We recently decided to part ways with the Fourth Pig in the middle of a renovation of an old home. We wanted to offer this review to provide some information and insight we wished we had had at the beginning of this process. We wanted to work with the Fourth Pig because of its commitment to sustainable housing and its co-operative business model. We had purchased a single family home in Toronto and sought to divide it into two units in a co-housing set-up. They seemed like the perfect contractor for the job. We finally terminated our contract with the Fourth Pig after a year (in what was estimated to be a 5 month project), having spent 90% of our original budget and still at the rough-in stage. Unfortunately, we did this all during the pandemic and the effects of this certainly impacted all aspects of the process. While anyone with a renovation story will tell you that projects ran over time and over budget, in our experience, the Fourth Pig was more expensive than other contractors and could not deliver the added value that was promised in their advertising. What we wished we had known: The Fourth Pig emphasised Integrated Project Delivery; for us, this meant we spent $30k before construction even started and this was considered to be above and beyond the project budget. After the first 4 months of project planning and 4 rounds of budgets and plans, we nearly pulled the plug, but made a leap of faith on their assurances to complete the project on budget. For us, Integrated Project Delivery meant many external cooks in the kitchen involved, with no one taking real ownership of the project details. Several major details were missed, like a plan and permit for HVAC, which came months into the actual reno. Project management was disorganized and we regularly received bills where project management costs far exceeded construction costs. For example, the labour report would include time for 2 project managers, their boss, a site supervisor and a couple others all billing us for multiple meetings while our project was stalled out waiting on a permit for several weeks. Unfortunately, the amount spent on project management and supervision did not translate into high-quality work or attention to detail. In several instances, the Fourth Pig carpenters and site supervisors did not adhere to the permit drawings, resulting in costly and time consuming mistakes such as support posts built across the party-wall property line or not digging a window well to spec. The Fourth Pig emphasises shared risk through their integrated project delivery. However, the sub-contractors are all on fixed contracts, while the Fourth Pig is on cost plus. So the shared part of the risk falls on the subcontractors and on the client. When the Fourth Pig made mistakes, they would offer to correct the mistake, but again at cost plus. The Fourth Pig seemed like good value because of their 2-year warranty. We anticipate that we will not see this value because we stopped the project and the Pig will only warranty work that they completed. A couple weeks after closing our account, rain water began pooling into a window well the Pig had dug (and not to spec) and then leaked into the house through a basement window that the Pig installed (but without sealing). They refused to remedy this per their warranty. We have no doubt that the Fourth Pig is a really great place to work and they indeed have a healthy, positive, and professional working environment. We also think they have built some really great, sustainable houses - its just that these seem to be largely second homes and new builds. We would not recommend the Fourth Pig if budget is a priority or if you are renovating an older home. While we were very interested in making this build as sustainable as possible, this was not part of our experience with the Pig as just getting the project done was beyond what they could manage this year.
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