Contractor Scratched My New Windows
July 26, 2006 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Contractor ignored warning label on windows now they are scratched. What should I do ?

We had a contractor install some new windows and paint them for us. I read on the warning label attached to the window that you shouldn't use a scraper, but there he was using a razor blade to remove paint from the pane after he'd painted them. I told him about the warning but he said it was fine and continued to use the blade on the window. They are low-e argon filled windows that I think have a special coating on them, anyway now one (maybe more) of the windows is scratched. I noticed it last night and will talk to him about it later today. I've only paid half the money so I have some leverage here. What should I/he do?
posted by zeoslap to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
If I were you, I would write him a letter explaining the circumstances, mail it to his offices certified/return-receipt, and carbon your lawyer (even if you don't actually, um, have one).

Also call the local permitting agency (you *did* have a permit for this, right? replacing lots of windows is likely large enough that someone should have pulled a permit), and explain this to them, and ask what they suggest.

I hear "performance lien" echoing in the wind.

Who got paid for the windows? The installer? Or did you buy them independently and someone's putting them in for you?
posted by baylink at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2006

Allow me to scare the hell out of you.

My wife and I are Nice Folks. When we moved into our house two years ago, we had some insulation contracting work done by a company that came highly recommended from friends. We sat down with the company rep and explained what we wanted to have done. We stressed that he could do whatever he wanted to the sheetrock (because we were pulling it down after he did the insulation) but that he was not to touch the wainscoting.

Guess what? The first thing his workers did was drill two-inch holes into the wainscoting. Fuckers.

We called him up and got him out to fix that. It took some time, and he was upset that we were being so picky ("just paint over it — you'll never notice"), but we're glad we pressed our case?

Why are we glad?

Because this same bonehead crew has cost us hundreds of dollars since they left. One of the workers fell through our ceiling. They got a drywall contractor in to patch that up (though the patch looks like shit). But what's worse is that they installed roof vents that were completely inappropriate for the house and roof. We trusted that this contractor was being straight with us (big mistake), but apparently his advice was dead wrong. The roof vent leaked almost immediately, thus ruining the insulation below. The contractor replaced the vent once, but it leaked again a year later, and the contractor wouldn't have anything to do with it. We just paid to have a roofing contractor come fix it, but meanwhile I've had to tear a gaping whole in our ceiling to track down the leak. We have to get a drywall contractor in, too, and probably buy some more insualaton.

(Details here: Insulated and Wet New Year.)

Why am I rattling on at length about this? Because you need to be assertive and have the contractor make reparations NOW to your satisfaction. You don't have to be rude. Just be assertive. I wish I had been.
posted by jdroth at 12:02 PM on July 26, 2006

Zeoslap, I think this is pretty straightforward: he should replace the damaged windows. You should not pay him any more money until he does this and finished the job correctly.
posted by alms at 12:48 PM on July 26, 2006

Don't pay until they replace the scratched window(s). Also, always pay on credit card so you have more leverage.
posted by acoutu at 1:41 PM on July 26, 2006

I work with glass. They make plastic razor blades to prevent scratching the glass, but apparently he didn't have any. I'd get him to replace the windows as your low e coating is now damaged. This is a very stupid mistake to make on what are probably pretty expensive windows, he should know better.
posted by princelyfox at 1:46 PM on July 26, 2006

I may be mistaken, but I thought the Low E coating was on the inside of the double panes. So the scraeches may be only superficial... Still an eyesore, and the bonehead contractor needs to be pillaried.
posted by Gungho at 1:49 PM on July 26, 2006

Response by poster: After poking around a bit it does seem as though the low-E coating should indeed be on the sealed side of the pane. I've yet to see the scratch (my wife informed me about it over the phone) so I'll see what the damage is when I get back. Can scratches be removed from glass?
posted by zeoslap at 1:58 PM on July 26, 2006

I just bought a drill-mounted buffer for removing a scratch from a scratch-n-dent TV I just purchased. Haven't used it yet, but have heard good things.
posted by hatsix at 2:21 PM on July 26, 2006

Yeah, if the glass is not coated in any way, you can probably buff the scratches out of it. It takes some going to scratch glass with a razor, though, in the fashion you'd use to peel labels, so he may have been scratching a coating, after all.
posted by baylink at 3:09 PM on July 26, 2006

Who cares if the low-e coating is damaged or not? There was a warning label on the windows not to use a razor blade on them, you pointed it out to the guy, he went ahead and did it anyway, now there's damage. Seems pretty straightforward to me!

Seriously, I'm a carpenter and I see this kind of thing all the time. If you, the untrained owner, noticed one thing not quite right, then I guarantee you there are at least five other things wrong that you haven't noticed. Maybe you never will, maybe they aren't actually all that important. What is important is that you paid for a service to be performed (correctly), and it wasn't. You do not have to pay the same amount for incorrect work as you do for correct. You can get a lawyer to put this into more professional terms, but that's the bottom line. Their screw-up, they pay for it.
posted by schwap23 at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2006

Even if you (or he) find a way to remove the scratches, you will very likely have voided the manufacturer's warranty. Your first recourse should be to demand that he replace the windows. Another option would be to allow a "repair" of some sort, as long as a representative from the window manufacturer signs off on the work (not likely).
posted by misterbrandt at 8:29 PM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Spoke to my contractor and he was very, very cool about it. Instantly offered to replace all of the scratched windows and seemed mortified by the whole thing, indicated he would no longer be employing his helper. He said it wasn't the razor but the sanding of the filler used to cover the nail holes in the windows (manufacturer leaves the nail holes open). Anyway I felt pretty bad about the whole thing, he worked really hard on them and won't make a dime due to some carelessness on the part of his guy.
posted by zeoslap at 6:52 AM on July 27, 2006

Who and where is he? He sounds like a standup guy that other mefiites ought to buy from.
posted by baylink at 10:02 AM on July 27, 2006

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