In 2015 a New Jersey church contracted with a pipe organ builder to rebuild and enlarge their existing Wicks pipe organ. The $125,000 contract was structured with progress payments to be made.
After more than two years the church questioned the builder regarding project completion. The builder scheduled the installation for April 2017 and requested the second-to-last payment.
The builder assembled the front of the pipe case in the church’s balcony, as pictured, which was problematic. First, the casework blocked the rose window, an item specifically addressed during the design process.
The second issue involved the quality of the woodwork and joinery. The church was appalled at the lack of craftsmanship. Other than the front case frame, none of the wood was finished. Also, half of the pipe ranks from the original organ were missing.
After partially assembling the case and collecting the next payment, the builder moved on another project, neglecting this customer. The project was not completed and the original Wicks pipework was never recovered. The church ultimately demanded the builder dismantle the casework and chose to purchase a new Allen digital-pipe combination organ.
A fine pipe organ can be a glorious musical instrument. However, a positive result requires not only a commitment by the builder to fulfill its obligations, but also the willingness of customers to spend significant funds. Customers need to be weary of pipe organ providers who quote bargain prices.