Cracks in calacutta countertop: WWYD?

rem1970March 8, 2013

So my elderly mother had her vanity countertop installed yesterday, and I could not be there for the installation. When the installer was drilling the faucet holes, the counter cracked alongside 2 of the 3 holes. He assured her that he "fixed" them (he filled them with resin) and that it wouldn't be an issue -- although of course he's going to say that. She trusted him on his word as a professional, and signed off on their sheet stating that the work was completed without any issues.

I called the fabricator's office manager to discuss what could be done to make this right. After some back and forth they have offered the following 2 options:

1) They can refund the cost of fabrication and we go somewhere else. Of course this means that we would be out the cost of material, which would be approx $600.


2) We accept the counter as-is, and we will not have to pay the final payment of approx $42. If the counter fails because of water damage at the site of the cracks, they will replace it with a remnant of carrera at no charge. I would insist that they put this in writing.

I should mention that this fabricator broke our first slab of material, which was a remnant. Since there was not another remnant of Calacatta, we had to choose from another slab which was more expensive. They absorbed the additional cost.

I have attached pictures of the problem areas. As you can see, the cracks go through the thickness of the slab. Aside from the cosmetic issue, my concern is that marble is porous and this will be a wet area (albeit behind the faucet and one of the handles). Do you think what they are proposing is fair? Part of me is angry that they are obviously trying to cut their losses while taking advantage of an elderly lady in the process. If she had called me to tell me what happened at the time (or if I had been there), she would not have signed their document. They are now trying to say that they can't be sure that the damage was caused by their fabricator, when he absolutely knows it was because he acknowleged it to my mom.

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I think they owe you a replacement now, without waiting to see if the cracked and mended piece is going to fail.

Why are they drilling holes in the marble on site as opposed to in their shop?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 8:41AM
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I vote for option C: give them the cracked counter back, get a full refund, and buy your counter from another fabricator.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 8:47AM
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That does not look like a proper fix. What they are proposing is not reasonable. It is standard to drill the holes on site.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 8:53AM
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I think you should counter with 2 options of your own.

A) They replace all the damaged pieces.

B) They give you a complete refund for everything and you go elsewhere.

Those are obviously damaged counter tops and you paid for brand new ones. Accept nothing less.

This post was edited by mic111 on Sat, Mar 9, 13 at 10:47

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 10:45AM
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A proper epoxy repair will make the area more waterproof and actually stronger than the marble itself.It wouldn't be prone to any more water issues than the rest of the marble is as a whole by it's porous nature. It's not unreasonable for them to fix the problem at all. The issue is the color of the filler that they chose. If they had chosen a grey, it would just look like more veining.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Thanks so much for all of your responses. The problem is that they have a signed piece of paper from my mom stating that the work was performed to our satisfaction, and that there are no issues with workmanship or defects -- or something to that effect. They did not leave a copy of the paper, but that's what the office manager read me over the phone That's what they're going to hang their hat on as far as being accommodating. I'll ask for a copy regardless.

Even if they capitulate and also refund what I paid for material, the other problem is that I will probably have to buy an entire slab in order to get another piece of Calacatta. It was almost an entire year before I found the remnant we initially got. The material is apparently not that common in Southern California and when I have found it, it's always entire slabs. Sigh...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:50PM
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What side are you showing us, is it the side that will go against the wall? Then that poor smeary job wont be seen, only the cracks.

GreenDesigns makes a point of epoxy being stronger than the stone. In my research for putting together my soapstone sink the special stone epoxy I purchased is way stronger than soapstone. It is used for granite fabrication and stronger than granite. Marble isn't that much harder than soapstone. Even the epoxy I bought from Lowes 2 years ago for my kitchen soapstone counter fabrication is stronger than my stone.

Can you live with this? It was your mother's decision to sign off on it. There is some wisdom in that choice. This has been a long project. Maybe she is wanting to just move on.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:19PM
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does not look like a good job to me. I would get my money back, and go elsewhere. She can use the countertop, until you find a place to replace it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:28PM
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I just had an epiphany -- I know how the cracks happened. Backstory: when the fabricator came to measure the vanity and undermount sink for templating, he said the sink was too big and that there would not be enough room for the faucet holes. **His** solution was to set the cabinet about 3/4" from the wall, but the countertop would be flush. Problem was when his guy drilled the faucet holes, he didn't take the counter outside to drill on a stand. He drilled the holes over the cabinet, and while he drilled, the slab was positioned the way it was to be installed. There was nothing supporting the slab underneath for that 3/4" between the wall and where the cabinet starts. Since marble is soft, it cracked.

The side with the cracks will be up against the wall/backsplash. My contractor just told me he is concerned that the piece will separate, since the piece is cracked all the way through the thickness of the stone in 3 places and there will be tension when the faucet and handles go in and are tightened. He does not feel comfortable taking the chance that it will buckle.

This has been a long process, but that wasn't why my mom signed (to enduring's point). We did not start demo until we had all fixtures and materials, since this is the only bathroom in my mom's house. I am just incredibly frustrated that they are trying to avoid taking full responsibility for the damage *they* caused. We are not trying to put one over on them, and they're just pushing back because they've already had to pay for material once on this job (again, completely not our fault). We did nothing to create this situation.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 4:26PM
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My two cents: Ignore the paper your mother signed. Focus on what is wrong and how to make it right. You are not responsible for the mistakes that have occurred, and your Mom's signature does not change this fundamental fact.

Good luck. I know this is not fun.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 7:46PM
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I am so sorry you are having this problem - I know exactly how you feel.

I do not really think their options are reasonable to you, however if the crack is behind the fauct I honestly don't think it will bother you once the faucets and everything are in. Clearly it's not ideal, and offering a $42 discount is verging on insulting (!) , but the main thing I would be looking for is a guarantee that if it fails you will receive a replacement Calcutta marble counter. No Cararra replacement!! Calcutta is far more expensive than Carerra and could effect all the rest of your Mom's design choices.

I would tell the fabricator that your Mom signed the documemt in good faith trusting what the installer told her, but that your GC is concerned that it will fail. Say you are willing to trust the installer but that if it fails they need to replace it.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Well with the added info about the fabricators installing the counter out from the wall and then drilling without support for the edge it sure sounds like you have a case. Can your contractor go to bat for you. Shouldn't he have been the one to sign off on the job and not your mother?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Oh dear, I feel badly for you and your Mom.

I had many problems with our kitchen. At first, part of me felt guilty for the money they were losing having to replace broken/faulty pieces (everything from granite to cabinets). Then it got to the point that it was so ridiculous, that I just insisted they replace all the granite in our kitchen. Fine... only problem was the day they had scheduled to remove old granite and install new, they declared bankruptcy.

So, the point of my cautionary tale is, IF you decide to go with option #2 (which your Mom may want, if she has no other bathroom sink), how certain are you that this company will still be in business if and when counter needs replacing? (Also how is marble attached to cabinet? Can it be difficult to remove down the road, ie without damaging vanity?)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:36PM
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I think your mom's signature on the paper can be safely ignored. Many people sign off on a job and then realize it was a mistake. I've done it myself and gotten the contractor to fix it. Once I signed off on a breakfast bar granite in the kitchen but then realized they had put it in too close to the faucet hole and I couldn't install the faucet. They came back and moved the granite because they should have realized it extended too far over the faucet hole. I also signed off on a bathroom granite install where they had covered a half inch gap with clear caulk which was white when they left. I didn't see the gap until it dried. I got them to come back and replace it but didn't get full satisfaction until the owner came out. While he was there I pointed out several other errors that I had thought I could live with but bugged me more and more over time. He agreed to fix those also.

Push to have the owner of the company come out and see the job. It is really hard for an owner to say that the brand new counter tops his company installed with cracks all around the faucet holes is the type of work he wants to be known for. Your mom could have thought the cracks would disappear when the epoxy dried, or her eyesight may not be good enough to see them or like you said she trusted the contractor to fix it and make it look like new. Clearly it doesn't. A chip filled with epoxy I would accept. Cracks clear through the granite running from the hole to the outside I would not.

This post was edited by mic111 on Sat, Mar 9, 13 at 22:53

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:44PM
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We signed off on our bathroom stone too. Later that night I noticed that the sink was off center and we found a rather large chip off the bottom edge of the curb sill of the shower. I called the next morning and they sent someone out in a few hours. They were extremely apologetic and removed the countertop and sill and replaced them. The installer mentioned that it was a good thing we let them know the next day because it might have destroyed the cabinet to remove it had it set up for several days. I was concerned that they might not be able to remove the undermount sink, but he told me not to worry if they cracked it trying to remove it that they would cover the cost to replace it since it was their fabricating mistake.

I was very impressed with their customer service. Not once did anyone point out that we had accepted it. I suspect that our new sink may have been from another slab because I don't see how they possibly had enough material left over from ours. We have a stone with a lot of movement and variation and I'll admit I liked the details of the first top better, but I'm satisfied with the replacements.

I'd push for a replacement piece. Sometimes you have to be the squeaky wheel.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 3:09PM
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If you take the $600 option, are they taking the stone back?

I might be tempted to find another fabricator to come look at it, and give their opinion. And, then ask them to epoxy it (the epoxy here is evidence they knew about the damage, and it didn't happen AFTER the installer left.) Use some of the $600 to pay the other fabricator to epoxy it right.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:21PM
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duplicate .

This post was edited by kirkhall on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 0:35

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:22PM
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I want to thank you all for your words of encouragement and advice. I am relieved to say that they finally made it right.

I ended up writing a letter to the fabricator and also speaking to the owner. We were able to select another piece of Calacatta, which they also fabricated. It was installed today without a hitch.

I am thankful to be able to move forward from this, as we are in the home stretch now. Most of all, I am thankful for all of the great people on this board, :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 2:17PM
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So happy to hear that you had a good outcome - that's wonderful! : )

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:17AM
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Congratulations! It always seems like all is lost when something goes so wrong like this. But as you've found persistence pays off and if you can get to the right person, usually the owner, thing will be made right.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:12AM
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