Working with Contractors
LESLIE: Bob in Iowa is on the line with a flood that just sounds like a disaster. What happened, Bob?
BOB: A contractor upstairs. And he was remodeling our upstairs bathroom. We completely gutted it and started over. And they had put a subwall in for the walk-in shower and they figured out that they had to move it ¾-inch. They pulled all the screws out and moved it over. A couple hours later, they went to go downstairs to go to lunch and the downstairs bathroom was flooded clear out into the hall. Hardwood is in the hallway.
TOM: Oh, no.
BOB: So he panicked and ran down to the basement to shut the water off and there was water all over the floor down there. So …
TOM: Yeah, gravity being what it is, that happens.
BOB: Yeah. And they just remodeled the man cave the winter before. And so they quickly fixed that before the boss came around. And now it kind of took them a long time to get around to get back to me for the downstairs bathroom. I finally had to put the pressure on them to say, “When are you going to do this one?”
TOM: Yeah. But if they damaged that bathroom, you just moved to the top of the priority pile, as far as I’m concerned.
BOB: Well, I kind of thought so, too, but – and you almost have to schedule a year-and-a-half to two years ahead to get in.
TOM: Yeah, yeah.
BOB: And I’ve used him for years. He’s fabulous, he’s meticulous. You know, I couldn’t – don’t think you could find a better carpenter.
TOM: OK. So where are we at now and how can we help?
BOB: Well, he finally got around and he came over and he gave me a quote. And I was kind of thinking it seemed awful high.
TOM: So, wait a minute. You’re remodeling this downstairs bathroom because of the leak damage caused by the upstairs bathroom?
TOM: So, why is he giving you a quote as opposed to just fixing the damage that his guys caused?
BOB: Well, he wanted to just come in and cut the old tape out and spackle over some of the bad spots and repaint it. And I said, “No. I don’t know if there’s mold behind it or whether the insulation has been ruined or anything.” I said, “That’s all going to be taken off and replaced.”
TOM: OK, look, the problem is that you’re mixing two things here, OK? He’s not responsible for – if the guy caused the leak upstairs, which it sounds like he did, he’s not responsible for more than just the damage that it caused. If you, on the other hand, want a completely remodeled bathroom, now you’ve got sort of two things going on here.
On one hand, what he owes you is just a ceiling repair. On the other hand, what you want is a complete bathroom remodel, which is an upgrade. So, you’re mixing the two, which is making this a very complicated sort of business arrangement.
If you were to keep it really clean and just say, “I want just the leak damage fixed,” then that’s a pretty simple discussion. But if you want the leak damage fixed and “oh, by the way, while you’re at it, I want my bathroom completely remodeled,” then yeah, he’s going to charge you for that.
So, I don’t know what to tell you, Bob. You’re kind of between a rock and a hard spot. You’ve got to decide what you want out of the guy.
BOB: Oh, I’m paying for the materials for this shower and the tile and everything and paying the – those contractors to do the job. All he’s doing is ripping the drywall out and putting it back.
TOM: Well, if it’s just the drywall part of it, then maybe he’ll give you some consideration on that. But you understand what I’m saying. You’re taking one project and you’re making it much bigger, so there’s going to be a cost at some point.
BOB: Well, he’s not doing any of that work, though. I am. I’m paying for that with the other contractor.
TOM: Well, are you having him take out more drywall than he would normally have had to take out?
BOB: The whole bathroom had to go because there’s cracks in every square inch of all the walls and everywhere there was a screw, there’s a big popped-out mark.
TOM: Well, look, if you make it really super-clear that your line of demarcation is drywall damage, that he has to be responsible for removing and replacing all of the drywall and any insulation that was damaged behind that and that you’re doing everything else, then I think it’s fair to take that position.
Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.