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Unread 07-06-2021, 10:18 AM   #1
Oozz
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Help - Is my Contractor Screwing me?

Hello,

I’m in the midst of a dispute with a contractor that I hired to level my floors. I was initially going to do the job myself so did a lot of research on what needed to be done. As they were progressing, it seemed like they were constantly cutting corners and doing a lot of stuff incorrectly. I reached out to Ardex and confirmed that the contractor didn’t apply the products per the manufacturers instructions. However, I understand that, in practice, people do things differently. I was hoping to get some opinions from others on whether or not the contract is just grossly negligent are these are reasonable issues. He wants to come and repair, but I don’t trust him at this point and want to hire another company. Pictures are attached.

1) The floors aren’t level. They are still off by as much as 1/3-1/2 inch in certain places.
2) The contractor applied some Ardex primer over cutback adhesive, then applied Ardex feather finish using a trowel. However, they didn’t clean the floors, vacuum, or wet scrape the adhesive per the instructions. There is debris in the concrete and they went over carpet thresholds.
3) They poured Ardex v1200 on top the feather finish before it cured (feather finish was still wet). So it created a kind of oil and water mixture, that they then troweled and spread. There was no primer between the feather finish and the V1200.
4) I tapped on several areas with a metal wrench and it seems to have a hollow sound as though it isn’t bonded. Not all areas, maybe like 10-15%. If I lightly tapped it with a hammer, I’m sure it would break. The contractor stomped on it with his foot and said, “if that didn’t crack it, then it bonded”. This seems like a very idiotic way to test this.
5) They did not measure out any of the mixtures, they “eyed” everything. Another contractor came in and said that the SLC looks weird, and could be compromised because the proportions of water/mix were off.
6) They started removing asbestos tile without consulting me. Once the tile was removed, he began grinding down the mastic with a concrete grinder that had a vacuum attached. I was complaining the entire time to use masks and water to keep down the dust and he assured me it wasn’t going to be an issue.
7) They also left a bunch of debris in the SLC. I’m concerned there are other things that were not removed.

Am I being being unreasonable? Or, does this contractor not know what he is doing? This is a fairly large family-owned company in my area.
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Last edited by Oozz; 07-07-2021 at 09:28 PM.
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Unread 07-06-2021, 02:09 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, HZ.

They've got that "surface-of-the-moon" thing going on there. Hard to believe it's better than what was there.

If it's hollow, trash-filled, and not level, it's not worth much.
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Unread 07-06-2021, 06:21 PM   #3
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This looks really poorly executed from the pictures you provided. I only did a self-leveler application once in one of my bath remodels (DIYer here, not professional), but even I can tell you that if the manufacturer's instruction as to the bond between substrate and leveler aren't followed, then you simply won't have a good bond. You suspect as much. The primer must be meticulously applied to a meticulously cleaned substrate. If stuff and contamination isn't removed properly, then you have a compromised bond.

No, your contractor isn't screwing you. That's the extent of his knowledge and poor workmanship. It doesn't really matter, unfortunately, that his company is family-owned. Ignorance and inability to closely study installation guidelines are being passed on within that family, perhaps. A generational tradition of ineptitude?

I believe in most states you must give a contractor a chance to repair their work before you can take steps that could be seen as breach of contract. If you haven't paid him, regardless, you are in a STRONG position.
If you really want to nudge the guy out of the picture, you could let him know that you will be watching his every step on the redo and whether perhaps he'd be inclined to rather walk. He might then be willing to sign an agreement betwixt the two of you, releasing you from further payments. I'd go that route or watch him super closely during his redo.

Whatever you do, make sure you document everything. Your communication with Ardex is a great start. Also, do you have a written agreement with your contractor? Does it specify anything that you could wield to your advantage?
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Unread 07-06-2021, 09:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oozz
...They started removing asbestos tile without consulting me. Once the tile was removed, he began grinding down the mastic with a concrete grinder that had a vacuum attached. I was complaining the entire time to use masks and water to keep down the dust and he assured me it wasn’t going to be an issue.
You want to get their attention in an extreme hurry, one call to the governing agency for asbestos removal will do just that. Explain what’s going on and that there’s a lack of an asbestos removal permit and proper containment. While I don’t panic over every little asbestos thing, I would never in a million years remove asbestos and grind the mastic without testing. In my state, a call like this would put a very hefty fine at their doorstep in a huge hurry, along with an extremely large clean up bill and a possible lawsuit for health damages down the road. I take health very seriously on this issue and wouldn’t go easy on someone who did that in my house. If the mastic is indeed asbestos containing material, that was an egregious error.

Do you know if you live in an area where this is regulated?
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Unread 07-07-2021, 03:40 PM   #5
Karls tile Inc
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That looks like a child installed that self leveling!
Very unprofessional!
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Unread 07-07-2021, 08:25 PM   #6
Oozz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMAN
Welcome to the forum, HZ.

They've got that "surface-of-the-moon" thing going on there. Hard to believe it's better than what was there.

If it's hollow, trash-filled, and not level, it's not worth much.
Yes, that's what I was thinking. Are they able to just chisel out the debris and apply more level in those areas? And/or apply more leveler where ever it is not level?

And, not to beat a dead horse, but I added another picture of the floor. Its been five days and some of it still hasn't dried (the dark spots). Will that go away?
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Last edited by Oozz; 07-07-2021 at 09:30 PM. Reason: Adding language
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Unread 07-07-2021, 09:00 PM   #7
Oozz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makethatkerdistick
only did a self-leveler application once in one of my bath remodels (DIYer here, not professional), but even I can tell you that if the manufacturer's instruction as to the bond between substrate and leveler aren't followed, then you simply won't have a good bond. You suspect as much. The primer must be meticulously applied to a meticulously cleaned substrate. If stuff and contamination isn't removed properly, then you have a compromised bond.
Most of it seemed to have bonded, about 85%. That's the most troubling part because the remaining 15% is all over the place. They are going to have to chip out like 10-15 spots and I think that will just create more issues withe the concrete. Are they able to just chisel out parts and fill in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by makethatkerdistick
Also, do you have a written agreement with your contractor? Does it specify anything that you could wield to your advantage?
I took some pictures along the way, I think I can reliable prove that they did not prep the floors and use the concrete products per the manufacturer's recommendation. The contract specifies that I provide the contractor with written notice of any deficiencies and give them 60 days to remediate before finding another vendor.
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Unread 07-07-2021, 09:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Guy - Kg
You want to get their attention in an extreme hurry, one call to the governing agency for asbestos removal will do just that. Explain what’s going on and that there’s a lack of an asbestos removal permit and proper containment. While I don’t panic over every little asbestos thing, I would never in a million years remove asbestos and grind the mastic without testing. In my state, a call like this would put a very hefty fine at their doorstep in a huge hurry, along with an extremely large clean up bill and a possible lawsuit for health damages down the road. I take health very seriously on this issue and wouldn’t go easy on someone who did that in my house. If the mastic is indeed asbestos containing material, that was an egregious error.

Do you know if you live in an area where this is regulated?
I do live in area where this is regulated. I contacted an inspector and hope to hear back tomorrow. I have pictures of them removing the asbestos, the concrete grinder they used, and the grinded down concrete. I have a two year old son and e assured me that "he does this all the time".I hope that I'm not held liable because, as the homeownner, I sat there and let them do it; albeit very very begrugdlingly.
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Unread 07-08-2021, 08:00 AM   #9
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Hi HZ;
Does your state require licensing for contractors? If so you can contact the registrar for contractors. They will take action whether your guy is licensed or not.

I agree with the others. Just from the pictures I can see it's a worthless job. I wouldn't even settle for "fixing" the loose areas.

One last thing. Self leveling cement doesn't really level anything unless it's carefully and properly applied. And even then it might not be level, but it will be flat. I've been through training sessions with several of the big companies. Nobody would sanction what was done in your house.
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Unread 07-08-2021, 10:29 AM   #10
Oozz
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They Refunded Me

Thanks to all of you for responding. I don't think I would have had the confidence to push back so hard, but, after a heated argument w/one of their representatives, the president reached out and agreed to resolve the matter w/a full refund of my money.

My g/f thinks I could have pushed and gone further, but I'm satisfied just getting my money back and moving on.

+1 for JohnBridge
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Unread 07-08-2021, 02:41 PM   #11
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I think that was the very best outcome to be had....and far better than one would expect... At least they stood up to the plate.
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Unread 07-08-2021, 05:48 PM   #12
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What about the asbestos?
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Unread 07-08-2021, 11:29 PM   #13
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And you unfortunately still have the mess they made to clean up.

Good luck with your project. I hope it goes better from here on out.
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