wwyd? not getting the "finished" look on GC work done

SparklingWaterJuly 24, 2013

Hi. A little hesitant to post but we're so close to finishing after a long 12 weeks on our kitchen remodel. It is such an improvement, we love it.

However, am I being overboard on insisting on a more "finished" look on the work details be done? Here are examples of what I'm bothered by:

-one three quarter inch hole in the dry wall where the electrical conduit comes through the drywall and racer begins. You can see straight back and of course it's a "gap", very visible when looking underneath the cabinets.

-under cabinet conduit racer edges all cut roughly (not straight 90 degrees)and no racer "cap" placed to cover unevenness

- under cabinet electrical wiremold outlet plastic "plug covers" are all uneven, not flush or straight, as on a wall

- a very noticeable drywall seam (four feet across) painted over without proper prep work to eliminate the seam as best as possible (forget the painting term, spreading area up and down from seam so less noticeable prior to finish paint). This was agreed upon prior to painting with GC and pointed out twice as not done.

I want anyone to walk in any area of my kitchen and be able to say nice job. It's fascinating that we're so close, but these small details are being seen as over the top.

I keep being told to make a list, which I have, but what I've listed doesn't always get fixed-like that drywall.

Whose job is it anyway to point out "unfinished vs finished" look/work? The homeowner? I guess I am naive that that is what any good general contractor would do for his/her reputation. Btw, this is no fly by night GC but a well respected one with A+ ratings.

Am I being too picky? I don't think so. Any advice? Thank you very much as it's dragging me down when I want to be up due to the new beauty and function of our space!

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Make a list and take a photo of each issue. Post it here if you are concerned that your issues are over the top.

Give the list to the GC with the pics. If you have already given him the list perhaps he just doesn't "see" the problem that is why I suggest the pics.

Edited for clarification.

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 13:02

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 11:52AM
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List everything and give to GC. Who's job it is doesn't apply since the GC doesn't think it is his, you will have to do it. You have to live with the results so make sure you get what you want. You are not being too picky. Only take something off the list after you have inspected it and are satisfied.

If he holds his ground on something you want done when the city inspector comes through point it out to him. The inspector will get the contractor to take care of it. Don't feel bad if you give your whole unfinished list to the city inspector. He may flunk you on all of them but then the contractor has to fix them to pass so you get what you want in the end.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 12:52PM
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Sure doesn't sound like you are being picky at all!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Sophie Wheeler

In no shape or form is a city inspector going to be concerned with cosmetic details. It's all up to you on that front.

It's the client's job to create the punch list for the contractor. It's the contractor's job to practice good quality control from the beginning so as to have as few items on that punch list as possible. Some contractors are better at the big picture details than the small ones. You're helping him better his business by forcing him to see those small details. :) Or, that's the way he should view the situation.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 1:30PM
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Then I can only say I love my inspectors. They always ask me if there is anything I am unhappy about. A rough uncapped edge can be seen as a violation that will eventually wear through the wiring insulation. They have all sorts of obscure regulations that they can pull from to get something changed that you aren't happy about. Ours know way more than I do and if they see shoddy work they usually can find something to help out.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Agree with others. Make a detailed punch list with pictures. Doesn't sound like you are being picky at all. These sound like very reasonable requests. I am still amazed when an electrician puts in outlets and the covers are not level. I know it's harder than it looks, but you ought to get pretty good at it if it's your job!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 2:27PM
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I'm so glad you posted this. I was wondering the same thing. Should my contractor be more discerning with the small details? Am I just unreasonable?

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with a list of things that need to be addressed.

I usually type a list with check boxes and go over the list with the guys in the morning. It's been effective. I also sometimes use the little post it notes to mark areas that need to be addressed, just in case they would be hard to describe.

Good luck! You're in the home stretch! Yay!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 4:06PM
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Make a punch list to give the contractor, sometimes they overlook things because they are looking at it for the way it should be (kind of like having someone else proof read a paper and they find very obvious mistakes that you skipped right over). Also, make a copy or two of that list, my contractor lost mine more than once.

I also went around with BRIGHT pink sticky notes and put a sticky note next to everything I wanted fixed, it helped to show exactly what I had on the punch list (it also helped the guys who were a little rocky with English)

I still had my contractor ask me more than once what was wrong and why a sticky was put somewhere even though I told him previously AND had it on the list. I'm sure some of his guys got tired of seeing pink sticky notes but it got the job done, and saved several (not all) trips to show him what I was talking about.

Edit: I also told my contractor the pink sticky notes were to try to help him out and make it easier for him, not to insult him. I'm sure some of his guys didn't like them (I can be picky) but in the end I think he started to grow fond of them as they made it easier to find what I was talking about.

This post was edited by SLTKota on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 17:03

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Thank you for your responses and i will try to post a few photo examples later.

Just found out that permits were not pulled as contracted so had a pretty rough meeting with the GC this afternoon. Called our town office late this morning as hadn't been hearing about "inspection" and the permit office had no record of our pretty detailed remodel-96 BTU pro range (requires whole house gas diagram from intake), new 900 cfm roof blower and 10" ducts connection, Broan 8" MUA damper integration with furnace and range hood, all new electrical (major upgrades/additions there), basic plumbing for water lines to fridge and DW.

Who would of thought...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 5:10PM
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I've had contractors offer to do a job without a permit for X or with a permit for X+Y. I immediately write them off. I only hire a contractor that prices in a permit from the get go. You may be looking at some major rework if your GC is the type to work around the regulations which is why you may be seeing some of the shoddy workmanship that your seeing (unfinished edges, holes, drywall seams).

I hope it all works out. Good thing you found out about the permit situation before you paid all the $s.

When they are pulled they should give them to you to post in your window. For future reference you should always have them in hand before work starts.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 5:48PM
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The permits were discussed in detail prior to signing, with me insisting they be pulled at our city permit office. I am a permit kind of person and had researched MUA in detail. The permits were priced into the contract, meaning once the GC knew I was serious on them, they raised the contract amount to offset the permits. But, they never pulled them. Our town does so much online now and I had no reason not to trust him to keep his word and pull/place them.

Well, he will now. His work in general seems pretty good and I did hover and check and caught specifics while the kitchen was remodeled (like 18" height needed lateral to closest combustible material from range).

Still, I am indeed bothered by all this greatly.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 6:06PM
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For sure you need the permits pulled and for sue he needs to fix all visible things Iike drywall seams that show (totally unacceptable!).

But for stuff like uneven plug caps underneath a cabinet, or a small drywall hole for undercab electrical that can't be seen without bending and looking under your cabs, it would personally never bother me. I'd just ask him to caulk the hole and be done with it. I fact that's what my electrician did (without asking me) and I never even noticed it until just now when I went to look based on this thread. :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 6:14PM
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I don't understand these "ratings." If the contractor has A+ ratings ... who is doing the rating? Nothing beats seeing a contractor's RECENT work, in person, before the work begins. One person's A+ might be another's C-. Any online ratings, including Angie's list (which many seem to believe is the Holy Grail) can be manipulated.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 6:30PM
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Some examples:

Stairs-painted no drywall fix/caulk then prep then paint:

Stair drywall line and wall defects with obviously no prep just paint:

Miele DW 4" inch side screws reached to side panel (now screw goes through filler block in front of side panel at my request):

In cabinet light hole:

I guess I differ with them that these are "punch list" items. I think I"ll leave it at that and focus on permits and fixes. Maybe I just don't get it, or maybe I do.

Thanks for your support.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 6:52PM
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2 words!

Blue Tape!

The tape comes down when the work is satisfactory! My guys almost had a heart attack when they saw the amount of blue tape on my stairs they were working on. But they fixed everything. Still have some blue tape in my kitchen.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 6:59PM
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Holly- Kay

Whoa! Sparkling you are not being picky. If the pics you posted are examples of his work he needs to bring his team up to speed and insist that your items look like A+ work. The sub par work is bad enough but the fact that he didn't bother with the permits means that he basically cheated you. Hopefully he will have learned his lesson and brush up not only on his workmanship but his ethics as well.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 8:10PM
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Sparkling , you and I must have started our projects at the same time. I'm on week 13 and dog tired.

So sorry for your troubles. The biggest glaring issue from my perspective is that horrible drywall seam; what were they thinking? Glad you're getting the permits work out.

I just poured myself a nice glass of vino, hoping this helps. ;) I'm having similar issues and think I'm getting an ulcer.

Good luck! I hope it all works out for you. Looking forward to your reveal.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Over the top? I am so sick of these people, lol. Looks like he hired my drywall man, who came all the way from "h" just to do my job. Or are we already in "h"?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 9:51PM
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Sparklingwater, I'm sorry to hear you're having such problems w/ your GC. You are definitely not being picky. Don't settle for less than you want. I'm glad you got your city/town involved & are getting the permits. Since he hadn't done that & said he had, be on this guy like no tomorrow. Don't let him get away w/ not giving you what you wanted from the beginning.

When the time comes to make the final payment, make sure you are very happy w/ everything before handing over that check. After that, he'll be gone. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 10:28PM
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Thank you all for your gracious support. It warms my heart to read your words and know I am not alone on seeking not necessarily "perfection" (albeit nothing wrong with that) but "good enough" on our remodel. I will persevere.

While it's a first world problem in the big scope of things, I worked mighty hard to make the money for the GC payments and take the time to plan all out and buy the products. Nothing wrong with expecting fair and reasonable work in a timely manner in exchange for money paid.

Thanks again for lightening my load tonight.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 11:03PM
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That drywall job is awful, do some people really let stuff like that slide?
Many years ago I was with a friend negotiating for a car. She was not an aggressive person, and we both thought she might get steamrolled. But then the salesman made a critical mistake - he said "are you REALLY going to make such a big deal over $120?" My sweet, kind friend remembered what it took for her to earn that $120 (she was a floor nurse) and then had all the backbone she needed.
If you feel uncertain about standing up for yourself, stand up for the next customer - you are doing her a favor if you help this guy learn to do things right in the first place.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 11:17PM
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SW, I agree with the gang. Not to get you anxious, but in my mind there is a concern that permits were not pulled. You have taken pics, good step, hopefully you won't need them.
Next, you will need to hold back at least $1,000. It's may be a steep amount, but trust me, if you have back $500 or so, they might just take the loss, not finish and call it a day. We all have grand ideas and hopes that all will go right..it's a drag when one encounters this. Stay strong!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 12:12AM
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