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 payment?
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 complain.
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.
The *BIG* 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 advice, including...
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 financial gain?
Please advise. Any helpful information is greatly appreciated.