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Unread 03-02-2021, 12:48 PM   #1
Mike Greenwood
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Need Technical Advice.

In the summer of 2019 a GC that I have known for 15 plus years asked me to look at a job. The job was at the luxurious house of a lifelong family friend of his. When I arrived we were immediately escorted to the rear of the house underneath a 2nd story balcony (600sq’). The ceiling below the balcony had signs of water damage. Ceiling fan blades were drooping and the T&G siding appliqué on the ceiling had light discoloration. We immediately went upstairs to view the floor of the 2nd story. I will describe the floor and substrate as best I can. Mind you, I am a master carpenter with 20 years in my respective field.

Trex style composite deck boards (5-1/2” w) were the finished walking surface. Blow that were composite 2” stringers on 16” centers. This is what the finished deck was screwed to. Between the stringers was Perlite that was sloped to shed all of the water that fell on the deck. I am assuming that there was a minimum of 1-1/8” T&G decking (subfloor) below the Perlite. I am also assuming there was either TJI joists or 2X12 joists to support the entire system.

My GC and the homeowner asked what my opinion was. They also asked for a bid to remedy. I declined to offer a bid and stated that this would be something better suited for a hourly payment plus material approach. They agreed. The Trex boards were lightly faded from the decade of service. They were also still in good structural condition. My plan was to label and remove said boards to view the underlying condition. Upon removal of a dozen boards. We sourced the water issue. The perlite had cracked in numerous locations due to structural settling. My advice at that point was to continue removing all of the trex, power wash everything, let dry completely, fill cracks with elastomeric sealant, apply a cool mop waterproof membrane, reapply the trex. Everyone agreed so we proceeded.

Fast forward two days. I was coming to check the dryness of the perlite. Upon arriving at the site. There were two porcelain faux wood tile samples in the work area. I inquired as to why they were there. My GC told me that “they” had decided to tile the entire surface. I objected. I reinforced that this was engineered for a deck board walk surface. And that if he wanted a new look, to buy new trex.
My crew began to fill the perlite cracks and coolmop afterwards,we left. My crew and I laughed at the idea of setting tile there on our hour long drive home. We are lazy by nature. To think that we would have to haul all that dead weight up and down a ladder versus just leaning a boards up and pulling them to the 2nd story baffled us. With the trex all we had ahead of us was one more pass over the entire 600 ft of area. Tiling would mean we had to go over every ft of it at least 5 more times. The next day there was a unit of 1/2” CBU ,accompanying screws,a pallet of tile, along with bags of thin set. The GC insisted that we screw the CBU atop the stringers (16”oc). So it began! We hauled a 5x3 sheet of CBU up the ladder and set it across the 16” o/c stringers. The deflection was very apparent. I pointed this out to the GC. I also pointed out that we would be cutting 12” off every sheet of CBU just to get it to break on the layout. My advice was to put 3/4” subfloor down then the CBU would have proper substructure. The GC said that that was too much elevation change from the original design. And that the two sets of outswing metal French doors could not function. I should have packed up my tools and left.

I didn’t. The GC was a friend in the industry for 15 plus years. He taught me how to run a tile saw over a decade ago. I looked up to him. There was no way I could abandon him in the middle of a job for one of his best friends. We (my team) objected to the tile installation one last time and left for the day.

He called me that night and ASSURED ME that everything, once finished, would be fine.

So we started setting 1/2” Hardie CBU the next morning. Taking the off fall of 12” on each sheet to make shims that would aid in deflection. Once all the CBU was set we taped the joints and began battling all of the low spots in the substrate with thin set...his suggestion. Once we had something that would accept the 24X6” tile. We started setting tile. After all the tile was set . We grouted,sealed,and left.

The GC called after a few weeks of the job was completed. He stated that his customer was not happy with the ponding in a few areas. Happily I went out to see the concern. The floor was dry. So I took and metered the amount of water that was ponding. It was 13 gallons of water. That’s how much it took before the water would run off the sloped tile deck. They insisted that I remedy it. I refused unless I was compensated. This was a architectural change made by the GC. My team and I expressed our concern with tile. I cannot think of a way to remedy this. So we are in a court. The homeowner is suing me.

Since this incident I have purchased a TCNA 2020 book and plan to adhere to it strictly.

Thoughts?
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Unread 03-02-2021, 04:27 PM   #2
cx
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Welcome, Mike.

It'll really help if you'll put a geographic location into your User Profile.

All I can say is, Wow!

You're fixin' to find out just how good a friend this GC really is. In the matter of the lawsuit, best I can tell from your description, y'all are, in the local vernacular, Dogmeat.

You've violated product manufacturer's recommendations and ceramic tile industry standards to an extent you're simply not gonna be able to explain away. And you and your GC, in good conscience, really do owe this customer a new deck and it's not gonna be an easy fix.

Couple clarifications: What is this "Perlite" of which you speak? Only perlite with which I'm familiar is a component of potting soil.

Was this Perlite installed before the stringers were placed for the decking?

Are the stringers themselves sloped away from the house structure?
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Unread 03-02-2021, 05:19 PM   #3
Davy
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I'm sorry to hear this but this is why you walk away from a job instead of doing it wrong. I've had customers tell me how they wanted me to do their tile job. I've walked away a few times when I knew their way wasn't going to work or was going to be risky. I'm calling the shots since I'm the one that has to stand behind it.
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Unread 03-02-2021, 05:27 PM   #4
speed51133
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Who hired you? The GC or the homeowner? You may argue you were hired and dealt with the GC, not the homeowner and only followed GC directions.

This argument would, of course, require that you implicate the GC (your friend) as at fault. You would argue that you are the wrong party. You can also use the "joinder" process in court that would force the GC in the suit and let the court decide what percentage each of you is at fault.

Your friendship here will be tested. Hopefully the GC has some sort of insurance.
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Unread 03-02-2021, 08:48 PM   #5
Lou_MA
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One detail out of many, but curious why you thought 12” offcuts of hardi would aid in deflection and what that particular process was.
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Unread 03-03-2021, 08:37 AM   #6
Mike Greenwood
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The 12” drops of Hardie were used as shimming material between the load bearing stringers. To aid in the deflection. As to who hired me? That’s the big question. There was never any paperwork generated on my end. The GC kept hours, supervised every move, made every decision, purchased all the material (with his military discount), and turned in a bill to the homeowner with his letterhead.

I am nose deep in the TCNA book. Can you guys highlight some of the violations you know offhand.
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Last edited by Mike Greenwood; 03-03-2021 at 08:56 AM.
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Unread 03-03-2021, 09:43 AM   #7
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Hi Mike,

Sounds to me like you were working as an employee of the GC.

For all the years I've been in the business functional waterproofing has always gone under the tile installation. And I think I would want that on a wood deck also. Swapping the Trex for tile really wouldn't solve the leaking problem.

Sorry I can't be more positive.

Last edited by John Bridge; 03-04-2021 at 10:40 AM.
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Unread 03-03-2021, 05:44 PM   #8
speed51133
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get an attorney. you were an employee of the gc. Tell him you want to use the joinder process to bring the GC into the suit.
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Unread 03-03-2021, 05:47 PM   #9
Lou_MA
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Been involved in that kind of scenario. Get ready for a *lot* of back and forth.
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Unread 03-03-2021, 05:50 PM   #10
Mike Greenwood
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Have secured the best mouthpiece in my region. He feels we have a strong case. It just bothers me to no end that I started a carpenter job. And got conned into setting tile against my will. Did I fix the leak? Sure. Did the client get a botched job? Yes. Should I have left the minute I heard the word tile? Yes.
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Unread 03-03-2021, 05:52 PM   #11
Mike Greenwood
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Speed. I will advise my council on your thoughts. Thank you sir
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Unread 03-03-2021, 08:27 PM   #12
jerrymlr1
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Quote:
get an attorney
That won't solve any problems and will in fact lead to more. Attorneys are really expensive and know exponentially more on how to clean your bank account out than they do about anything that might help you. I have 2 pools that are in the pipeline to be tiled that the homeowners have both spent over $300k on attorneys for the pool tile job gone bad. Both the homepowners could have had the pool tiled for less than that.
Not the same situation but the principle is the same. I'd bet a good sum of dinero that the attorney will cost more than the entire job and quickly. My advise would be get your information up to speed and your ducks in a row and fight it out yourself.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 09:11 AM   #13
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That is an exceptionally uninformed and highly anecdotal/subjective comment...

UNESS you know the ins and outs of the law and can DIY a contracted, out of court settlement, a judgment is the ONLY thing that will resolve your problems for good. Good luck DIYing that...

The guy has already been sued and is already in court. How would resolving this himself fix anything? That is the worst advice possible.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 10:14 AM   #14
Dave Gobis
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Any time you can stay out of court and away from attorneys is a good thing. If some agreement can be reached and reasonably settled you will be time and money ahead in resolving the issue. Otherwise get your big shovel and start feeding dollars to lawyers. You are going to take a hit and lose a friend one way or the other. I do these kind of things for a living and take these types of calls almost everyday for years. I might add you can never predict what a court will do. I have seen people with no liability in a given situation take the hit. Forget the righteous aspect and go for the resolve.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 10:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Greenwood
Have secured the best mouthpiece in my region. He feels we have a strong case.
What's the rationale for a strong case there, Mike?
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