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Home Energy Audit reviews in Mount Vernon

  • F
    I would caution anyone from hiring Dan Pastore, aka Streamside Environmental, for anything other than an energy audit. Last summer, we needed to make several improvements to our home, as we had spent our first winter freezing in our 1926 built home, and spent a mini-fortune in energy costs. We had found Mr. Pastore when he was recommended to us as an energy auditor. The energy audit uncovered a number of issues, and at that point Mr. Pastore started the sales pitch for us to hire him, a ?certified building science expert?, to be our ?project manager?, to design everything that needed to happen during our renovations, get bids from all the sub-contractors, and ensure that all the work was done properly and that we get everything that was necessary to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of our home. Being inexperienced in home renovations, we were initially impressed, as he spoke a great game about how his skills would save us from making mistakes, or being taken advantage of by contractors making short cuts or shoddy repairs. He explained to us that as a "project manager", he was paid by us, and was therefore independent and the sub-contractors would have to re-do things if they weren't done right, which was not the case with a general contractor, who is paid as apart of the whole cost of the job, and sub-contractors usually compensated the GC for using them on the job. He had excellent references, both here on Angie?s List, and I also spoke with two recent clients that seemed very happy with his services. We hired him in late June, and gave him a budget to make the changes that were necessary, and made it clear that our budget was not flexible, and that it needed to include his costs. He assured us that he could accomplish our goals within the budget assigned, and said we would be finished by the end of August. I could go into great detail on how things rapidly went downhill from the time we signed the contract in June until we finally fired Mr. Pastore at the end of October before the project was completed. Instead of detailing all that went on, I will give you a brief description of the main problems: - He was rarely on time for the things that he scheduled, and my repeated requests for advanced (more than one hour) notice if he was late or needed me to be onsite, were essentially ignored. - Whenever I asked questions when I saw bids without descriptions of what materials would be used or what the labor/installation was costing us, Mr. Pastore would tell me that sub-contractors should not be expected to break out the cost of the materials and their labor, and that I just ?didn?t know how these things work?. - He signed off on work and told us to pay bills without actually verifying the work was done properly, and we?ve had to request sub-contractors come back to fix things once we stopped working with Mr. Pastore, and the problems were discovered. - He had only a few sub-contractors that he would consider working with, and the prices that we paid for some of the repairs seemed incredibly high, but when questioned if we could find others to do the job well for a better price, he was unwilling to consider other sub-contractors, as he couldn?t ?guarantee the work?, nor would they ?follow his timeline?. - He installed items that would affect the aesthetic on the outside of our house, and didn?t verify with me where those systems should be located. - Some products he told us were the ?best? to install given the problems we needed to fix, and these products have actually created other problems, and now need to be modified or replaced, requiring further investment. - He was asked several times to have the sub-contractors take care of a few additional items that should have been easy and cheap since they were already on site, but he forgot, and now we have to get people back to do the work, costing us more than if we had taken care of the items when they were onsite. - The budget was overshot by more than more than 40%, including his fee. Also, our dissatisfaction with his services, and poor accounting records meant that he outlined a payment timeline that charged us $1,000 over and above what he was actually owed. Luckily, I double checked the figures, and realized the mistake before he was overpaid. - I may be wrong, but I have suspicions that he received money from the sub-contractors that he worked with, on top of our payments, as there was an early bid that he showed me which included a 10% referral fee to the "contractor". Mr. Pastore told us that this was a fee he had asked them to give back to us, but given his unwillingness to work with other subs, I question whether these kickbacks may have been the reason. I don't have proof of this, but this suspicion on top of the things we actually know about, I feel it should be mentioned so others are aware and ensure this doesn't happen to them. - Rather than finishing the job during the summer, with all the delays (like not starting until the end of August), the job would have finished around the beginning of December (it finished around that time with me taking over the last few required projects). - In the end, while he did the final testing on our home, he disappeared as soon as he received his last payment, and we had to contact the insulation company to organize our submission to NYSERDA to ensure we received our tax credit for the energy upgrades, which was something he had been paid to manage. The biggest frustration was that following completion of the work, and an almost 60% reduction in our ?blower door number?(a measure of energy efficiency that tells us our house was very well insulated and should have been warm), we were still freezing and spending almost as much on energy costs as we had before we did the work. In January, four months after our insulation was installed, our steam boiler cracked, and in replacing it, we found out it was undersized for our house. This explains our continued discomfort, and lack of difference in our energy bills. The boiler was likely running all the time, but still wasn?t putting out enough steam to warm the house. Mr. Pastore, during his energy audit and evaluation of the various systems in our house, had told us that the boiler was more than sufficient for our home, and that when we replaced it, we should probably get a smaller boiler given how warm and ?tight? our house would be after all the insulation we put in. Mr. Pastore had only evaluated the total square footage in the house in relation to the size of the boiler, not the square footage of radiant space. Given his job was to help us maximize our investment to get the best result, his incompetent analysis has cost us thousands in items we may not have needed had we just fixed the boiler first. In saying the above, overall, now that our boiler is replaced, we are happy with most of the upgrades we have made in our home. However, the positive results do not outweigh the negatives of working with Mr. Pastore and his erratic and frustrating behavior. The sub-contractors did do good, albeit expensive, work, and I do believe that he did try to minimize some costs by getting some of them to include small repairs and fixes in the big project costs. The mini-split A/C system that he recommended has wall mounted distributors that put out cold air, and are also efficient heating units, which saved us during the winter, adding to our insufficient heating to make the home tolerable from October through January, and when our boiler cracked, we had heat, and didn?t have to worry about our pipes freezing in the middle of January. If you want someone professional that will work within a budget, won't despise you for asking questions, and will keep you fully informed about your home improvement project, look elsewhere. What I learned from the experience is that while I may not be an ?expert? in building science, it is better to struggle through managing sub-contractors yourself that are highly recommended by trusted independent sources, rather than paying someone with more ?experience? a small fortune to manage the process poorly. In trying to prevent mistakes, or having sub-contractors take advantage of our inexperience, we let Mr. Pastore take advantage and he made out very well on our job. Maybe I would have made mistakes, but I would have saved Mr. Pastore?s fee and could have likely paid for any mistakes, and still had some money left to tackle the rest of the issues that remain to be addressed in our home.
    - Elizabeth U.
  • A
    They have great customer service. Overall, very professional. They are a small company that takes pride in their work.
    - Kristin V.
  • F
    This company never contacted me back on a quote. "BAD SERVICE"
    - Herby R.
  • A
    The audit was very thorough.  He went from the basement to the attic giving suggestions and explanations.
    - William B.
  • B
    See above.
    - William B.
  • A
    They asked me questions and made some recommendations too. The price that they charged was okay. I do plan to have them do some work for me.
    - Steven K.
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