Advice about dealing with a vendor / contractor

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Old 06-10-16, 02:40 PM
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Advice about dealing with a vendor / contractor

This is the DIY forum, but everyone here is so level headed and have experience with contractors! Is there a better forum or dare I say website for questions about dealing with contractors?

We are doing a bath remodel, spending 10s of thousands on it (it got out of hand and my wife keeps wanting nicer things).

We contracted with a company for the countertop and other stone parts of the bathroom (the threshhold and pieces that go under the glass doors around the shower). We were referred to them from a tile store that we were referred to by friends. So we thought things would be OK.

Picking up those pieces going around the shower, they didn't polish one of the sides of one of the pieces - I caught it. Not a big deal.

Worse though is that the countertop has a linen tower to the side. and there's some notching to deal with because the front face of the linen tower is wider than the sides of the tower (by an 1/8"? or so).

They repeatedly said they'd notch the sidesplash rather than cut the wood, which is what we wanted. This was said by the installer who 'works here 25 years'.

Install day comes. He notches the sidesplash around the wood cabinet. Then we leave the room and come back in 5 - 10 minutes. He took a chisel to the linen tower and gouged out a notch in the wood for the countertop (rather than leave things as is - the gap for the countertop would be covered by the side splash) or notch the countertop. We questioned him and he kinda shrugged. We ranted to the owner and she made excuses.

My wife is furious. He threw dark caulk over it so it's not too noticeable, BUT we feel betrayed / lied to. This is in addition to:

a guy came out to make a template for the counter and said he'd be the installer so there'd be no finger pointing with the installer. 1st install day, he wasn't there, installer questions templater and turns out the counter is made wrong so this install above is counter #2

In that first counter, they said holes for faucet are drilled on site. It came with holes drilled (2 sinks / 2 faucets).

After install of the 2nd counter, we look at the undermount sinks. 1 has 1 clip and 1 has 2 clips (Kohler supplies 4 and says all 4 should be used). Installer says he couldn't get under sink to install other clips and that he 'glued' the sinks in place. calling Kohler, they say they only recommend the 4 clips, removing the sinks in the future would be hard with the glue and the glue could harm the finish. He said he used silicone caulk as the 'glue'.

We still owe them $1,500 on $3000 project for the countertop, sidesplash, backsplash and 4 pieces for the shower / door threshhold and have the nerve to keep bringing that up as we tell them the sinks aren't installed per the manufacturer's instructions and they notched the wood when they said the wouldn't.

What do you think of all this? Legal grounds to have them supply a new linen tower? Yes, functionally, it works. But all this custom work is partly for the looks. A fancy car gets scratched when a company is servicing the car. Functionally, it works. But you buy a high end car partly for looks.

And the sinks - they said they couldn't install all the clips. We took pictures to send owner of company and there's space around the sinks. If nothing else, flip the countertop over, install clips / sink then flip it back. But it's all caulked in place now, so pulling it all up will ruin paint, etc.

Again, functionally, that would have the sinks in correctly, but looks would suffer.

Legal recourse? Ask for $ off the bill for these screw ups? (and how much?). we won't know for a couple / few years if the silicone doesn't hold. Then to get them back?! If the sink falls and cracks, then getting them to pay for new sinks in the future?

Looking now, we see some negative reviews on yelp and other forums about them... we will certainly be trashing them on social media. again, functionally, it's OK (at this point) , but they've lied, did kluge work with the hand chisel and dark caulk, lame install, etc.
 
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Old 06-10-16, 03:08 PM
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Send us a picture of what they did to the cabinet, both close up and further back so we can see the general layout of the bath.

Vanity sinks are regularly glued in place as yours was. Once you hook up the drain, if PVC, it won't move. Little if any chance of it falling in the future. Clips, in the absence of glue, would be needed.
 
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Old 06-10-16, 03:23 PM
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You got a bad counter installer and that's all there is to it. I work with what I regard as the best Fabricator/Installer around here, on all types of counters.

I have seen other work and some looks sloppy. Anyone with a grinder doesn't qualify as a stone installer.

I'm no lawyer, I would withhold any further payment and let them deal with what they want to do about that. I would say they have no recourse (other than fix it), just ignore any demands.

- Silicone alone will not support the sink, no matter what they say. The sink will fail soon.

- Any competent installer knows what to do about pantry doors, or any door that opens next to a counter overhang. 120 hinges, or other degree hinges are pretty common. The overhang could have been beveled, notched or other solutions.
 
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Old 06-11-16, 08:40 AM
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ARGH!!! Nothing against you guys but 2 totally opposite answers:

Vanity sinks are regularly glued in place as yours was
Silicone alone will not support the sink, no matter what they say. The sink will fail soon.

Czizzi, kep in mind - this is an undermount sink (and yeah, why bother with that design? Is it supposed to be 'classier'? I'm just interested in functionality and that it lasts. My wife though...

I'll get pictures but you'll likely say it looks ok. It's more the principle that they said they wouldn't chisel the wood several times. then they chiseled the wood. And what looks good now, may not look good over time.

And that we have to argue with them over all this. When a contractor says it'll cost $x to do a job, is that the grief free price? When they have you argue that they said one thing and did another matter? That we have to check their work (1 clip on a sink) then research / waste others time to ask if 'glue / silicone' is acceptable, then debate with them about how their way is OK, but the manufacturer and others on the web say no.

does that warrant a lower price? NOT that I am trying to chisel them on price after the fact. Again, it's the principle of the thing. Feeling betrayed. We're fortunate that $x or $x- a few hundred dollars won't make much of a difference / it's a drop in the bucket on a stupidly big project like this.

IF something happens to a sink and it needs to be removed, the silicone / glue will make it harder to remove, harder to reinstall. There's the chance that it will fall at some point (I wear contact lenses, so the sink will constantly be filled with water / increased weight). And I'm OCD / compulsive. I'll be thinking about it falling every time (yeah, and we're morons for going with undermount design because of that).
 
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Old 06-11-16, 09:51 AM
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There's probably nothing we couldn't agree on at some point.

Regarding a typical undermount vanity sink. It would be secured with 4 clips and with silicone between the mounting flange and the underside of counter.

The silicone doesn't make the sink hard to remove. The silicone doesn't harden over years as Adhesive Caulk does.
Old adhesive caulk is difficult or impossible to cut through, you will always be able to cut silicone.

You went with the right choice on an undermount sink. You're OCD and the undermount is much easier to clean and to keep clean. Top mount sinks tend to get mold or mildew and gather crud.
 
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Old 06-11-16, 12:18 PM
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My granite guys glue up sinks and I have never had an issue, so the OCD thing is really eating at you. This is the 4th thread you have started in 4 different forums complaining about this one build from start to finish. Cutting the wood, not cool and they should make amends as that was clearly discussed and agreed upon in advance. Honestly, the way you have been ranting these 4 threads, it isn't about a scratch on a car, you make it seam like they took your money and never follow through on anything. That is why pictures would help - but you have said that they would not support your story. So my suspicions are that you are not easily satisfied.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 11:30 AM
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Thanks again for the comments / thoughts.

Yes, I've posted a few posts about this project. And yes! I AM looking to find out if we're not easily satisfied. Or overly demanding. Or just don't know what is acceptable / typical. Or have amazingly bad luck with installers (although, we do take issue with other things elsehwere and DO wonder how others don't take issue with things where we do. Are they more laid back? Not as demanding? Not sure if we ask for too much. We feel we just want to be treated fairly.

Thread 1 - vent fan still had tape on flapper, sucked up the dust while they sheetrocked, calling the medicine cabinet manufacturer and getting wrong info.

Thread 2 - they used concrete board only 2/3 of the way up in the shower. Is that OK?

Thread 3 - Is there too much movement on rain head. To me, movement = more potential for leaks. A leak over the ceiling won't be detected till tiles start falling off ceiling / big issue.

Issue 4 - the counter installer described here. Took them 2 tries to get the counter right, kinda blame us for the 1st bad countertop - 'you bought the wrong sink'. But proper templating would have caught that before making the 1st counter.

And when you say 'they should make amends'. What would you expect is reasonable when they cut into an installed piece of furniture?

I remember in college MANY years ago. I had scuba gear in my dorm room that belonged to the school's scuba club. The tank had a netting around it to help the grip in the harness (http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/qs4AAO...X09/s-l300.jpg). a roommate lit off a spinner firework in the room. It bounced around and burned a nickel sized area of the netting. The school had me pay to replace the whole netting. Functionally, the performance was not degraded. It was an appearance issue. Now I'm on the other side of the situation.

And I just included the picture of part of the shower - the top of the knee wall doesn't match up to the tiles on the wall. For what it's worth, this doesn't bother me.

I DO appreciate all your comments : )
 
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Old 06-13-16, 01:09 PM
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Possibly too many cooks in the kitchen. I probably would have ordered the cabinet with that last piece of trim loose and installed it after the counters went in. If it is not trim, then I would have ordered the cabinet with a flush end to it. Sloppy to say the least, which is why granite guys are not carpenters. But to be honest, caulking hides a multitude of minor oop's on many projects, particularly when it comes to painting.

Speaking of caulking, add some to the opening of the rain head shower arm to stop movement. It is a little excessive, but more than likely a result of using Pex piping and should have little bearing ion the functionality of the shower head or arm. The escutcheon will cover the caulking.

On the same subject, in the shower, you most likely will not have issues. Check one thing that is a common error. in the inside corners there should be flexible caulking used instead of grout The caulking should be an exact color match to the grout so it blends seamlessly. This goes for any inside corners like in your knee wall pic were the tile meets the marble.

And I just included the picture of part of the shower - the top of the knee wall doesn't match up to the tiles on the wall. For what it's worth, this doesn't bother me.
Funny as that is one of the things that bothered me the most.It shows poor planning.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 01:33 PM
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again, thank you very much for your time!

And re your last line - I was going to say something about my wife not liking it but realizing that there's not many options at this point.

About the inside corners - I did notice the VERTICAL shower corners - looks like clear silicone over grout. But the HORIZONTAL wall / floor edges don't feel like there's caulk at all. I'm thinking you'd expect caulk on horizontal and vertical surfaces?

And another small issue - check the 1 tile in the top right corner of picture that was cut short around the drain. Functionally, not a big deal, but even I could have done better?

So back to when you say 'they should make amends'. What would you expect is reasonable when they cut into an installed piece of furniture? Money refund of $____? More caulk : ) ?

And we still have 1 - 2 clips on each sink. And from the pictures in that last post -I think you can see there's PLENTY of room to add them. They said they didn't have room for more clips. Why add 1 or 2 clips AND silicone when there's plenty of room? Sloppy work in my mind.Name:  2016-06-13 16.20.04.jpg
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Old 06-13-16, 01:41 PM
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Did that last short post not show? I was saying that the front face of the linen tower is a hair wider than the sides of the cabinet. something (I think?) is typical?

a quick google shows the side KITCHEN cabinets with a wider face than the sides. there's that gap between the sides of the cabinets.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 02:03 PM
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Yeah, now you are getting my OCD riled up on the drain picture, Not just the miss cut tile, but the fraction of a degree off square of the drain body. That and the seemingly random placement of the drain in relation to the overall area of the shower floor.

Caulking on the floor/wall is less critical as the shower pan will totally catch any water, however, it may, once cracked, overwhelm the weep holes, but that is just speculation. Additional caulking won't hurt. Inside wall cracks can let water seep beyond the shower pan.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 02:21 PM
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YOU have OCD!? So really... How do you deal with (loads of) little things like these for people that you hire? (yeah, so many threads. Did you say you do things ALL yourself?) but just in life in general? I am stymied by second guessing. I'm paying these guys, am I wrong to expect better work than I can do?

You haven't commented - when you say 'they should make amends'. What would you expect is reasonable when they cut into an installed piece of furniture?

and back to OCD questions (referring back to a previous thread of mine). Called medicine cabinet manufacturer CUSTOMER SERVICE department asking about ganging kit. Woman says it's sold seperately and would be in it's own box. 1/2 hour+ of time trying to see if I ordered it, find the box, I wind up a) seeing on website that they say 'ganging kit - included' for that model b) get someone else there that says they did include a ganging kit and c) it's ONLY included when requested.

Me being me, I spent 1 hr+ ranting to company about 1st customer service person and poorly worded website / literature that should say 'included on request'.

The friend / plumbing supply house that sold them (and was out of the office that day), heard about my calls to mfgr. and said 'you got the part? You're all set?' / I took to meaning: move on /ranting doesn't help. Totally true but something I can't avoid. What would you do?
 
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Old 06-13-16, 04:00 PM
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FWIW...no one item here is worth anything in terms of a bad install. BUT...add it all together and I can't blame you for being upset. But as mentioned, poor planning is the root of the problems.

Since re-work seems like a ship that has sailed your recourse is to try to get money back.

If you have the wherewithal, guts and money to spend, yes you should go after the installers. But you have to cross every tee and dot every i and have a firm time line, and document every little thing. Even using the post on this forum can be of help. Small claims court seems to be the way to go. Do not pay the balance but be sure you put into writing why you won't pay and be sure to send via registered letter to the principles of the companies you dealing with. Lots and lots of pictures. Record all conversation by documenting times and dates.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 04:01 PM
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YOU have OCD!? So really... How do you deal with (loads of) little things like these for people that you hire? (yeah, so many threads. Did you say you do things ALL yourself?) but just in life in general?
I'm the guy that straightens pictures in other peoples houses - that type of OCD. I tried dealing with employees but found myself being a babysitter to a bunch of grown men. Done with that, I work alone, by myself and am happier for it. There is no one to point fingers ad I can proudly put my name on the work that is completed. My biggest client is an independent hotel, I asked the owner why they kept calling me when so many other contractors failed them (I here all the stories). They said that no one looks after their best interests like I do. It was a great compliment - they even have me do work on their personal residence (multi-million dollar waterfront home).

id that last short post not show? I was saying that the front face of the linen tower is a hair wider than the sides of the cabinet. something (I think?) is typical?

a quick google shows the side KITCHEN cabinets with a wider face than the sides. there's that gap between the sides of the cabinets.
I'm saying that you can order a finished side that doesn't extend beyond the cabinet and is available for situations like yours or where a kitchen has an "L" shape and an exposed cabinet end.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 04:30 PM
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From my experience, all these complaints boil down to what kind of company you are dealing with.
Can they afford to just walk away when they know they messed up or can they afford to redo the work if needed?
Some companies will offer you money off, some will threaten court action, and others will write it off after trying to convince you to pay to no avail.

I can't see all the work that was done. The notch could have been better and the sink clips are an issue, but it's not a horror story.

The shower floor is unacceptable and the contractor needs to be told IMO. Let them deal with how to fix it. You can pay them after the job is complete.
 
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Old 06-13-16, 07:40 PM
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Handyone - no, certainly not a horror story. More for us a learning experience that we won't be doing something like this again and repeated chances to wonder if we have too high expectations.

you say the shower floor is unacceptable? Around the drain? My (wrong?) view is that if they can't get it right the first time, a fix isn't going to look any better (the cure is worse than the disease?). I don't want to seem like people I've heard of that accept a price for a project then nit pick things to try to get a lower price. or at least I don't think I'm nit picking... you guys seem to support my views that there's quality issues / things were done 'wrong'. and again, with the mindset that the cure is likely worse than the disease, it seems that money off the price is (the only?) option.

tearing up tiles around the drain to redo things - cosmetically, I wouldn't think they could get much better without causing other issues - grout matching, scratching other tiles, but worse - potentially setting us up for a leak by disturbing things around the drain.

but how do you quantify that discount? Like notching the wood on the tower. They can't put the wood back. The tower was $2K. And it's installed already. To tear out that one to replace it because of the notch - paint, nails, trim strip, etc. it would seem it's just not feasible? And the likelyhood of damaging things nearby or on the way up the stairs (faux painted hallway / staircase).
 
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Old 06-13-16, 07:45 PM
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czizzi - funny! Fixing pictures - I do that too. just this past weekend at the eye dr. for my son's checkup. one of his state certifcates / diplomas was a bit askew. When he and my son left the exam room to put his contact lenses in, I got up and straigtened the frame : )

And I am a 1 man computer consulting firm. for all the same reasons you detailed. But you have to deal with vendors / manufacturers, right? Even then it's really tough for me - like the medicine cabinet manufacturer (not the vendor.. going right to the source and still getting wrong info).
 
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Old 06-13-16, 07:50 PM
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Norm - yes, you say it better - that ship has sailed (vs. the cure is worse than the disease). But what's a fair number to try to get back? I certainly don't expect all of it - the counter is there, it's functional. The tiles around the drain are askew... but it doesn't leak. The fan was filled with sheetrock dust but I cleaned it out and removed the tape over the flapper.

And I envision them saying 'let us fix it'. and I say no, the ship has sailed. and the judge says 'you have to let them fix it (add clips to the sinks, caulk more around the chiseling, fix the tiles.).

Quantifying a realistic number for not getting the quality I expected... I'd love to hear what people say about coming up with that!
 
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Old 06-13-16, 08:05 PM
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I've learned that raising my voice and throwing a stink does nothing except raise my blood pressure and makes me short when I get home at the end of the day. I'd rather kiss my wife and give her a hug and let the days events settle behind me. I am so much happier this way. Mind you, I still get mad a the cable company for raising my rates for no reason, but other than that, I'm good. Take a moment and enjoy your new bath. It has to be better than what you had before, right? Save your worries for some bigger fish and some other outrage. You know one is just around the corner...
 
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Old 06-14-16, 03:43 AM
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If you want a number, pick a number which is fair but not a punishment. Work was done and service was provided. Everything works but may not "look" just the way you expected. We cannot give you a number for compensation. Only you can determine that. Whatever compensation number in terms of dollars choose a number that the installer/contractors can swallow and still keep their pride. In other words tell them you don't want to punish them but you want some kind of "feel good" money back that both of you can say OK a mistake was made but we agree on a settlement that makes us both happy. Don't expect much. Perhaps a couple hundred bucks.
 
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Old 06-14-16, 07:10 PM
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Just for the record, that is among the top 5 worst tiles cut around a shower drain I have seen. So, the tile guy was what 12 years old? I wonder how the parts you can't see were done. The waterproofing before the tiles were set for one. Or was the shower even waterproofed?

Jaz
 
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Old 06-14-16, 07:44 PM
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While I don't like hearing things like that, at least I take comfort in thinking I'm not too overly critical.

I saw them doing some rubber sheeting in the shower at some point. But yeah, this tile around drain, the vertical tiling that doesn't line up with the knee wall, greenboard for the upper part of the shower, etc. other than what I see Norm201's avatar doing, what else is there other than warn others in the future? again, love to know what feel good money number is.

'cause overall, yeah the bath looks nice, but catching all these issues takes the fun out of it.

What's a bath remodel price range these days (we're in the northeast, so things are more expensive)?

My spreadsheet says we're up to 45K. my wife wanted satin nickel finish on things...'hides water spots better'?! that alone adds hundreds. The toto toilet comes with chrome handle. well, that doesn't match the other fixtures. $100 for the satin nickel handle. Anyone need a chrome toilet flush : )

$4,202 vanity & tower
$22,800 contractor
$5,427 fixtures, medicine cabs, drain
$3,307 tiles and grout
$232 permits
$3,050 countertop
$88 knobs - Richelue
$42 extra grout
$352 lights - [email protected], door handle 30, timer, blum slow close, limit clips
$2,778 shower door
$182 2nd set of sinks
$200 Glass inserts for vanity and linen tower
$65 Shower door measure fee
$700 Shower door install
$1,100 paint

dealing with a variety of manufacturers and contractors. Each has had their issues. I really don't see the fun in (having someone else) do these projects. ANd to think - I got my wife to CUT BACK on things... she was thinking of a heated floor. and a skylight!

How much time do you spend in there anyway? Sit on the toilet a bit, get in the shower 1x a day.....

Hey! A good analogy is my 2010 honda civic. My kids and wife have newer cars (inevitably, the cars get in fender benders / parking lot dings and I don;t get them fixed - . I spend more time in the car than in the bathroom and the car costs much less (and I enjoy it more).
 
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Old 06-15-16, 09:47 AM
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The custom glass guys came to install today. My wife took issue with the amount of caulk, which I thought was asking too much - not enough and then you get leaks and a cracked tile.

My wife calls the office and the manager says the crack is unacceptable and they talk about replacing the tile.

Back to my concern that the cure can be worse than the disease. Pulling out at least part of the shower glass, removing the silicone, get the tile guy in there, have him remove the broken tile, put in another one, grout it back in place and reassemble the shower. For all that to look as good / better than it does now seems like a miracle and the chance they'll scuff a wall / scratch something, etc.

Funny - my wife was lamenting to the manager that she's had issues all along the way. She mentioned to me that he said they are at the end of the process so they are used to when people call them, they are wound up from previous issues.

Any thoughts about the acceptability of the cracked tile? would you expect the installer to fess up? What would you envision the outcome? 'nothing's perfect?',

Another question - I happened to be looking at the floor tiles. when you run your hand from 1 12" square tile to another, there's a hight difference. A small fraction of an inch at times (1/16"?) other times not noticable. how flat from tile to tile is reasonable? I tried taking a straight edge and taking a picture but the shadows, etc made it kinda useless. But there was light coming under the straight edge.

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Old 06-15-16, 10:10 AM
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This will be my last comment on this thread. You know what our feeling on this are. And I think IMHO you're beating a dead horse by continuing this thread.

As I mentioned before no one item here is worth the time or effort, but combined as a total job it was not very professional. I think the general consensus is that you pick out the worst items (tiles drain area for instance) and either get money back or have it redone. The uneven tile is a non issue. That is the nature of the beast. That caulk picture looks messy to me but maybe it's because it's too close of a picture. I would've used the wet finger technique and smoothed it out.

What you need to do is bring in a neighbor or a friend or maybe an independent contractor and ask them to critique the job as a total picture. Explain that you have lots of issues with the work but don't point out or mention what they are. Let the person find it. Based on their remarks, decide what major items need to be addressed with the contractor and installers. Let the small stuff go and don't nit pick. If you call an independent professional be prepared to pay him $50 and get his remarks in writing. What's another $50 compared to what you've spent already.

Good luck.
 
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Old 06-15-16, 10:35 AM
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norm: thank you! I appreciate your comments!
 
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Old 06-15-16, 01:52 PM
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What Norm said all makes sense. Except for the $50 part. I think he left out a "0".

Jaz
 
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Old 06-15-16, 02:03 PM
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My last comment also.
I have very picky customers and the salespeople tell them to inspect every little thing. I sub for a large national company and customers don't sign a completion until all work is done to their satisfaction.

Some of the work done in your bathroom appears substandard to me. It's up to you how to deal with the company or live with the work.

I can tell you that most of my customers would not sign a completion on this work based on what they were promised.
 
  #28  
Old 06-15-16, 02:24 PM
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Thank you to everyone on this! I am VERY appreciative of you dealing with me and offering your objective advice.

It's reassuring that (at least on this project) I'm not totally off the deep end with the quality I am expecting.

That we can have issues with almost everyone we dealt with on this is mind boggling, but that's not for here. I've chewed your ears way too much. That said, everyone we dealt with was referred to us by friends that did bigger projects than us and / or have bigger / more expensive homes. We didn't go with low bidder / pick by darts.

I'd love to be able to hire each of you!
 
  #29  
Old 06-15-16, 03:19 PM
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The tile was obviously cracked after the grout was installed so it is the fault of the glass people.

While cracked tiles do happen, they can be easily fixed if you know what you are doing. It is also located in a rather obscure place and is most likely a fault of the design of the shower and that half wall not turning 45 degrees to be square to the door. Instead the door comes off the corner of the wall which is a weak spot.

Some clear caulking goes on white and dries clear, so give it some time to set up. Thicker beads will take longer.
 
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