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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

Need help ASAP. I have hired a contractor to finish my HT basement project and I feel he is cutting corners and I'm not happy with him at all. I did all the framing and HT wiring but needed someone to finish things off. I picked the most expensive bid as he stated so many times he was a profectionist and I wanted the job done right.

1st, I wanted one change to add 4 sconces. This was before anything was done but after the contract was signed; he made a big deal out of it. I said I would pay if the price was right. Still made me feel like I was unreasonable to ask.

2nd, what little framing he had to do he bought fir studs instead of pine. No big deal but Home Depot told me to stay clear of the fir studs. He said they were the same and it was no big deal. I think he is pinching pennies.

3rd, I have duct work running across the center of my room. He framed it, then insullated everything except the duct work for inspection purposes. The room was inspected and he drywalled before I could see the insullation. I wanted this insullated well for sound in as well as out. Just being curious to see how he did this, I looked as best I could thru a few spots and I see NOTHING. He says it's there. I almost told him to prove it. I think he is pinching pennies.

4th, This is my question and the kicker that may get be boiling.

I have never dealt with drywall and I am an **** profectionist if I had done the work. There are 1/4 to 1/2 inch gaps in some places were drywall butts together. Is this exceptable?

The big problem to me is the ceiling. It is not level. There are 1/4 inch dips where the ceiling drywall butts together in several places. I cannot imagine that doing the mud work will level this out. It is not because the ceiling joists are not level. I think the guy doing the block work did not place the block at the same level as the joists.

Does this sound like what I should expect for ceiling drywall? He is coming tomorrow to do the mud work and I need to tell him something. Hope someone with more knowlege than I can respond. I which I had time to post some pics.

I called to discuss several concerns and his resonse on the phone about the dips was the house may have been leveling. The house is 10 years old and the ceiling is less than 24 hours old. The house has shifted a 1/4 inch in 24 hours? I don't think so or I'd have worse issues than this.


Thanks in advance....

Paul
 

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If it was me, I wouldn't be happy at all either. That kind of variation in the ceiling is unacceptable and certainly, large gaps between sheets is just garbage work IMO.

Bryan
 

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First of all ... Welcome :wave:

... I have hired a contractor to finish my HT basement project and I feel he is cutting corners and I'm not happy with him at all.
I don't have any experience with drywall ... the only thing I can suggest you is to let him finish the job and inspect it before paying the bill (I hope you gave him just a deposit).

If he doesn't do the job right, give him a chance to do it right; take a lot of pictures in case that he takes you to court for non-payment.

Is he a licensed contractor??? ... Did somebody supervised his work??? ... Is there any way you can access to see if he installed the insulation??? ... if not try this (I can't guarantee that it works), make a small hole and use a long screw and push it through the wall, I think that if there's insulation it will caught some and you'll see it when you pull the screw :yes:
 

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the only thing I can suggest you is to let him finish the job and inspect it before paying the bill
It would be impossible to inspect if the insulation installed if the job is finished. Mudding half inch gaps is unacceptable in my opinion, as well as an unlevel ceiling.
 

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You need to take pictures now before it's taped and mudded in case this has to go any farther. I'd not pay him any more for this shoddy work until it's all remedied.

Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow, thanks for the quick replies.

Yes, he is a licenced independent contractor and owner of his business. All work has permits. I have paid 2/3's already and the last payment is when complete.

I'm a hot head and have little tolerance for stuff like this. It took me 2 months to frame my 19'x 26' basement room and everything is as plume on.

His response to the spot I could see there was no insulation was he missed that spot, too convienent of an answer. I was going to make two holes with a screw driver then flash a light up to see what I could see. The insullation area in question is an 18 inch bulk head dropping down from the ceiling. I wanted extra insullation placed around the duct work and between the joists.

I have a cable box in that ceiling in the middle front for the projector. You look up thru that box to the ceiling and see no insullation anywhere. I also have conduit running down the inside back of this bulk head for cabling and can lok completely from one end to the other. it's not easy to do but I see NOTHING. He says it's stuffed un between the floor joists. I want to believe him but given some of his responses to me on other things I'm not sure I can.

Paul

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For insulating for soundproofing purposes, the joists and any other gaps should be filled with insulation fully, not just a small amount jammed up in there.

Bryan
 

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Well, I'm a pro as well and this guys attitude annoys me (because it turns people away from contractors in general).

First off, don't fret the difference between fir and pine. I've seen batches of both twisted and warped, and some that are arrow-straight. The top-choice stuff at my local Lowes is Fir (at least it was the last time I bought it). It all depends how it was stored and how it was cut.

Also, the drywall seams should be pretty close. 1/4" seems too much, but if he plans on skim-coating the entire wall, it may not be noticable.

As for the insulation -- you are fully justified to be annoyed. I've seen too many contractors try to get away with shady stuff. garbage left in the walls to be covered in drywall. Walls made from all scraps of drywall instead of one sheet. Tiling up to appliances instead of under them. :unbelievable:

Sad to say, unless you are there as a secondary GC, they will always try to slip something like that in. Usually the smaller outfits don't because there's only one or two people there. Bigger crews have the problem because it's the employees being lazy that's the culprit.

Good luck. I would withhold your last payment until the contract is altered (you get a discount) or everything is fixed.
 

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Hi Paul,

Take the drywall off of the bulk head and look. What's the big deal? It's only a handful of screws to begin with and it's going to have to come off anyway for you to be able to get the insulation in there. You already know that the guy is full of beans. You have to get him out of there. :boxer:

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Thanks for looking at my thread. The contractor is coming first thing tomorrow to begin mudding but does not know what I'm thinking. Let you know what happens. I'm working from home tomorrow.

My neighbor is an commercial inspector and I asked him to come over for a look. He also sees no insulation and does not think it is there.

My friend pointed out quite a few drywall screws that have penetrated the outside paper and stated those are all potential nail pops. There are several places that looked screwed but have nothing behind them. What's funny is there are correct drywall scews next to bad. Looks like his helper may have done the bad ones but that's NOT my fault.

1/2 the ceiling needs to be redone to get it close to level. There are three sheets on the walls that need to be replaced because there is significant damage at the edges which **** up to the bulkhead and will crack soon after mudding. One has a hole that looks blasted thru and you can see a drywall screw all the way thru to the stud. It's on the edge that butts up to the wall under the bulkhead and the corner tape will not cover or hold correctly even when mudded.

He did say the big gaps were alll in the right places and can be mudded it the guy knows what he;s doing.

The worse was something I did not even notice. He ran short of or cut short drywall running down the door entering into the HT room by little more than an inch. He still put up the drywall but tried to take several small BROKEN pieces and nail them in a line up the door side of the wall. It really looks bad and there is no way a corner would even hold on it. The inside corner or the wall is also done the same way and is wavey as all get out. The door is at the foot of the stairs and requires you to turn right into the room. The first time I have to move furniture down the stairs and into this room it's going to hit that corner as it's on the stair side and break into a gazilon pieces.

What a lamo. If this was done all in the same day I'd never see it. It bothers me that he thinks I'm that stupid to except this type of work.

I paid him a premuim to do this the right way also and we talked about quality and he pushed his **** quaility ways on me.

My thoughts are also that he may be feeling the pinch with the economy tanking and he's cutting corners to save maybe $10 bucks and a little of his time.
 

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Do not put up with shoddy workmanship. If you think it's shoddy, your neighbor thinks it's shoddy, and people here think it's shoddy, then it's shoddy. If you paid a premium, the work should reflect it.

Tell him to take down a piece or two that you pick out to check for insulation. If there's no insulation, I'd tell him to get lost, explain that the BBB, the local contractor's association, and anyone else you can think of will be getting an earful, and then hire someone else to finish the job correctly. If you do keep him around, make sure that he understands how important the fit and finish of the room is to you, and make him put down in writing that he'll come back to fix things that fall apart. Before he does any more work.

So ******** annoying to have to take a day off of work to "babysit" the contractor, but it might be necessary. Tell your boss you're sick (of being ripped off).
 

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And make sure you get references for anyone else you hire, I don't know if you did that for this guy or not.

The maintenance guys at work have been working on drywalling the inside of a warehouse, and I don't recall seeing any gaps bigger than about 1/8 inch. But then I wasn't inspecting the work, just walking through. They probably put up about 300+ sheets of drywall. I'll ask them tomorrow, just out of curiosity, how big the gaps they had were.
 

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A 1/2" gap on a wall and a 1/4" on the ceiling are the normal workable limits. More than that makes the taping more labor intensive. Hitting a wall with your hand will reveal areas where it is not screwed off properly (it will rattle). Screws should be 12" apart in the field and 8" apart on **** joints. Edit: Serious censorship issues. Insert 'non tapered edge' into the bleeped out area.

This guy isn't being lazy or cutting corners. He just doesn't know any better. There are big differences between being a contractor, framer, drywaller and taper. A good practice when considering bids is taking the high and low bids out of the picture and picking who you 'like' out of the middle. Yes, you have to 'like' them. :kiss:
 

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In normal construction, those kinds of gaps MIGHT be tolerable (though I wouldn't allow it). In an acoustical situation where you're trying to control noise in and out of the room the best you can, I want it as tight as possible. IMO, it's unaccptable.

Bryan
 

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In normal construction, those kinds of gaps MIGHT be tolerable (though I wouldn't allow it). In an acoustical situation where you're trying to control noise in and out of the room the best you can, I want it as tight as possible. IMO, it's unaccptable.

Bryan
Hi Bryan,

The reason I used those sizes is because mud will not drop out of gaps that size. Trust me when I tell you about what DOES happen in normal construction. I won't even go there, it's ugly. The best way to get quality work is to pay an hourly rate and then you can be as demanding as you want of the quality. It's not fair to demand finish grade tolerances from rough grade bids.

I understand that the OP did agree to pay extra for better workmanship and I did advise to get rid of the guy.

-Alex
 

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I'm also curious how things came out.

I've found a little knowledge and experience is a blessing and a curse. I've done enough drywall to understand the inherent problems, but also enough to know when someone is doing a good job. When I finished out the unfinished half of our basement, I did the drywall work in the storage rooms. I did a passable job. I wanted a better job in the home theater and kitchenette area. I hired in the husband of one of my wife's co-workers. Together we hung 40 sheets of 12' drywall and he did all the mudding. There were no gaps where sheets butted up. I think that's a testimony to his work and my framing work. I had a few corners a little out of square, but even with no compensation in cutting, there was no more than a 3/8" gap. We also glued and screwed each piece. If you use a drywall screw attachment on a drill with a properly adjusted clutch, there's no reason to drive through sheets. There's also no reason you should miss a stud more than a couple of times.

I don't know what you paid, but it sounds like you felt you paid for premium work. From your description, it doesn't sound like you got it. BTW, in my area, the going rate for drywall work is ~$20 a 12' sheet, including materials and labor (I paid less).

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Hi All, sorry for the delay in responding. I developed a severe sinus infection the day I spoke with the contractor about the changes I wanted. I did not want to confront him that day when I'm sick but had no choice as his mud guy was coming. As my wife could tell you, I am not a pleasant person when I get sick.

FYI: My original complaint talked about the ceiling not level. He came in the same day I wrote this thread at work and replaced two ceiling panels to make level. During a conversation that I outline below he stated he paid $10.00 bucks a piece on the drywall ceiling to make me happy. He did not say I was right and made me feel I was unreasonable with his reponse. I must have been right becuase he just did it with little argument.

I outlined 5 things that I wanted to get done:

(1) Replace a bulkhead ceiling drywall that had a scew drilled completely thru and was not tight to top or side. There was a hole bigger than a quarter all the way thru on the edge with the side wall.

(2) Replace a side drywall that had a gap larger the 1/2 inch and when pushed from rear, I have rear access to this under stairs, let the bottom edge push out. Potential crack in the future.

(3) Replace side drywall corner that he had messed up on and mis-measured. There was a 1-1/2 inch gap down half the top side edge drywall butting up to a corner that he had filled with pieces. The 1-1/4 inch pieces were screwed in, busted up, and wavey. It was over 4 feet in heigth.

(4) Replace the bottom side drywall at bottom of stairs on a door edge that was done the same as (3). Only difference was the gap was 1 inch. It looked worse than (3) and really peo'd me. It was over 4 feet in heigth.

(5) If the bulkhead did not have insulation as I suspected, remove all drywall ceiling on bulkhead and insulate.

I typed this list up, gave it to him and then we started to discuss. He was defensive from the start and said this was all within tolarances and exceptable practices. I went immediately into attach and would not have if I was feeling better. He was stunned at the forcefulness. This had been stewing in me for a few days and being sick I was in no mood for this. He sort of went into shock I think because I thew out that I thought he was cutting corners. All in all, this took place over 5 minutes.

Long story short, I caved on some and stuck to my guns on most. He would not concede that the bulkhead panel was not okay. I let it go for one reason. If he pulled that panel down and there was no, little, or sloppy insulation I'd have fired him on the spot after he had been telling me all along that it was fine. He fought this hard which makes me think I was right.

Your probably saying "why are you negotiating with this terrorist." I had offended him enough at this point and just let it go.

I did not concede to anything else. The first thing we discussed was the bulkhead issue which I caved on. He tried the same wining saying "he does this all the time and no one has ever been so picky". Said "the mud guy was magic and could make anything look good". Made many more excuses to keep from fixing what I felt were easy things to fix. I really think he was trying to control me and think he does not like to be told what to do. Before hiring he actually told me that is why he went to work for himself because he did not like to be told what to do.

I finally said, "Sir, this [work] is not you, this is not what I know you stand for, this is not what sold you to me when you said you were a profectionist and over constructed everything you build." That was the kicker, that's when he said "your right Paul". I could tell he did not believe that this work was needed, but for once, the "customer is always right" prevailed.

He replaced everything, EXCEPT what I said was okay, the bulkhead.

I ran into the drywall guy today, he was putting a 2nd round coat on. The contractor was not there. I asked him about eveything I asked to have fixed. He came in just after our heated conversation and had saw the things I discussed but did not know we had discussed already. His answer was if I had not gotten those things fixed he would have asked the contractor, who is a friend of his, to do it. He told me the bulkhead should have been redone also, but told me not to worry, that he has made it to not be e problem in the future. One thing my contractor told me that I liked before I hired him was that he had a great drywall guy. I think he was right and things do look good that I can tell. He's been doing drywall during the day for 23 years and had to do janitorial work at night when things went to do it all quick and cheap guys came in. Small jobs, not new houses. My theater is 26x19 not included is the stairs. It will take him 6 maybe 7 days to finish. He also gave me his number to calll directly if there is ever a problem.

My next step is to stop the contractor before continuning and layout everything that NEEDS to be done to finish and HOW and WHEN its to be done. The drywall guy gave me some pointers on what needs to be done before trim work begins. I like the mud guy.

Hey, just reread this, sorry for the long reply. It's hard for me to not paint a complete picture. I kept thinking about how close I was to having my theater construction project collapse. Funny, sounds just like how the stock market bailout is going. Hope the future is brighter for us all. :)

Wonder if there is a contractor horror thread in this forum?

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Thought I'd also share my contract. Total cost for contact, $18,740.00 This was the highest bid out of three by $900.00 and change I checked three references out of ten he supplied.

He got the contract because everything we discussed was laid out in the contract, everything, and I liked the talk and expected the walk.

The contract was for all permits, electrical, drywall, finish trim, three doors, painting, and finishing bulkhead framing. If I knew how easy it was I would have done it myself.

Before you say this is cheap, I had already framed the entire basement with my time and money except for the bulkhead. I bought, installed, and paid for ALL the home theater wiring 7.1, HDMI, CAT6, RGB, not electrical that was in the contract.

The contract does not include carpet. I did not want contractor grade carpeting and did not want the markup. I paid for and installed three conduits for future use.

I think our next level of excitement is going to be the painting. I will not allow him to buy cheap contractor grade paint. I wonder what he expects to pay because I know what I want and it's not what he expects. Wonder what the markup is on paint.

Here is an observation on what he is like and what he says to me. I have made ONE change to the contract that I'm paying for. I wanted to do 4 sconces on the side walls and decided not to when I saw how expensive they were. The day the electric work was being done I was at Lowes buying low voltage boxes for TH wiring. I came across sconces that were dirt cheap, so I called him immediately.

He said woo Paul hold on, the electric guys have already given me a price and they arn't cheap. I asked him to get a price to wire as they were not done yet. The next day he said "[they] wanted way too much, so much that I can't even mark up anything." And he laughed like I would think the markup was funny. I did not like how he said it, it was like I was not the customer but one of his helpers. They wanted I think $1,500.00 which I just about fell over on. Contractor then said he could get a friend to come in and wire after electric was done for $200.00. I agreed to this.

The main reason I hired him was he was the only contractor to give me a very detailed bid on what was to be done. I wanted to avoid thhings like overruns and add ons where we had different expectations. Everything is well outlined EXCEPT for quality and paint. Paint at that time was the furthest thing from my mind. Quality was in the handshake.

Will post pics, believe it or not, I was so sick I did not get photos of some of this.
 
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