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Home Builder reviews in Bridgeport

  • F
    Mar Bran Contracting
    I called for a fence estimate and some touch-up work on some flatter parts of my roof that needed re-tarring. The roof was older but leak free but I anticipated doing the whole thing w/in a couple of yrs. When Mark Schaefer  and his partner Brandon Martuscello  (DBA MarBran Contracting) came out and Mark had some good ideas on the fence and asked if I would consider doing the whole roof now if he gave me a good price on the fence. He also said he was available to start the following Mon. and specifics were discussed such as that the roof already had two  layers of shingles and those would need those removed and how deep the fence posts needed to go (3' min) The numbers were good so I accepted and stressed that the fence was my priority as it needed to be done before the ground froze and the roof did not really have to be done immediately.He said he was licensed and insured and guaranteed all his work  but also stressed that he always did it right the first time because he did not want to have to come out and fix things. I also told him I already had a permit for the fence and that the town wanted to be notified if I hired a professional and that they would need license and insurance info. I asked if he wanted me to take care of that and he said it was in his hands now and he would stop in the town office and take care of it. He talks a good talk. Very smooth. Seemed like he knew what he was doing, seemed he was a  very professional type A who would do a the job correctly. Seemed like a really nice guy.
     Well, the did not show up the following Mon, or that week @ all.  Called him several times, his excuse was he had another job that he needed to get closed up first before it snowed??? He finally came the following week w/ROOFING stuff. I again told him I wanted the fence done first but he insisted on doing the roof.  Now I realize it was because he could do the roof w/o me knowing immediately what a shoddy job he was doing while once he did the fence  it was obvious immediately that the fence was not done properly.
    So he did the roof in one day, w/3 guys, which seemed reasonable. I did not babysit - I did not think that was necessary when hiring a professional -or I would have at least known that he never removed the shingles and old rolled roofing. The rest of the inadequacies (no ice and snow layer applied, vent broken and replaced that way, nails driven too deep and in wrong places causing innumerable leaks) would not have been found till the leaks made it through all the insulation, a layer of old ceiling tiling and through the ceiling drywall. Extensive mold has required the ceilings and insulation under that whole section of roof  to be ripped out and will need to be redone at great cost. And of course the whole roof has to be torn off and re-done. He then insisted on payment for the balance on the roof part that day even tho the estimate form said it was to be paid in full when whole job completed.
    He then stalled again before finally getting out  to do the fence then complained because the top of the ground was beginning to freeze, the ground was muddy and it was cold out- meanwhile there had been three full weeks, most of which were good weather, that he could have done the fence but didn't.  The town inspector stopped by that am and made sure Mark knew the where the fence was to go, how deep the posts were required to be, that they needed to be cemented in place, esthetic requirements, height limits, etc. and Mark said he understood and agreed to it all.  Then he got started on the fence, using a one man post hole digger, which I later learned was inadequate. Again, I did not babysit, just looked out occasionally to see the progress.  I did not think I needed that point it seemed the roof had been done properly so I had no reason to question his professionalism. I needed to leave for an appt and when I discussed this with he said he would be finished w/the fence before I would be back so I paid him the balance on the fence before I left. When I returned home it was dark but as best as I could see the fence appeared completed. I let my dogs out and next thing I know I had dogs running loose in the street. Luckily I live in a pretty quiet area and was able to get everyone back in before a tragedy occurred. I took a flashlight and was able to find where they got out. The fence was to adjoin a evergreen tree row that was already fenced underneath. Someone had pulled back part of that fencing while working  on the new fence then left it disconnected. Mark and his whole crew knew that this fencing was being installed for the dogs. Leaving this fence disconnected in an area not readily  visible when they knew the purpose of the fence was incredibly negligent. I immediately called Mark and left a voice mail. He  called me back and apologized...said he did not know that had been left like that and also said they  had some problems @ the back section getting through the roots and he was not happy w/the way it was and would need to come back out to fix it. Also said he left the extra lengths of the fence posts untrimmed because he did not want the vibration of the chain saw to compromise the setting cement until it was completely dry and would come back out in a couple of weeks to trim them (we also discussed possible adding lattice, etc, to increase the height if he could get the town to agree). When daylight came and I went out to inspect the fence I was very upset. Parts of the fence were already leaning and it was obvious from the untrimmed sections of post that the posts were only in the ground  a couple of feet, at best. Two posts were literally sitting on top of large visible tree roots w/some crumbling cement heaped around them. I called Mark and he told me that they had it solid rock and that all the posts were as deep as was possible before hitting solid rock and  those would be fine and that he  couldn't do anymore about the roots but would put more cement around those(!).. Said he would take care of any leaning sections when he came out to trim the posts.
    Well, 3 months went by then I got a notice from the town that there had been complaints and that the posts needed to be trimmed ASAP or I would be cited and taken to court. I called Mark and he said to let the town know it was on his schedule and he would be out the following week to take care of it. He did not come and I called periodically and he kept stalling, saying it was on the schedule, waiting for a break in the weather, etc.. A couple of months more went by then I got a second notice from the town, requiring  the posts be trimmed AND fix leaning sections of fence that were obviously not up to code. I spoke to the inspector and he said those sections were gonna need to be replaced and posts buried correctly or the whole fence would need to come down. I called Mark and he again said he would be out the following week and take care of everything. When he did not come I come I called again and found out his wife had died the previous day in a car accident.  I called and told the town inspector and he said he would give me a little more time. I waited 3-4 weeks and called Mark again. Again he kept stalling and had excuse after excuse. Finally I got another letter from the town requiring immediate remedy to the violations or I would be fined.  I again called Mark. That was when I found out he never even switched the permit to his name. He told me it was all on me because the permit was in my name. He said he would come out, trim the posts and dump some more cement around the posts that were leaning but he would not do more than that for free. He told me he wasn't going to pull down the fence and put it back up to code (which he should have done in the first place) for free. He came up w/an estimate of $3500 to do it to code. His "solution" of dumping more cement was not acceptable to the town, nor would it have worked.
    I told him I was not going to give him any more money. I ended-up hiring someone else and spent almost $1000 to have them tear down then correctly reinstall the fence to code. Some of the fence posts were only inches in the ground, most were in ~ one foot and none were deeper than ~ two feet and for thirty some fence posts he only  used ~ 2-3  bags of  cement.  No where near enough. When the posts were pulled there was so little  it looked like they had just been dipped in cement.  Using the correct equipment, a two man post hole digger, they had no trouble burring the posts to three feet or going through the tree roots.
    When I looked into Mark more I discovered that the reason I was unable to find negative reports on his business before hiring him was because just before I hired him (DBA MarBran Contractors) he had changed the business name from Two Cheap Guys, which had plenty of neg. reviews. I also found that Mark had judgements against him for his work. I also found MarBran listed on line in a Syracuse directory that had a recent neg. review and I added one too. I kept watching the site and several more neg. reviews appeared (compared to the two  good reviews) then the listing was removed.
     last yr. I took him to small claims court re: the fence. He did not show up and I was awarded the cost of redoing the fence but I have yet to see any money.
    I tried to contact him about the problems w/the roof but he has not responded so I will be taking him to court re: the roof too.

    - Colleen C.
  • A
    J. Santoro Construction, LLC.
    Fantastic. Worked directly with Greg on scope and Jeff the site lead. The initial quote was less than another qualified contractor that I had used in the past. Greg and Jeff came up with ways to cost effectively complete the job while protecting the existing structure (we took the entire roof off to add the second story). As the job progressed I decided to increase the scope and made additional changes. They were always fair in their pricing and presented multiple alternatives. Jeff was on the job daily and often pointed out options or alternatives for handling detailed items. In the end we wound up with a completed home that far exceeded our expectations at a very fair price.
    - Scott D.
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