Home Improvement

Contractor finished a shoddy job. Any advice on where to go from here, what is a reasonable expectation, what can be fixed, ect.

By October 2, 2019 35 Comments
Contractor finished a shoddy job. Any advice on where to go from here, what is a reasonable expectation, what can be fixed, ect.

We recently got our shower and garden tub redone and I’m really heart broken by how poorly everything was done. If it helps, this is in Florida and we paid half upfront but haven’t paid the last half. We made up a list of grievances with pictures. We haven’t sent it it to them yet because I want to get all my ducks in a row first. They were already very dismissive of me before leaving the last day. Like I was trying to ask about various things being fixed and the guy then “had a phone call” and left the room and then pretty much ignored everything i said and left after that.

There are some things that I know can be fixed but I feel like shouldn’t be our responsibility to do/pay extra for. [Someone please tell me its not expected that you have to paint the room and ceiling after getting new tile put in.](https://i.imgur.com/rxnvBSt.jpg) The walls I can get over because we needed to paint anyways but they’re saying they’ll redo our ceiling but it’ll be extra. They also left gouges in the walls and completely [untextured a section between the tub and shower.](https://i.imgur.com/oqQtQKm.jpg) I know these things can be fixed easily but am I really expected to do it/pay for it?

Then there are things that I know can be at least “fixed” but I’m not sure about the longevity. For instance, the shower floor grout is full of these [white spots](https://i.imgur.com/mrs3FgL.jpg). I haven’t tested it yet but I do know there are grout stains you can apply after the fact to freshen up the color that I believe should be able to cover those spots but I don’t know what they are to begin with.

Then there are things I was told can’t be fixed and I should have expected it to happen.[ For example, staining my floor grout around the shower](https://i.imgur.com/hvAuLau.jpg). Or my personal favorite, [my poor tub.](https://i.imgur.com/16rBFvO.jpg). It’s harder to tell in the picture but that black line around the top of the caulking is scratch marks that weren’t there before (I resealed it myself a few months back. I know those scratches weren’t there) that are stained, with a layer of white caulking filled with chunks of black grout in it. I was told by a hardware store employee that he doesn’t think the stains can be fixed without fixing the enamel. No idea how true that is but still.

[There is just shoddy workmenship everywhere.](https://i.imgur.com/CavVmPa.jpg) (that quarter round is because they chipped the floor tile) and[ stains that I can’t find answers on if I can get out](https://i.imgur.com/sE7PWZ8.jpg) all over the room. The biggest thing giving us some time before they expect to be paid is they haven’t installed the faucet on the tub because they told us to buy moen, then said moen wasn’t right so buy delta, then delta wasn’t right so oh, now they want more money to replace the valve kit. They threw away our old tub faucet without asking only to find out that moen chanced something on the valve design and doesn’t make compatible faucets anymore.

My question is, where do I go from here. I’m guessing that I have to give them a chance to fix it before expected to pay them or do I ask around and find quotes and estimates of how much it would cost to fix it from other contractors and say “look, I’m not paying you X because it’s going to cost me Y to fix everything.” In my research I’m finding the term surely bond brought up a lot but I can’t really find an answer as to what that would cover. Is it just non-work and not up to code work or does it cover things like this?

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  • vertr says:

    I’ll be the first to say you are going to have to sue them to get the first half back. There’s no way I would ever let them come close to your property again, and that crew doesn’t have the skills to fix the mistakes that are clearly visible.

  • n8_S says:

    Maybe this will be an unpopular opinion but, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to have to repaint the bathroom. Every time I try and tape off the ceiling it never sticks and it looks like that anyway. There is definitely some less than ideal workmanship in some spots but They’re tile guys. Not painters.

  • raokitty says:

    Just as an FYI, the white spots you are seeing through the grout is thin set. The setting compound for the back to the tile. If they are sloppy with either the mixing of the thin set or apply too much it will ooze up through the tiles. It happens sometimes in general. So what should have happened was a wet sponge should have been used to clean the excess thin set before it hardened. Once it hardens it’s like concrete and difficult to clean, not to mention time consuming. They just grouted over it. You can still repair by carefully (carefully!) using a grout removal tool or a dremel to clean both grout and thin set out and touching up the grout. Be prepared to chip a few tiles, so if you don’t have extra that will be an issue. Do not pay them. Sloppy work will be expensive. Most good contractors won’t go after a job like this because they do not want to be responsible for what is likely a poor install. It may have to be ripped out and redone. You should read up on lien laws in your state, just in case they try to file one for the money.
    The grout on the walls and floors discoloring everything could have been avoided with painters tape. You may be able to wash it off with a vinegar wash (with a dental pick on old grout to assist). They do not have to paint if your contract does not specify painting. If you ever have to have future work done, make sure your contract is itemized and detailed. This is the sign of a good contractor.

  • Zberry1985 says:

    is the owner actually there working on the job or is it just his employees? if you’re not talking to the owner it’s time to have him take a look to see what can be done. the owner might have 3 or crews out at anytime, some crews will do a great job and others not so much.

  • my_dogs_a_thot says:

    If you still have half money, tell them they don’t get it until the job is done. I think that’s probably the simplest way to go about this. I really doubt they’d take you to court, because I’m guessing it would be just as financially difficult for them as for you, if they’re a smaller company. If fixing the problem is going to cost more than the balance of what you owe them, I’d say they’re just gonna go mia. Find a better contractor, you might end up coming out in better shape financially. Just don’t get your hopes up that they’re going to make things right. I work in the trades and people shaft each other all the time unfortunately. Best of luck to you, I’m sorry people suck

  • wang168 says:

    Omg I had a horror story with black grout and hex floor tiles. The contactor never sealed tiles when applied, not only that he, didn’t clean it off until the next day! I was in panic when I try to clean off the excess grout. Thank God vinegar worked on removing about 90% of the black stain from tile.

  • booplesnoot101 says:

    What is the black grout ? I have never seen it stain like that. You mentioned that you bought this material ?

  • Ctrbates04 says:

    I would attempt to get your money back. I wouldn’t even call this acceptable for a DIY job. Judging by what I see on the finished layer, I can only imagine what sub par prep is done under the tile. If I did that to someones bathroom I’d hand them a check and retire…..

  • macimom says:

    There is no way I would pay them another dime until everything in your photos is fixed. I just had my bathroom retiled and it was left in near pristine condition. And the caulking and grouting splayed all over the walls is unacceptable.

    Whether you give them a chance to fix or not is up to you. I think that most of the issues at this point are cosmetic unless you are willing to demo some stuff to check on their other work. I would get a quote and description form a different party on what it would cost for them to fix. Then I would give the list of their fix it proposals to your guy and tell him that needs to be done by him and approved by you before any payment. Or he can just pay to have someone else do it.

  • wkeboard991 says:

    There are some very legitimate concerns here regarding the grout and how it has expanded the current scope. Most of these potential concerns should have been brought up/ considered prior to job start as nothing here is abnormal in the scheme of things.

    The one item that makes everything stand out here is the grout color. This is not something that should have been changed, but working with dark grout has its own challenges and obstacles that the contractor should have taken into consideration and priced accordingly.

    The painting is a non issue for me. When wiping down grout it is typical to get on adjacent walls/ ceiling like this. This actually shows they covered the entire space as required. Again, the color of grout here makes the walls look much worse, but standard practice to paint after grouting. Whether this is included or not is up to the contract, but should have at least been discussed saying ‘painting will be required after grouting’. It is not reasonable to expect tile installers to do this if that’s all they are. If a general contractor then that’s a different story.

    The areas that are stained due to the grout (tub area, tile floor, etc.) should have all been taped/ covered to ensure the new darker grout did not spread and contaminate those spaces. Grout is notorious for staining adjacent areas and the dark color just amplifies the end result. Again, not a problem of the grout color selection, an issue with project prep.

    Some of these are to be expected while others are clearly a misguided/ inexperienced crew. Certainly expected your concerns and do not pay until you are satisfied with the result.

    Good luck!

  • phantaxtic says:

    When using dark grout like this expect it to stain anything porous it touches. That means drywall, textured ceilings and even other grout. Generally speaking we paint after grout. Alternatively they could have, and should have used painters tape to protect the black grout from contaminating everything.

    The white spots showing through the shower base mosaic is mortar. They did a poor job prepping the area for grout. Wet the shower base and let it soak for a bit. They carefully scrape out the white spots and touch up the grout.

    Overall the job doesnt look terrible. A bit of prep work could have prevented this grout mess. Someone will need to repaint and do a bit of grout work.

  • AbsolutelyPink says:

    So, did they grout around the tub and then caulk over it? If so, the grout there and any change of plane should be removed and caulked with either a color match sanded caulk or silicone caulk.

    Tub scratches may be stained caulk. Can you catch grooves with your nail or are they bumps?

  • HometimeGroupie says:

    WHITE VINEGAR ! Not sure if anyone commented on this, but plain white vinegar on a rag was a life saver when I recently installed black grout in my new white tile shower surround. Depending on your grout and time since completion, it may be quite helpful to rub down tiles or other surfaces with vinegar. Don’t let it sit on your finished grout or it may leech some of the black out, but I scrubbed down most of my tiles to remove a ton of excess black grout (almost fully blacked out tiles that had dried quicker than I had anticipated) and it saved my ass big time. Up to you if you want to try it on the painted areas as well.

  • NedStarky51 says:

    What does the contract say?


    How is there not a single drop cloth or plastic down in any of the photos nor any tape or plastic on the walls!?!?

  • dlee420 says:

    My suggestion is tell the owner you are keeping the second half and using it to hire someone else to fix the mistake/fix them yourself. Sorry this happened to you I am a contractor myself and just did a very nice shower surround and can in confidence tell you we did not get extra grout/stain ANYTHING.

    at least you didnt pay them in full, that’s the biggest mistakes homeowners make.

  • jazzb54 says:

    That is some crap work. You might want to let them have the chance to clean it up. If they fail, you should withhold payment and tell them you are hiring someone else to finish their work. I’d probably post the pictures on reviews of them, and contact the licencing organization in your region to let them know about this.

  • tybe17 says:

    Wow this is terrible I definitely wouldn’t pay them. I used to work doing kitchen/bath renovations and honestly so much of this is just carelessness. Number one you protect what isnt being renod in the room and number two if you damage something you fix it on your dime. That’s just quality tradesmanship and these guys have none.

    I dont know anyone who takes pride in their work who would be this sloppy. You would get canned dealing in any other aspect of construction and the only way they get away with it is because you’re a homeowner and not confident in telling them they stink.

  • udder-chaos says:

    It can all be fixed fairly easily. I would personally diy it, but then again I would have from the beginning. If that’s not your thing I would have someone else come in and fix everything. If it ends up costing you less than the second half of your payment to the first guy, you’re in good shape. If it costs more, file in small claims for the difference.

    Edit: I was focusing more on the small problems than the big picture. I would provide them a list of everything that needs to be fixed/completed and give them an opportunity to do so. If there are still problems then you could find another contractor to do it.

    Also, relax. Everything will be okay.

  • ReverendKen says:

    As a painting contractor I can honestly say this is not the worst I have ever seen. I am sure they are under the impression that the painters will fix it. I am not saying that all tile guys are bad but this is not as uncommon as you would think.

    If what you see looks bad then I would not be surprised if what you cannot see is ever worse. Take a screw driver and tap the but end on each tile. I bet you a dollar to donuts a high percentage are hollow. You can tell by the sound.

  • mrjinglesturd says:

    I wouldn’t even waste time or money suing to get the first half back. Demand that it’s made right and if they fail to make good hire another to finish

  • PartiZAn18 says:

    I assume you’re from the US so I don’t know what your laws are on this but check this out as a point of departure:

    “the work was carried out according to the generally accepted practices within the industry”

    Every industry that requires skill, knowledge, or expertise has a minimum benchmark of acceptability. Frankly I wouldn’t pay the fellow – but in order to save you legal fees I’d pre-emptively launch a suit in a small claims court (or your equivalent thereof) and get a ruling there first for free – so that they don’t just go to a higher court and try to shirk you with scare tactics

  • thetruthteller says:

    Going to be the bad guy here. You should have been checking in and fire them at the first sign of trouble. As has been stated residential guys are the worst, the one who’s could stick with a crew or get hired in a union or a solid construction company.

    You have to tear it out and start over. You won’t get your money back. Think this is the first shit job they have gotten away with? Very sorry my friend, these guys are a plague on the earth. No regulation or oversite. I would talk to some locals and have them taken care of if you know what I mean.

  • dktaylor32 says:

    How old was your contractor? Because my seven-year-old has been missing for a few days and came back with a few thousand dollars. Did you hire my seven-year-old?

    In all seriousness, that is awful. Did you go into the deal knowing you were going to get a discounted rate or anything because of licensure issues?

  • megamere says:

    I want to say I am sincerely sorry, I am going through the same exact thing and it’s been hell. NAL but I do work in this business and these are the same exact steps I took for my own situation. I’m not reading through responses so I apologize if this is repeated.

    First off, read the contract. What exactly did you sign off on and what are your limitations? The vagueness the better, but make sure you aren’t requesting anything that legally you’ll be on the hook for (payment terms is most important, they care most about money). Second, know your state law and what you can and can’t go after (in terms of holding payments). However, this is a small job, I doubt that anyone would actually spend time in chasing this down in court of law. But please do not quote me on that. I will say you have the upper hand, in my experience, based on the condition they left your home.

    Your main argument needs to be *industry standard.* Please keep this in mind when negotiating with them.

    Take photos and develop a punch list. Include photos, details, and what you except them to accomplish. Include fixing the work that they destroyed. Give them an end date. Threaten that if you do not get a response out of them and they do not complete the work in your timeline, **you will bring someone else in to complete the work at expense to them**. Industry standard is about 48-72 hours to make a move. I gave my contractor 2 weeks to fix his errors to give him the benefit of the doubt, he still failed (which I knew was going to happen), and it shows how incompetent his company was. But again, read your contract to determine if this is acceptable. You may need to send all of this in certified letter to validate in the future (if they completely ignore you).

    Shoddy workmanship is completely unacceptable. Where I am shitty workmanship is grounds enough to pull their license. Threaten to go through the proper channels – Florida’s licensing board, BBB, etc. *I assume they ARE licensed, correct? This goes without saying, if they are not, you are most likely stuck.* Hopefully this scares them. Industry standard calls for proper protection and clean-up, so the fact they didn’t even attempt is not good. If their contract explicitly says they will paint, then they would be on the hook for painting. However, I do not foresee them having this in there. You might be liable for this but not liable to clean that mess. Read the contract carefully.

    I personally don’t think this job is big enough to come after you, but they might. Just keep good documentation of requests. You might be able to reason with someone to just walk away with the money you owe them in hand.

    And P.S. I hope you have good before photos. Without them you can’t blame the contractor for damage done after the fact.

    Again, NAL, not sure if this will work for you but it worked for me


    Good luck!

  • jcarp333 says:

    Looks like an east TN contractor special.

  • El_Bard0 says:

    I’m in Florida too and there are shitty contractors everywhere here, but looks like you got a plain shitty job done. I’d be demanding a new tub and what’s up with that unfinished part on the wall?? This is just sloppy as hell, and then have the audacity to say you’ll have to pay to get the ceiling painted? Hell no!

  • aptpupil79 says:

    Withhold the last half if they can’t properly fix it. In CA the contractor has the right to try to make things right before you withhold money. I would argue this is the ethical thing to do also.

    Both parties need to be very clear from the get go. It’s also your responsibility to get references beforehand, get three quotes, and not go with the lowest price. You are partially responsible for this outcome.

  • tornadoRadar says:

    document all the calls and conversations you’ve had. this one gona go to court.

  • mathspook777 says:

    I have a friend who went to court with a contractor. He wasn’t in Florida, but his experience was roughly as follows:

    My friend fired a contractor for doing shoddy work. In a tense email thread, the contractor demanded to get paid. My friend refused. He said that he and his dad had already invested 8 hours trying to fix it and weren’t done yet. The contractor sued and they went to small claims court. The judge looked over the email thread and the pictures my friend produced. He announced that my friend could deduct the cost of fixing it from the final bill, and he would have to pay the rest. Based on the email chain, the judge said that the cost of fixing it was the contractor’s hourly rate, times two people, times 8 hours. Case closed.

    Technically my friend lost, since he owed money, but he felt like he won. He was ecstatic, and the contractor was furious.

    In your situation, I suggest documenting *everything* they’ve done wrong, with pictures, before you attempt to fix *anything*. Anything *at all*. In addition, I recommend that you be *very careful* with any further communication with them. You should try to get everything in writing so that you can present it to a judge. And you should *not* make any statements about materials, labor, or anything like that yourself. Get quotes from independent contractors and rely solely on those.

    EDIT: By the way, you might want to look at https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/ to find qualified people to give quotes. I would think that a quote from someone with credentials would carry more weight than a quote from a random contractor. And there’s at least one certified tile installer in my area who explicitly says on their website that they will give quotes in these kinds of cases.

  • tukopa says:

    Great advice above, just wanted to add feel free to put their name and “work” all over social media, their website and maybe even give your local news “fixer dude/dudette” a call. You may save future victims the same headaches. What part of Fl is this?
    Also, seems like everyone down there is named Bob. Was this a Bob?
    (Spent a month this summer renovating my dad’s new house. Did everything but the bathrooms. They hired those out. I was shocked at what they paid. Favorite part of contract was the 500$ cleaning fee to clean the yard after they installed two windows. Wish I had no soul so I could throw a few screws in a yard and charge to clean them. They did a good job on bathrooms, begged me to move down and work with them, think I’m gonna, but man, the prices….)
    Good luck OP, we aren’t all scumbags.

  • meras21 says:

    If someone has already said it the white spots in the grout is thinset they didn’t clean out of their grout lines

  • Moose0528 says:

    So here’s the deal. This is dogshit. As a contractor I would have fired these guys pretty quickly if they were doing tile on one of my projects. This workmanship is unacceptable, and I would have no problem telling them that to their face. Hell give me their number and I’ll tell them for you. Was this guy licensed and insured?

    Those “white spots” you see in the grout are not “white spots” they are thin set that squished up when setting the tile that weren’t addressed when the tile was set or before it was grouted and so they are “poking out” of the thin set. This is rookie level stuff for tile.

    As for the walls, you can’t paint over that. It looks like grout smeared on the walls that wasn’t cleaned. Run your hand over it, it likely has a gritty texture and when you run it some of the grit will wall off. If you paint over it, not only will it be visible, but it will likely cause adhering issues for the paint as well.

    When I see such carelessness in a tile job, i worry about what you can’t see. If these guys were this fast and loose with what you can see, then how careless were they with stuff they knew wouldn’t be seen?

    Was their shower pan prepped properly? Did they use the proper products as a substrate for the shower walls, or just tile over drywall? This is a nightmare.

    If you have pictures of the progress that is crucial to how you proceed. If they did what they were supposed to do then you can fix cosmetic stuff relatively easily. If they didn’t then it needs to be removed and start over. A shower pan is not something you want to hope and pray was done properly.

    Don’t let them “fix” anything cosmetic until you are 100% certain that the underlying work is satisfactory, my guess is that it’s not.

    Do not pay another dime, don’t let workers back on your property. If the owner of the company was the one on site doing the job then I wouldn’t proceed any further with them.

    I am in VA and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation is who issues our contractors licenses. We are required to have liability insurance, and the DPOR maintains a Contractors Recovery Fund. This enables you to recoup some money if you obtain a judgement against a licensed contractor and they can’t pay. Not sure what State you’re in or how it works there, but might be something to look into.

  • Justagreewithme says:

    It depends on your contract and who you hired. If you hired *just* a tiler, yeah, you have to pay someone else to paint and that would be kind of expected. If you hired a general contractor/remodeler, all aspects of the job should have been arranged for, typically.

  • InternetUser007 says:

    Please do a follow up post when this situation comes to a conclusion.

  • bluecheetos says:

    Call another contractor and get them to look at it. They’ll point out all the things you’re not even seeing that need to be fixed. Don’t pay the first contractor another penny and don’t let them do any more work on the property. You can let the owner in so you can address the issue but they should be done working on it. If you let them continue they are just going to shoddily patch over things to make it look good enough to get a check and three years from now when those patches have failed you’ll be remodeling again. Document EVERYTHING. Every white spot in the floor. Every place the trim isn’t PERFECT. Every paint streak, all those blobs of black grout. EVERYTHING. You want to walk into court with 100 pictures detailing everything that is going to have to be removed and replaced. Oh yes, you’re going to have to go to court. Don’t eat this, don’t let them get away with it. One day in small claims court is all it would take (collecting damages will take MUCH longer). Sorry you’re having to deal with this, just keep imagining how awesome the bathroom will be when it’s finally over!

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