Nightmare contractor tile job

vintagebeachhouse20May 18, 2014

I made the age old mistake of having a 'friend' redo our bathroom. He is a full time contractor. I trusted him to do a good job, so unfortunately did not withhold payment. Now I'm left with a shower with open grout lines and a leaking sink, and a floor so uneven my door does not open more than halfway. And he is a no show and now is not returning calls. Is there anything I can do to salvage this? Unless I get a lawyer, I think I light have to do the work myself. Thanks!

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vintagebeachhouse20

More horrible pics

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:25PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Ugh

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:26PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

More

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:27PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Uneven tile

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:28PM
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lazy_gardens

Call the state board of contractors ... if you got a contract with him.

File a complaint. When his license is on the line he might answer his phone.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:29PM
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StoneTech

Holy Crap. NEVER have a "Friend" do work like that. Looks like something out of "Nightmare on 13th Street." Chalk this one up to experience and cut your losses.

You need a Good, Credible Tile Mechanic to come in and make your life straight. He will/should need to take this down to the studs and build you something credible....cause this just ain't it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:29PM
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jerzeegirl

That is just awful. I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Having had a bad contractor who was a friend of a friend I know what you are going through.

Use whatever leverage you have. This is what I would do. I would tell him that unless he refunds my money (and provides additional money to buy replacement tile and supplies) by a certain date, you will join Angie's List and other consumer web sites and post photographs of that job. You don't have to say one bad word about him; those photographs say it all.

Unfortunately, you probably shouldn't redo it just yet, because you want to make sure you still have the "evidence" in place for those who need to see it. I agree that your local licensing board and/or contractors board would be very interested in seeing the job this man did. You should document every single thing that is wrong with photographs that go with the list.

You probably don't want to wait too long, though, because it looks like black mold is forming; however, you do want to make sure that everyone who needs to see that job has seen it because you tear it out.

I wouldn't worry about the "friendship" - what he did is unforgivable, especially for a person who calls you a friend.

I almost forgot...make sure you document all your conversations with him....time, date, what was said, etc.

This post was edited by jerzeegirl on Sun, May 18, 14 at 19:49

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Trebruchet

If that guy's a "contractor" I'm Santa Claus.

lazygardens advice is excellent.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Babka

Never do business with a friend or a relative. Chalk this one up to experience and find someone who is qualified to do the work and start over. Those photos show work that is plainly unacceptable.

-Babka

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:26PM
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mongoct

Document. Photos. Close-ups and wide shots. You need wide shots for context.

Write him a letter, have it sent certified mail return receipt requested. Don't be emotional in the letter. Be factual. Simply recap the relationship (you hired him), the date of hire, the dates the work was performed, the scope of work, and the money paid.

You do have a contract, right?

Simply write that the work performed was substandard. Uneven tiles. Wide grout gaps. Doors that won't open. With access and egress limited, the room is unsafe and unsanitary to use "as is".

The work was not performed IAW industry standards, you can use TCNA standards as your baseline. As a result of his work, you room does not meet current building code.

Tell him what you want. You want the work repaired so the room is useable.

In the letter specify that he has five days from date of receipt to reply. With your return receipt you'll know when he got the letter.

If he does not contact you, then you can go after him. Your best bet will probably be small claims court.

Sue him for the maximum amount allowed, even if it's more than the original contract. He's caused more damage as a result of his haphazard efforts.

You may have been his friend. But he was never your friend.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:28PM
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raehelen

Can't add any more to the above...but I do have a question. What are we looking at in your first pic? (You have posted it twice). I'm not sure which side is up, what surfaces we see...

Were you not present when he was doing any of the work? There is no conceivable standard by which this is acceptable. I would even question whether he was sober when he did this. I can't imagine any other reason he could have walked away at the end of the day and left you with this. Mongoct's description of it as 'substandard' was way too generous! (But I think his advice was solid!)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 4:49AM
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enduring

I am curious too about the closeup pic that Raehelen asks about.

The person must have been drunk. It is very hard for me to believe that this install is for real.

You initially signed up yesterday and posted these pictures. Can you respond to the above comments and give us an update please?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:59AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Still trying to play nice and get this guy to fix his work. The update is.... New is leaking because I think they drain was installed incorrectly. And the toilet rocks when you sit on it.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:52AM
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Linelle

The work is ghastly. It looks like something you find in a crack house. I have never laid tile in my life, but I know I could do a better job with one hand tied behind me. The guy who did this work was either drunk, insane, or wanted to screw you over. I'd want to kill him for what he did to my house.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:55AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

The dark grout was everywhere so I didn't realize how bad it was until later. The first pic is him being lazy and instead of cutting tile, just filling it in with grout

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:56AM
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alina_1

I feel for you...
I think it is time to stop playing nice. This "job" has to be removed at his expense and all materials have to be purchased again by him.

I would not make him to redo this. It is quite obvious that he is not capable to make any acceptable installation.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 12:31PM
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Pipdog

I don't think nice is going to get you anywhere in this situation. Send him a firm demand letter telling him what you want -- that he refund your money, come back and take out his work and pay you to replace your materials (tile, grout, etc). And if he doesn't respond or ignores your request, get a lawyer ASAP and start posting negative reviews on Angie's List, Yelp, Facebook, etc. which include pictures of this mess.

This is seriously awful.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 1:07PM
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geoffrey_b

That's TWI - tiling while intoxicated!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 3:46PM
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OldTimeCarpenter1

This guy might be a contractor, but he is not a good contractor. I would sue over a job like this..

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 5:30PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

so the other guy who works with my "friend" did return my husband's call and they are coming tomorrow to take a look. i'm not sure what's going to go down. i just hope they don't pretend that this work is acceptable. thanks for the comments. i will show them these comments if i need to

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:25PM
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raehelen

That is good news that they are coming. I had to deal with something similar (not as bad though), when I went through renovations 7 years ago. The worry about how I was going to deal with the fellow (not a friend, but because I dealt with his company to supply granite, cabinets and flooring for a large reno I got to know him pretty well, and thought I had built some kind of relationship/trust with him) was actually worse than the actual conversation.

I would list everything that needs fixing. If you have some kind of written contract, great, pull that out. Then listen to how he proposes to rectify the problems. If he says he will redo it, then you can calmly voice your concern that the job won't be done properly. In my case, I had to state that I didn't think he could do the work that he had botched up, he agreed, and hired someone else to redo it.

Best of luck, (at this stage, I would avoid threats, just present the situation, and wait for his answer). Let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:51PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Thanks. Hoping for the best!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:22PM
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lisadlu

At first I thought this was a joke but as I kept scrolling down the page I realized, unfortunately, it was not. I can't even imagine something like this. The guy doesn't have a clue what he is doing. Good luck and please let us know how it turns out.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:36PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

I don't know how this can be fixed.. But this is the
Side that faces the sink and toilet. I don't think I can stand looking at this tile

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:34PM
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enduring

I can't stand looking at it either. This is the worst thing I have seen on GW.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:50PM
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always1stepbehind

My response was the very first reply also "HOLY CRAP". That is unbelievably bad. Even I could have done a better job than that. I hope you can get it fixed properly and enjoy your bathroom.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:06PM
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arkansas_girl

I can't imagine there is any "fixing" this mess! There is probably nothing done correctly and if water gets to things it's not supposed to get to, you will have a major problem on your hands with rot and mold. I would think that it's a complete tear out and re-do.

I think a 10 year old could have done a better job. I have never seen anything like that before. This person obviously had no idea what he was doing.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:15PM
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HoustonRemodeler

With this level of cosmetic craftsmanship, I'd be VERY worried about the parts you can't see such as the waterproofing.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 4:31PM
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sloyder

It can not be fixed. It has to be demo'ed, and redone.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 5:20PM
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StoneTech

Very little that can't be resolved with some judicious use of explosives......

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 6:41PM
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snookums2

Why in the world would you want him to fix it? Do not even let someone like this back in your house. Not for a meeting, not to demo, nothing.

I question if this is even for real. If it is, looks like he has a substance abuse problem.

Where were you during all this??? It didn't happen in a few hours.

Down to the studs. Nothing is safe or salvageable. You must wake up and smell the coffee here. The cosmetics are only half the issue and the least of your problems. This guy doesn't even qualify as a hack! Keep him away from your house.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 3:38PM
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shar-az

How long has he been a contractor? Was this his first job. Tell him to find another line of work. I hope they didn't give him a licence.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 12:10AM
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Kippy

I am so sorry

Have you checked to see who holds his bond and insurance? I would contact them and document everything.

Does he have assets he can sell to pay a real contractor to demo and redo? If he works for some one, I would contact them and ask if he was working under them on this project and maybe sent a laborer out to do the work.....

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 12:43AM
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palimpsest

Of course this tile job is really awful, but to be honest I have seen some that are almost as bad. This one is really apparent because of the black grout.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 9:05AM
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snookums2

And so?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:31AM
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jellytoast

"Still trying to play nice and get this guy to fix his work."

Do you honestly think that this guy is capable of fixing this? If he started with a clean slate and managed to hack up the job to this extent, how in the world can you imagine that he can now fix it?

Do yourself a favor and get over thinking that this can be repaired. It is a total tear-out. I shudder to think of what the water-proofing and prep work looks like underneath this mess. My guess is that it is as bad or worse that what you can actually see (which is the worst looking tile job that I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of bad tile jobs).

He's a full-time contractor? That twit needs to be put out of business, stat.

This post was edited by jellytoast on Thu, May 22, 14 at 11:35

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 11:30AM
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BirchPoint

wow...what did you pay him?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 6:52PM
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jellytoast

"Of course this tile job is really awful, but to be honest I have seen some that are almost as bad. This one is really apparent because of the black grout."

So white grout would have hidden all these sins against the tile industry? Maybe a boatload of it applied with a spray gun!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 7:38PM
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ineffablespace

No, I don't think the point is that this tile job would be acceptable with white grout, just that the black really accentuates a very bad job.

I saw this in a $600K house, in a "newly remodeled" bathroom that some people said was "nice": It was a piece of Real Estate so the weren't being polite to an owner or anything.

This post was edited by ineffablespace on Thu, May 22, 14 at 20:20

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:10PM
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snookums2

That tile looks worn not new.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:14PM
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palimpsest

Deleted

This post was edited by palimpsest on Thu, May 22, 14 at 22:33

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:32PM
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ineffablespace

Whatever it looks like, it was newly installed.

I saw this house when it had the old bathroom in it, and this tile was newly installed when the second set of open houses were held.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:35PM
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tuesday_2008

Demand a refund! Now! You DON'T want HIM TO FIX THIS! If he did this work initially, it won't get much better. It needs to 1000% better.

Find a new tiler.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 5:01PM
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schicksal

Wow... this is like John Bridge Forum - "Pic of the WORST tile job?" thread material.

Is this an actual contractor with a company, or some kind of cash only job?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:09AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

my "friend's" supervisor did come over to view the job and was not very happy either. he said he will refund or redo the job. my husband wants to give them a chance to make it right.. with the supervisor on the job this time, i'm hoping for the best. and now that i know more, i will keep a close eye on them. he also said he will redo it, let us inspect, and fix what we don't like.
my next question is how to redo the ceiling. i have stripped old mesh and paint and used mesh tape to cover uneven areas. should i use joint compound or spackle?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 4:22PM
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jerzeegirl

You are making a mistake if you allow any of these people to try to fix the problem. Get ALL your money back (plus whatever supplied you bought) and hire a professional. The supervisor is not off the hook either - where was he when "your friend" was destroying your bathroom? He was asleep at the wheel and ultimately he is responsible for the shoddy work. .

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:58PM
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jellytoast

You are seriously going to let these bozos back into your home???? Honestly, vintagebeachouse20, you might want to take a better stance than "hoping for the best." The fact that this "supervisor" (really???) turned this idiot loose on a job speaks volumes for his complete lack of knowledge and integrity. And now he's supposedly going to come back and somehow make this pile of crap shine? Good luck to you. You are going to need it. You obviously came here for advice. Why not do yourself a favor and take it?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 6:31PM
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makepeace

I'm so sorry you've experienced this complete disaster. The pictures remind me of horror-bathrooms I've seen sometimes when house hunting. A seller, who wants to bump up their bath count, and who knows nothing of building/plumbing/carpentry, decides to stick a bathroom in their basement. Those bathrooms give me the creeps!

But here is a different idea for you: you've got some serious entertainment value here & I bet they'd take your case in a heartbeat on the new TV show: JUDGE JUDY - Prime Time. You'd get your money back, money for damages and likely a free trip!

One last thing... if I could ask a favor... if you can't get his license suspended, please tell us the name & location of this contractor so no one else has to have a similar experience with him.

Thank you, and good luck.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:37PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

They would not step foot on my property again. There is no fixing this. I hope you understand that. This is a bathroom, a wet area, if it is not totally torn out and done properly you can be sure to have a major black mold infestation. I hope you don't have children that would be exposed to that kind of health threat.
Get it out now, if you allow these con artist back in again you will be risking your ability to file a claim against them. You knew that they didn't know how to do the job but you allowed them back in.
Not a wise decision.
Following the excellent information given to you here is a much better idea.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 12:30AM
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sloyder

I doubt you can get a contractors license pulled for this type of job. Same thing happened to my kitchen remodel where the subcontractor could not hang cabinets and made a mess of it.The contractor made good on it, and bought new cabinets, as well as got his regular guy to do them.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 12:17PM
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juddgirl2

Wow - that is really terrible. I don't think I'd want the same contractor to fix it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 1:10AM
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morz8

There is no fixing that. It needs to be demo'd, gutted, started over. There is no way I'd let the same man back in that room,

That isn't even careless work, it's guesswork. He had no idea how to approach the job.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 12:30PM
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snookums2

The words were already taken out of my mouth. You are paying a supervisor's salary here too? Where was he when all this was going on and who would have hired this guy to begin with?

This is one time I will agree that someone is getting what they ask for.

Don't you want to wake up from this nightmare? Get your money back and save for a remodel first.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 2:23PM
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jellytoast

" ... he also said he will redo it, let us inspect, and fix what we don't like."

I wonder how he'd feel about having an actual building inspector take a look at it?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 2:30PM
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lisadlu

Vintage Beach - Any update?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:30PM
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shelayne

Oh. My. Word.

That has to be the most horrific tile job I've ever seen. Did you check the trash for liquor bottles when he was "finished"? Clearly, this cannot be the work of someone sober.

I would not let him fix this mess. This is a complete tear out.
Who knows what mess is UNDER that mess. I am so sorry you have to look at this and know you paid for it. I would be just sick. Honestly, I am just sick for you.

OK... just read further that the Supervisor is going to make this "right". Does that mean that Toonces the Tilemaster is going to be there as well? I would tell him "No." In fact, I would be inclined to part ways with this Mickey Mouse Operation all together. Demand ALL of your money back, including any materials you supplied. Go with someone who actually knows how to tile. This is just horrendous.

Ugh.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 8:18PM
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suzanne_sl

Oh my goodness, vintagebeachhouse20. I'm afraid you've been intimidated by all the very strong comments telling you to not settle for having the original people "fix" this mess even though your DH wants to. I'm also wondering if you know why the comments are so strong. Just in case:

1) Yes the tile job on the shower is awful beyond redemption, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

2) If the tile job is that bad, it is very likely that the shower pan and drain are not set properly and will leak. This will cause your floor to rot and mold to grow.

3) It's likely that whatever they did for waterproofing the shower walls isn't actually waterproof. Mold will grow there too. This is a both a health and a structural issue.

4) The floor is so uneven the door won't function properly. It is likely that the tile will be coming up shortly and breaking. Tile just doesn't do well unless the floor is absolutely level. This floor won't last long regardless.

5) Your sink is leaking and the toilet rocks. This means they didn't have an actual plumber on site. Leaking plumbing will cause the whole bathroom to be a gut job in a very short time due to rotting subfloor and moldy studs. A leaky sink will also ruin your new cabinets.

6) Did they do any electrical work? Given their other work, I would be concerned about electrical safety too.

8) Did they pull a permit for this work? Has a local inspector ever seen it? Annoying as it is, the purpose of permits is to insure that your renovation is up to code, which means safe for you and, in the case of electrical issues, safe for your neighbors.

Some things can be fixed and others are beyond repair and need to be started over. Unfortunately, this job is a do-over - there is just no way to fix it that doesn't involve demo-ing and starting over at Square 1. I'm so sorry, but you can do it now or wait for 6 months or a year when you have a catastrophic failure and do it then, but it must be re-done. The advantage of doing it now is that you might be able to recoup some of your money. If you wait, it will all be on you.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 8:16PM
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BoyWonder22

The TV Show RESCUE MY RENOVATION is casting for its 4th season and we're looking for people who have had unsatisfactory contractor work done to their house. In return, our contractor/host John Desilvia will come with his team of workers and fix whatever went wrong with your original carpenter.

If you've had shoddy contractor work done to your house and are interested in being on the show, please send an email to kyle@boywonderproductions.net with a short description of your house and your experience with the contractor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Additional Information

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:56PM
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phidauex

Wow, tile job so bad that it qualifies for reality TV! Sounds like a fun offer.

As for the tile work, I'm shocked. I watched a friend of mine tile some outdoor furniture (for himself, not a job!) while high as a kite, and it came out perfect. I don't know what these guys would have had to be on for it to turn out that bad. Children actually would have done a better job.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 4:27PM
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jerzeegirl

I hope the OP's problem got resolved because something like that can become a serious issue. I was watching Rescue My Renovation last night (I love that show) and the problem was also a bathroom. The bad contractor ran the waste pipe from the toilet under the shower (there was actually NO shower pan). When the plumber stuck his hand into the area below the shower, guess what was there? A unintended cesspool under the shower. Yuck. It's a bad idea to mess with plumbing.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 3:33PM
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vintagebeachhouse20

So I ended up redoing most of the bathroom, regrouped, dug to original hardwood and redoing all trims. Here is a reminder of before done by a 'contractor'

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:38AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

New bath and molding by 1st time amateur

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:39AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Outside of shower with lots of black grout by professional

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:41AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Same view done By first time tiler

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:42AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Inside of shower by my contractor

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:43AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

Inside now

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:44AM
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jadie88

Wow, it's great to have an update on your nightmare tile job...it's amazing how much better it looks! I hope you didn't let the first guy walk off with your money...he must have been stumbling drunk while laying that tile! Thank you for posting this.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:48AM
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vintagebeachhouse20

So I refinished original hardwood floor which was 3 inches under crumbling concrete and tile. Now door opens, sink and toilet secure, shower regrouted and sealed, and water proofed. It's a totally different vintage bath and I love it.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:52AM
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deee_gw

Looks great! Really great! Did you get a refund?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:58AM
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lisadlu

VintageBeach - It looks fabulous!! Even if you didn't get a refund from the "professional" you have learned a great deal in this process. Bravo to you! :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:58AM
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sjhockeyfan325

That's fantastic - Your work is impressive (and I love the color of your walls).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:41PM
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enduring

Great job, and I really prefer your wood floor to the floor tile in the messed up job.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 3:15PM
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snookums2

Great little bath! Good for you!

So did you check out how the shower was built for potential water issues? It can take some time for damage to become apparent. It would be unlikely that the underlying foundation and shower pan work was any better than what could be seen on the surface.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:37PM
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jrueter

Beautiful job! And what a great find that there was a redeemable wood floor under all that mess.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 7:31PM
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