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Unread 07-02-2022, 01:42 PM   #1
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Screwed Up and Hired a Bad "Contractor". Looking for confirmation and opinions

(Note: Scroll down to the bottom if you're too lazy to read)

I was going to re-do a typical size main bathroom. Nothing really special. Marble floors with Ditra underlayment. Acrylic tub. Ceramic tile on the wall with a marble accent band. GoBoard for the wall board. Nothing crazy. Outside of the GoBoard, products that have been around a very long time. In the end, I chickened out doing the project. It was one too many things to go wrong for me and I was willing to pay to offload the responsibility. Where I left the bathroom was basically completely demo'd with only the drain pipe and main water line to the shower touched.

We ended up searching around for some pros and it didn't matter if they were a $15k bid or a $5k bid, I found all of the companies to basically not know the basics of water proofing. All of them said that concrete board was waterproof. Many basically blew off the things I felt were important, like the prepwork for the tiling. I didn't want a repeat of what was previously there, which was spot bonded tiling due to the walls being wonky. They weren't horrible, but they needed a bit of work, especially with the GoBoard. If any had simply said "Hey, we always straighten out walls before tiling. That's no big deal at all. We got that" it would have made me much more confident with any of them.

I put a pin in things for too long and was finally motivated to get the job moving. I reached out to some people and found a handyman/contractor who recently did work for a friend of a friend. He came highly recommended. They were thrilled with him. Had him come in and he more or less gave the same story as the other guys, stating cement board was great, Ditra wasn't necessary, the Grohe fixture we picked was too complicated, etc. But he said, he could do it all. He had access to all of the materials ahead of time and could have at any point said "Listen, if you want me to do the job, I'm using Cement board and Redguard and I won't install the Grohe or Ditra."

He's been on the job on and off a month, and it hasn't been smooth sailing from pretty much day one. He started off just okay, but decided to carry my tub into the bathroom solo (originally told us he brings in a helper for jobs) and cracked the bottom apron of the tub. Waited until the next morning at 7AM to let us know instead of at 1PM when he left for the day, and then expected us not to be upset and find a solution to fix the problem. He made no effort to look into a fix. He then claimed later on that the way we handled the problem almost made him leave the job, forgetting he just cracked a $1200 bathtub (we bought it for $650 before prices skyrocketed).

After that, was still difficult working with him but progress was being made, kind of. I had bought a trowel to put the Ditra down and he used his standard 3/8" (I believe) trowel, which put way too much thinset down, which resulted in a couple of massive (3/8") lumps in the floor. When putting up the Grohe, he refused to watch a 10 minute Youtube video to show how to install the damn thing and instead struggled for 2 days, roping us into the problem. When putting up the GoBoard instead of following instructions, he insisted on gluing the boards to the studs. This resulted in the screws going through the face of the board and half into the board. I had planned to do a two step water proofing approach which was to "caulk" the seams. Let it dry/cure. Then Aquadefense over the screws and seams to get double protection. It was cheap insurance. I told him my intention was simply to paint on the Aquadefense and then put the mesh banding, then paint it in. He kept talking about applying it like fiberglass tape. End result was he put the "caulk" over the screw heads and seams and then immediately applied the Aquadefense, which I'm sure made it impossible for the "caulk" to cure. His application of the mesh was also sloppy if I'm being generous. It was too wet and folded over in more than one spot. He also painted the Aquadefense all over the drywall which would need to be painted resulting in him having to rip out portions of the work. He claimed he was going to mud over the Aquadefense.

Now many of you are likely reading this and either thinking one of the following: This contractor shouldn't be doing this type of work. This home owner is OCD/nuts. Why did either party continue with the job? All of which are valid points on some level. Big picture, I wanted the job done and I felt partially responsible for asking him to use materials he wasn't familiar with. My hope was he would buckle down, do a good tiling job, and I could move on with my life getting a job I could live with in the end.

Well, I was wrong. Now to be clear, this isn't the worst tile job in the world. But it's not good either. I'm not sure if the photos do it justice or not, but there's random lippage, which isn't horrible unto itself, but the inconsistent grout lines, chips in tile, and lack of care on top of the tile being installed incorrectly was my final straw. We had him come back the other day to fix things and he left with the tiles as you see attached.

Now I know the photos attached aren't perfect. The main light in the bathroom is down so I only have one light. But it shows the lump in the floor, the crack in the tub, inconsistent grout lines, lippage, incorrect installation of the Schlutter trim, and the awful coverage on the back of the tiles with the titles not having collapsed lines and way too much thinset on the back.

Now for my questions and the summary:

TLDR: Hired someone who didn't do the job I'd expect. He was unfamiliar with the materials and generally did a job that isn't attractive and will potentially cause problems in the future. Photos are attached. Fired him today.

Question: I need some advice on how to get another professional in or am I stuck DIYing because it's a mess of a situation?
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Unread 07-02-2022, 08:24 PM   #2
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Starting out by calling our all-volunteer army of helpers of being "too lazy" if they don't read your very long post is unlikely to get you any faster or better responses, Ross. Just a bit of caution.

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Unread 07-02-2022, 10:03 PM   #3
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I’d agree.
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Unread 07-03-2022, 11:03 AM   #4
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Looks like sh*t, sorry. A dedicated amateur could do better than your handyman. Should have parted ways after he cracked the tub apron, but that is water under the bridge.
Now, the big question: Have you paid him yet? If it were me (unsympathetic and cold hearted as I am these days after some encounters with incompetent contractors), I would not pay him a penny for this abominable work and instead threaten to hold him accountable for the cost of removal and replacement of material. Do you have a written contract?
Baffling how these types get into people’s homes and deliver such eyesores and expect to be paid.
I consider myself a handyman of sorts (for my own private residence only), and I admire the breadth of knowledge some really good handymen exhibit, but the flip side of the coin is that a handyman could easily be a jack of all trades and a master of none, which seems to be the case here.
You are looking at this bathroom multiple times each day. Tear this stuff out and start over. If you diligently dig in yourself (with help from the forum here) you can easily, very easily do a much nicer job than the handyman.
As you now know, recommendations from other people are often worth little, as most people do not have sufficient knowledge to judge said work.
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Unread 07-08-2022, 10:26 AM   #5
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Count me as too lazy but if you're looking for qualified contractors a good place to start is the NTCA contractor list and the CTEF list.
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