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Unread 06-23-2021, 10:17 PM   #1
MRN1022
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Niche waterproofing catastrophe?!

Hi everyone! I'm a new member, but have been reading countless threads on this site since my bathroom renovation project began 3.5 weeks ago...I'm an accountant by trade, so not something I ever imagined myself doing! Needless to say, my contractor has cut corner after corner and it has sent me into a learning frenzy! I apologize in advance if my jargon isn't up to par...still learning...

Long story short - my contractor built a custom niche (not pre-fab), and my tub surround and niche are now fully tiled and grouted. Niche is on the back wall of the tub surround, opposite where the shower head is located. I was looking through progress photos and didn't notice any mesh tape, thinset or waterproofing membrane at all in my niche. Needless to say - I am full blown panicking as this goes against everything I have read. When we asked our contractor, he said he used silicone around all edges of the niche before tiling...is this a huge NO?! Should the niche be ripped out and rebuilt and tiled? My level of skepticism and paranoia are high...I only wish I had educated myself before this project began, but I trusted this person (I'm sure you hear that often).

Additionally - we noticed in another photo where the tile was 85% covering the wall that there was an untaped seam of durock...when asked about that he told us he DEFINITELY taped the seams, but just didn't take it all the way to the wall and what we're seeing is the couple of inches he didn't tape...

Thoughts? Advice?! Thank you!

- Melissa
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Unread 06-23-2021, 10:28 PM   #2
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Adding photos!
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Unread 06-23-2021, 10:59 PM   #3
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Hi Melissa, it looks like in the second picture there is no waterproofing membrane on the durock. Do you know how they waterproofed the walls?
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Unread 06-23-2021, 11:09 PM   #4
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Hi Cliff - thanks for your response and that's what I'm afraid of...is this a disaster waiting to happen? Should it be ripped out? I know the contractor will NOT be happy but, he also should have done the right thing in the first place...not sure what I will do when he refuses!
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Unread 06-23-2021, 11:11 PM   #5
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Hi Melissa, do you have any pictures of behind the durock? Is there a moisture barrier behind it?
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Unread 06-23-2021, 11:14 PM   #6
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We're 99% sure there is not a moisture barrier...when my husband asked him what he did for waterproofing the contractor became very defensive and said that he's been doing this for 12 years without an issue, but he completely avoided answering the question. That leads me to believe nothing was done - no poly and definitely no Redguard...
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Unread 06-23-2021, 11:18 PM   #7
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There is definitely no redgard because we would see it in your pictures there. If you don't think there's a barrier on the back, then I think the shower is installed incorrectly and needs to be redone. I would wait for one of the professionals to respond, but I'm not seeing how this could last long-term.

This thread may be of interest: https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin...ad.php?t=83179
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Unread 06-24-2021, 08:09 AM   #8
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Cement board is not waterproof!
If there is no membrane on the wall and Niche its a tear out.
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Unread 06-24-2021, 08:33 AM   #9
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Hi Melissa. From what I can tell it doesn't look like anything was properly done. All the seams including the niche should have been taped with alkali resistant tape and thinset and there is zero evidence of that. That's just for starters. Any pictures of the curb? I would bet that when it's all torn out you find no water barrier behind it as well.
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Unread 06-24-2021, 08:41 AM   #10
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Welcome, Melissa.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa
(I'm sure you hear that often)
Far, far too often. And we're far too often disappointed by the "professional" work reported here.

What Cliff and Eric are telling you is correct, of course. Your shower won't fail tomorrow, but that's when the failure will begin. It may be years (12, perhaps?) before the final failure occurs, but it will be far earlier than a properly constructed tile shower should fail for any reason. And by then your contractor will be somewhere else doing something else or he will still be building faulty showers and telling customers that he's never had a failure.

And we don't even know how the tub-leg and other more critical areas of the shower were treated.

If he's willing to walk away from yours without charging you anything for his work, I'd recommend you accept that and invest the money for a replacement shower when you're ready to go through this again. If you've already paid him, and if he refuses to correct his mistakes, you might consider having someone else remove and replace the shower and try to recoup your money through Small Claims Court or similar action.

Was this work permitted through your local code compliance jurisdiction?

[Edit] Jerry, I think it's a tub/shower.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-24-2021, 08:49 AM   #11
MRN1022
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Thank you everyone for your responses...they were exactly what I feared and also expected from reading several other threads.

Jerry - what do you mean by "curb?"

CX - thank you for that advice. We have paid half so far, in line with the contract...which was no small sum of course. I was advised that in my state/county a bathroom remodel does not require a permit, but I'm wondering if I should contact my local code board to see if anything can be retroactively done. I assume this will require opening up walls, etc.

Thank you again!
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Unread 06-24-2021, 09:34 AM   #12
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Melissa, I think Jerry missed the part about you having a tub. The curb he asked about is generally the first point of failure in a walk-in shower, 'specially the ones improperly built.

I've never worked in a code compliance jurisdiction that exempted bathroom remodel from permitting and inspection, but I'm constantly surprised at what I learn here on these forums.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-24-2021, 11:44 AM   #13
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CX - I see; yes fortunately there is a tub otherwise I'm sure there would be even more wrong!

As for the building permit...do you think an inspector could remediate this issue, or is it honestly a bit too late for that?
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Unread 06-24-2021, 02:19 PM   #14
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No, there is nothing a code compliance inspector can do to correct the problem(s), but you should contact that office to determine if a permit was required for the work done.

He could exert significant pressure upon your contractor if a permit was required and none was applied for. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility, as the property owner, to apply for the permit, but he is considered the "knowledgeable professional" and should have advised you to get the required permit or, more commonly, get one on your behalf. Bottom line, though, is he cannot do the work without a permit if one is required. He knows that.

The only thing that can remediate your issues, from what you've described and shown in your photos, is the complete removal and replacement of your shower surround.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-24-2021, 05:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
I think Jerry missed the part about you having a tub
Yes I missed that. It was early in the am
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