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ralph99 10-21-2010 09:54 AM

Poor Laminate Install - OK to Negotiate Bill After Work Complete?
 
I apologize if this question is not relevant for this site, but I could use advice from experienced people. Sorry for the long read.

Our entire downstairs area (three rooms) is about 550 square feet. 3/4 of that has a bubbling/chipping in some places cheap oak floor, and the other 1/4 is the kitchen area with cheap self-adhesive linoleum tiles with corners starting to peel. There is about 1/2 inch height difference between these two floors, and we are on a concrete slab. We had a friend of the family (a contractor) quote us $4000 to remove the oak floor and lay down a laminate floor over the entire downstairs area, including over the kitchen linoleum.

After he started installing it I noticed he did not pull the existing wood floor up. When questioned, he said he spoke with someone and they said he should leave the old floor there as a moisture barrier, and that he would knock off $500 from the quote. I expressed my concern about the height difference between the two floors, and he said that the floor will mold to the shape of the floor and it will not be a problem. Now the floor is done, and there are some issues. The floor has about 5-10 chips at various places, there are places where pieces that are connected have a slight height difference so it scrapes your foot if you walk along it, there are a couple small bubbles forming where some of the pieces meet, and aside from his assurances that in 4-6 months the floor will settle, the floor feels like junk in areas (bounces, bubbles, wobbles). On top of that there is one piece specifically that was cracked (sarcasm: would you believe it was right on the transition between the high and low floor?) and despite two attempts to fix it, neither of which involved pulling up all the flooring from the wall to that piece, it is still broken (he tried to pull up the one piece in the middle of the floor and glue a new piece in). Oh and when he moved our washer and dryer to put the floor under them he did not test the connections upon reconnecting, so when we ran a load of wash later that night, a decent amount of water leaked out underneath the new laminate floor and even under part of our pre-existing oak floor, which he said is fine. He did all of the work himself.

He never discussed with us flooring options ahead of time, we "assumed" (yes I know...) that since we were talking about Pergo floors that it would be actual Pergo. Upon seeing the quality of the floor (and being handed a $3500 bill, which was not itemized at all) we researched what actual brand/price the floor was and it turns out that it is the cheapest floor possible to buy from Home Depot, at a whopping $0.87 per square foot. So essentially he is charging us $3000 dollars for his labor, $500 for the materials. Also research on this flooring has brought up Internet reviews that say it is junk and will fall apart in 1-2 years. Also to be honest, if he quoted us $3500 to lay any floor on top of our existing floors we would not have done it (we would have just done that ourselves).

Assuming we get the more seriously damaged boards fixed, do you think it is unreasonable for us to discuss the situation with him and ask for a reduced price given that we feel like he is robbing us blind here? If so, how much of a reduction from $3500 is reasonable, $500 less, $1000 less?

Thanks for any help/advice you can provide!

Scuba_Dave 10-21-2010 10:06 AM

Not a pro...but if the floor is junk...then its not worth $1
But you did allow him to decrease your cost & not pull up the old floor
So that part is equal fault
How much of a height difference ?
And is the long side of the flooring installed perpendicular (should be) or parallel to this height difference -problem

ralph99 10-21-2010 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave (Post 520663)
Not a pro...but if the floor is junk...then its not worth $1
But you did allow him to decrease your cost & not pull up the old floor
So that part is equal fault
How much of a height difference ?
And is the long side of the flooring installed perpendicular (should be) or parallel to this height difference -problem

Thanks for the response.

There are two parts where the floors differ in height (I don't know exact height difference, it varies, I'll say about 1/2 inch), one that runs along the boundary between the kitchen and dining room (the longer one), and one in a doorway between the kitchen and living room (smaller one).

The longer one is properly laid perpendicular. The short one is parallel, and actually that spot (the doorway) is one of the worse "bubble" spots.

And I agree that I have some fault in this in that I did not stop him and/or get better information ahead of time, but $3000 for labor?? :furious:

AngeloUCF 10-21-2010 11:03 AM

Wow that sounds like a mess. Have you paid him yet? I wouldn't pay him a dime if he didn't give you actual Pergo floors, but I'm pretty suprised you didn't negotiate exactly what style/color you were going to get in the first place. At least if you've been using the term "Pergo" the entire time you could argue that you shouldn't pay him anything and he should pull up the cheap crap he gave you.

ralph99 10-21-2010 11:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AngeloUCF (Post 520694)
Wow that sounds like a mess. Have you paid him yet? I wouldn't pay him a dime if he didn't give you actual Pergo floors, but I'm pretty suprised you didn't negotiate exactly what style/color you were going to get in the first place. At least if you've been using the term "Pergo" the entire time you could argue that you shouldn't pay him anything and he should pull up the cheap crap he gave you.

I have not paid him yet. Also, we never signed anything, (but like I said, family friend).

We discussed color, one that would look similar to our existing oak floor, and he gave us a sample plank ahead of time to OK the color. We never discussed the brand of the floor or price for materials, and its not like we could have known the quality of the end floor from seeing that one plank. I know for next time that I should push for that. Every contractor I have spoken to about this since says they would never start a job without discussing the flooring options and prices.

Thanks.

BigJim 10-21-2010 11:44 AM

If you have a 1/2 inch difference in floor height, you can count on the flooring to crack again unless he put some type of support under the offset. Even then with a bend like that it will crack. If you got water under that flooring expect to have to replace some of the flooring.

ralph99 10-21-2010 12:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jiju1943 (Post 520726)
If you have a 1/2 inch difference in floor height, you can count on the flooring to crack again unless he put some type of support under the offset. Even then with a bend like that it will crack. If you got water under that flooring expect to have to replace some of the flooring.

Ouch. That would make it seem that at least 1/2 the work he did needs to be re-done either way.

Is it unreasonable for me to demand that all that flooring be pulled up and done correctly before paying him anything? My biggest problem here is that I do not know what is reasonable or how to move forward with him.

liquidvw 10-21-2010 12:48 PM

If I wasn't happy with a job, I wouldn't pay the guy a dime. I would take lots of pictures of his crappy work just in case you need them in the future.

AngeloUCF 10-21-2010 01:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ralph99 (Post 520735)
Ouch. That would make it seem that at least 1/2 the work he did needs to be re-done either way.

Is it unreasonable for me to demand that all that flooring be pulled up and done correctly before paying him anything? My biggest problem here is that I do not know what is reasonable or how to move forward with him.


I'm not sure if I'd be more upset about the inferior product or the bad install. Either way, no I think you should tell him to fix it before paying him. I would also ask for a better product. I'm suprised he didn't use a transition for the flooring to step it up and just sort of bended the laminate.

The flooring should not conform to an uneven subfloor, it should stay flat and the subfloor should be trued up.

If you want to know what's reasonable, call a reputable place for a quote and use that to compare.

ralph99 10-21-2010 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AngeloUCF (Post 520797)
I'm not sure if I'd be more upset about the inferior product or the bad install. Either way, no I think you should tell him to fix it before paying him. I would also ask for a better product. I'm suprised he didn't use a transition for the flooring to step it up and just sort of bended the laminate.

The flooring should not conform to an uneven subfloor, it should stay flat and the subfloor should be trued up.

If you want to know what's reasonable, call a reputable place for a quote and use that to compare.


Thanks for the advice. While this thread was going on we did call a local flooring company who said essentially:

  • laminate should not be put over existing floors, especially kitchen
  • The brand of our floor (Trafficmaster) is not good quality and will most likely start chipping/pealing in 6 months -- (Our contractor told us ahead of time “this stuff is indestructible!”)
  • He said his quote for doing the work our contractor did, including materials would have been $2200 (just for comparison -- he would not do it this way).
  • Our contractor used a regular hammer to put the pieces in, which did break some pieces and he had to throw them out. The guy on the phone said that you NEVER use a hammer, you need the right tools like a rubber mallet, etc.
  • He said if the existing wood floors were buckling it was most likely due to moisture, and that laminate should NOT be installed on top of that.
Also, off of Trafficmaster's website it says:
  • not to install this floor over existing flooring.
  • if there is moisture under the floors then their 10 year warranty is void.

Now obviously the flooring company wants my business, but none of that seems too outrageous. So now I'm wondering if instead of having him fix it all I should just pay him some minimum amount of money (maybe for the materials, etc.) and send him packing, and just rip up the floor myself and do it right/differently some other time.

Sigh... the worst part about this for me is not the money or the floor, it's the relationship. Not that we are super close or anything, but it will probably end.

Thanks for your help everyone, and please if anyone else has any input please chime in.

jbfan 10-21-2010 05:24 PM

Sometimes that the price of a friend working for a friend!
I hope everything works out for you!

liquidvw 10-21-2010 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ralph99 (Post 520859)
Thanks for the advice. While this thread was going on we did call a local flooring company who said essentially:

  • laminate should not be put over existing floors, especially kitchen
  • The brand of our floor (Trafficmaster) is not good quality and will most likely start chipping/pealing in 6 months -- (Our contractor told us ahead of time “this stuff is indestructible!”)
  • He said his quote for doing the work our contractor did, including materials would have been $2200 (just for comparison -- he would not do it this way).
  • Our contractor used a regular hammer to put the pieces in, which did break some pieces and he had to throw them out. The guy on the phone said that you NEVER use a hammer, you need the right tools like a rubber mallet, etc.
  • He said if the existing wood floors were buckling it was most likely due to moisture, and that laminate should NOT be installed on top of that.
Also, off of Trafficmaster's website it says:
  • not to install this floor over existing flooring.
  • if there is moisture under the floors then their 10 year warranty is void.

Now obviously the flooring company wants my business, but none of that seems too outrageous. So now I'm wondering if instead of having him fix it all I should just pay him some minimum amount of money (maybe for the materials, etc.) and send him packing, and just rip up the floor myself and do it right/differently some other time.

Sigh... the worst part about this for me is not the money or the floor, it's the relationship. Not that we are super close or anything, but it will probably end.

Thanks for your help everyone, and please if anyone else has any input please chime in.

Regardless of what you do the relationship is damaged, unless you pay him in full. But that would be silly. If this were me, I would tell the guy to take a hike and pay him nothing.

ralph99 10-21-2010 07:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbfan (Post 520873)
Sometimes that the price of a friend working for a friend!
I hope everything works out for you!

I appreciate that -- i'll try to post a follow up when we talk to him, probably won't be until next week i'm thinking.

ralph99 10-21-2010 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by liquidvw (Post 520877)
Regardless of what you do the relationship is damaged, unless you pay him in full. But that would be silly. If this were me, I would tell the guy to take a hike and pay him nothing.

Very good point. And your other post about taking pictures is a good idea -- I should get as much documentation of the issues "just in case". Unfortunately the bubbling/bouncing of the floor won't show up in pictures. Oh well, I guess we will see...


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