LESLIE: Doug in Oregon is on the line with a question about how to fix cracks in sheetrock. What is going on at your money pit?
DOUG: I had a flood in my home. Wiped out the whole inside. Get to the point where the sheetrock goes on. They came in, put sheetrock in. Now I have a crack in one wall in the ceiling, in the living room and in the kitchen. And they’re telling me I have structural problems but I had the house …
TOM: Who’s telling you that, Doug?
DOUG: The contractor, the sheetrock company. But I had the house inspected, to have it refinanced, and we do not have a structural problem.
TOM: So the drywall company, in an effort to get out of having to fix cracks in sheetrock, has basically told you that you have structural problems and therefore, it’s not their responsibility to fix it? Is that kind of where we’re going with this?
DOUG: That’s correct.
TOM: Yeah, sounds like it. Listen, if you’ve got structural problems, that would have been picked up probably before the drywall was added. And I don’t buy it. It’s more likely that the drywall seams have to be replaced.
Now, the cracks that are forming there, you know, they probably need to be done in a different way. So, for example, if you get a drywall crack because you’ve got walls that are expanding and contracting, it’s frequent that what you want to do is lightly sand that and then use a fiberglass tape on top of that cracked area, not the paper tape. Because the paper tape is not very tolerant to that kind of movement but the fiberglass tape is. It’s sort of like a mesh tape where the spackle actually presses right through it.
Are you seeing any other evidence of structural movement in your house, except for these drywall cracks?
DOUG: Not at all. In fact, the house is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and the house was built on a slab. When they came in – demolish that house or whatever, they tilled up the laminated floor in three bedrooms and there’s no cracks in the floors or anything.
TOM: Yeah. It’s unlikely that you’ve got a structural problem. I think this sounds much more like a workmanship issue, Doug. And I encourage you to go back and get those guys to make a service call and fix those cracks in sheetrock. They’re going to cause you a lot more aggravation by chasing a possible structural issue. Because if I thought that was the case, I’d tell you to hire a professional home inspector or an engineer. And then you’re going to be into hundreds of dollars of inspection fees just because these guys are being a bit lazy about going back and fixing the crack.
DOUG: They won’t come back. I’ve even offered to pick them up, bring them to my house, take them back to a shop, pay for a cab to come out, pay for a cab to take them back and they won’t come back.
TOM: Well, that’s even more evidence that they don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess you’ve got – you’ve always got options to pursue them in small-claims court. But frankly, to repair those cracks in sheetrock, it probably wouldn’t be worth it. You might just want to go to a website, like HomeAdvisor.com, and find a pro that’s been highly referred by folks in your area and maybe just get them to do the repair for you.
DOUG: Yeah. Just rather than going through an attorney or whatever. I’d probably – [monies ahead] (ph) just to go ahead and have it repaired.
TOM: Yep, probably. That’s the sad truth of a small project like that.
DOUG: Well, it was a big project. I mean they did walls, ceilings, everything. The house is actually (inaudible).
TOM: Well, listen, all you can do is really pass on the information about the fact that these guys weren’t very professional, by way of a review either online or on a site like HomeAdvisor, for example.
TOM: Pass it on and protect other folks from making the same mistake.
DOUG: Now, if I do take them to small-claims court, I’m going to have some kind of an evidence or whatever I’m going to be needing. So I need to have somebody come in there and actually inspect it?
TOM: Yeah, you probably are. And you may have to have them testify for you. But the thing is, I wouldn’t go through all that until maybe you make your – well, I shouldn’t be giving you legal advice. But I would take pictures of it. I would bring it to court. And if the judge decides that you need to have an expert, then you just ask for a continuance to get that done. But maybe just taking the pictures in – they may not even show up and you get a judgement against them.
DOUG: Yes, that’s true, too. Well, I appreciate everything you’ve had to say.
TOM: Yeah, alright. Well, I hope that helps. Sorry that happened to you, Doug. Good luck with fixing those cracks in sheetrock, though. And it’s not likely a structural issue but go ahead and get it repaired and keep an eye on it, OK?
DOUG: Thank you so much.