All I know is that he was either lying at the time, or lying when he later denied it.
- HOLD HIM TO HIS QUOTE! When he did the work for us, he ran 40% over budget, but didn't tell us he had until a few days before he was done. His contract says that the cost could fluctuate anywhere from 5% to 10%, and that anything more would be discussed prior to proceeding. At the time, we were considering a business venture with him, and felt badly about his personal financial situation, which he discussed at length. We should have told him tough luck on running over, but we didn't want to put him further in the hole, so we paid it. 40% over took the job from $20,000 to $28,000. Hopefully, he is now better at estimating, but don't fall for it if he jacks up the price later.
- Supervise the work CAREFULLY! We assumed that differing to his judgement on design and mechanics would be best. WOW! Were WE wrong! He built a two level pond that totaled about 4,800 gallons. Not only did he install a 19,500 GPH pump, he tied in another 5,000 GPH pump with it to maintain the water flow. He had to because the front wall of the upper pond was not watertight and he was trying to compensate. Couple that with the fact that the big pump draws 20 amps and he put it on a 15 amp receptacle. The cord end used to get hot and trip the circuit breaker (which shut down the pumps and completely drained the upper level each time) but it also cause a small electrical fire in the receptacle box. Once I figured out what was going on, I changed out the receptacle and the cord end, and it never happened again, but it was something I had to take care of on my own. He did contract the original work to an electrician, but Aaron was the one who approved it and never let us know about trying to cut that corner.
- MAKE SURE YOU EXPLAIN CLEARLY WHAT YOU WANT. We let him know that it was our intention to keep koi in the pond. We came up with a design that had a liner for each level and a feed system that would have allowed this. He revised our plan and gave us one continuous liner, explaining all the problems we would encounter with 2 liners. Not only did this significantly raise the price, but since the upper shell was no longer watertight, it meant there was no way to winter over the koi since he ran the feed to the bottom of the basin. (In winter, the warmer water will be at the bottom, unless some idiot screws up your design.)
- GET HIM TO WARRANTY HIS WORK. When we initially contacted him about the problems, he was somewhat responsive. However, as the severity of the issues within the first year increased, his willingness to address them significantly decreased. It finally culminated in telling us that this job had come back to "nickel and dime (him) to death more than any other job he'd ever done." Now, get that, he ran $8,000 over budget, and we were nickel and diming HIM! We wound up getting quotes from a total of 7 other pond companies. Each company examined the structure, came to the same conclusions about what needed to be done (basically a tear out of the stones in the upper pond, installation of an independent liner we had initially asked for, and rerouting of the water return to the upper pond) and the quotes ranged anywhere from about $6,000 to about $12,000. They all suggested we go after him for the fees.
As I have said before in my other post, esthetically we couldn't have asked for more. His work at the home and garden show was what attracted us in the first place. It was a beautiful LOOKING pond. The problem was that it was a horribly functioning pond which ultimately could not possibly have served the purpose we asked for (keeping koi.) Lack of proper filtration, over sized pumps,poor structural design all lead to huge problems, extra costs, and a start up and shut down process for the season that nobody in the Michigan Koi and Pond Guild could believe we had to go through.
Hopefully, since the time he installed our pond, he has learned more. I think if he gets a good grasp of what he's going, he could be an amazing designer. But go into this with your eyes open. You are contracting a man who (at the time we knew him) lived on a lake and didn't have a pond of his own, so I don't believe he gave much consideration to the long term effects of his work.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/18/2013 03:16 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Aaron-C-Kalmar/Highland-Michigan-48357/Aaron-C-Kalmar-Aaron-C-Kalmar-Landscape-Habitat-Landscape-Changing-names-doesnt-chang-1068187. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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