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Legislation that Won’t Happen …

From the anointed nether regions of the:


1st Session regarding the passing of Resolution P.O.S. 666

Building & Remodeling Contractors Reform Act of 2011

(Final Draft Copy – Prologue)

Be it hereby resolved that on this day, January 29, in the year 2011, to bequest, bequeath and other “be” stuff onto and all over the Federal Trade Commission any and all necessary granted police power and trusted trustiestness (look it up) to ensure the strict and absolute adherence of this consumer legislation act P.O.S. 666 – Building & Remodeling Contractors Reform Act of 2011.


This enforcement is hereby effective immediately and shall become binding upon the FTC and all licensed and non-licensed building and remodeling contractors in the continental United States of America. This legislation will, however, not affect in any way nor interfere with the regularly-scheduled Friday afternoon nap of FTC executive secretary Norma Slugsberry, who gets snotty and irritable when people wake her at her desk. Senator Saucerman (Whig – WI) introduced the following bill, which was read twice , sent to the floor, retrieved from the floor , and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, Transportation and (for clinical study) Mental Illness:


To require all Building Contractors in the Americas (North and South only) to be truthful, clear and honest with their victims consumers in all correspondence and communication regarding building and remodeling contracts entered into between the two parties. This includes all communications that are written, spoken, implied, expressed, emoted, spewed, emitted, regurgitated and/or expelled in any gaseous form. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission shall conduct a special study of the marketing, advertising and general business practices of said contractors to determine if there is any money in this whole thing for the FTC. The FTC is thinking 10%.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the USA in Congress assembled the following:


This Act will be hereby cited as Senate edict: Federal Advancement of Truth in Communications and Honesty Act Not Counting Everybody in Senate (FATCHANCES) 2011.


(a) FINDINGS. After exhaustive research (we Googled it), Congress finds that:

1) Building and Remodeling Contractors are all pretty much crimes just waiting to happen.

2) Consumers who purchase contractor services possess a collective building IQ of gravy.

3) When these two get together, it is just never, ever going to be pretty.

4) Somebody should fix this. We’re thinking a law or somethin’.


In this Act (including the 14 volumes and 1,726 pages that follow this prologue), the following definitions shall apply:

1) Construction Contractor: 1) building professional; person who contracts to furnish supplies or perform work at a certain price or rate; 2) future inmate #509876J.

2) AE: Architect-Engineer; design professional and often owner-representative for building industry owners. Gets money up front, denies any/all responsibility from there on out, and then charges for correcting own mistakes when nothing fits in field. No idiots, these AEs.

3) EYOKFLTSWADDFAE: Eighteen-Year-Old-Kids-From-Local-Tech-School-Who-Actually-Do-Drawing-For-AE.

4) Project Budget: the cost projection that is just low enough for owner to get sucked into paying AE fees up front. No relation to actual cost of project.

5) Addenda: Written changes to bidding documents after original architectural plans and specifications have been released for bid. Issuance of addenda often coincides with the moment it becomes clear to bidders that the project they’re bidding entitled, “Springville Nuclear Power Plant Reactor #3 Renovation” is really recycled “Chucky Cheese’s Fun-a-Rama Maze” plan with title-block changes.

6) Bid Letting (Open): Public gathering held at completion of bid period wherein all competitors’ proposals are opened and read aloud with (virtually always) the lowest bid receiving the contract. Many experts equate this project delivery practice to that of a delicate repair to an elusive brain aneurysm being performed by Yosemite Sam.

7) Bid Letting (Closed): Bid award procedure wherein project owner selects contractor for his project way before plans ever hit the street but then holds open bid process to 1) appear fair and 2) make sure contractor he has already selected isn’t screwing him over. Owner then sets off for 3 p.m. meeting on business ethics (they’re serving those little cocktail weenies in barbecue sauce he likes so much).

8) BOO-HAH-HAH-HAH-KA-CHING!: Gleeful sound emitted by contractor upon receipt of signed change order. Owner deserves it [ref: SECTION 3(7)].

9) Project Closeout: Moment in time when everything catches up to contractor and loan sharks start to sound like not-that-bad of an idea. Price paid by local blood bank begins to sound more fair.

10) Construction Foreman: Person in charge of construction operations in the field, often seen driving workers over edge of nearby cliff for consumption later. Disturbed, disheveled and angry, foremen resemble Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” but without the people-person skills.

11) Design/Build: Construction arrangement where contractor finally makes up money for all those loser, competitive-bid wastewater treatment plant projects he’d given away in order to keep crews working.

12) Construction Management Firm: Organization of college-educated (mostly) white men in their late 20s/early 30s with electronic organizers and the latest iPhone accessories who really want to be in construction but can’t seem to get past the nasty thought of actually associating with construction workers. (Also known as “suits.”)

13) Lien Waiver: Legal affidavit releasing project owner from threat of lien by contractor/supplier in simultaneous exchange of payment for work rendered and once, relinquished, virtually eliminates any leverage whatsoever that contractor/supplier may own to collect said money should owner default. Commonly collected two (2) months prior to anyone seeing one red cent of project money.

14) Lump-sum Proposal: Fixed-cost proposal wherein contractor may not adjust his cost for construction except through owner/AE-approved change contract modifications, which works out OK, because contractor will make tons of profit in panic-laden, frenzied, post-bid VE process (*see #15 below).

15) Value-Engineering (VE): Period of time after bidding when owner realizes he’s been jobbed by A/E. Occurring on approximately 100% of all construction projects, VE is when the “team” (i.e., the contractor, because the A/E is in Tahiti) explores avenues for bringing $1,500,000 project down into the “$400,000 range.” With time being of critical and costly essence at this point, owner is forced to accept most, if not all, of these cost-savings suggestions. And since contractor is no dummy, he’ll be sure to make 50% to 100% on all VE changes, thereby transforming his original base bid P&O line-item from 3 1/3% to 22%. Is this a great country, or what?


(a) IN GENERAL, it’s absolutely hopeless. We’ve got nothing … so here’s $300M we found down in the seats of the senate chambers. This should make it go away. At least it worked for CitiBank.

(b) No later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall conduct a study to determine the feasibility of serving little cocktail weenies in barbecue sauce [ref. Section 3(7)] for next potluck. $255M funding approved.

(c) That despite the reality that 99% of building and remodeling contractors are honest, straightforward, hard-working and ethical business people, there will always be a handful of crooked contractors who will prey on the weak and uninformed. In turn, as long as there is an abundant supply of greedy, uninformed consumers who will fixate and focus only on the low dollar even when such a “bargain” flies in the face of all logic and common sense, we hereby resolve that these two entities will always attract one another and that the miscommunications, disagreements and volatile atmosphere between contractor (even the honest ones) and consumer will likely remain unchanged.


Upon completion of this study, the Chairman of the Commission shall transmit to Congress:

a. A report that contains the findings of the study conducted under this section.

b. Such further recommendations as the Commission determines to be appropriate.

c. The copy of “Gas Pump Girls 2” that the Chairman borrowed more than three (3) weeks ago.


a. And now if you’ll excuse us, it’s McCain’s nap time.

S. S. Saucerman has more than 30 years of experience in residential and commercial construction estimating, project management, building material sales and as a writer for construction industry. He also taught Building Construction Technology for 11 years at Rock Valley College, Rockford, Ill.

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