Our family lives in southwest Louisiana. Our Home burned down in Jan. Of 2005, a couple of months before Katrina hit. As a result there was a huge demand for lumber and contractors to rebuild lost homes. Because of this demand we looked for alternative buildings instead of the usual lumber construction.
We were researching a couple of options and steel was one of them. So we contacted “The General” as they advertised themselves to see if they could make us a better offer then Anthem steel, at the time we were not aware nor did they inform us when we told them we were researching several options, they are one and the same company.
General Steel sent us some information and one of their most prominent statements is “You get to CONTROL your project, You know the costs, you know the approach. By using a conventional General Contractor you never really know what is buried in the completed cost per square foot.”
That is possibly the most, bald faced lie I have ever come across in my fifty years.
We have an existing 45’x45′ cement slab we wished to place the building on. I did not really want to live in a steel building but anything was better then the 35′ foot trailer we are now living in. So I thought at some future time we would just convert it to a workshop and garage and build an Insulated Concrete Home.
We contacted General Steel on June and explained to them what we wanted and how desperate we were and they said they had a discounted steel buildings ready to be sent. Unfortunately for us they were 35’x 45′. When I stated this was problem because of the existing slab, voila, there it was a 45’x45′ for $23,991.00 dollars.including bolts and shipping. We were told by our project coordinator, Ted Zounis, that we could have the building in less then two weeks if we sent a deposit now of $6,800.00. So we did it.
I needed the names of contractors in our area who were capable erecting this building and making it relatively hurricane proof. Plus, you cannot acquire a construction loan without the names of you contractor and your blueprints and a go ahead from a structural engineer. I repeatedly asked our project coordinator for the names of contractors able to erect huge steel beams and was licensed. I never did receive any names of contractors and never received a blueprint for the original building. Now remember we paid a deposit for this material but still had no idea when we were going to receive it after being assured several times it would be soon. My husband asked for a price list on components we could add to the building just in case we decided we wanted to stay in the building until hurricane season was over.
I sent to Ted Zounis, our project coordinator, a drawing of what we thought to be ok as far as window components and doors and requested again the name of contractors who worked with General Steel in our area. I was suppose to receive an estimate on these items instead General Steel sent us a “Component Purchase Order” and the price jumped from $23,000 to $99,334.16… What? To add insult to injury it is now July 29,2006 and still no contractors and no blueprint of the original building so I can’t even begin to look for construction loans.
I called Ted Zounis and pointed out the lack of information on contractors, the estimate being termed as a “purchase order” and the fact that we sill had no blueprints and on the “purchase order” the building was the wrong size.
Ted said not to worry about the wording he would take care of that and would send me a list of contractors. Then asked me just what it is we needed on the finished building. I told him insulation and a garage door. I also pointed out there was no way I was going to pay the prices for window openings they were charging, not windows just holes cut in the metal walls. Ted Zounis said “Don’t worry Mary that is an onsite job and you determine that. So essentially I would determine no window holes cut in the walls and wouldn’t be charged for that. Ok, so what is that total minus all the other components except for the garage door and insulation, nothing else, especially holes cut in the walls each costing over $300.00 just please send us the projected total and Ted said the total would be about $36,000.00.
My husband got tired of waiting so he took the money our of our retirement and sent him the remaining amount so we could receive our blueprints the pile of metal and hopefully find a licensed contractor to erect the building so we could insure it.
Instead of a pile of metal General Steel sent us another “component purchase bill that exceeded the first one. The total now stands at $103,385.97. Remember this is for an empty metal shell with holes cut in the walls and no contractor to erect it. No bank in their right mind will loan us that amount on a construction loan. It isn’t a mortgage the building doesn’t even exist. All we ever really agreed to on the phone was a garage for $23,001.00.
The best is yet to come. We called general steel and asked if we could just have the original building we purchased. Ted Zounis said that we needed to read the contract. We then asked him if General Steel had even done anything concerning our building in regards to blueprints or contractors. Our project coordinator was silent for a moment and repeated for us to read the contract. At this point we just wanted something for our money and asked if we could speak with someone else.
Our phone call was directed to Bruce Graham. We asked him if we could just purchase the building we originally ordered and placed a $6,800.00 deposit on. Of course that would leave an excess of $13,000.00 of ours they now have in their possession. Bruce Graham then asked us what we wanted done with the excess money we asked him to please return it. He said that was “unacceptable” and terminated the call.
On November 6,2006 we received a “Notice of Impending Delay Fees” for the building we placed a deposit on June 6,2006. As stated in the previous paragraph we asked to purchase that very building and General Steel through their representative Bruce Graham refused us. Confused? Me too.
On December 11,2006 We General Steel Corporation sent us another letter stating that we had not taken possession of the building we purchased six months previously which would be the $23,000.00 pile of metal and unfortunately because “we have not responded to their written requests” (all of “one”, which we responded with a phone call and were told that our purchase of said building would be “unacceptable”) General Steel shall retain all deposits that we have paid and shall have the right to commence arbitration to recover additional damages. The real kicker is they are charging us 1 1/2 percent a month on the remaining total they created on paper. Do not do business with this company or any of their affiliates.
The upshot we have to give them over $100,000.00 in order to receive our blueprint and pile of metal or they keep our $35,000.00. Now remember no blueprint no loan. No loan no blueprint.
Grand Coteau, Louisiana