Feeling ganged up on

cottonpennyMay 31, 2012

We are partly through our build. Our current project is trying to decide on flooring choices. I am starting to feel like the flooring store lady and builder are ganging up to make me pay more than I should for these choices.

First, there is the carpet. We happened into a Lowes before we even really decided to build and my DH liked Mohawk Smartstrand "Lucky Star". It's reasonably priced at just a touch over our allowance. The same product rebadged "Intelligent Style" is being quoted as about twice our allowance at the flooring store the builder wants us to use. It's a huge difference, like $5k. For the same product. Even though the flooring store has a big red sign in their window that says "115% price match guarantee" they won't price match because it's not the same name.

So I found a place online that will sell me "Intelligent style" for even a little less than Lowes. They won't, however, give me a written quote cause obviously they know I would just take it to the local store. But it's on the website listed at the lower price. My emails asking the flooring store lady and the builder if I could buy the carpet online and have it installed, or buy it through Lowes, have gone unanswered. I looked at literally 20 different other carpets and none are as nice and they are all more expensive.

Second issue is the tile. I wanted AO Catarina that I had seen on here in other people's bathrooms. She told me months ago that the tile was in my allowance which I thought was great. Now she is saying that to install the tile with the manufacturer recommended grout line of 1/8" will incur an extra ~$650 for the shower walls and bathroom floor, versus 3/16" which is their standard. This is roughly a 75% increase in labor charge. I told her I thought it was ridiculous to charge that much for 1/16" difference. Now the builder is saying the charge is for making the studs and joists more level to accommodate the tighter grout joint.

Now today she emailed me that she can no longer get 12x12" AO Catarina, so I either have to pay another $1000 for 18x18" Catarina (and must decide today because it's going to all sell out), or switch to another tile that is not rectified and is even more expensive!

I don't think I'm being difficult or asking for the world that they would match prices I'm easily able to get by doing simple google searches. I am not a construction expert but wouldn't think that the studs being so uneven to not be able to tile with 1/8" grout lines is crazy uneven and shouldn't be built that way in the first place!

Am I being unreasonable? I don't think I am a difficult client but I don't like being taken for a ride. Any advice on how to get out of this mess now?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this, cottonpenny. I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. The problem you're running into is that most people who build have no clue about grout joint sizes, carpet pricing, etc and just accept what the builder and his suppliers have to offer and don't look/investigate any further. So many have been brainwashed that they are getting the builders' discount so it must be the lowest price they can possibly get, right? Plus the builder and his suppliers are the experts so they must know what they're doing and they certainly wouldn't try to mislead us, right? And you should never second guess the builder or his suppliers and take everything they tell you as gospel, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong!! And yet so many people fall right into this trap. This mentality is what many builders and their suppliers are banking on. The suppliers think they have the sale all wrapped up so they think they can act the way your flooring saleslady is acting with no repercussions on the sale.

We ran into the same thing with our builder and his suppliers. My advice to you is to stick to your guns and tell them that if they can't match the price on the carpet, pad and install then you have absolutely no problem hiring Lowe's (or the online company) to do it for you and make it clear that they will lose the business. Our builder's carpet supplier didn't take me seriously when I told him what price he had to at least match to get the business. He came in $600 over the initial price match and then I learned my quote from the competitor wasn't accurate--the price for the Smartstrand had gone down since my quote was given! $1200 in savings!!! And boy was the builder's flooring supplier surprised (& not too happy) when I gave the business to the competitor down the street! By doing it this way, you're actually helping the supplier make an educated decision on whether or not they want your business. I think that's fair.

On the tile, I really don't see why it would be so much extra on install--but I'm no expert (you may want to post the tile part over in the bathrooms forum and see what Bill Vincent and/or Mongoct have to say on this matter). And this business about making the studs and joists more level---I just don't get it. Were they planning on you having a wavy floor? Bottom line, they knew you were going with AO Catarina 12x12s and the 1/8" grout line, so no excuse for these upcharges. Can you get the AO Catarina in the 12x12 for the same or less money somewhere else? If so, I would tell the saleslady that you have no problem using a supplier of your own to fulfill your order if she can't do it, then thank her for her time. End of story.

Enough soap box for tonight---I hope this helps and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The tile sounds plausible, so I will wait for others (with more knowledge) to comment. However, I don't know why you can't get Lowe's carpet or the one online. To guarantee the price, I'd pay slightly more for Lowe's, if it's really the same carpet.

I don't know if your builder and flooring person are working together (they could be) but you are the one paying both of them! So, stand by your guns, get replies to your e-mails before moving forward with any flooring decisions...and if they say something won't work...make them put it in writing and WHY it won't work.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What does your contract with builder say about where you get can/must get your "allowance items" Does it require you to use builder's preferred supplier or say that you can go where ever you like or is it silent on the issue? Unless it says you have to use the builder's supplier, then you should be able to go where ever you like. Stick to your guns.

With the carpet, print out the webpage showing the lower price on the carpet you want and take that to the local store. (Your computer should print the page with today's date shown on the bottom of the page.) That ought to be "written quote" enough to get the price match. Before you go in tho, check with the office of the attorney general in your state and learn the steps for filing a "deceptive trade practices complaint" against the local store if they refuse to honor their advertizing. In most states, the info on filing a DTPA claim is online... usually in a section on consumer protection on the attorney general's website. Then, If the store refuses to honor the price match, politely let them know that refusing to honor an advertized price is a DTPA violation. Point out that you've already investigated the procedure for filing a DTPA complaint with the attorney general and ask them if they don't want to reconsider. The mere threat that you might file a DTPA complaint against them will probably result in them deciding that, yes, they can match that price after all.

And the whole thing about joists and studs needing to be "more level" to accommodate the tighter grout lines strikes me as total hogwash. I'm assuming that since the manufacturer recommends 1/16 grout lines, the tile is a rectified tile (i.e., dimensionally stable) tile. Laying non-rectified tile that tight can be problematic because not all of the tiles are exactly the same thickness and if the grout line is too thin, your feet notice the different heights of the tiles that are side by side. A wider grout line makes these variations less noticeable. But the issue isn't due to the subflooring not being level, it is due to tiles that aren't quite the same thickness when they come out of the kiln. With rectified tiles, every tile is the same size.

And assuming you're using rectified tiles, tiles are not laid directly on joists and studs. 4'x8' sheets of plywood subflooring or cement backerboard are attached to the joists/studs first and then the tile is laid into a mortar bed that attaches it to that underlayment. The subflooring and the mortar bed together should even out any minor variations in joists/studs. If the studs/joists are so out of true that the subfloor winds up "wavy", then you're goin going to have problems with tiles breaking regardless of what size grout lines you use.

True, the tile guy MIGHT charge a little bit extra to lay the tile tighter because he has to be a more careful to keep the grout lines even. But, slightly larger or smaller grout lines have no effect whatsoever whether the subflooring is level enough for the tile to be laid. It either is or it isn't,

Frankly, I'd be much more concerned about changing from 12" tiles to 18" tiles if the subfloor and walls aren't perfectly level. The larger the tile, the more likely it is that it will crack if there are ANY minor variations (waves) in the sub floor. If your builder is willing to say you COULD go with the 18" tile (if you wanted it and wanted to pay an extra $1000) then it makes no sense to me that you shouldn't be able to have the 12" tiles installed with tighter grout lines.

Sounds to me like your builder is looking for ways to increase his profit margin. If he doesn't get you by forcing you to exceed your allowances, he'll be looking for other "profit" avenues. Be aware that you're probably going to have to ride shotgun on every single thing he does from here on out.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks guys! After sleeping on it, I feel a lot better.

I can't really figure out why they aren't willing to deal on the carpet. It would be very simple for me to walk down the street to Lowes to get the carpet. I would be willing to pay a little extra to keep a local shop in business and to know that the installation would be done right. But I'm willing to put up with some hassle to save about $4k. I don't understand why they would rather lose a sale and make nothing than deal a little - a whole house of flooring as got to be a big order for them!

Bev - our contract is not specific about if we need to use his suppliers. It will clearly make our lives easier if we do, though, so I have tried to whenever possible. Up to this point, our builder has been pretty easy to work with and seems to be doing a nice job on the house.

The other suppliers' prices have been reasonable - and believe me, I have comparison shopped! Appliances were the same or a little cheaper than AJMadison. Plumbing was a little higher than Faucetdirect, but not a ton for most items. I offered them to price match for some big ticket items which they couldn't (?wouldn't), so I ordered them online and saved myself like $600. When I felt like the cabinet guy had yanked up the prices, I received plausible explanations on what happened and we were able to work together to get the prices back where they should be.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is what the builder says this morning (I also posted in bathrooms):

"It is with the edges and the tightness of the grout joints. From stud to stud and joist to joist there is always a certain variation in level that can be hidden in a wider joint that cannot be hidden without extra work in a tight joint"

"In the older homes the tiles all had rounded edges unless they were true slate,marble limestone or granite. If they were, we always upcharged because the product was sharp edged, uneven due to being natural and in the case of marble and granite laid with a tight joint. When you look accross a sharp edged floor even a 1/32 jumps out with a sharp edged product. We would be using a cement based underlayment with this product not plywood. We could skip the extra proccess and lay it as we would normal ceramic like most builders do but we do not think it is the best way to go. We pride our selves in the best lumber quallity and use plywood as opposed to OSB for our floor systems but all joists and studs vary slightley in size and straightness."


    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Steaming mad right now. Actually got an email quote from Carpet Express for the Intelligent Style. $4730 including delivery.

Sent it to the flooring store and builder. Builder, in email from this morning, had assured me he would "make sure they honor their ad".

Flooring store emailed back that they would not honor price match because it is only good for installed products. So interesting that that just came up now. Told me the price for Intelligent Style is $10650 installed. (Before she had given me the breakdown of carpet, installation, and padding and that's about $2100 of that.)

Who in their right mind would pay almost $4k more for the same product??!? There must be some idiots shopping for carpet out there if they would pay these prices.

I am still waiting to see what the builder has to say and if he will go to bat for me to smooth things out. We'll see. I have an appointment with an alternate flooring store tomorrow. I'm hoping to be able to cut flooring store #1 out of the picture entirely.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would sheer the sheep, weave the wool, and lay the damn carpet myself before I would give that flooring store any business!! Oohhh, I am mad for you! I was fortunate that our builder DID go to bat for us in a couple of similar instances (actually got the supplier to meet price in a couple of cases.) I occasionally got the unpleasant feeling during the process that showrooms and suppliers think that just because you are building a house at a certain price point, they could jack the price up. Dh told the builder that we were able to build this house BECAUSE we don't throw our money away, and we weren't going to start now!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stuff like this is why I just took whatever the "free" option was from my builder, then tore out all my flooring and replaced it right after closing.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 12:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is strange how the local shops sometimes aren't willing to deal. That is what bankruptcy if for I guess. The crazy thing is that carpet is such a no brainer that anyone with the option and knowledge wouldn't pay such prices.

It is fine to try and charge a crazy markup but when confronted with a customer that is going to walk, they should try and make it work.

Don't get mad, just walk. Sounds like you can and should. There are far too many other things to get mad about when you have less good options.

I do think the builder is blowing a little smoke with the tile explanation but I do know that you have to be more exact with a smaller grout line. But no one puts tile on plywood - you have to use cement based underlayment. And using plywood for a subfloor is just wasting money compared to Advantech (in my builder's opinion). Plywood a lot of times is just wasted money.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 6:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, guys! Feeling a lot better after a glass of wine last night and a good night's rest. Bless my DH for taking the baby this morning and letting me sleep in til 8 am!

The other thing I noticed - the fine print she sent me...the "115% price match guarantee" means that they will match a price and then give the buyer 15% OF THE DIFFERENCE. Again, WTF? Ex (from their fine print) - you pay $1100 and find product for $1000. They will match the price of $1000 and give you...$15.

That's not what 115% means - 115% means you beat the competitor by 15% of the cost of the product. What sleazes. They obviously never mean to have anyone be able to utilize this, and if they do, not actually make good on it. I think I am definitely doing to take Bevangel's advice after this is all over.

In contrast, when I bought my sinks from Faucetdirect, I price matched them to AJMadison. I filled out a form online and had the new price (10% off AJMadison's) in my inbox in hours. I had them shipped for free to my door in days. When the wrong sink arrived through no fault of theirs (Franke marked the box wrong), they sent out a new one ASAP and a return shipping label. And my builder wonders why I want to buy everything online.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 9:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I haven't read all of this thread but I wanted to repeat what I have said many time on this forum: an Allowance section in a contract should contain the right of the Owner to delete it and supply the material for the contractor to install. Also Allowances should only be for the material and installation should be included in the base contract price.

Not following these Allowance precautions leaves an Owner at the mercy of typical contractor "sweetheart" deals with his favorite suppliers and subs. In this situation GC discounts and even kickbacks are not unusual. It's difficult to say if this additional cost to the Owner is fair or not since the GC is likely to have figured the additional profit in his original bid.

I can't tell you more without seeing the actual wording in your contract regarding Allowances.

Since carpet is the last item to be installed and the pricing at stores is so competitive, most of my clients ask to exclude it from the contractor's work altogether.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it is unreasonable to expect your local retailer to price match the online flooring guy. The local guy has to spend more time with customers and pays rent for a retail showroom. In fact, I think there is a word for people like who use local stores to pick out the exact product and then buy it online.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

tlh - I would be willing to pay more from a local showroom. To pay double is unreasonable. FWIW, she didn't help me pick anything out. I picked it out myself from pics online, ordered samples from the manufacturers, and she provided pricing. Obviously, I'm not a typical customer that way.

Renovator - Sure, I guess that would have been better. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We just got an email yesterday telling us that our tile (same as yours) is no longer available. I am so over dealing with all these different price levels and bs at the design center. I told DH we'll just pick out something that is already included in our contract and then upgrade later to the basketweave mosaic I really want. It's especially frustrating because we picked our our granite and stain color specifically to go with that tile.

We had issues with hardwood floors, but our builder did work with us and the design center. We are happy about that. The price on carpet upgrades is ridiculous!!! We'll be installing the cheap stuff that's included and when it gets destroyed (and I'm sure it won't take the kids long) we'll replace it. Seems so very wasteful, but it makes me sick to think of paying the outrageous upgrade prices!!!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we first started looking around for homes we found a model that we really liked and that was entirely priced within our range, however when we went to the design center to price upgrades it was insane, it added 35% to the cost of the house. Their cost for engineered wood was more than what I am no looking at for Brazilian walnut. Absolutly insane.

We nearly took the house with all the basics, and then we were going to rip nearly all of it out and have what we really wanted put in, however we ended up finding a lot and a local builder who will let us source materials from wherever we would like.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Are you dealing with track builder? Those issues sounds too familiar. We wanted burber carpet and builder was requesting 5.35 sq ft same carpet as Lowes sells for 99 cent. Mohawk ....

Retarded, live for five years and replace it with new, still under what were they asking per sq ft upgrade price.

Small gap harder to install as you can not be off, too visible and too little playroom. So $650 may be ok.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 6:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

cottonpenny, welcome to the wonderful world of shady contractors and building materials suppliers. sadly, for 90% or more of the industry, half their time is spent trying to figure out ways to screw you out of more money (sorry for being so blunt, but this is the reality). you are being flat out lied to by both parties and they are trying to dupe you out of extra money.

i would stop bending over backwards to get the carpet store to match the price. just get your carpet elsewhere and move on. they've demonstrated that they are not people you should be doing business with.

as to the 1/16th difference in grout lines, i'd just tell them to install the tile with the slightly wider grout line. that small of a difference in width won't make any difference in appearance or performance. the nonsense about getting the flooring more flat is total b.s.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I'm still not sure exactly what's going on, but here's the newest.

Per my builder, the price from Carpet Express is pretty comparable to what the flooring store buys the carpet for. The flooring store is now in a fight with Mohawk as to why the price over the internet could be so low.

He is willing to find a local installer for me who he estimates will charge about $3300 to install, making the total price ~$8000. He is trying to get the flooring store to give it to me for $9200 installed, as he thinks that is a fair price. Of course, he recommends the latter. The other option is Lowes which would be about $8000 as well. He says their installers are crap.

Then he gave me a long lecture about how "in the quality of house you're building, that much money to ensure a better product blah blah blah warrantee etc. etc., carpet is only as good as the installation blah blah" I do feel like he thinks I can just toss money around since we are building a nice house, and we have agreed to some expensive upgrades lately (finishing the basement).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 4:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Get reviews/references on the more affordable and don't let him push you around.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 5:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stick to your guns cottonpenny. We're here for ya if you need advice.

$1200 difference is $1200 actual cash you can spend elsewhere!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"He says their installers are crap."

Of course he does. I built a high end home and had home depot carpet installed in the basement. After looking at many local dealers, I couldn't justify paying twice as much for comparable quality carpet. And the installers from Home Depot were great and did a perfect job - the big box stores hire out to contractors that install carpet on a full time basis for a living. They know what they are doing.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 4:05PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Powder room layout, what do you think?
We are in the back-and-forth with the architect, and...
Ole cahaba brick-henry brick
Anyone using ole cahaba brick? If so what mortar colors...
NEW to New Build - A/C Option Input Needed
I've been lurking around this board for a few weeks...
Finally under way but concerned...
So our home is finally being started and moving along,...
Thinking about driveways
One of the few things my husband requests in our new...
Sponsored Products
Home Decorators Area Rug: Portico Soft Gold 8' x 11'
Home Depot
Gervin Ottoman - Key Largo Pumice Beige
Joybird Furniture
'Grandmother' Notepad & Pen
$5.99 | zulily
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Mohawk Home Rugs Toscana Multi 18 in. x 30 in.
$14.97 | Home Depot
Lush Decor Ruffle Ivory Shower Curtain
Zen Mystic Black Three-Light Semi-Flush
$219.99 | Bellacor
Hand-Tufted Contemporary Retro Chic Green/Black Geometric Abstract Polyester Rug
Pemberly Court Russet Bronze One-Light Wall Sconce
$70.00 | Bellacor
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™