Wood fence - is this a bad job or I am just too picky?

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I hired someone to put up a wood fence, and I am not too happy about the outcome. In the contract I specified how far the posts need to be placed, how deep to bury, using concrete cement, how high the fence needs to be etc...and all of it has to be to code anyways.
But the outcome...well my fault for not specifying two things:
(1) Material...I was told all the wood planks for the fence are "standard" therefore there is no need to specify what type. Well I am getting this pressure treated wood planks with all sorts of white knots. The installer told me it's normal. I looked around at other people's fence and I do not see the same knots ALL OVER...on may be a few, but not on all planks. See the pics:
http://i173.photobucket.com/albums/w67/143house/P1000656.jpg
http://i173.photobucket.com/albums/w67/143house/P1000654.jpg
(2) The planks are also not straight, so it bends in here and bends out there, it just does not look good.
I asked him why he did not buy the preassembled 6'x8' fences at HD that seems to be of higher quality wood he said he prefer to build the fence himself with planks piece by piece.
(3) Now when I am looking on the other side of the fence (inside), the runners are not straight, some of it crooked, some of it not level...see for yourself:
http://i173.photobucket.com/albums/w67/143house/P1000657.jpg
There are also lots of gaps between planks, in many places I can stick my thumb through.
I am not happy with this, yet there is nothing in the contract that says anything has to be straight and level, and planks need to be assembled in such a way to minimize gaps.
or am I just too picky?
MC
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Did you ask him if he ever built a fence before? Lousy job and looks like he got a deal on reject wood. No, you're not being to picky.

for
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I don't think your being too picky either. The material appears to be poor quality and the workmanship seems amateurish. Joe G
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No, you are not being too picky and if the job was done twice as well you *still* wouldn't be picky for deeming it to be slipshod. You should demand all of your money back and file a case with the BBB. I believe the usual contract language that would apply here is "work to be completed in a substantial workmanlike manner". Did you sign anything along those lines? If so, your installer failed to live up to his end of the bargain.
Good luck.
jc
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I hope you got a kiss with the screwing. That has to be one of the worst jobs I have ever seen and I wonder how long he had to shop to find such bad boards. I'm no lawyer but I think any contract assumes reasonable workmanship and that doesn't qualify. Hopefully, you haven't paid him yet. Good luck and no, you're not too picky.
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"MiamiCuse" wrote in message

Have you already paid? If so, your "pickiness" is now irrelevant. Good luck.
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I think I would have decided to be picky about the first time I saw 2x4 runners resting on "pillow blocks", rather than 2x3's nailed to the posts, on the outside. Also why only two (2) runners,vice three (3) . You have lost a lot of integrity,plus pretty shoddy workmanship. I've put up (or repaired) a lot of fences and sure wouldn't be happy with this one!! As Swingman stated, If you have already paid for this, you may be "blowing in the wind", literally.
Bill

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.

The white spots on the knots is common on pine

This is typical on PT pickets. When I sell a fence I warn my customers about PT pickets warping and bending although this can be partially avoided by using a 3 rail system rather than the 2 rail that you got.

I would not use preassembled sections either. Would you rather live in a manufactured home or a job site built home.

The guy building the fence has little experience. The give away are the blocks of wood that each rail is sitting on and the 2 rails being attached with the same orientation. The top rail should have the wide side on the top and bottom and should actually be on top of the posts to help keep water from soaking into the top of the posts.

If the materials were new, this is to be expected. Pickets tend to be fresh cut and are loaded with moisture. As they dry out they shrink. During assemble every picket should be jamed against each other so that the gaps will be minimal after shrinkage.

No, but you should have told him what you expected to start with.
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I should also add that with the top rail having the wide sides up and down, the lower rail/rails should have the narrow side facing up and down to add strength and help prevent what you are witnessing.
My fences start with a 1x6 PT running along the ground nailed on the outside of the posts. This is followed immediately with 1 rail between the posts and its bottom about 3/4" lower than the top of the 1x6 and just behind the 1x6. This rail is attached with its wide side facing the pickets. Half way up the posts another rail between the posts with the wide side facing the pickets. On top of the posts the 3rd rail with wide side facing up and covering the top of the posts. I prefer to use cedar pickets and set them on top of the bottom 1x6 PT rail jammed next to each other.
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"Leon" wrote in message

down,
outside
the
Same sensible construction method, but here in West U we are required by city building regulation to use a PT 2x12 "rot board" in the place of the 1x6 on the "good side".
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Yeah, essentially the 1x6 is a "rot board". But dang those 2x12" would be heavy. LOL I pay a little extra and buy Maximizer concrete in 40 lb. bags rather than the 80 lb. bags.
If a customer does not want the rot board, he may pay extra for labor. The rot board speeds up construction as you do not have to waste time with making sure the pickets are at the right height.
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On Mon, 12 Mar 2007 13:53:08 GMT, "Leon"

Would you happen to have a picture of that setup? Mike Patterson Please remove the spamtrap to email me. "I always wanted to be somebody...I should have been more specific..." - Lily Tomlin
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I posted a CAD drawing in PDF file format on a.b.p.w.
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You're not being too picky at all, but you're closing the barn door a bit late.
- From the looks of it, the guy obviously never put up a fence before, apparently never _saw_ a fence before and drank heavily while building yours. That's unfair - he may have been shooting up while building it. - If the first section looks like crap, you won't feel better when the whole fence is up and the whole thing looks like crap. Stop the work. - You've just learned that what is not included in the contract will bite your ass every time. - If you didn't check some references (that means taking a drive and eyeballing some of the guy's work - not picking up the phone and calling his brother who will be the one picking up the phone), and took the lowest bid - well, you have to share some of the blame.
What to do from here. Find out if fence installers have to be licensed in your neck of the woods - if so, this guy ain't, so report him. You may be entitled to all of your money back (whether you'll see it or not is another story). Around here the contractor licensing agency has a homeowner restitution fund for just such situations. It's a bit of a touchy subject with me because the homeowner is trying to save a buck the wrong way and hiring the unlicensed hack. I don't see why good contractors should be made to pay for the bad contractors. The contractors in turn pass on the cost to their good customers - again, the wrong people are paying. You can't legislate stupidity out of existence.
If there is no licensing requirement and no restitution fund, you've just learned what you should have known from the start. The only one that can protect your interests is you. If you don't have enough knowledge to be able to tell the good from the bad - contractors and work - then hire someone who does.
R
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Here are some suggestions:
1. You are going to pay for the material anyway. Get the installer to bid his labor and you will furnish the materials. If you wanted your house painted and could get a good price on the paint, the same thing applies. However, all that the workman can warrant is his labor, not the material if it turns out to be unsatisfactory. Have the materials delivered.
2. Learn how to write a contract properly. If it does not include a provision for you to be satisfied with the finished result before he gets a dime, then the contract was weak. If you provide the lumber, pickets, nails and concrete, you should not need to advance any funds to him.
3. Ask for references so that you can verify his reputation and workmanship. If he cannot find a few local customers who will recommend him, then you don't want him either.
The workman did not meet the terms of the contract, so he does not get paid. Avoid negotiating about whether the job is bad (leads to an argument) or you are too picky (suggests that your judgment is emotionally based). Either he met/exceeded the contractual terms or he did not. You DON'T want this to end up in court.
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Thanks for all the reply and comments.
Yes, I think I learned a lesson here. I have to check references from now on. I usually do, but for fence installation I assume this is a "standard" procedure and does not require too much skills so I got lazy...well I learned.
I pointed this out to the installer about the bad wood and the bad workmanship and he got pissed at me. He said in this world nothing is perfect and that I am a perfectionist and asking for the impossible. He said the material is out of his control because he bought a pallet of it and the quality varies. I said it is his responsibility to look at the wood during installation and when he saw pieces that are in such bad shape he should have taken them back and not continue to install them. It is also his responsibility to ensure his workers install everything plumb and level. He said he has been installing fences for fifteen years and never has someone accused him of poor workmanship.
He seemed more pissed off than I am!
and I am the one being stucked with a substandard fence!
MC
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"standard"
and
level.
If he's been doing that kind of work for 15 years, he has had plenty of time to perfect his "pissed off" act. He figures that if he seems pissed enough, you'll just drop it.
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CW wrote:

It's been my experience as a nurse that the more defensive people get, the guiltier they feel. He knows his work sucks.
--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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He said in this world nothing is

He's right on one account - in the construction business nothing is perfect and to expect boards to be cut to +/- .0001 is absurd but this ain't even close. I'm not a carpenter but I have built several fences for myself and to help friends and I would be humiliated to have my work turn out like that. I'm sure he bought a pallet of lumber - that's normal - but he obviously bought the cheapest grade and that quality was to be expected. Had he paid for and expected a better grade, he would have rejected it as soon as he saw it. Being angry is a good defensive measure to intimidate your customer - puts you on the defensive. If he hasn't had a complaint about poor workmanship this must be the first job he's done in 15 years or he only works for elderly, blind, bedridden clients. Sounds like you have a problem on your hands. Good luck to you.
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"tom (REMOVE) (Tom)" wrote in message

The biggest problem in the construction business today is cultural. The folks who do the work, while they are willing to work hard and long, are culturally inclined to have more pride in other areas of life than their work.
Couple that with piss poor supervision and you get that fence ... which appears to have the same level of workmanship of many houses today.
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