Issues with new pt deck

lmich9August 7, 2014

I am in the boston suburbs and just had a 10x14 pt deck installed. We have paid the contractor slightly over 2/3 of the total amount. We gave 1/3 on signing, 1/3 when the frame was done, and the next 1/3 is due when it's done.

We have had delay after delay with this company for ripping down our old deck, replacing a bulkhead, and replacing a slider, and installing the deck. At this point I am at my wits end since it has been about 12 weeks. They came with excellent reviews on Angie's list and were the highest priced bid we received.

My husband is going to discuss our dissatisfaction soon. As we are not professionals, we had no problems with them with their workmanship up to the framing, besides the delays.

The deck boards and railings came out awful. I know he has lost a few guys which led to his delays and it seems very rushed and like they wanted to get off the job. I am not sure I trust this company to reperform the work but I'm afraid of what it will cost to get someone in to reinstall the boards and railings.

there is "checking" on many of the posts. I know some degree is normal over time but I'm wondering if this extent is acceptable. We have concerns with many of the finishes and I will post pictures but I do want to know if anyone feels my standards or demands are out of line for any of the issues spotted. I am very very upset by this and would like to approach the contractor rationally and be sure that my issues are justified.

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lmich9

The brackets are all bent and as you can see one piece of the railing is too short. Is it typical for brackets to bend like this?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:55PM
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lmich9

Is this post placement typical? Either way we have a problem with the rails as some are like this while others on the same plane are just notched.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:57PM
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lmich9

Another post and railing with a bent bracket and gaps.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:00PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

12 Weeks? Excessive! AND they can't blame it on snow!! I am speechless! We had 3 decks completely redone, and from tear down to new build it took max 3 weeks! I didn't keep track of the time. We chose a general contractor that a realtor recommended, and he remodeled this entire house as well. I guess I didn't keep track of the deck timing, but I know they did the tear down and rebuild fast.

Good luck getting them to repair it, and remember you do have Angies list. Be sure to put your review in there.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:01PM
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lmich9

We have other issues with balusters being crooked and rails being unlevel but I won't bore you with those as I'm sure that is unacceptable by any standards.

I am also bothered by the fascia being 4 different pieces (I don't have a pic). When I initially brought my concerns up to the contractor he said how he did it was standard and unless I was using a composite material there would be seams on the fascia. This seems wrong to me as the deck is only 10x14 and I would expect materials to be sold in lengths that would allow for a continuous piece. Who is right here?

Our intention with this deck was to eventually stain it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:03PM
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lmich9

@desertdance I know. Completely unacceptable. If there was a threat of rain they wouldn't come. We have a bulkhead under the deck and their mason subcontractor went on vacation for 2 weeks so they were at a standstill. Believe it or not the framing over the bulkhead made it a pain in the neck of a project (no way to move the bulkhead) and a lot of contractors didn't even want to touch the job.

One guy broke a rib (when he was working at my house no less), and another guy quit. I think the owner was scrambling to get his guys out there and they were supervising teenagers.

What's worse about the delay is I had a baby beginning of May. We wanted him to be done before the baby came but there were issues with getting the permit (supposedly, now I think everything the contractor said is a lie), then the contractor assured me it would be done by Memorial Day, then it was 4th of July, then end of July. We were supposed to have our daughters christening party at the house in July but had to move the date of the christening since the deck wouldn't be done. He promised it would be done by end of July and it wasn't so we went ahead and booked a restaurant for her christening in August (our church only does once a month). So instead of $500 in hamburgers and beer we will be shelling out over $1500.

Sorry for my rant. It's maddening and I feel we have been really patient and understanding.

Edit: I misspoke. It has been 10 weeks since the permit was issued. My daughter is almost 13 weeks and thought the work began closer to her birth as we agreed on a price at the end of April and he was just trying to get the permit (which I now believe was just a delay tactic)

This post was edited by lmich9 on Thu, Aug 7, 14 at 14:17

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:12PM
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millworkman

You used pressure treated southern yellow pine, that checking is normal and actually an abnormal amount for that type of wood. As for anything else that you have shown pictures of, two words. Complete. Hack.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:37PM
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lmich9

@millworkman thank you. I hadn't brought up the checking issue right away because when I googled it everything said checking was normal. But that was before I saw the finished product and I assumed I was being picky. I am so upset by this and feel we are being taken advantage of since this is a comparatively small job and I certainly don't know what to expect. This issue is extremely upsetting to me. We actually hired a contractor last year to do the deck and he decided in July he didn't want to do it. I've spent 2 years consumed by this and I thought going with the most expensive option and well reviewed contractor we would be pleased with the result. I know this deck is modest and of modest materials but I still expect everything to be level and square. I feel like my husband could have done better.

Edit: if there are any other issues you could point out that I haven't already it would help me in addressing the problems with the contractor. I did not go into this without having done any research but I also expect when you hire someone you are relying on them to provide expertise.

This post was edited by lmich9 on Thu, Aug 7, 14 at 14:49

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:45PM
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millworkman

Those "brackets" are about useless, and installed completely in an unintended manor. Pretty much a complete redo in my opinion. I am almost afraid to see pictures of the undercarriage. What did the building inspector have to say? He or you did pull permits, correct? He is a licensed and insured contractor, correct?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 9:14PM
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hippy

Found your problem..

They came with excellent reviews on Angie's list...

You are a damn fool.
=======

1. Anyone who believes that Angie's List is a reliable source for anything are fools.

âÂÂ[AngieâÂÂs List] makes a big point to say theyâÂÂre consumer-driven, when in fact 70% of their revenue comes from advertising. ItâÂÂs not advertising Coca Cola, itâÂÂs advertising from the companies they rate,â explained Jeff Blyskal, a senior editor for Consumer Reports. While companies do not pay to be listed on AngieâÂÂs List, companies can pay to appear higher up in the search results �"

...and were the highest priced bid we received

Like they say. A fool and his money soon part..
======

Asking for references would have most likely saved you a wad of cash and time wasted with the jack legs you are dealing with now..

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:07PM
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lmich9

@hippy thank you for the name calling - I sure feel like one and very low right now but your comment isn't constructive. Of course I feel like an idiot and have regrets, but the person at fault here is not me - it is the contractor. I didn't hire a guy off craigslist or a dude hanging out in the lowes parking lot. Asking for references isn't any guarantee, nor is going with word of mouth. Case in point, my sister had her floors redone and they were beautiful! We used the same company and there were a number of things wrong and they had to come back and fix. Any time you hire someone to do work on your house you are taking a leap of faith to an extent.

We had 4 people bid on the job last year and 3 bid on it this year. It was the most expensive bid - but within reason of the other ones. This guy seemed the most professional and we liked him the best. Lesson learned on going with my gut. Calling me a fool is really just a low blow.

@millworkman yes he is licensed and insured. And permits were pulled. It was inspected when the footings were poured and when the frame was done and it passed. I was not present for the inspections. They have not done their final inspection. I am unsure when that is to be.

I can post pics later today. Can you be more clear as to your issue with the brackets (other than that they aren't bent and the screws aren't all the way in.?

I sincerely appreciate the help I've received so far but keep in mind I'm not a professional and although I have done some research I have relied on the expertise of this contractor, much to my detriment. It is an expensive and upsetting lesson learned. I just had a baby and went back to work this week so I will take pics when I get home tonight.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:12AM
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weedyacres

Can you post a couple photos showing the whole deck, to provide context? That might also help generate additional comments.

Have you seen the physical permit? Did you see the inspections performed?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:22PM
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lmich9

The permit is hanging on my front door and I was there when the building inspector dropped it off. I was not present for either of the inspections. I looked on the town website and there is indeed a permit for the house on record. There is an inspection scheduled Monday and my husband plans to be there.

These pictures were taken by my mom while they were working on Wednesday (she cares for my daughter)

The owner of the company has not been there since maybe last Tuesday I think (we were away last tues through Thursday)? Maybe he hasn't seen it. Maybe he will react with extreme embarrassment?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:46PM
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lmich9

Another...

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:47PM
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lmich9

At least my dog's cute

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:48PM
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lmich9

As requested

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 7:50PM
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millworkman

How about a better shot of the framing. The pics you posted do not show it well at all. But from what little I see it looks like someone different did the railing as the framing looks pretty good (however cannot tell for certain without better pics).

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 7:14AM
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lmich9

Millworkman actually it was a different person - sort of. The owner of the company and a worker who later got injured did the framing.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:05AM
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lmich9

I'm at work right now but I did have these pics on my phone

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:07AM
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millworkman

The framing looks pretty solid and correct. The only issues I really see are the crappy workmanship and miss use of "L" angles or brackets that were bent for railing braces. Oh, that and what appears to be plywood used for the fascia which is entirely incorrect as well. I would hope the inspector or at the very least the GC himself will have a problem with the railings and they will be redone properly.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:36AM
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lmich9

@millworkman thank you so much for taking the time to read my novels and offer your expertise. I am breathing a sigh of relief that at least the frame is ok.

We spoke with the owner and he agreed the deck was not up to par. We pointed out a number of issues with the decking and he is going to redo it as well as the railings and won't be using brackets.

I think the fascia looks bad but he said it only comes in 8' lengths and I also thought it looked like plywood. What material would typically be used for the fascia?

He was trying to pass the buck to my husband and I a little bit with the choice of materials such as on the posts. When we got his quote it was much higher than the others so we asked where we could shave down costs (and I'm sure negotiation is pretty typical) he said he could get wood from HD. He was defending the use of the crappy posts since that's what HD had and that really ticked me off. If he had just come to me and said the 4x4 selection is not up to par I would have authorized additional costs for him to source them from another retailer.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:48PM
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millworkman

Southern Yellow Pine is really SYP whether it comes from a lumberyard or a box store (although I think better lumber or grade/selection at a real lumberyard personally and really I hate HD, Lowes etc for most products). As for the fascia it depends what your going to do to finish it off, generally Finger Jointed Primed Pine or Azec if painting, Clear or Rough Sawn Cedar if Staining. I have never seen or heard of plywood being used as a fascia, period.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:45PM
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lmich9

We plan to stain next year. Is clear or rough sawn cedar carried at HD? Will that look odd to use when the rest of the deck is pt?

Will plywood rot? Do you see any problem with the sides of the stairs being that material?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:18PM
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millworkman

I would imagine so although I would not be certain what you would end up with as their quality quite often leaves allot to be desired.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:07AM
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millworkman

The problem with plywood used in that manor is the top edge (exposed ply's) will be wet whenever it rains on the edge. No matter how sealed it is it will delaminate from the moisture. Just not an intended use for plywood in my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:09AM
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lmich9

Well according to him it's what he uses. Sigh.

The owner came back and oversaw fixing many of the issues I pointed out to him. It looks 100x better but I'm not still thrilled. I just want to be done with this and never see this guy again. I'm not sure if I am being too picky but I feel conflicted about paying the remainder of our balance.

There is a gap on only one rail now.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:05PM
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lmich9

This was pointed out but not fixed

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:06PM
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lmich9

Just one corner looks sloppy now. Certainly not as bad as before.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:07PM
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roof35

I realize it's been a couple weeks since you posted. Hopefully you come back to tell us the final failed. No inspector in their right mind would approve connecting to the rim board of the structure with absolutely no flashing or membrane.

When you start to notice ants in you home next year, it's because they are making the wet wood a home.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 10:27PM
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