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Thread: The Shady, Fly-by-Night Developer Thread

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    The Shady, Fly-by-Night Developer Thread

    I have this project I was working on that got approved earlier this week. This developer is a new guy in town, seems to be working alone (sometimes with a shady realtor), and seems to be only working for the almighty $$.
    They began by phoning me with wild and crazy ideas for little lots for sale in town. Usually, upon hearing the zoning conditions, the conversation would end with the token, "but if we do it like that, we won't make any money..".
    Well, finally they found a piece of land that would work. They proposed duplexes, and began platting the lots out, squeezing the most they could from the land they bought.
    For architecture, I was sent some home sites from an internet floorplan site. And they only proposed one. Every conversation was basically about how quickly they could begin building, or if they were ready for public hearing. Also, every meeting with them was very informal, and they were not too professional.
    Then he began phoning me and gave me a different phone to call each time, because his cell phone was "out", "lost" or "gone". That wasn't too bad, I know people who lose cell phone like 7 year olds lose teeth, but every time I call he would always give me the third degree as to who I was before he would say he was himself (make sense?).
    Now that his project was approved, after arrogantly begging the planning comission that he would build according to what he applied for, he phones today asking whether or not a builder would have to conform the conditions of the project, if (and he not planning on it) he sells the land. (The richest developer in town was mentioned in this)

    This guy seems creepy to me. Even more so than for the reason I stated above. I have a feeling he isn't going to follow through, and if he builds, I forsee trouble with the building inspectors as well as being there for the future residents. I fear I may have a "fly-by-night" guy on my hands, and this project should be interesting to see unfold.

    What do you think? Is this guy just a jerk? Is he new and doesn't know? Just after money (like most in the business)? Or is he like everyone you have worked with?

    Feel free to share your own experiences.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I think of it this way...

    How can you tell if a developer is lying?
    (Pick an answer)
    a. his lips are moving
    b. it is not on the plan
    c. it is on the plan
    d. he did it in a another community
    e. it has never been done before
    f. his competitors do it all the time
    g. he is not sure what that line is
    h. he is sure what that line is
    i. he has a business card
    j. he has a cell phone
    k. you ask him for a sketch plan and he gets angry because he is a “DEVELOPER” and the world would be nothing without him.
    l. All of the above

    In all seriousness, I would be skeptical of this guy and request that he put down a seriously substantial bond that would be refundable once the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Just tell him, hey, if something goes wrong and you can’t finish the project as approved by the planning commission or walk off the job, the bond will be used to put a fence around the property while we hold you and the property owner legally responsible being that it is your signature on the building and site plan applications.

    Or at least that is what we do here.

    That way your butt is covered in the event that something goes wrong.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

    I'd give your building officials & inspectors a heads-up on this guy and make sure all of the conditions are completed and well-documented. I would leave a paper trail with this guy if possible rather than doing everything over the phone. Check all of the insurance on the contractors, etc and make sure everyone is bonded appropriately.

    I've got one of those guys right now that wrote a hot check for his permit fee. He is now on the "cash only" list and we are watching him like a hawk. He has yet to submit an acceptable proposal; he will fix what we ask, but then go back and change something else so that it doesn't comply, hoping we won't catch it.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I swear, I just did the survey for your project Zman. It wasn't in Illinois was it? This guy is trying to cut every corner in the book. He wanted me to certify utilities were available (they weren't). A subdivision wasn't required (it was). The property had access to public r-o-w (it was land locked). I held up their closing for months until these were resolved. Boy am I glad I'm not the zoning/building/code inspector for this project. Its gonna be a mess.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Builders advise disaster victims to be cautious during recovery
    By John Martin, Courier & Press; November 9, 2005

    Those looking to rebuild properties following natural disasters can easily be hoodwinked by phony contractors who make false promises and even receive cash for work that isn't performed, according to the Southwestern Indiana Builders Association.

    Following other disasters, contractors have sometimes appeared to further victimize residents "by swindling them out of their precious and often limited resources," said Bill Pedtke, executive director of the local builders group.

    It has sometimes happened on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it was a prominent topic of discussion at a recent national conference of builders associations, said Bill Badger, president of the local group.

    There are also warning signs.
    The local builders association cautions residents against paying in cash or paying 100 percent of the cost before work is even done.

    Contractors should never tell residents that written contracts or permits aren't necessary, or that a "special low price" only applies if the contract is immediately signed.

    Residents should be wary of contractors with no references or who have no verifiable contact information.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    This guy seems creepy to me.
    Seems? I'd say so.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Most developers in my city are smart enough to have one of the local engineering firms handle their projects. If only city council knew how shady the clients were....

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Seems like an appropriate place to post this gem:

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/gen/nov05/371978.asp

    (sorry registration required to view. Just give 'em a fake yahoo.com addy.

    I almost went to work for this dirt bag in 1999. Talk about dodging a bullet! Sadly, this article includes a chart of all of his *known* scams, and I have met just about every poor bloke he took fdown with him.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    I swear, I just did the survey for your project Zman. It wasn't in Illinois was it? This guy is trying to cut every corner in the book. He wanted me to certify utilities were available (they weren't). A subdivision wasn't required (it was). The property had access to public r-o-w (it was land locked). I held up their closing for months until these were resolved. Boy am I glad I'm not the zoning/building/code inspector for this project. Its gonna be a mess.
    thank you for being an ethical surveyor.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Seems like an appropriate place to post this gem:

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/gen/nov05/371978.asp

    (sorry registration required to view. Just give 'em a fake yahoo.com addy.

    I almost went to work for this dirt bag in 1999. Talk about dodging a bullet! Sadly, this article includes a chart of all of his *known* scams, and I have met just about every poor bloke he took fdown with him.
    Ouch! I know several of those people as well. Elkhorn was formerly the town next door, and Mann Brothers bid on - and won - several contracts in my community.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    I did have a developer offer to buy me breakfast in exchange for my not attending a public meeting. Despite my being a sucker for free food, I didn't bite.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    We have this guy who comes in one to two times a year and proposes a project and wants all this information from us and interpretations in writing. He is as shady as shady goes. He is always on our utility cutoff list, spend some time in the big house, and he cheats about everyone he comes into contact with. But fortunately he never goes past the idea stage, so i guess to be a developer you have to develop something. I have a big stack of his ideas, some of them are let's say intresting.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    well.....

    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    I have this project I was working on that got approved earlier this week. This developer is a new guy in town, seems to be working alone (sometimes with a shady realtor), and seems to be only working for the almighty $$.
    They began by phoning me with wild and crazy ideas for little lots for sale in town. Usually, upon hearing the zoning conditions, the conversation would end with the token, "but if we do it like that, we won't make any money..".
    Well, finally they found a piece of land that would work. They proposed duplexes, and began platting the lots out, squeezing the most they could from the land they bought.
    For architecture, I was sent some home sites from an internet floorplan site. And they only proposed one. Every conversation was basically about how quickly they could begin building, or if they were ready for public hearing. Also, every meeting with them was very informal, and they were not too professional.
    Then he began phoning me and gave me a different phone to call each time, because his cell phone was "out", "lost" or "gone". That wasn't too bad, I know people who lose cell phone like 7 year olds lose teeth, but every time I call he would always give me the third degree as to who I was before he would say he was himself (make sense?).
    Now that his project was approved, after arrogantly begging the planning comission that he would build according to what he applied for, he phones today asking whether or not a builder would have to conform the conditions of the project, if (and he not planning on it) he sells the land. (The richest developer in town was mentioned in this)

    This guy seems creepy to me. Even more so than for the reason I stated above. I have a feeling he isn't going to follow through, and if he builds, I forsee trouble with the building inspectors as well as being there for the future residents. I fear I may have a "fly-by-night" guy on my hands, and this project should be interesting to see unfold.

    What do you think? Is this guy just a jerk? Is he new and doesn't know? Just after money (like most in the business)? Or is he like everyone you have worked with?

    Feel free to share your own experiences.
    His last name doesn't begin with a C does it..... Those in the know, know of what I speak in the Denver Metro Area......ha ha ha.....I won't go any further, so don't PM me

    Sounds like a "Boy Developer" to me......been there, had to deal with that before.....if you keep your ducks in a row, he can ask what he wants and some idiot can buy the land thinking they don't have to do anything, but if your work (dev. agreements, PUD's, MOU's and such) shows up on a title report.....he's the one that will be in trouble.... So, don't let hime distract you from towing the line....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    not to hijack the thread, but this is why i am going into development...to offer a fresh alternative to planners everywhere!!! (yeah, right; how could anyone ever get past the label of being a developer. planners will hate me anyways).

  15. #15

    Registered
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    Quote Originally posted by The District
    not to hijack the thread, but this is why i am going into development...to offer a fresh alternative to planners everywhere!!! (yeah, right; how could anyone ever get past the label of being a developer. planners will hate me anyways).
    Not true at all. At least in my office in a somewhat pro-growth city, we admire and appreciate the good guys. Now, if you are looking to build in a no growth place, then you're right-expect attitude.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Now the guy has dropped plans to sell, and wants to immediately move dirt-- without submitting Final Plans or obtaining a grading permit.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Now the guy has dropped plans to sell, and wants to immediately move dirt-- without submitting Final Plans or obtaining a grading permit.
    Ahh....the "its my property I'll do what I want" card...wait wrong thread

  18. #18
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    Ahh....the "its my property I'll do what I want" card...wait wrong thread
    No, not necessarily. I think he wants to build soon, sort of an outlandish developer prediction of "We'd like to have the model homes up next month!" I think he is anxious to build and then hitch up the wagon train, before his
    <choose one:>(creditor/BBB/ex wife/IRS audtior/angry redneck customer base)

    find him.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  19. #19
    Cyburbian LorenzoRoyal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The District
    not to hijack the thread, but this is why i am going into development...to offer a fresh alternative to planners everywhere!!! (yeah, right; how could anyone ever get past the label of being a developer. planners will hate me anyways).
    I'm always a fan of something original by developers. Keep in mind, some of the best plans get victimized by development code and/or cost. We have plenty of approved projects in my area that at best will get built at a severely reduced size, or at worst, not get built at all. As for being an innovative developer, go for it!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The District
    not to hijack the thread, but this is why i am going into development...to offer a fresh alternative to planners everywhere!!! (yeah, right; how could anyone ever get past the label of being a developer. planners will hate me anyways).
    I think developers may be getting a bit of a bad wrap in this thread... but in my experience, most of them are ethical people with a job to do... willing to take whatever steps necessary to do things right. I think the commonality with these shady-developers is they really only view planners as red tape out to keep them from making money. Planners should be viewed as an asset to a developer.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Hidden damage revealed (after the Nov 6 Tornado)
    Seemingly sound homes found to be beyond repair

    Headline and Article from my fair city's newspaper
    http://www.courierpress.com/ecp/news...285781,00.html
    Registration Required

    Highlight:
    Warrick County Building Inspector (BI)
    .... found houses that were never anchored to their foundations and houses where the exterior brick walls aren't connected to the interior walls, as required by the building laws that were in place when they were built. "There are homes where the walls collapsed or just peeled away," said BI. "I've seen houses where the insides were just sucked right out, because the interior walls weren't connected to the exterior brick ... That happened because some builder or subcontractor back then decided not to follow the building code." BI wants to make sure that doesn't happen again, and he's got ... the local homebuilders' association on his side. Both are concerned that unscrupulous contractors may take advantage of Warrick County homeowners who suffered damage in the storm, and they've come across evidence that it's happened. BI talked to a Newburgh homeowner who got three estimates for having her storm-damaged basement filled in. One was $3,000 less than the other two. BI found out why: The lowest bidder was going to use the homeowner's basement as a dumping ground for construction debris.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

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