map-marker Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Nightmare is finally over

We contracted JP Donohue of Studio 111 Design/Build, a design-build firm in October 2014. Studio 111 was hired to design, provide drawings, and build a small addition and deck. Studio 111 / JP Donohue was also contracted to add 2 new windows in the living room, new sliding door in kitchen and new replacement windows throughout house. JP Donohue / Studio 111 rendered drawings and sent the proposal to "his construction manager" for pricing. Price was HIGH, so we asked for an itemized construction estimate. We waited two weeks, then JP Donohue told us, “I think, it is what is. You won’t get it itemized.” We felt forced to hire “his construction manager” because Studio 111’s contract included clauses stating we could not take his drawings elsewhere. Our home was built in 1905, we wanted a design/build firm to create a cohesive look throughout the house. We didn’t need an architect for the windows but because we were adding new (previously non-existent) windows and door, we wanted them to match the original windows in size and feel, inside and out. Neither JP Donohue nor his “construction manager” supervised the replacement windows. In fact, JP Donohue / Studio 111 refused to have any involvement in the quality and completion of the replacement windows. Studio 111 / JP Donohue completely dropped the ball. The new windows are the wrong size! Installed differently, without window sills. JP Donohue denies even measuring the windows. Several months later, when JP did visit, we asked if he wanted to see the windows, he said, “no.” Studio 111/JP Donohue denied responsibility and flatly refused to even look at the work. We could/should have hired a replacement window company. The job would have been completed six (plus) months earlier, 50% cheaper and no doubt a much nicer job. In March 2015, JP Donohue / Studio 111’s “construction manager” backed out of the job. JP Donohue said, “we’ll just put it out for bids again.” When we pointed out that we were NEVER presented with bids in the first place, JP Donohue denied that, too, and informed us he was no longer a design build firm. We approved JP Donohue / Studio 111 drawings for the addition. The drawing reflects the construction of a NEW common wall in the addition, which was not needed (or built). The dimensions of the addition became smaller and the positioning of the back door changed. JP Donohue / Studio 111 was not available before or during City Inspections. He never addressed our questions regarding the wall. Certainly the price of construction included this wall. JP Donohue of Studio 111’s layout of inside of the addition was awkward at best. According to JP Donohue, he "didn't like the layout either" but “I’ll he would be here so we can work it out, once there was an actual structure.” Later, when my contractor needed specifics in regards to placement of electric and water lines, I drew the layout. Our contractor smartly suggested raising the ceiling in the addition. This made such a huge difference giving a spacious feel to the small space. JP Donohue / Studio 111’s deck drawings reflected our desire for no railings. Structural issues arose during construction. The deck drawings showed 10 inch joists (you could land a helicopter) and lacked ANY elevations in the drawings. Because the elevations were not taken into account, the deck required railing around the entire deck! Our contract with Studio 111 states that elevations were included. By the time JP Donohue / Studio 111 got back to my contractor, the deck had been constructed. More unnecessary dollars spent. JP Donohue /Studio 111 never showed for City Inspections. He was never here when the inspector was here. We had clarified many times throughout the process that JP Donohue / Studio 111 would be present for ALL inspections. JP repeatedly assured us he would be here. However, JP Donohue / Studio 111 either looked over work before it was completed or long after it was covered by cement, drywall or flooring. JP Donohue was rude and dismissive. He always had an excuse and never once admitted to a problem. More often than not, he was late. Studio 111 / JP Donohue drew up the contracts with “his construction manager” using AIA (American Institute of Architects) Contract forms. He now claims no responsibility in those contracts. Following is the “Concept” page of Studio 111’s website; “As a design/build company, we offer clients an opportunity to work with the same friendly, familiar, and professional team for the duration of a project. ... The “traditional” flow of a construction project involves two separate entities; an architect and a general contractor. Both work for you, but are rarely in contact with each other. This means the architect draws up the plans, hands them over to you … then the General Contractor takes these plans and begins the physical work, assuming no liability or responsibility for the structural or physical layout of the site. With a design/Build entity, however, we take complete responsibility for the planning, design, and practical execution of a project.” This was NOT our experience.
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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

Tony Kovach is an MHProNews publisher and one of the key experts in the Manufactured Homes Industry with over 25 years of experience. He shares the latest industry insights and tips.

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