Monday, September 23, 2013

Silo Status - Total Floor Failure!!

I drove up to see the progress on Saturday morning.  I had a knot in my stomach the whole way up because I basically knew from the photos our builder sent me earlier in the week that the floor he had put down was going to look like crap.  Amazingly, it exceeded expectations.  It was so much worse than expected that it made me question my confidence in the work this guy has already done for us.  He demonstrated such epically poor judgement that it just chucked me down the staircase of sadness.

Okay, let me give a little bit of background - the wood he is using in the stuff I found in a dumpster a year or two ago and loaded up in several trips over many weeks as they continued de-installing it from a local building.  Not all of it was good and plenty of it had adhesive stuck on the bottom that needed to be ground off with a quick pass of a wire-wheel on an angle grinder.  But there was a lot of it and there were plenty of good boards.  Also, there were a lot of different lengths ranging from over 4 feet down to one footers. I had tied all the wood up in bundles by length and it was stacked in the entry structure of the house. 

I didn't expect it to look perfect, but I expected that he would have done the best possible job with the materials available.  He did not.

What were the problems with this install job? Well, here's what comes to mind first:
  • There are a lot of fairly substantial crevasses between boards running the long way - unexpected since this is the guy who kept using the cutesy word "crevassitis" to describe what you don't want in a hardwood floor.
  • There were some substantial height differences between boards where the ends which means he was butting boards that had already been cut up against one another.
  • A number of boards were installed that are obviously "cupping" - i.e., warping so that the edges are pulling up along the long axis.
  • A few boards were installed that are obviously a different width than the rest of the boards installed.
  • A number of boards were installed that have dark water stains at the ends.
  • Almost no long boards were used at all - there is still a big stack of tied bundles of the longest boards - untouched - never even looked at.
Note that last complaint!  This guy didn't even look at or use the longest boards .  He installed warped boards.  He installed dirty boards.  He installed incorrect width boards.  BUT HE DIDN'T EVEN CHECK THE ENTIRE STACK OF WOOD AVAILABLE TO HIM TO MAKE SURE HE WAS USING THE BEST STUFF IN THE PILE?  There is a really really big stack of unused, untouched wood.  He didn't even unstack it and look at the tied up bundles.  He just worked from the top down.  Super disappointing for me and it should be extremely embarrassing for him.

Why would anyone working on an hourly basis rush through a job like this and use the short boards and the bad boards and not bother getting to know his available materials? 

So, when we looked at it together on Saturday I tried to keep a little distance, physically and emotionally, from the floor and from him. I kept my cool and used words like "disappointed" and "bummer" and I didn't lose it and fly off the handle and point out how thoroughly incompetent his install job was. I did say that I wish I hadn't bothered to dig this stuff out of a dumpster though.

His response to me was to suggest I hire someone to sand and re-finish the floor.  (I was tempted to yell, "It isn't the finish!! It's the installation that sucks!!!")  Instead, I pointed out that sanding and re-finishing won't help the big cracks or the totally uneven joints.  He said they would fill those with putty before re-finishing it - wow does that sound like a crap looking floor. 

Oh, and by the way, while I was talking with the plumber in the bathroom about the showerpan my builder was in the room and although my builder has made it clear he does not do tiling and that he would do no more than supervise a tile installer, he began drawing lines on the bathroom subfloor to show the angle that I said I want my 12"x12" marble tiles installed and he mentioned that he would have the tile guy put them in that way.  He and I hadn't discussed this, but he was obviously just taking initiative so I kept that in the back of my mind. 

Anyway, I kept it together and it was pretty obvious that he was sort of bummed that I didn't think he had done a stellar job and give him big compliments on his awesomeness.  He left and I spent a little longer looking at the floor then I left.  Then I called my wife and told her how bummed I was.  Then I decided that I am going to have the floor ripped out and re-done with new flooring material.

Then I waited a little while and cooled off.  Then I called him and left a message.  And when he called back, I told him that I don't want him to do any more on the floor and I DEFINITELY don't want him to have anyone start putting down any tiles.  I stayed very cool and said that it is clear I will need to supervise anyone who is doing any finish work from now on and I told him to focus henceforth on getting the insulation and sheetrock done.  He said he would get a floor re-finisher up there to look at the floor and get an estimate - I told him to do what he wants but that I will not be throwing good money after bad on that floor.

So, I'm pretty furious about this.  But what can I do?  I can't go out and hire yet another contractor.  This guy is already the third and he seems to be fine at the construction stuff - but who knows if he is as slipshod at that really important stuff as he is at the finish stuff.
Anyway, I'm angry and sad and totally depressed about this and I don't want to talk about it anymore so don't anyone call me and get me wound up.

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