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  1. #1
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    Default Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California

    We have a home in California. We live 2700 miles away and hired a Licensed contractor to build a fence, install floors and a bunch of other remodeling work on our home. We had a agreement that he would do the work at an hourly rate verbally. All payments made were made to the name of the construction company

    I traveled to California to pick out the floor product and paid for the material. The contractor picked up the product the next day and brought it to the house. After a few weeks he started the work on the floors. He did not put any underlayment down as it was stated by the sales person that it was not required.

    Part way through the floor Job I received a call stating that the floor was not going in well and that it was loud when walking on it and shifted. We discussed what to do with one option to being gluing the floors down going forward. Also to contact the store where it was purchased. ( There was a back and forth of he said she said about the underlayment only) This resulted in a small refund for part of the materials.

    The contractor continued to install the remaining flooring by gluing them down. it seemed to be ok for a short time ( 3 - 5 weeks while they did 60k worth of other work on the house).

    After a visit to the house I raised concern about the floors but nothing was done as it was still not near the shape it is now.

    Once the project finished and the home was empty and being showed, we kept getting comments about the floors and how loud the were and how it sounded sticky underneath. My realtor then went and took video and pictures of the floors so that I can see how bad it really was. Very! We reduced the price of the home to get it sold faster as construction took longer and the comments on the floors. I was in contact with the contractor trying to get him to go inspect the floors and the issue. I kept being put off.

    We received an offer however they want the floors to be fixed. We accepted the offer thinking the contractor would stand by and fix them. He has not. He has refused to come look at them, he says he was just an hourly employee of me and that its all on me. I work in technology not construction and am 2700 miles away. The contractor made appointments to look at the floors but had various reasons why he did not make it. Then he told my realtor that he was not going to look at it and it was not his problem and he would call me and let me know. He never called me and is not in any contact with me.

    We had the floors looked at and quoted to be replaced by another company for 7k plus. They also stated that the product that we had should have never been glued down and that any floor installer would and should know that.

    Now I have to have a bunch more work done before the house closes in a few weeks costing a lot of money, we have lost other potential higher priced buyers due to the floors, I now have to travel there to coordinate the work, get new materials and pay for all of the work to be done.

    How do I hold the original contractor accountable for not doing the job correctly and not backing his work? Also what is the best way to go about getting paid for the replacements, the labor, my time, travel and trouble?

    I have read about some of the California laws but do not know what to do about it.

    HELP!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    You appear to be stating that you purchased supplies that you instructed the supplier to use. You appear to be indicating that when the installer told you that there was a problem with your supplies, you opted not to replace the supplies but instead chose to negotiate for a discount while approving the use of adhesive to try to complete the installation with the defective flooring. You appear to be stating that you were in contact with your vendor and either confirmed that the adhesive would be an appropriate solution or chose not to ask even though you were negotiating a discount over the problems with the flooring you purchased. You haven't confirmed your installer's claim, but it also appears that you hired the installer on an hourly basis to do nothing more than install the flooring that you provided.

    If all of that is true, you can expect a difficult time trying to argue that the installer is responsible for the problems you are experiencing with the flooring. Please clarify.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    You bought a floating wood floor like Pergo, is that correct?

    We discussed what to do with one option to being gluing the floors down going forward
    .

    That is where you killed your ability to collect. He is just a laborer working by the hour. You told him to glue down a floor that is not meant to be glued. It just sits on top of the existing floor. That is why it appears loud. Had you done your research before buying that type of floor or before you told him to glue it down, you would have known not to do it.

    You have nobody to blame but yourself.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    I disagree that he was necessarily nothing more than hourly paid labor. Many jobs are contracted as "time and material", especially if the scope of
    the work is not well defined or there are a lot of variables or unknowns in the job. Some are time only with the customer providing the materials. It doesn't change the liabilities of the contractor.

    Partly what makes a difference is who suggested gluing the floor and what is the actual cause of the issues with the floor. If the contractor suggested gluing the floor and you depended on his advice and recommendation, given his position as a skilled tradesman, he may very well be liable for the cost to repair the floor.

    If you said; I want you to glue it down on your own volition, then it's most likely all on you.
    Along with that, if he is acting in the capacity of a contractor and not simply an employee doing what you tell him to do how you tell him to do it, he would be liable for the installion of the products in a workman like manner. In other words; he warrants the quality of his installation.

    If he installed it impropely with you relying on his expertise and skill, this falls back on him, if he is in fact acting in the capacity of a contractor and not simply an employee.

    So, to start with, was there an issue with the product itself or how it was installed?

    you won't be compensated for your time and expenses in dealing with this
    issue.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    T&M is not legal in California for residential work. Furthermore any contractor doing more than $500 worth of work most hold the correct licenses

    It may not matter who made the decision, California is a hornets nest of licenses, and having a fence license does not mean he was able to do floors or sheet rock legally without the proper endorsement. Also given that he held at least one license proves that he should have known about the T&M rules and any limits to his own license. He is the presumed expert, and even if directed by you to install a material contrary to manufacturers recommendation, it is likely that his liability did not end.
    Well that's an interesting discovery. I think it's foolish on the part of the state but California has always been an odd duck of a state.

    We don't know what licenses the contractor has. For all we know has all the appropriate licenses needed. That is something op needs to investigate licensing status with the cslb. I suspect contractor doesn't as it does sound like he may be trying to claim to be an employee.


    It would appear contractor must have a c15 license (flooring), a c13 (fencing) and what else would depend on what else was done;

    http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Libr...assifications/

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    But it almost doesn't matter if he had a flooring license or not. If he didn't, he shouldn't have installed the floor. If he did, he can't easily argue away an installation contrary to the manufacturer directions.
    True but a lack of license is a criminal matter while a poor installation by a licensed contractor is a civil matter. the contractors reactions would likely be very different for each situstion.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    ...and having a fence license does not mean he was able to do floors or sheet rock legally...
    Who said that he has only a license for installing fences? I missed that part.
    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
    Also given that he held at least one license proves that he should have known about the T&M rules and any limits to his own license. He is the presumed expert, and even if directed by you to install a material contrary to manufacturers recommendation, it is likely that his liability did not end.
    Based on what actual legal authority?

    From what we have been told, it appears that the contractor was instructed to use material that the owner knew was defective (and for which he had received a partial refund due to its condition) rather than obtaining new material that could be installed in accord with the manufacturer's instructions.

    It also sounds like a long-distance effort to flip a house which, if the, case, would explain in part the owner's corner-cutting.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    As I'm sure you already know, it is commonly accepted in construction law that the presumed expert will construct a project in a professional manner. Being instructed to do otherwise is not an excuse, just like a contractor who didn't use rebar because the developer told him to save money still has liability. I'm sure you under stand this concept, but you are merely addicted to playing games on the net
    This I'll disagree with. A customer has a right to give direction regarding an installation. As long as it it not against any applicable code, there is nothing preventing the contractor from performing the work as directed. A wise contractor will document the directed work very well in case there is an isssue but bottom line: it's the customers property. If they want some specific installation done, it's on them.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    To your first point, You don't get to use rhetorical tools. This isn't a debate where we're trying to convince another of some idea or another. We don't know what license(s) was/were carried and you cannot infer that simply because the OP said "fence" first. Not every license out there requires a body of hours of experience to get the license often it just requires the knowledge to pass an exam and the fees for the license and insurance.

    To your second point:

    Once the project finished and the home was empty and being showed, we kept getting comments about the floors and how loud the were and how it sounded sticky underneath. My realtor then went and took video and pictures of the floors so that I can see how bad it really was. Very! We reduced the price of the home to get it sold faster as construction took longer and the comments on the floors. I was in contact with the contractor trying to get him to go inspect the floors and the issue. I kept being put off.
    the OP doesn't state that he's flipping the house explicitly but, as he's making renovations from 2700 miles away and seems to never had plans to live there, it's a reasonable assumption. Refer to the above rebuttal about rhetorical tricks.

    To the third point: simply hiring a contractor doesn't extract the homeowner from any and all liability. I suspect you're the one that's addicted to playing games on the 'net. If this was all hinky from the beginning (and it sounds that way) then they can both be on the hook.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Contractor Not Standing by Improper Installed Floors After Being Paid

    Quote Quoting jk
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    This I'll disagree with. A customer has a right to give direction regarding an installation. As long as it it not against any applicable code, there is nothing preventing the contractor from performing the work as directed. A wise contractor will document the directed work very well in case there is an isssue but bottom line: it's the customers property. If they want some specific installation done, it's on them.
    Correct.

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