Beware of Crappy Contractors.

June 11, 2012

Isn’t this deck only 4 1/2 months old???

Why Yes…. Yes it is… photo 5

And I’m trying to get them to fix it…. But clearly they’re avoiding 2

So first, the guy talks to me about how great his company is, etc etc… I checked his references – and we had a good overall beginning with him.  We even chatted about me working for him in the Social Media area.

I paid him half and made sure I had my receipt. 

But then a totally new guy shows up.  All by himself.  To build the deck alone!  The guy I hired was a ‘Middle-Man’.  He simply hired someone else at a lower price to do the work.


Firstly we had the impression that our deck would have had 4×4’s in the corners – for safety reasons? But… we let it fly, because he didn’t actually spell it out that he was going to do that.  Even though – it’s kind of the right/normal thing to do.

Then: As I was sitting in my chair watching the guy finish up the deck: I saw that a dark area – it looked like a space between the two pieces of wood.  I went out to ask him about it: and then saw that it was in fact more of a dark spot on the wood – and not a space.  ‘oh.. whew, ok!’.

When he left though – I noticed that he had put some caulking in there.   *cream colored.*

Yeah… Now it’s cracking – and looks terrible.

photo 1

The contractor didn’t have time to stop by to chat about the deck – and literally showed up only for the inspection, got his paper signed, and then left – with his money.  At this point my only concern was the caulking and the 4x4s – but nothing we figured that would make us not pay him.

Then – when we were getting our new fencing in, we were also getting quotes for the gate on our deck.  *ALL* of the contractors commented about our unsteady stairs.  They really do make noises and cracks as you’re walking up them.  That just made us even more concerned.

photo 3What the heck happened Here???!

Yep – It’s exactly as it looks.  Not only is the whole thing crooked – The railing is SUPER not-sturdy also.  The whole thing shakes. I’ve especially noticed it this week as I’ve had to do those stairs a few times while hopping one-footed (with my sprained ankle).

It’s even coming apart at the one screw that is connecting the railing to the main deck.  photo 2

Not even that – but the whole corner thing too – none of them line up.  They’re all different heights and widths and angles.

photo 4

You wouldn’t think there really could be much more – but even the weak posts that are keeping my children from falling off the 2nd story deck are bending.  Pretty sure some of these widths wouldn’t pass inspection – as they left ZERO room for error.

photo 3

What do you all think of this?? Should I demand they re-do my deck? a refund? or are they only responsible for changing out the broken pieces?

Or – am I just screwed?

But – I loved the guy that did my fence.  I wish I had the money to hire him to fix my deck.  He quoted me what this deck would have cost if he made it… and there was a $450 difference… and he would have used cedar. *KickingMyself*  Happy to give referrals!

P.S.  I will *always* be asking from now on WHO is doing the work.  I want to speak with THATguy – and his clients.


  1. Amanda N. says:

    I would imagine you could take them to court. They should give you your money back or redo the deck! Although, given the terrible job they did the first time, I’m not sure I’d want them to try redoing it! :-/

  2. Oh my god Amy-
    That looks horrible….

  3. Denise C says:

    It’s unfortunate that this sort of thing happens so frequently. I’ve heard so many horrible stories, and I’m completely paranoid about any work we have done. I ask a million questions, including exactly who will be doing the actual work. I also demand a detailed quote, which almost no one has offered up on their own.
    A lot of people who have fallen victim to crappy contractors never get their problem fixed or their money refunded. I still think you should raise some hell and give it a try. Hopefully, you’ll get what you deserve, but even if all you ever do is annoy them….well, they deserve to be annoyed. And maybe they’ll think twice before doing it to someone else. Probably not, but maybe 🙂

  4. Betty Baez says:

    Oh no! That is just awful hubby works as a contractor and he runs into these kinds of things that happen to people all the time they go for a cheaper alternative and don’t ask very many questions and end up with a headache like this. I’m soo sorry this happened to you. I think you’re only option is to try to look up and see if this man is licensed and if he had a building permit and take him to court. Best of luck to you

  5. Take them to court and demand a full refund! Also report to the BBB. That guy didn’t know what he was doing AT ALL!!! They also should have sealed the wood on the deck, especially seeing that it wasn’t cedar. You can get the original guy for breach of contract as well since you made the contract with him and not the subcontractor. So sorry you have to deal with all that! I hate people like that guy!

  6. 1. I would call HGTV and get Mike Holms (Holms Inspection, and Holms On Homes) in that place asap. lol. If that’s not possible then yes, sue them! I wouldn’t even ask for them to redo it! Just get your money back and hire your fence person. Things cost more money for a reason. There cannot be a price on the safety of you and your family.

  7. I’m voting small claims court, too! That’s ridiculous!

  8. I am with the girls on this! See if he is licensed, if not I think the law would be after him anyway. Charging without a license. Lawyer or small claims court would be my option as well. I would definitely be calling the Better Business Bureau too.

  9. Did he get a building permit & inspection? My DH & his friend built our deck last year & we have a few warped boards & things so DH is replacing them.

  10. I agree with the majority! Take them to small claims court and bring the estimate from the man that did your fence. Ask that they pay for you to have it redone or your full money back. If by chance nothing happens you will have the right then to put his name anywhere as not being an honest and respectable contractor.
    Gladys P

  11. Niccole says:

    Did he used treated lumber? It’s common to get warped lumber w/in a bunch, but my husband would set that back and take it back to the lumber yard for a refund. Sorry you got ripped off. If a contractor is giving a much cheaper quote than others then he takes lots of shortcuts to still make money. Not saying this was your case, but in general. Hope you get some restitution.

  12. Like Betty up there, I am married to a carpenter,,, so many times we see this and hubby ends up repairing it.

    It doesn;t look like either treated lumber or certainly cedar- was it anywhere in the contract who was to seal it? Untreated will do this every time. There is always some warped boards but usually a good carpenter will ‘eye ball’ each and every one . If you have the contract, look and see if there is anything anywhere about sealing it.

    As to who built your deck- whats happening there is the fella you spoke with is bonded/ licensed and likely the other guy works under him basically using the fact the original guy has the proper training and can get a permit. We see that a lot too.

    Were the boards warped like that at the time of inspection? The crack was there, and you really should have had the guy replace it then and there before payment if you were dissatisfied. If the boards were warped some fault lies with the inspectors.

    I would continue to try to call the contractor and see if there is some way you can get him over there and replace those boards. You could ask for several things in court- for them to make repairs with it being reinspected, you could ask for a partial refund (and make sure you have an estimate from another contractor with what they would charge to fix it) or you could ask for a full refund (realize that the existing structure could be torn down by the contractor because you in fact would no longer own it)

    I hope you get it resolved- that deck shouldn’t look like that at all.You could look online to find out what you need to do to go into mediation/small claims or your courthouse should know too.

  13. Wow…I wouldnt want the guy who built the deck to repair it. To many shoddy things done there.
    I have to agree with all that Ellen said…my husband is also a self employed contractor and does all the work himself (except for plumbing and electrical). I’d try to get my money back and have it redone for safety reasons. If you take these pictures to small claims court…you’d probably have a good case.
    Keep us posted….

  14. Hi Amy, Not sure if you know who I am ( your neighbor, across the street Nancy’s husband )
    This is absolutely NOT acceptable what they have done with your deck. In my opinion, small claims court would be your best bet. The trouble is that although you would probably win the case and get a judgement for either a refund or to get the job properly done, the guy who you had the original contract with can change his address and you cannot find him to satisfy the court judgement. So you are back to square one. I don’t mean to put a downer on this but unfortunately a lot of people have no decency or integrity.
    To report this to the city inspector I don’t think he will do anything to assist you, other than to condemn it as unsafe, and you will have to tear it down. Personally, I think he should have done a better job of his inspection in the first place. To go after him, you might be opening a new can of worms, and he will make you pay when it’s time to reinspect it.
    The only help I can offer you, is to help your husband, if he wants to do the job himself. I am NOT a contractor, but am not afraid to swing a hammer. Keep us informed as to your progress.

    • Thanks Merlin:

      Yeah, I dare not call the city inspector. That’s exactly what I’m afraid of, that he’ll put us in another lock of repairs that have to be done by a certain date to avoid a fine by the city. you know?
      I did call the contractor – who then sent me over to Menards – because he assumes that it’s a lumber problem. Menards came by and said that it was a building problem, and they would have to submit that in formal writing to the contractor so he can fix it. He said to ‘be patient’… but When I called him again last week, I never got a call back. I would love to assume that eventually something will be worked out – meanwhile we’re just going to wait.
      It’s frustrating though, because we were really hoping to get the deck sealed asap this spring, but then this stuff happened – and we don’t want to waste our time/efforts doing it if we’re going to have to do it again!
      If I do not get a call by the end of this week we will be contacting them in a more threatening manner, ie small claims court and/or social media outrage. Powerful stuff there, man! Also, Angies list review is coming right up!

  15. yeah…so half the problem you have is shoddy material. We do lots of work ourself and we HAND PICK our materials if we get from a lumber yard or building center. So, if you have someone else doing the job and they could care LESS after they get half the payment and have a contract. And the other half is that you had shoddy WORK! I know people CAN do a deck with only one person, but to get it right you should have someone to steady the rails and slats or lumber, while someone else is putting in screws, bolts, or nails. I think a crappy review will speak volumes. Get the word out and take pictures WITH you on your phone or hard copies. Not sure how small of a city you live in but word of mouth can work both ways…good reviews will get them more work, bad ones could crush their whole company. If they were smart they’d get back to fix what they messed up. Looks like CRAP work and does not look safe. I’d be contacting the equivalent of the Better Business Bureau in your area. Call the inspector and ask them what recourse you have. A contract is only saying they would do the work for such and such pay. The SAFETY and workmanship is another story.

    sorry to say kiddo, you got SCREWED!

  16. Jennifer Hiles says:

    Yikes! Sorry that happened to you! I’ve never had anything to do with a court and I always figure it would cost more to sue someone than to not – but I have no idea if that’s the case – that’s just what I always figured. Hope it works out for you!

  17. That is a real bummer. Having been through home improvements I know how painful it can be.

  18. Harmony B says:

    So sad that anyone would leave work looking like that. Nevermind dangerous

  19. kelly willis says:

    wow that is dangerous i would be worried about my kids playing on that

  20. Just wondering about the out come of your poor choice Contractor.

  21. Oh my word! How horrible! I am so sorry that happened to you!


  22. Sandy VanHoey says:

    Oh my gosh…they be out to do me a new deck, one that doesn’t make noises and one that is sturdy. That is ridculous! Either they’d do that or get turned into the Better Business Bureau. I’m about sick just looking at your pictures, I can’t imagine how you must be feeling.

  23. I hate dealing with contractors because it’s always pain in the ***. last time I changed 4 contractors until finally the work was done. I don’t think you should let it go. It would be a good lesson for them.

  24. sandy weinstein says:

    i have had so many problems with contractors, i am leary abt hiring anyone. i even checked them out, got references and they still did a lousy job, took the money and left. i have lost several thousands of dollars….home depot sent guys out here to fix problems caused by paint i had purchased at their store, what a mess, went on for over 2 yrs and still not settled.

  25. Wow – that is terrible! The damage is so soon and so obvious, hopefully you can get this settled!

  26. how horrible! The shotty work is so obvious. Makes you wonder how some people can sleep at night knowing what they have done 🙁

  27. Vickie Couturier says:

    My ex worked construction,an never would this had passed,,you need to ask for a total fixing of all the problems or get a lawyer

  28. OMG I agree what crappy work on your deck. There seems to be to many bad contractors out there doing the same thing and ripping people off basically. Some of them dont even finish a job. We have to be careful when hiring someone to do work. I am lucky I have a son that can do most jobs I may need -thank God. I would be fuming and livid about it too – good luck .

Speak Your Mind