Here's how much choosing the wrong flooring contractor can cost you

Home Builder with The Flooring Girl

Yesterday, I went to a home in where we were brought in to fix a botched up tile job.


tile flooring in Westchester NYUnfortunately, a lot of people try to save money on hiring contractors and either hire friends, relatives or handymen who clearly do not specialize in tile or flooring.


In this case, my customer had bought the tile in Home Depot and the contractor told them he would level out the floor.  This job was done while they were away and they came back from vacation extremely disappointed.  I wish I had pictures.


The tile flooring is a mess.  It's very uneven - no self leveling mix was used.  No spacers were used, so the tile is not completely even.  The grout lines are thick - which is very out of style and will cause the grout to crack more and the grout is all over the place - including all over the tile.  It looks sloppy and it feels sloppy when you walk on it.


The homeowner knew their floor was uneven and had conversations with the handyman to even out the floor, but either this wasn't done or not done correctly - hard to tell - it's a mess.


slate flooring diagonal lay westchester new yorkUnfortunately, fixing up a botched tile job costs way more than doing it right the first time, and most especially when this is installed on top of concrete slab.  So, at this point, you would typically rip and haul away the tile (which can cost close to the installation cost) and then, you have to level and smooth out the floor with self leveling mix which is very expensive.  At this point, you may already be paying twice as much as the original installation would have cost...and all you've done is rip up and prep the floor.  (and, then of course, you need to pay for new tile + installation)


In this case, though, ripping up is not even a good option....because...yes, believe it or not, there is radiant heat underneath floor...and a system that is over 40 yrs ripping up the tile is not a good option as it could break their whole radiant heat system which I'm sure would be extremely expensive to repair (or in this case replace).  So, we will have to install on top to the tile.  We have to pour enough self leveling mix on top of the tile as barrier and to level things out.  We will probably add at least an inch...and of course the tile will be on top of now they will be an 1 1/4 to 1 1/2" higher than originally planned.  Thankfully, their exterior metal door is raised, so there is actually enough height to be able to do this, but that is extremely rare.


porcelain tile floors in Westchester NYSo now my customer needs to go out and buy replacement tiles...and this is the least of their cost...and then pay someone (maybe us?) to encapsulate and even out the floor, and of course pay the original amount to install the tile.


Sound like a costly mistake...and it could have been avoided if they had done their homework on choosing the right installer.


What is ironic (and sad) is that they also recently had an engineered hardwood floor installed and they are also having issues with that.  Seems there were some similar issues in terms of hiring the right person.  Apparently some of the boards are popping up.  As soon as I walked up the steps I could see an issue...they installed it from the wrong side of the room.  They should have started with the stairnose and worked their way back.  That way, they would have avoided the extra filler piece that is about 1.5 centimeters that goes all the way across the front wide step.  It's the first thing you see when you enter the main area of the home and it looks really stupid.


oak hardwood flooirng in westchester NYThen, the homeowner proceeds to tell me that they have radiant heat underneath.  I gasp because I know that this engineered oak is NOT approved for radiant heat.  The homeowner says "not to worry, I got it at Home Depot and it's Bruce and they told me it will be fine.  I even called the manufacturer."  I kind of laughed since it was so sad.  I said, yes, I'm familiar with this brand and it's not approved for radiant heat and I have the sample and if it was approved for radiant heat, the sample would say it and my rep would be broadcasting that info to me.  This was just installed in the last 2 months, and of course it hasn't survived a winter, so we will see.  But, they are already having other issues with it, so I'm a bit skeptical.


I understand that everyone is trying to save money, but when you are shopping for contractors, it's best to really do a bit of homework and it's also good to ask the contractor what they think about the product.  Sometimes, they can save you some costly mistakes.  I could have saved this customer 2 costly mistakes.


If you live in Westchester and would like to with an honest flooring contractor and someone who can give you some guidance, please give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.


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Here's how much choosing the wrong flooring contractor can cost you

Comments (16)

John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

A prime example of you get what you pay for. 

Aug 14, 2012 01:21 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign
Debbie, this reminds me of one of the homes we bought in Houston. When we decided to replace the carpet in the family room, we discovered beautiful white tile underneath. Only problem was that the tile had laid over an uneven slab,so you could place a golf ball the tile and the ball would roll everywhere. The previous owner had put tile over the crooked slab! Pays to hire a professional !
Aug 14, 2012 01:26 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You are right, the bottom-line problem here is the homeowner.  Like you said, they have done no homework.  They get what they deserve.

They don't deserve you as you will have to start from scratch to do it right.  Cheap job for them!

Aug 14, 2012 07:38 PM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

I admit it, when I first started out flipping houses, I hired the cheapest people I could find to do my jobs. It disn't take me long to figure out, that doesn't work at all.

Done right the first time, is so much less expensive.

Great post!

Aug 14, 2012 07:54 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

John - Yes, it is.  Unfortunately, it's costing these customers dearly.

Kathy - That must have been frustrating.  Yes, it's all in the prep work (or lack thereof).

Jay - Yes, there is definitely a theme here.  They seem to be new homeowners and I think they just bought the home 2-3 months ago.  It's sad that they have to learn the hard way.

Joe - Yes, when I first started, I had a bunch of installers we had to sort through.  Cheapest is usually the wrong solution. and, so true!

Aug 14, 2012 08:35 PM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

What a shame...when homeowners only look at cost, they tend to lost out...checking out your contractor well is so fun fixing someone else's mess.

Aug 14, 2012 09:19 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Ginny - Yes, this is so true.  They are now paying way more than they should have.

Aug 14, 2012 09:23 PM
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

Wow.. that is very very sad... I hope you are able to fix their issues.. although expensive for them.. YOU know what you are doing!

Aug 14, 2012 10:39 PM
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

Debbie, Sometimes it's worth paying the extra to get the job done right the first time.  And in the first case, will the radiant heat still be effective through two layers of flooring?

Aug 14, 2012 10:57 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Janis - I think we can solve the tile for them.  I'm not sure what they are going to do with the hardwood (I didn't want to ruffle more feathers).  My guess is they will have the contractor make some quick fixes to that and then, they'll go through the winter and my guess is that they will have problems and they may call us (or someone else) in Feb/Mar.

Bliz - Given that it is tile/concrete which conducts heat well, yes, it should still work.  They'll prob. lose a bit in heat transfer and it will prob. take longer to heat the room so yes, they will also be spending some more on the heating - another expense.

Aug 14, 2012 11:16 PM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Debbie, wow this is just horrible and sad for the owners. I agree that they should have done their homework.  But, now that you are in the picture...hopefully you can remedy some of this.

Aug 15, 2012 12:55 AM
Kathryn Maguire (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

So true of many contractors.  Going with the "cheapest" quote is not the best option much of the time.

Aug 15, 2012 01:54 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Debbie more often than not when people take short cuts, they end up not being short cuts and cost far more in the long run.  You think they would learn the first time but some times it just does not sink in.

Aug 15, 2012 07:23 AM
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

Knowing that I cringe when I have a friend or seller pass me over to go the For Sale by Owner route, I can imagine this is the same feeling you get as a professional flooring expert. We learned long ago to hire out for important jobs like that.

Aug 15, 2012 07:25 AM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Rebecca - I hope so.

Kathryn - No, it's not usually the best option.

George - Exactly! (I think in this case they were both done at about the same time).

Shannon - Oh yes, it can be very similar.  Excellent point.

Aug 15, 2012 09:25 AM
Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner - Anderson, SC
Selling the Upstate since 1989

I have seen many people waste a lot of money due to bad contractors!! as for the tile floor, if you put all that new stuff on the floor that was poorly installed, will the heat even still be felt through all that? wow... how awful for them.. 

If someone in your area needs a floor , they need to call you !!! 

Aug 15, 2012 11:10 AM