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HELP!! New construction problem!

aclark900February 7, 2013
We just moved into our new construction custom home 9 days ago. We worked hard saved for 10 years to put a nice down payment. We have been in the house for 9 days and have already ran into so many problems: painters had to back out 3 times, ALL mirrors had to be replaced b/c they were too small for the frames, ALL of the hardwoods have to be redone because the hardwood company sealed the floors and there are more than 50 paint spots on the floors, the kitchen tile and master bath tile needs to be replaced. Needless to say I'm about at my wits end with this builder....So I'm organizing the closet under the stairs and find this--see picture!!!!!! what in the world?!?!?! I immediately call the builder for an explanation and he says "it's not a gas or water line, so its nothing really to worry about. It's just a drain." Am I being picky?? Please be honest. I feel like I'm losing my mind!
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sorry, the picture is crooked.
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:50PM
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uh... "just a drain"? As in, water, sewer....Yikes. That is potentially a huge problem and of course you are right to have that looked at and fixed. At the builder's expense, I would think. Have you had a final inspection yet? If this scary bulge wasn't addressed then it needs to be addressed now. Sorry for all the problems you are having!
4 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:53PM
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Picky? Hardly. What ever happened to that wall was patched with some kind of tape and painted over. Clearly, it was deliberate. Some one else here on houzz is going to have professional/legal opinions concerning your options. I think your builder needs to see the inside of a court room.
12 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Barbara Griffith Designs
Tell them you are getting a lawyer..see if they change there tune. You want it all fixed now.
7 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:56PM
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wow. I am so sorry! Good luck while you demand it to be fixed.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:02PM
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judy and barbara are right.
Looking closely at the picture you can see the trowel / tape lines. I'd take pictures of every inch of that house and record every conversation with the builder. Actually hiring a lawyer isn't a bad idea if this builder went out of his way to try and hide a huge water bulge in the wall. Ugh.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:02PM
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The cupboard under the stairs? judyg and Barbara are right, that builder needs a wake up call in court. Pronto!!!

Make a highly detailed organized list, room by room, of all the problems you've come across. Don't go in unarmed and wishy/washy and ready to settle!
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:04PM
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All About Interiors LLC
First, I want to say how sorry I am that you've come across a very( what seems to be) unprofessional builder. You should NOT put up with this at all! Before you go any further I suggest you try to obtain as much info on this builder as possible ie; contractors license number, insurance documentation, any other disgruntled clients etc... Make a list of the items you've found that you are unhappy with, take pictures of these items, present them to the builder and ask that he fix them with no additional expense to you in a timely mannor (give a date). Hire yourself a good, reputable home inspector (cost $100-200 but may be worth it in the end if this builder is already hiding mistakes, there could be others). If he doesn't comply... hire a good lawyer! This article could be of interest to you... http://www.allaboutinteriors.org/blog/
Best of luck to you!
11 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Take pictures! Great advice from AAI!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Oh my- no you are not being picky and the builder is at fault.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Interiors International, Inc.
No, you are not being picky. My client would be on me like stink. This guy really dropped the ball on your project. He needs to get his behind to your house and fix these problems. I'm so sorry you are having such a bad experience with your new home.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:18PM
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and I forgot to mention....on the other side of this closet "bulge" in the wall is the washer and dryer!!
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:22PM
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That is absurd. I would take the advice about having the home inspected and investigate the builder before hiring a lawyer.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Kaplan Architects, AIA
Very shoddy work!
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:27PM
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Monica Ellison
I am sorry to hear that you are having problems with your new home as this is a major milestone that you have worked hard to achieve. This is very concerning as it could be a sign that the builder did not construct your home according to code. I would not assume that this is just a cosmetic issue. It appears to be some sort of pipe. My recommendation is to get a structural engineer to do an inspection of your home. If the results indicate that the builder did not construct your home according to residential building codes proceed with legal action. Do not attempt to work it out on your own with the builder.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:32PM
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Yeah you really got a 'winner' for a builder. I do hope you did not make the first time home owner mistake of taking the cheapest bid cause that is usually what you get - cheap. I always recommend, to my clients searching for a contractor, that they interview at least three. You will probably find two who make you feel that you are speaking to them in a foreign language. I hate to be hard on you but with all the problems you seem to have - why are you in the house? Moving in implies acceptance and now you may be in for an extended battle to get things fixed.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:37PM
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S. Thomas Kutch
All About Interiors has given you some excellent advice. I would follow it step by step and you definitely want a good qualified home inspector to go through this house with a fine tooth comb..... literally. Everything needs to be checked. If this contractor's attitude that this drain out of the wall is acceptable, there is no telling what else is hidden.

Also, if you went through a Realtor you need to get them involved. I'm willing to bet there is a window in the contract that allows you to back out of the deal should the contractor not perform and trust me he's not performing.

Do a final punch of the entire house for cosmetic defects, take pictures and index them a written narrative of the problems you find. Check everything..........door swings, hardware, light switches, power receptacles, appliances, every cabinet drawer, every electrical element, every valve, every window........then let your inspector go through again.

Give this final punch list to the builder and a date to correct everything. This is something the builder should have done with you before you moved in. It's something the Realtor should have recommended.

If the builder balks at correcting the issues advise him you will be hiring a lawyer to make arrangements with his bonding company to get the work corrected and to notify the licensing authority.

good luck..........to put it bluntly you have an ignorant ass for a builder .... unfortunately, there seems to be more and more of them popping up and the give professional builders a bad rep.......
5 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:06PM
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Ironwood Builders
Lawyering up is expensive and often fruitless. I was involved as a professional witness and provided the repairs to resolve horrendous structural defects that were the direct result of the poor work of the homeowners previous contractor. The homeowner won the settlement...almost covered their legal costs...and then they still had to pay me for the repairs. Lawsuits don't solve problems, neither do threats. Problems are solved by hard work and perseverance. Document everything and take notes, yes. Be prepared for a difficult time getting things fixed. I'm sorry you are going through this nightmare. Not all contractors are like this guy. Most are honest, hardworking and do the right thing. Sounds like, so far he hasn't balked at having floors redone, repainting and other things on your list. See if he is willing to fix this too. But now is the time to be thorough. Make that list BIG!
5 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:19PM
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
What you're looking at is a drainage pvc pipe that was drywalled around and then tried to feather across with multiple strips of drywall tape and compound. Utterly ridiculous, also I can't be sure, but looking at the pictures, it appears they also covered up the clean out plug which is illegal, it needs to be accessible to the plumber if ever need service access. Any of the other issues, the offending contractor should be responsible for, paint on floors - painters fault for not properly covering and cleaning, mirrors not fitting frame - whoever measured and ordered, etc. Not that every builder will be a standup pro and fix these at their cost, but I find it hard to believe this guy can call himself a custom homebuilder and present a product like this, if you haven't had your closing yet, have your builder present through the walk-thru, your title company most certainly will not accpet this as a finished product, and then your builder will be held accountable to the one who cuts the final check. Hope this helps and that your next 50 years in the house are a dream!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Jefferson Park Collection
I have seen this before. Drain was placed in the wrong spot or the wall was moved which has caused the drain pipe to extend past the drywall. To make sure this is what is going on, I would dig out the area to expose the pipe to be sure there are no leaks back there or some crazy "No Hubs". If eveything is O.K. and it's just misalignment, Have the contractor apply another sheet of drywall over the whole wall. If this is a location where a cabinet could be used, have the contractor install you a free cabinet to hide the pipe.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:48PM
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Aja Mazin
All About Interiors LLC,

Excellent article and a must read for all.

We had an architect and a designer on our recent build.

The designer saved us from many costly mistakes.

We are extremely pleased and would never do it any other way.

This was a small investment that reaped great dividends.
    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Marie Hebson's interiorsBYDESIGN Inc.
Hmmm, this is a brand new build and your contractor should have boxed this in properly, then drywalled around it properly. THIS IS NOT FINISHED CORRECTLY. Have them back to fix - under the stairs or not, this is not proper.
    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:57PM
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Design & Decor By Shelley
This is a complete disgrace..I feel terrible for you..Do not let this builder/general contractor get away with any of these errors..I cannot even call them deficiencies..They are just down right nasty on purpose mistakes..Where is the local building inspector??You obviously received occupancy as you have moved in already..Did he not see this protrusion in your wall?
Take a deep breath, make notes on everything that transpires from this day forward and get all of this fixed..At no cost to you!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Jeffrey Brooks Interior Design
You have got sound advice here so don't waste any more time worrying, just get your documentation organized and get going. The builder has done a lousey job and needs to be put on formal notice.
Also, I would not threaten legal action until you're prepared. Talk with a lawyer first. When you are clear about the procedures, write a letter or have your lawyer do so, and send via registered mail, don't rely on a discussion or email communications. If any of the discussions have been done by email so far, be sure to create a file of them as evidence of your efforts.
Good luck to you, Jeff Brooks Interior Design
1 Like    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:23AM
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Jefferson Park Collection
As long as there is nothing wrong with the drain connection in the wall, this really is no big deal. Yes! this builder is on the lower level. Just have the drain checked and lay on two sheets of drywall. Every house has small problems to be fixed at the end. Get yourself a roll or blue dots and stick them on every problem you see. When your contractor say he's finished, get your red dots out and go around the house again. Keep changing the dot colors until you are satisfied with your new home.
Good Luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Danielle Lyn
Do NOT tolerate this! You paid for a home built correctly and you'll end up paying much more in the long run if you don't make them fix it! Yes lawyers are expensive but if you've documented well a judge will not object!
    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:53PM
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GEE Contracting and Development
I too had to go through this hundreds of problems during the first 4.5 year after moving in, no electrical inspection, I had everyone fired with the city inspection (they were selling stickers.) Ours house has been totally rewired, jacuzzi not grounded, 50x75 ft upper deck rotted out, basement flooded every time it rained and it was a fully finished basement, put in all new plumbing, garage pipes froze 5 times and the ceiling then fell in on our cars causing damage to them. I could go on but I don't want to scare you In this gated neighborhood of 65 house 17 were suing the same builder, I went out on my own and hired a law firm, (get this our builder we investigated first, he was the president of our city's builder's assoc. everything seem great.) Wrong I strongly recommend you document everything with narrated video by you, then take still photos (blowup to 8x10) and start your book. In the end I had 3, 4" binders of photos descriptions written down and over 17 videos completely full. Everything began to decline, my health including anxiety attacks trying to raise 2 infants at this time too.

Find out when in your state is the last day to sue your builder, mine was 5 years, and he was smart he put in our contract he would fix any problems himself and what he did not fix had to go to arbitration so check your contract with yours, however after 3 years of this I kicked him out and hired a commercial contractor. We did not win any $ but our attorney came away happy, $60,000. out of our builder's pocket, our $ was use to finish repairs on the house. Prayers be with you my children, because today 22 years later our home I feel is ours not his and it is the best build home in the city!
    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Cheryl Scrymgeour Designs
I agree with Ironwood Builders. Persistence is the key to get a lax builder back on track. In my experience litigation should be the very last resort.! It takes forever, is costly, and doesn't usually solve the immediate problem of getting your deficiencies repaired. By all means keep detailed notes , pictures, and call logs just in case.
Being consistent in your approach is key. No matter how frustrated and angry you are, keep all voicemails or emails calm, to the point, and professional. Your initial objective is to get acknowledgement of your issues from one of the companies key personal. Usually personal appearances to the sales office or decor centre get a better response.Or, befriend the person answering the phone. The old adage that you catch more flies with honey applies here big time. The receptionist is the builders first line of defence.if you talk nicely and explain how you need to have your builder do a site visit to see for themselves what you are up against. You may make contact.If that dose not work, grab the foreman on site. If you are in a subdivision find the work trailer or if this is a custom builder find a current job site and pay a visit. Again, explain your plight and request that the builder get in touch with you to arrange a site visit. If you seem like a stand up person ,you never know what information you can get. I once got a personal cell number this way. Once you get the one on one, make sure you are ready. Have an agenda of discussion points on hand so you don't forget anything. Also, have problem areas well marked so you are not looking for them during the meeting. Have suggestions ready about what your expectations are for satisfactory repair.Do not get sidelined by his excuses. Keep on target. Insist repair is a reasonable expectation and you would like it taken care of. Make your expectations realistic. Discuss and agree on a timeline when all repair work will be completed and that the builder himself will be back to inspect the work when it is finished. Most builders will work with you if you seem reasonable to deal with. Another avenue is to find out what accreditation the builder has with any professional societies or government regulatory bodies. Usually found on their website information.These vary between provinces/states.Getting them involved will offer you other insights into how to achieve your objectives.

If you truly have the misfortune to be involved with a charlatan by using this approach you can prove in court that you exhausted all avenues available to you to rectify this matter before you turned to litigation.

Good Luck,

2 Likes    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 4:21PM
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Good advice from Cheryl. Once you've become the "customer from hell" you will always be seen as that person, even when you are actually being a good customer.

In general, whether it is dealing with subcontractors, employees, partners, or children, I've found the "I expected better" approach gets me closer to the desired result than "that's lousy work" approach. First of all, that's a bit of a compliment (honey!), to state that you consider them to be capable. Second, sometimes the issue really is a mismatch of expectations, and that allows the other person an opportunity to describe the issue from his point of view.

Problems do happen in construction. Errors abound, some small and some more major. The guy at the end, like this drywaller, is not responsible for putting the pipe in a spot where he was expecting to run the drywall. Part of being a successful GC is catching such issues while they are still minor problems and easy to fix rather than waiting until the end and trying to get the homeowner to accept the solution used by the drywall guy when that was all he could do.

Someone obviously dropped the ball here, no doubt about it. Everyone can discuss that fact endlessly like sportcasters trying to fill air time, but the objective is to get the game restarted.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
aclark900 I will address this one more time as I haven't seen any follow up on my original posted observation. From the picture it looks like they covered up a y-trap with a cleanout access port which as previously stated is against code. If ever there is need to access, the plumber uses this area to do anything from snaking out clogs, inserting cameras to diagnose problems, or simply to gain access to flush/clean lines. This is standard construction practice, whereas the cleanout area is stagered slightly off alignment from preceding piping to specificaly leave exposed and not covered up by drywall. Builders will try to place areas like this in utility rooms or under stairs as your case, because it is meant to be expose,d and while not visually pleasing it is neccessary. I believe your builder/drywaller/or likely laborer was unaware of this, and now the builder doesn't want to look uneducated and is stating this is no cause for concern. Ask him nicely to bring up to code as per your cities regulations, thereas not looking like you are complaining, but rather relaying information needed to pass inspection.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 5:16PM
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lewis + smith
the cleanout is the only part that should be exposed. The wall needed to be furred out, as it was not framed in the right location. I assume the ground work plumbing was slightly off when they framed the walls. They need to pop the dryall off, fur out the wall, and replace the drywall, meanwhile keeping the plumbing access visible.
    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 5:27PM
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
As stated the wall was built in the right location as evidence by drainage piping above cleanout is enclosed in wall. To ensure accessibilty, plumbers stager the pipe to prevent coverups. You certainly can have the area f"i"rred out to conceal or frame around with 2x6 instead of 2x4 but make sure the cleanout plug is left accessible.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 5:45PM
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Given all the postings regarding your home, you need a team of professionals to help you sort all this out; however, if you are not able to confront the builder and stand your ground, you have already lost the battle. That does not mean antagonize him: it means educate yourself and go through all these problems in systematic detail. You probably have serious problems with this home which will plague you for years and some of them may be safety issues.

Nowhere in your responses have you indicated that you actually resolved any of your issues or even confronted the builder. In my opinion, you should never have accepted the home in this condition. Shoddy construction is not only theft, it can be deadly.

I don't think your mortgage company can help you, but they may be aware of some law that can. Time is probably critical, so every hour you delay could cost you.

I disagree with Ironwood Builders about not getting a lawyer, etc. Of course, if you get the same sort of lawyer as your builder, you are going to be in worse trouble. Consulting with a real estate lawyer should give you some ideas concerning your legal rights. Initial consultations are usually a reasonable flat fee.

Mike Holmes' new company might be in your area. He fixes houses like yours, but most of the time the owners do not get restitution. It is a shame you don't seem to have watched his program on HGTV.

I feel very sorry for you, but it is necessary to act fast if your investment is to be saved.

No one should be treated like this, but equally important, no one should accept this treatment. You are responsible for addressing these problems. Code violations are serious and you may be responsible for fixing what the builder did even if you can't get the builder to make the fixes.

Worse than that: if these cosmetic things were not completed correctly, is your house structurally sound?

Did you work with an architect? Did the architect inspect the home as it went up?

Do something now, today. And let us know your progress because this is going to take a long time to resolve.
    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:56PM
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Get a lean on everything that builder owns. Research him through your local tax office. If he has property put a lean on it. If you know where he banks with his business send them notice that he will be getting served. Put every local building supply company on notice of his work ethic. Shut him down. Place him on Angie's list And BBB. Call your codes inspector To find out how this has been passed. Last get a reputable builder in to inspect your home. If he cut cost like that your trusses and foundation need to be examined
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 11:15PM
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3D-Tile-Design - Bertram Tasch
Hello aclark900, I am so sorry to hear all about your bad luck. I turned your picture so nobody has to incline his head anymore. ☺
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Aja Mazin
I agree:

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:02AM
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Aja Mazin
I certainly hope you are having no problems with your 6 bathrooms.
    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:05AM
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I agree. I would seriously be concerned about what you cannot see, if this is what you can. Time for an inspection and attorney. I would not give the guy a heads-up about either as he may skip town (along with your money).
1 Like    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:44AM
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I'm so sorry you are dealing with these structural issues. You must feel completely overwhelmed and at a loss having spent 10 years saving for a dream house that has become a perpetual nightmare. I hope that with the many experts that houzz has to offer you find a fast resolve to your issues. Good luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:51AM
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S. Thomas Kutch
I'm sorry this isn't a clean out.........I put myself through college running plumbing and I've never seen a pluming contractor off set a vertical line like this for clean out. Most contractors would use a "clean out whye" that is placed in the line inside the wall with only the clean out cap hub extending beyond the proposed dry wall surface.

This looks more like a dimensional screw up.... either by the plumbing contractor during the ground out phase or by the framing contractor in locating the stud wall.........either way it should have been caught by the GC (builder) before dry wall was put in place. It's a perfect example of the GC never inspected the framing or the plumbing top out prior to proceeding with the dry wall and if he did, he sure as hell didn't do a good job of it. The dry wall contractor just slapped board up and the finish (if that's what you want to call it) came later............either way it all falls back onto the GC plain and simple. It's not acceptable and needs to be boxed out properly.

Considering all the other problems you've faced.........and the very real potential for some serious hidden problems, I disagree with those who suggest you not get a lawyer involved......I think a good construction lawyer is exactly what you need.........if nothing more to let this builder know you're serious and willing to take the ultimate measures necessary.
    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:08PM
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