The worst sub to deal with during your build...

saftgeekFebruary 22, 2014

Time to vent a little... So far my build has went fairly well. I've had to apply a little pressure here and there but for the most part we are getting more than what we've asked for... with the exception of the plumbing contractor.

Plumbing has been the most challenging. Seems like these guys don't get questioned on much. I'm hoping we get our differences worked out... I'm fairly sure we will.

I was just curious what sub others were finding the most difficult to work with. All the people I've spoken with pretty much agreed the plumbers were in/out with very little input from the homeowner.

Thanks in advance for contributing to this thread...


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Are you acting as your own general contractor? If not, does the GC not take a leadership role?

Many subs don't like to deal directly with homeowners. Do the problems stem from coordination with the other work or design issues?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:47AM
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I guess I got lucky with the people I contracted with (electrician, plumber for gas line, drywall, welding, concrete flatwork). I avoided questioning their work because they were professionals and everything they did looked great to my inexperienced eye.

I did run into a surprisingly large number of obnoxious grandiose prima donnas in the trades but made sure that I didn't do business with them.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 7:46AM
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Our plumber was excellent. Both the plumber and his assistant (who happened to be his father) were excellent to work with, in fact. We only had one sub (the flooring/tile guy) who had the prima donna attitude. Yes, we served as our own GCs; the guys were completely aware that we gave them recommendations - or not - based on the way they worked for us. Angie's list, word of mouth - we have been completely getting the word out about who others should hire and who they shouldn't hire. For the most part, we have given glowing recommendations for our subs.

The only real jerk on our crew was our carpenter/foreman. The guy has no interpersonal skills - got mad at many of the subs he was supposed to be supervising, was rude to me and dh, refused to plan more than a day in advance...that man gave me many new gray hairs! He told us (didn't ask - *told* us) that he is giving us as a recommendation for future jobs. Unfortunately for him, we won't be able to serve as a helpful reference.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:01PM
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So far they've all been pretty great. The two small "incidents" were that 1) when I started asking about tankless water heater I could tell right off the bat the guy didn't want to do it (ultimately we decided to go another route but not because of the plumber's attitude about it). He was great for the other stuff, like figuring out all the shower head placement.

and 2) The electrician, who was also great about almost everything, basically refused to raise an outlet 2" so that it wouldn't interfere with my message center cabinetry. Ultimately that also got resolved to my satisfaction but I can't understand why he wouldn't move it (and also he knew exactly where the cabinetry was going to go because we spoke specifically about it during the e-walk through)

So far though, ALL the subs are friendly and nice, responsive to my questions and also asking me things if I'm there and a small thing comes up. Framers were patient and helpful when addressing a few small changes. Everybody was patient when working through placements and all those rough in decisions.

So far, no real complaints.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:59PM
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My husband says that I made the electrician crazy by adding a motion sensor to the pantry, after it had already been wired! Oops! Our builder says it is no biggie because the guy gets paid by the hour.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Uponthehilltop - changing the switch is a five minute job, at most. I changed ours out and it took me longer to walk to the breaker box and back then it did to rewire the switch. Three wirenuts and two screws and done...

I am not my own GC. I did a walk through with our electrician and I gave my GC a spec sheet for what we wanted in our build. Everything we've done has really turned out nice, except the jetted tub. We wanted a heater on it and everyone dropped the ball. We ended up without the one thing we repeatedly asked for. It really makes me upset that the GC copped an attitude like it was my fault because we didn't tell him about it again when the tub was installed. I think my main problem is he is juggling three houses with a very small crew. I think he is putting out fires. I guess I just need to stay on him and see where we end up.
I am very lucky compared to some of the posts I've read on here. This is literally the only real issue we've had so far. We are almost done, so I'm hoping this gets resolved and we make it to the end without anything else.
Sorry to vent on everyone. I wanted to hear some other's issues to make me feel better about my own.

Keep up the work everyone...


    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 10:06PM
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A "jetted bathtub" is a normal bathtub that is filled from the house domestic water system and drained each time you use it.

A "whirlpool spa" is a larger tub that is filled from the domestic water system but water is continually circulated through it from a miniature swimming pool system with a heater.

Did you want a jetted tub and a booster water heater near the bathroom? Why would that be necessary in a new house? Would it not be included in your specifications?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:52AM
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Hmmm, I need to make more specific punch lists for the subs for walk thrus. My GC has a few jobs going on too and I don't want things to get missed. I want outlets in a few oddball places and I too want the wiring in place for a jetted tub but for now we are just doing soaking for budget.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:26AM
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I acted as our GC, owner builder. Here's the list of difficult subs and why:

Plumbing: He lost our shower valve ($500), then said we never gave it to him, we did not have him back to do the final plumbing install.

HVAC: We have a basement, only 10' height, he wanted to put trunk line everywhere, lowering our height to 8'. His quote, "I ruin a lot of people's dreams about their basement". My quote, "Well, you can put lines of the size I tell you and where I tell you or you can get off my jobsite". I researched what we needed (based on our Manual J) and brought him out the next day and told him how to do his job. I encased all the trunk and return lines in a coffered soffit setup.

Cabinets: Bait and switch on price, poor install, we basically fired him before the job was fully complete. He made the mistake of upsetting my wife, she's ruthless and made the decision to fire him.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:14AM
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I'm the GC of our build, as well as doing 90% of the work, but I have subbed some stuff out. The guy who did my site work, concrete, and ICF pouring has been great, if a little slow. The problem is is that he's not making much money at our place, so he fits us in where he can. I don't mind the delays, all things considered, and he has been an invaluable source of information, none of which he charges for.

I did my own plumbing, and tried to get help on the DWV system, but got nowhere with local plumbers. I finally figured it all out, and when I looked back at the underslab pictures of the work done by a licensed pro, I see he got it wrong. It works, but it isn't correct.

I don't know how many drywall guys I called before I actually got a response. Evidently they've all got better things to do. The guy I'm using is very good and keeps in touch constantly to make sure the job is going well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Renovator8 - I knew it was a matter of time before you chimed in with the specification question... I have read your posts literally for years and always grin a little when you throw that out there. I was hoping I'd make it completely through my build without you saying that to me. I did have a spec sheet, but apparently I failed to communicate my wishes even though it was in writing, spoken and relayed to his electrical and plumbing sub. I'm thinking he has spread himself a little thin. I have spoken with him recently and he has agreed to make the fix on his end. I'm fairly sure he'll make it up somewhere else... there is no such thing as a "free" lunch, right???

We're getting closer by the day. Fingers crossed we can dry out enough to get our patio poured and some grading work done in the next two or three weeks.

Thanks for everyone's input...


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:00PM
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On a side note, interesting that "Many subs don't like to deal directly with homeowners." I agree that used to be the case, but during our build in 2008 to 2009, most of our contractors confided that they were happier working directly with homeowners now. Why the change? Because in our area, so many Builders went under without paying subs, that they gladly welcomed people that were more likely to pay them.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:47AM
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Our last build, the worst sub was the so called tiler who did a horrible job. When I complained about his unacceptable tile work. Broken jagged glass tiles, globs and globs of grout, the grout was over and inch wide and an inch thick all over our cabinets to hide the uneven tile cuts. Instead of cuting tile to fit he filled in areas with grout.

He had the nerve to tell me he did wonderful work and saw worse tile jobs done in million dollar show homes. Ummmm.... our house was also costing well over a million dollars and I expect better tile work, no matter what the price of the house was. So I'm not sure what his point was. Unreal.

Here was his lovely work:

We had it all ripped out and my husband did the blacksplash beautifully himself.

On our new build it would have to be the construction manager who does not notify the subs of any changes or make sure things are done properly for our custom build. They build a lot of spec homes and the trades assume they do the same thing in every home. Instead of reading our custom specs. So they have to keep coming back to fix things that me and my husband notice are wrong. The site sup and construction manager don't pay enough attention to notice. Unfortunately to build in town on a nice lot you are forced to build with these type of builders as you are unable to buy your own lot in town.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 2:54PM
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