I called my mom's case worker with the Agency on Aging concerning a bathroom and front entrance renovation. She said these projects are outsourced to Assistive Technology Partnership (ATP). The person who evaluated the house to see if the renovations could be completed was with ATP. ATP then drew the blueprints and they take bids from contractors who are on their list of approved contractors. Once ATP selects a contractor and awards them the job, they get approval for the necessary Medicaid funding needed to complete the work. Once the funding is approved, the contractor orders the needed materials.

She said they check the contractors out and I won't even know what contractor is awarded the job until they are ready to begin work. She said ATP drew the blueprints and the work MUST be completed exactly the way the are dawn and according to the attached instructions. I told her I did not understand they were going to be cutting through a perpendicular support wall and moving the door 4 feet so the middle of the doorway is where the support wall currently is. My mom owns the house and she said she did not understand they were going to be taking out a closet.

She said my mom signed the authorization to begin work and I signed as POA. I also expressed concerns about removing the current cement front step and she said that would be up to the contractor if they need to break up and remove the step or if they are able to construct a wood deck over it.

My mom's case worker said she would suggest I talk to a lawyer before I try to cancel the authorization. I guess if I send my mom to the nursing home several months after the work is completed, then it's all been finalized and the contractor has been paid by Medicaid. If I send her to the nursing home now, the project would have to be halted AFTER money has already been spent on the project.

It's crazy because I can't stop them from constructing the front deck, but I can remove it and rebuild it after they are gone. The bathroom will cost a fortune to put back the way it was. I'm also finding out now the renovation is expected to take more than a week, but it won't solve many problems because if my mom were to try to get in there herself with her walker, she would likely fall. My mom still won't be able to be independent, it will just make it a little easier for me to get her in her shower, however that will be at the expense of removing the only bathtub.

I'm wondering if I could cancel the project on the grounds my mom wouldn't be able to handle the changes with her dementia? My mom's caseworker said it's my mom's house so I can't stop the project just because I don't think it's a good idea. I need to find a lawyer to put a stop to this for me BEFORE a contractor shows up one day and wants to start work.

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Your AA caseworker gets paid for oversite of her care and renovations. Call your DHS case manager instead, they are not the same people.
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SGeorge24 Apr 2021
I've spoke with both
SGeorge, I think you're really getting the runaround, by ATP and possibly by the Aging entity.

What, very specifically does the contract specify in  terms of who is authorized to sign?   It should be something like "this agreement dated ……  between (your mother's name) as owner"   or "your name" as proxy pursuant to a Power of Attorney dated....."   

And there should be an acknowledgment or jurat at the end of the document, by which all signatures are affirmed by a notary.

There's a conflict here of who specifically is signing, at least from what I can understand.  That in turn raises a question of who is authorized to sign, and potentially whether or not the contract is binding.

Further, if you feel your mother didn't understand what she signed, that raises the issue of invalidity of her execution of the document.

I would use this as leverage and advise that you need to have an attorney review the contract documents to ensure that everyone, each party and potential subs, are protected.   That gives you an excuse to stall while you're getting legal advice.    And you ARE entitled to do this, i.e., to get legal advice and delay signing and project start-up.

I do understand the need for the bathroom alterations, and also recognize that the changes aren't going to eliminate your need to be there and assist Mom into the bathroom.    That's something that's critical; make sure they don't expect you or your mother to vacate the house while the work is being done.   If they tell you to do, REFUSE.  

To move Mom someplace else while strangers are in the house, especially under the circumstances, isn't very wise.    This would apply in some other situations, but not with an elderly person with limited mobility, and especially while the work scope is under contention.

This keeping you out of the loop infuriates me.   There is absolutely no justification for not informing you of who the contractor and subcontractors are until they show up.  I just can emphasize enough how unprofessional this is!

Is ATP inferring that there will be no documentation with the subs? This is slipshod contracting.   

Construction contracts (in my experience working for law firms that handled sometimes cradle to grave construction projects, including the draws (payment to contractor and sub) are absolutely necessary, for each side.    If there are financial disputes, the contracts and waivers of lien are critical.   And the lien waivers are critical for another aspect:  if the contractor doesn't pay all the subs and materialmen.

Contractors and subs in my experience don't order the materials w/o signed agreements, unless the materials are standard and kept on supply b/c they can be used for other contracts.

It is true that the blueprints are guidelines and critical to purchase of supplies, but I can tell you also that I've seen change orders that alter the direction or scope of the project, and sometimes b/c of unanticipated needs, changes, or structural issues that weren't addressed in the bidding specs. 

I have another question:  have they advised you and your mother that you need to be absent during the construction?

I can understand your dilemma; there's a lot to consider, and a lot of issues that aren't resolved.   But you DON'T have to go ahead with plans that your mother doesn't want.   

I really, seriously, would seek legal help to support you during this challenging period.    If you need help finding an attorney in your area of Nebraska, post again and I'll offer some guidelines, but I would start with the NE bar association, look for "real estate practice groups", and find some in your locality.
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SGeorge24 Apr 2021
I know for a fact there wasn't a place for a notary. I don't intend for the stop order to be temporary, it's permanent because I don't intend to continue to stay here and take care of my mom. I just don't see how my mom could sign a single piece of paper and give ATP permission to send contractors we don't know to come and hack up the house.
I don't know anything about Medicaid, but I don't know how she can be considered competent enough to sign an authorization form, then you signed as POA. Either she's competent or not, and you're in charge of her financial decisions, or you aren't.

If your mom didn't understand what was going to be done, then I'd say that's the end of the discussion. She's not competent to be making these decisions, and if you don't have anything saying she isn't, then your POA isn't in effect.

Yep, I'd be calling an elder care attorney. Just tell any contractors they cannot begin work and will are trespassing on the property without permission. Put it in writing and stick it on her front door.
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Another thought is to contact Medicaid and state the contractor is making unauthorized changes and you want the project to be halted until (and if) your mother approves of the changes.   Ask Medicaid to stop the funding.

"She said they check the contractors out and I won't even know what contractor is awarded the job until they are ready to begin work."

BS.   They're not on top of this project at all.   The contractor will likely have subcontractors and they're be executing contracts as well.  When we let contracts for a large public works projects, as contract admin I had to approve ALL subcontracts.   I suspect ATP will just sole source the subs.

Have you seen the agreement between the agency and the contractor?   I confess that I'm not familiar with construction by proxy, when an Agency takes over, nor would I ever be as I wouldn't relinquish any control over my own property.

" She said ATP drew the blueprints and the work MUST be completed exactly the way the are dawn and according to the attached instructions."

This effectively excludes your mother from participation in the changes.    This would rarely happen in an openly competitive environment.   I would find this exclusion very, very offensive.
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SGeorge24 Apr 2021
This is all about ATP and their contractors making as much money as they can. If the project doesn't get completed, neither of them get paid. ATP doesn't give a crap if I send my mom to the nursing home the day after the project is complete and they even said so. The rep told me they've had porch lifts installed and then someone removed it and hauled it to the dump within a couple of months. I just have to leave it until it's inspected and they get paid by Medicaid, then I can do whatever with it.
You need an attorney who's very familiar with construction, and the real estate practice area.   An attorney who's handled projects from start to finish would be good.   He/she needs to have experience handling construction draws, which at the time I worked in this area were generally made monthly.

As that time, the contractor submitted a form approved by an association but I can't remember now whether it was an architectural association or something else.   It was a standardized form used for construction draws (periodic payments).  

I'm not sure if this form would be involved though if the project were estimated to be a week in duration.

Where is the local building department on this?   I'm assuming that it would have to approve the changes, especially ones that could affect load bearing walls.   You might be able to get them on your side.  They generally don't approve of rogue contractors.   

Find out what their criteria are - i.e., amount of the project, whether major changes are made, etc.   

There is a document called a "change order" which is the method to facilitate changes made and agreed to by both parties (owner and contractor) once the construction contracts are signed.   I hope that the agency wasn't given this authority???

What specifically did the authorization contain? Was it an authorization to start, and authorization to develop plans that the contractor wanted?    And very importantly, was it an authorization for ATP to (a) make changes to the plans (b) authorize and approve the construction draws and (c) not require the participatory concurrence of your mother?

Was any discussion had of mandating lien waivers, signed by the subcontractors when they're paid?  This was (and still may be) mandatory in construction to avoid the claim of liens against the contractor and homeowner for nonpayment.  

An attorney knowledgeable and skilled in this field might be able to find a way to issue a "stop work" order, which in my best recollection is issued during construction, but might be considered now before ATP gets control of the project.

Incidentally, do you have any knowledge of the relationship of ATP to anyone in the AAA involved in the project?   And, specifically, was the project "let" for bids, (i.e., competitive bidding), and if so how many companies bid on the project?  Or was it "sole sourced", i.e., handed out to ATP WITHOUT competition?

Post again if you have any questions about anything I wrote.   It can be confusing.
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SGeorge24 Apr 2021
I looked back at our copy of the paperwork, they have me listed as POA, my mom did a durable POA for me years back and hid the paperwork so I wouldn't know until a few months ago. My mom signed the authorization as it is her house but she claims I didn't correctly explain to her what they wanted to do. With her dementia there's no way she could have fully understood. What we are looking at is the fact that the renovation clearly serves no purpose, while the toilet will be easier to access and the walk-in shower will be easier to get into, I will still need to be here 24/7 to help her. ATP said the bathroom needs a wide doorway and the door has to be moved because she has to get through a narrow doorway then make a sharp turn to get in the bathroom so she can't get in with her walker and she needs a shower we can push a wheelchair into.

She's mad because she doesn't want to give up her closet and she's forbid me to clean it out. They said if they can't relocate the doorway and widen it, it will defeat the purpose of the wheelchair accessible shower. She owns her house and wants to continue to stay in it so that is why she is still here, she fights going to a nursing home and gets mad when anyone even mentions it.

Something her doctor said, she wants to stay in her house because she is familiar with her surroundings and making changes to the house could mess with that. No Place in the paperwork did it say the contractor might be here for a week or more and I don't know how well she will handle that.

What I know is ATP takes the bids and awards the job to the lowest bidder. I won't know where we are in the process until a contractor calls and is ready to start work. By that time the contractor will have already ordered the required materials. They said because contractors bid on the blueprint and instructions they were given, changes can't be made.
Hang in there, people will come to give you some answers.
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