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Dave88LX 06-25-2013 02:33 PM

Super annoyed - contractor mis-cut all the prepared railing pieces.
Pretty ticked.

I normally don't hire out my work because I don't trust people's work. So for the 2nd time I think in my home-ownership, I hired out some work -- install the backsplash, and install the handrail on the jacked up part of my stairway.

I had the contractor drop off the newel posts/railing/base last week so that I could sand and stain it ahead of time, as you know it's very difficult to sand/stain it with the balusters already in place. I put a lot of time (too much time really) into preparing them so that they don't look like garbage: Sand with 150, 180, 220, stain, 220, stain, 320, stain, 320, stain.

Wife called me; he incorrectly assumed the existing post on the left of my staircase was at 36", and cut the posts at 36". Then realized the existing was 37". Posts cut too short. I don't know if the rail/base is OK, it should be. Parallels and stuff. He went out to buy new material now.

Trying to keep emotions in check -- All that time I wasted the last few nights getting that stuff ready, and now it's going to have to be done in-place, and probably come out looking like crap.

I'd love for him to send out a guy to sand/stain them in place when he's done, but sanding/staining wasn't part of the job. Just the install of the material he provided. I requested the material ahead of time so I could stain it all ahead of time.

Sucks to be him too. Labor is $450 for the job. He's already eating a good bit having to buy everything over again.

We'll see what's going on when I get home.


Willie T 06-25-2013 03:15 PM

First time was practice. You get to do it even better next time.

sublime2 06-25-2013 03:20 PM


Originally Posted by Dave88LX (Post 1207014)

Sucks to be him too. Labor is $450 for the job. He's already eating a good bit having to buy everything over again.

We'll see what's going on when I get home.


You can certainly expect he will cut some corners the 2nd time around to recoup some of his costs!
Good luck.

sixeightten 06-25-2013 04:41 PM

Must be a very small rail to only cost $450 for labor.

mj12 06-25-2013 05:02 PM

any chance of a picture? If he damaged(cut short) something of yours he needs to make it right.

BigJim 06-25-2013 05:11 PM


Originally Posted by sixeightten (Post 1207083)
Must be a very small rail to only cost $450 for labor.

Same thing I was thinking.

r0ckstarr 06-25-2013 08:32 PM

You did all of the prep work. Why not complete the job yourself? Not giving you crap, just curious to know why you hired it out.

CENTERLINE MV 06-25-2013 08:42 PM


Originally Posted by sixeightten (Post 1207083)
Must be a very small rail to only cost $450 for labor.

This could be a "you get what you pay for" scenario. To be blunt, this is why I warn all of my potential clients that I'm not the cheapest price, and if they want to go with the guy that's cheapest, it'll cost them more in the long run.

jcrack_corn 06-25-2013 09:57 PM

could the existing post have been trimmed to 36"?

Dave88LX 06-26-2013 09:59 AM

Yeah it is not a very long section of railing. Just a few feet, between the up- and down- stairs of a split foyer house.

See this thread:

The existing post could not be cut down without rebuilding the existing railing.

I thought about doing it myself, but it's such a screwed up scenario with a STUPID staircase/wall design, that I had no idea how to do it. It'd have been different if I had the knee wall like every other place out there, and did not have the triangle opening to deal with at the top of the staircase. Just a whacked out house.

Dave88LX 06-26-2013 10:01 AM

So, the guy feels horrible about it. He said (and I'm paraphrasing):

"I wish I could give you some good reasons, or blame it on something, but I simply screwed up and made a stupid mistake. If it was one of my guys who made this mistake, I'd be all over them about it, it sucks that I did it."

My wife said he kept apologizing about it, and could overhear him talking to the other guy (helper) outside about this being the worst part: having to tell someone you screwed up their house.

He said he's going to go out, buy new materials, stain them himself, and come back Thursday to finish.

I was mad he screwed up all the wood, but, I'm glad he said he simply screwed up, and is going to fix it and make things right, to include sanding and staining everything. This could have gone many other ways.

Admitting that you screwed up, taking responsibility, and are willing to fix things goes a long ways with me. Everyone screws up. It's how you handle it afterwards that matters.

jproffer 06-26-2013 01:12 PM

Sounds like someone you need to remember next time you need to hire work done. :thumbsup:

I'm the same way...if he tried the ol' "That dumba$$ employee cut that too short"...whether it really was an employee or not, I probably would mark him off the list for next time. I'm not much on belittling employees in front of customers, even if it's the truth.

But your guy sounds like a stand up guy...even going to restain them so really you're out nothing but time (which sucks, I know....but still)

oh'mike 06-26-2013 03:30 PM

Screw ups happen---what separates the men from the boys is how it is handled---

This guy sounds like a man---

Dave88LX 06-27-2013 08:58 PM

Project was "finished" up today. I hate to sound like a downer. I really like the guy. I like his attitude, and admire him admitting to his mistake. Of course, the stain job is nowhere close to what I had done...LOL. He asked my wife if I'd put extra coats of stain on.

More of the same "If you want something done to your standards, you need to do it yourself." High quality work simply takes time. More than one day, which is basically what I paid for (one day), and I got. $450 for a day's worth of work got a railing up in a day. Nothing more, nothing less. Did I get what I paid for? Absolutely. Do I love it? I really like his idea and I like the design, I think it was a great design because of how screwed up my house is. I don't love the execution or attention to detail. I'm a details guy. I need to realize that I'm not going to get detail to my level of expectation for $450. It's just not worth anyone else's time.

Overall I'm happy, but it's going to take me a few hours to finish up everything to get it to my standards.

So, looking at these pictures, let me know what you think. Am I being overly-anal, or am I correct in my assessment? I strive to do the highest quality work myself that I can do in my house. I'd like to know what's right/wrong, and what can be done to make anything you see better. Filler and caulk will be a start. :D

1. At first glance, cool. I finally have a railing that is plenty good enough "for a rental", and that was the objective here.

2. From the top. Not staining the flat parts of the newel post until after installation was agreed so that it would all be uniform after attaching.

3. And here we go. I understand and agree with the posts being ripped; but was it cut with a jigsaw?

4. There was no stud in the wall to attach this post to, so it was glued to the wall (and nailed to...?). The glue is only as good as the last coat of paint...I think a better way to do this would have been to use a recessed toggle bolt and then cover it with an oak plug?

5. He installed the piece on the right. I had big plans for this big exposed hardwood corner. I had even gone out and bought a biscuit jointer and notched the piece on the left so that it would sit perfect. Ah well.

6. GRK screws or a pre-drilled hole with a finish nail or something...I don't know what was used to put these in (nosing)

7. The fillet holds the balusters in place. I think a pin nail in the area where the fillet would cover them would have been the right way to go. That's what I did on the railing I built. On a related note, some wood glue and pin nails would have done a much nicer job of holding the fillets in place also.

Dave88LX 06-27-2013 08:58 PM

8. This here is nobody's fault. When I did the tile, I assumed the post would be centered on the stringer. He had to offset the post in order to build it the way he built it. I'll have to Chunk out that piece of tile, bust out the saw, and put a new piece in.

9. The hell? I don't get it. Y U SO CLOSE!

10. The reason I stained all four sides of the 1x3 oak base piece. It may be the "bottom" of the railing, but from downstairs, it is the top.

11. I think he may need a new saw blade, or make slower cuts.

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