The Blues...mommy/contractor/patio encl.
HELLO! Please forgive me for the following novella. This is my first--and really incredibly long--post as a Newbie, so I'd like to begin by saying I wish I'd known about this forum before my elderly mom signed a contract for a new patio enclosure. I had hoped she would go with a different contractor, but she didn't take my advice. Anyway, water...bridge...yada yada...project finished.
The window screens fit properly, but 3 out of the 5 windows installed weren't wide enough by as much as four inches. (Go figure!) When I called the "Quality Control" rep, he told me I had to call the guy who orders the windows. So much for quality control--I had to explain the meaning and purpose of quality control to get him to do his job. (Otherwise, where's the need for such a position?) The windows were replaced a number of days later, but they fit just fine.
The actual construction work done by the employees was great--and they received good tips in appreciation for their dedication to the work. They were a good bunch of guys even though they didn't need to go ahead and actually install those wrong-sized windows. It wasn't their fault the right ones weren't ordered.
The subcontractor's concrete slab is 14' x 14' with it's NE corner furthest from the house. The slab is not level and slopes down toward the SW corner--ending up almost an inch lower than the opposite corner. Mr. Quality Control saw it and admittedly said "Well that foundation is certainly not level." He went on to say that whomever we hire to do the floorcovering can fix the slab before the floor is installed so it's level. I understand slabs never turn out perfectly level, but what he refers to as "puddling" is actually a small pond. Shouldn't the correction be the responsibility of the contractor whose sub-contractor poured the concrete? From the bit of research I've done, this can cause problems with the floor installation and long-term durability. Mr QC said even though it's so minor as to be a nonissue, they'd knock off $200.00 from the final bill (then didn't bother to adjust the final invoice days later).
All of the completion paperwork is shoddy--I had mom withhold payment of the final $5400 until we settle all the problems. The warranty presented to mom covers ONLY the weatherproofing despite what's in the contract and all their promotional materials; the mechanic's lien waiver is conditional as opposed to unconditional and also leaves my 94 yr old senile dad (but not my mom) open to liens because his name wasn't included on that document. Aside from the company's waiver/release, they didn't include waivers from subcontractors and material suppliers as promised (and as required in CA?). The paperwork isn't really a problem because I work a lot with contracts and proposals and have a long list of discrepancies with revisions to be made.
Of course it's mom's fault for not waiting for me to explain things to her in time to cancel the contract. One would think she knows better since she doesn't understand legalese (and English is not her native language); she's been burned before; and she's seemingly of sound mind (or so I think!). I had a strong feeling there'd be some type of problem--the salespeople were flaky and inconsistent from the beginning even before she signed. Thank God I happened to be there when they presented her with the final documents in exchange for her check. (And thank God it's a patio enclosure instead of a major construction job).
You know something...I had suggested mom go with a much smaller contractor who seemed to have a lot of integrity and provided verifiable evidence of doing quality patio enclosures. The drawback for her was that this contractor gave a higher estimate. I just don't get it...she almost always goes for whoever gives lower bids, yet she has no problem spending more money than necessary for high-priced clothing and goods of no lasting value. It's ridiculous. Don't some of you contractors on this forum go crazy with people who make decisions based solely on price??
Sorry for the wordy rant, I actually DO have questions to ask. My main concerns are: 1) Is a concrete slab which is off level by as much as 1 inch a really minor thing like Mr QC says or does it create a structural problem? 2) Even if it's a minor problem, shouldn't the contractor correct such a mistake? It's in the contract to do so but they contend the job is "satisfactorily completed" (as per contract) with no problem to be fixed.
Again, sorry I included a load of irrelevent commentary, and thank you in advance for any feedback. It's great that there's a forum such as DIYchatroom.com...
I know it stings when you think you've been ripped off but if the rest of the enclosure is to your liking, I would forget the concrete guy. If he did do anything to try and level the slab, it would be nothing more than a skim coat that you could have problems with later....non bonding, flaking etc.
The people who come to do the floor covering, whatever it may be, could level the floor with strapping and a plywood sub or, if it is ceramics, a good tile man could level it with his mud. Extra cost I realize, but you get the level floor.
I am assuming that this a slab on grade and as far as the slab having structural problems because it is'nt level, I would say no. As long as the substrate was properly prepared before pouring the concrete you will be OK.
What a lesson to take away! I agree with you - sometimes the lowest bid is NOT necessarily the best one!
Good luck to you and your family getting this mess straightened out. I like it that you're being assertive, and you understand your rights under your state's law.
All the best,
Although 1'' +/- in a slab this small isn't completely shody work but is a little much for most standards. 1/4 +/- is a standard for the puddling effect and no pond effect.
But I think you will be alright , No huge problem. The windows on the other hand is a different story, providing there is documentation . ie; blueprints,contract,etc. Assuming they were framed right and ordered wrong . In this case the contractor is responsible for this one . Either the contractor rights the wrong with you by coming to a compromise with your mom and use the windows ordered , or hash it out with the window manufacturer and figure out what happened there, and fix it right either way the contractor is responsible.
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