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dealing with contractor's crappy work

As a long time TOH reader and fan of the show, I feel somewhat bad that my first post here is about an issue I have with a contractor – but I really need some community advice:

I’m in Texas (if that matters). My house has a screwed down metal roof I wanted to get coated to get it 100% water tight. Screws were replaced last year but still I wanted all the potential leak holes sealed off. Went to some websites, send emails, got quotes and finally signed up with a local roofer/painter who wanted to paint an elastomeric coating on. The product is mainly rated and advertised for its sun reflectivity (great energy savings in the Summer) but the roofer said it will cover screws just nicely and seal everything the way I wanted.

6 weeks later, the roof is somewhat covered with the coating. It looks pretty bad, the paint went on very uneven, the metal shines through in many areas and many/most of the screws are not well sealed. The roofer even acknowledges the uneven paint job. He claims he used 15 buckets of the material while the manufacturer, based on the size of the roof and gallons per sqft, says 25 buckets are needed.
They also created a lot of overspray, sprayed several windows, my AC outside units, some bird feeders, plants,… I wouldn’t mind if the job otherwise would have been satisfactory but since it is not, I’m getting picky. They also didn’t power-wash the roof (at least not all of it). it is spelled out in the contract that power washing will be done. And it is also required/recommended by the paint manufacturer.

Anyway, I paid about 30% upfront. The roofer wants to close the job (doesn’t want to come back) and wants more money. He says the 30% doesn’t even cover the material.
I have to say I am very happy with the sun reflectivity, my attic and the whole house stays a lot cooler – but energy savings wasn’t my prime objective. It was a welcome side effect at best. The roof is still not a lot more leak-proof as before and it looks like crap now.

Should I pay a little more (like, covering his material) and get over it or stand firm and let them either fix it (which is really impossible, they cannot undo the not washing the roof) or write off the money?
It is not my intention to ruin a small business. but it is not my intention either to fund a contractor that isn’t worth its money…

Thanks for listening….


A. Spruce
Re: dealing with contractor's crappy work

Dealing with a crappy contractor is never fun. The first thing I would recommend is consulting with a real estate attorney to discuss your options, I would NOT recommend paying this contractor any more money until you have.

The biggest problem here is that the contractor likely has lien rights and can lien your property for the amount owed, regardless of the services provided. Simply not paying him may not be an option, hence consulting with an attorney.

Next problem is that if he couldn't do the job right the first time, you DO NOT want him back to do anything more. Get pictures of all the over spray and collateral damage caused by the contractor, and make sure you have hard copies of those pictures, you don't want to loose your evidence because of an electronic glitch. Gather anything else you can think of relating to the case for your attorney, the better prepared you are, the better they will be to help you.

Re: dealing with contractor's crappy work

In Texas, a contractor must file any lien VERY properly or he faces a $20,000 fine per person he files the lien against. So if he files against a husband and wife, the fine can be $40,000.

In Texas you are required to give the contractor the opportunity to repair the job as per the manufacturer's specifications, the contract, and "industry standards". If he refuses, then you don't owe him another dime since his work was sub par. The trick is to get him to sign his refusal to complete the job as per the contract. Video or audio may help.

The hire a contractor who can read a label and follow directions.

MLB Construction
Re: dealing with contractor's crappy work

sounds to me like spruce and houston covered it pretty well. if you've been a reader here and a show watcher it appears that you missed the most important rule which is peppered throughout these forums and on the tv show. check references, check references, check references.

keep records, pictures, a copy of the contract and a log of conversations, work performed, dates, times, etc......then just let your attorney know what's going on.

don't pay him another dime until you're 100% satisfied.

Re: dealing with contractor's crappy work

All good advice.

You mentioned that the roofer wants "to close" and doesn't want to come back and fix his mistakes. If that's the case, then you owe him nothing, he's out of gas and you have all the leverage by withholding his money.

Get other roofers to finish the job in a satisfactory manner.

A. Spruce
Re: dealing with contractor's crappy work
dj1 wrote:

Get other roofers to finish the job in a satisfactory manner.

Not without resolving with the issues with the original contractor first. Once his garbage is covered up, there is no evidence as to how bad his work was or the condition that he left the property. Yes, you can take pics, but you really want to make sure that anyone and everyone who needs to see the poor work gets to do so.

As long as there are not current leaks or issues with the roof, there is time to resolve before hiring someone new.


Thank you all for your comments.
He hasn't explicitly said so but reading between the lines, it looks like he doesn't want to come back and he would settle if I cover his expenses (= paying another 20%, bringing my total payment up to about 50%). It’s not a huge amount so it might be worth it if it saves me the time it takes to find an attorney and eventually go to court.

The company is "accredited" with the “Better Business Bureau” so this might be another option, right? Let them in on the case and help finding an agreement?

@MLB Construction: yes, I checked references, as much as I could. There are not too many companies around for this type of work so I mostly relied on ****** reviews. This company is a roofer and painter (maybe this should have been a warning sign all along) and I think I looked at the roofer but then the painter showed up. It is hard sometimes – at least for me - to figure out who is subcontracting to whom. Next time I need a contractor I move to Boston and hire Tom Silva :D


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