When does getting a bathroom remodel "right" become wrong?
April 22, 2010 8:50 AM   Subscribe

What's the best time and way to have this awkward conversation with my bathroom remodeler -- if at all?

I'm the guy who posted this question about bathroom remodels a while back. Your suggestions were great and I incorporated a lot of them. We have nooks! And lots of outlets! Thanks.

The bathroom is finished and great overall. But we've had problems with the fiberglass tub. At first it creaked and groaned like crazy. Research said this problem is usually fixed with 1.) A mortar bed, which would require a tub reinstall or 2.) expanding foam, which could break down over time or create a hump in the middle of the tub. I explained this to our guy, expressed my reservations about expanding foam, and asked on two separate occasions what his plan was. Both times he said he'd "figure something out."

Turns out he used expanding foam, and while the tub no longer creaks, there is a very noticeable hump in the middle of it. The hump is significant enough that it actually makes footing in the tub somewhat precarious when it's wet.

Our remodeler has been great in general, is very reasonably priced, and is even a bit of perfectionist. He's redone some minor things I would have been happy with as-is. He's going to replace the floor in another bathroom soon. And we've talked kitchen remodel with him as well.

Here are my options:

1. Ask him to fix the hump now, before we pay for the rest of the bathroom, and go through another X days with construction.

2. Wait until the second bathroom's floor is done, then tell him we've had footing problems and ask for his help.

3. Do nothing for now and hope the foam breaks down enough to level out.

4. Addition to 1 or 2: Offer some extra money (~$250) for the fix and create a win/win for both of us.

I know a portion of the AskMe community will come back with a hardline "make him do it right -- no questions asked." I get it. The problem is -- how and when to have this conversation. I feel bad about the tub, but I also feel bad about what could come off as me being impossible to please. Maybe I am being impossible. I don't know. I'm new to this.

posted by Work to Live to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
My answers are 1 and "today"

Be your own consumer advocate, no one else is going to do it for you.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:58 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Tell him ASAP. If he says it'll level out, then have him put, in writing, how long he thinks it will take. And tell him -- without any animosity -- that if he says three months, and it's still dangerously bumped in six months, you're going to ask him to redo it.
posted by Etrigan at 8:58 AM on April 22, 2010

None of the above. Show it to him when he's next at your home and ask him how he wants to handle it; give him the respect of assuming he will fix it (which it sounds like he's earned). Ask open ended questions that convey--explicitly or just via tone-- the presumption that he'll fix it and your appreciation that this is just one of those construction mishaps that sometimes happens. "Would it be easier to fix it at the same time as you're working on bath 2 or another time?" If you don't address it, it will loom large. Moreover, he's going to see bath 1 anyway while working on bath 2; he'll likely visit it for professional or personal reasons.
posted by carmicha at 9:07 AM on April 22, 2010 [11 favorites]

I've been in your position a few times ... I wanted to be a decent guy, I appreciated the amount of labour involved, I didn't want to be seen as hard to please, I like'd the remodeler personally....etc. Really, you're just trying to put off an awkward conversation. The best solution is to unambiguously tell the remodeler NOW that you cant accept the tub installation as it is.

Laying down a mortar or plaster bed under a fibreglass tub is pretty standard procedure. These tubs have been on the market long enough that it shouldn't be news to your remodeler. Spray foam can insulated the sides of the tub but plaster goes underneath because it doesn't shrink when it dries. It's forever solid and that's the point because you need to stop the bottom from flexing. If the foam underneath breaks down over the next month or two, it's going to KEEP breaking down until your tub is flexing and full of hairline cracks that'll pick up a stain that can't be scrubbed away (I speak from experience, unfortunately) Get a copy of the manufacturers installation instructions online or from the place you bought it.

It has to be re-installed, squished down into a wet paster bed. He'll probably have to remove/ break the bottom course of tiles (you can offer to cover that material cost) and it'll be nearly impossible to cut the tub loose from the spray foam but that ISN'T YOUR FAULT. Being a bit of a hard ass on this most important issue doesn't make you a bad person.

Demand NOW that it's installed to manufacturer's specs or you'll feel like a schmuck later.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:14 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

The flexing tub may show up on a home inspection report when you sell, and a buyer may ask you to replace the tub or drop your price. This happened to me; the tub had been installed without a mortar bed. The inspector noted it, the sellers dropped the price rather than fix the tub, and within a few months the tub had cracked across the floor and was leaking into the basement.

carmicha's suggestion is how I would handle this.
posted by catlet at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2010

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