Raise your hand if you’ve ever been conned by a contractor.
Who hired the guy that showed up late every day for three weeks for a job that should’ve been completed in one? And how many of you have met that charming gent with great references who cashed your down payment and tore up your room before disappearing forever?
Well, here’s someone else you should meet. His name is Andrew Pieri of Tennessee Building Consultants (TBC). He doesn’t speak in code; he knows the codes. And as a certified International Code Council inspector, he’s been holding builders and contractors accountable for their work for more than 20 years.
“I don’t care if you’re a millionaire or you have no money, sooner or later, everybody has a bad experience with a contractor,” says Pieri. “I have encountered many great, conscientious tradespeople that care about their craft and work to provide an excellent client experience. [But] my guys are busy constantly, going to people’s houses where contractors have taken advantage of them. They haven’t finished the work.”
Pieri decided he had to do something about this, so along with his wife Tammy, founded TBC to serve as the homeowner’s advocate. TBC assists homeowners with selecting qualified contractors, securing permits, inspections, quality control and ensuring that contracts are written accurately and jobs are executed according to the contract terms.
Pieri says that the volume and scale of construction projects in Middle Tennessee are contributing factors to jobs that go awry. This, along with unrealistic expectations by the homeowner, can lead to hurried inspections, cost overruns and shoddy execution.
“There is so much building going on in Middle Tennessee right now that it’s really hard for your average person to find qualified, licensed and insured contractors to do home improvement projects,” he says.
“And even though the city building inspectors come out to do the inspections, the reality is the inspector may have 20-25 inspections a day. So he’s got to get in and out of that house quickly because he doesn’t have time to be more thorough. And you think to yourself, ‘Why didn’t the building inspector catch that?’ It was because they were so busy. They missed it.”
With his combination of knowledge, expertise and certification, Pieri and TBC conduct pre-inspections to look for code violations and work through issues with the contractor prior to official inspections.
“Many contractors do not keep up with the changes in the building codes,” says Pieri. “And the surest way the homeowner can know is to ask their contractor, ‘can you open a copy of your building code? I’d like to see it.’ And I guarantee you 99 percent of contractors do not have a copy with them. It should be with them on every job.”
Contract inspections are just as critical as compliance and physical inspections, especially where timelines and expenses are concerned. And Pieri ensures that those details are covered as well.
“I’m here with you [and] we’re going to check your contract,” he says. “We’re going to look at the milestones the guys have and make sure they’re doing everything. We’re going to make sure that if they fail inspection they’re not going to come back to you and say, ‘The building inspector says I have to change all this, so you have to give me more money.’ When in reality, they haven’t done the job."
“And a lot of contractors don’t put an ‘escalation cost’ in their contract for material costs. Because of all the tornadoes and the [construction] here, material costs are insane. [Contractors] go back to the owner and the owner says, ‘Wait a second - you said $20,000. I’m not giving you a penny more!’ And they say they can’t finish the job.”
Tennessee Building Consultants is a subsidiary of Pieri-owned Municipal Inspection Partners, which partners with city and state governments to conduct building inspections and construction document plans. Clients pay a small percentage of the total cost of the project for TBC’s services.
“You don’t know that you need me, but you need me!” he says. “What you’re buying is peace of mind, and can sleep well knowing someone is looking out for you."