My poor mother just had a nightmarish experience. For her new house
construction, her drywall contractor botched the job. My questions
What are the possible remedies for the drywall?
Should she pay him the balance she owes him?
If she should *NOT*
pay him, what is the proper/legal way to withhold
First you need some history. Here's the story...
She hired a company, let's just call them "The Drywall Experts" (TDE
for short), because they have fancy trucks with graphics and they brag
about being the best in the region with huge jobs in nearby cities, a
network of crews, etc. They brag about their perfect results compared
to everyone else's inferior results, and this should have been a
warning sign of unprofessionalism, but nevertheless she hired them
because their image provided a sense of insurance that the results
would be worth the high price. The bid was $6,500 to tape, mud, and
texture a 3,200 sq. ft. (drywalled living space) house, which seemed
kind of high, but she thought it would be worth it. (The drywall was
already screwed into place by the general contractor.) She was
promised she would be shown multiple texture samples when it was time
to texture so that she could choose.
The first problem occurred when the tape/mud crew arrived. None of
them spoke English. They did not even seem affiliated with TDE. But
they seemed to work fast, and she didn't want to seem prejudiced based
on the language barrier, so she didn't say anything. When they were
finished 3 days later, we felt like that was a bit fast in order to
insure a high quality job, but our untrained eyes did not detect any
problems. She was very upset after they left when she found food
scraps (chicken bones) and cigarette butts littered all over the
house. But again, if the results are good, she did not want to
Next came the texturing. The TDS owner/operator himself showed up
with his partner to texture. They had no samples. They sprayed
orange peel texture onto a scrap piece of drywall to show her a
sample. When she said she'd like to see something else to compare it
to, it was clear they were not prepared to show other samples. They
complained about having to mix up more compound for each sample, and
they just adjusted their orange peel and made a ridiculously bad
sample of a heavier texture to sway her to the first sample. "This is
what most people go with," they said. "It's the best looking and easy
to clean." That may be true, but she expected more choice, especially
since she was promised an array of samples from which to choose.
After the orange peel was selected, they got to work. They were done
in 3 hours. Seemed like a rushed job. In the garage, they taped off
the garage doors and openers, but the plastic mask was so bunched up
around the doors that the texture did not get very close. Also, the
metal structures that support the door openers were not masked, and
now they're all covered with texture--looks crummy.
problem with the texture appeared after the first coat of
paint. With the help of friends (professional painters), we sprayed
Behr (Home Depot) "New Drywall Primer and Sealer" onto every wall and
ceiling. Then we sprayed Behr "Ultra White Enamel Interior Flat" onto
the ceilings and closets. We thought we saw some streaking, but we
weren't sure. The primer/paint was a good job--very even, no
dripping, good coverage, and plenty of drying time between primer and
paint. The third day of painting, we started rolling on color. 2
hours later, as soon as the color (a sort of tan with eggshell finish)
was dry, we could see terrible streaking in the texture wherever light
reflected on the walls. The streaks seemed to follow the taped seams,
but not right on the tape, more like along the edges of the mud.
We've since had 3 other drywall professionals all give us identical
and separate opinions. They told us that the tape/mud crew over-
sanded beyond the mud and roughed up the drywall paper just outside
the boundaries of the mud lines, creating the streaks. When the
sprayed texture hit the walls, it bubbled up differently on these
"hairy" spots. The difference is barely noticeable to the naked eye,
and most people would not notice it--until paint is applied and the
light reflects differently because these affected areas have a
slightly different texture.
The end result is that the problem is very noticeable, and it looks
like an amateurish job. This is a $400K+ house, and we feel like her
investment has been seriously compromised. All three of our
professional opinions were very careful not to criticize, but they
made it clear that the results are unacceptable. These guys have
plenty of work, and they do not benefit from criticizing anyone--in
fact they were careful not to. So I trust their opinion.
What do we do now? Can this be repaired? We've received all kinds of
1. Paint on a couple extra coats. The extra paint will diminish the
texture, and the difference will be less noticeable.
2. Try to sand, skim coat, and re-texture the affected areas, but
this would probably create just as noticeable a difference.
3. Hire a different contractor to sand every surface in the entire
house, skim coat the entire surface, and re-texture.
4. Just live with it, but withhold the second half of TDE's bill.
If my mother should withhold payment, what is the proper way to do
so? She was given a bid for $6,500 with an invoice for the first 50%
due before the job was started. So she has paid $3,250 already. But
she feels, and we agree, that this problem has reduced the value of
her home at *LEAST*
$10K or more. She does not want to give them
another penny, and she does not want them to be involved in any
remedies. What is the proper legal way to withhold payment? Should
she just not pay, give them an explanation why, and wait for them to
sue? Should she stick the second $3,250 in an escrow account to
demonstrate that the reason for withholding payment is not for
Please advise. Any helpful information is greatly appreciated.