Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mason's Reply and the End of All This

I received a reply back; selected passages below with my comments in red:
When we started this project using the sand and lime type mortar (very soft) we were lead to believe that the structure of the house was sound (NO such thing. We called HIM in to let us know what the condition of the house was).
...on returning to complete the tuck pointing I could not in good faith use the soft mortar. You knew that we were using the mason mix product diluted with mortar color. (NO! I did NOT know you were using Mason Mix with portland cement in it. You asked me on day one if the color you had used in July was right. I told you it matched almost perfectly with the old stuff. When I asked about the difference in look on Thursday, you assured me it was a "prepackaged version of the same thing", even after I said that I had seen a portland cement type mortar bag lying around. You told me that there was no portland cement in it, and pointed to a patch on a neighboring house to show me what that would look like. )
This mortar will NOT adversely affect the brick. Also, the original estimate did not include repairing the holes created by the heli ties. At 27+ man hours I feel that we have gone above and beyond the original scope of work.
(True... I was surprised that he didn't charge us more, as I had told him to add the extra work to the estimate)
If you find that our methods are causing damage to your brick we will warranty and remedy it then. I do not feel that this will ever happen. I have have worked on other similar projects using the same methods and have never had any issues. I hope that this eases your worries.
(I am NOT eased of worries, but I will take your warranty)
We do not have a contract that I can find anywhere; my bad. And, essentially we have no legal leg to stand on. Even though he lied to my face three times, and again in writing. We're taking the warranty and will use this as a life lesson hard won. I requested a written and signed copy of the warranty, and have filed it away. I will likely start REpointing the spots affected when we are done with the rest of the house... the warranty should hold us until then.

I think the part that hurts the most is that I conciously paid MORE money to have it done in a way that would protect the house... $1000 more, in fact. I could have had the same job done for $800 using the mortar they used the second time.

Hard Life Lesson #1: Don't assume that anyone you hire to do the work won't try to cut every corner to save time and money. Don't assume they will talk with you about their choices, even if you are home while the work is going on and make yourself available several times a day. Don't assume they won't LIE to your face when cornered on their choices.

Hard Life Lesson #2: Do it yourself, or spend the same amount of time WATCHING the worker constantly.

Hard Life Lesson #3: When needing brick work redone, spend the extra money to hire the man from Denver who teaches about historic restoration in addition to DOING historic preservation only as a job. It's probably worth it, even after you pay the travel fees.

(In response to comments about our brick and mortar, we are sure that the brick is the soft oven fired variety... it is soft enough that a light scrubbing with a toothbrush removes brick. One could easily scratch it with a nail. Our mortar is white, sandy, and appears to be solely lime and sand; this is from a few different masons, and from practical experience.)


Amalie said...

Jeez Louise, Jennifer...I've been out of the loop for a while and didn't realize your mortar situation had escalated to this. But at least you get the warranty. And as we say around here: It could be worse-- you could be on fire.

We're going to have to do quite a bit of tuck-pointing on our porch columns. The mortar has turned black and crumbles out like dust. I'm assuming that's the lime and sand kind. I am NOT looking forward to it. Not to mention, every time I hear a horror story about hiring out work, I cringe that my back is going to force me to hire out our drywall ceiling. Ugh.

Jayne said...

Gosh, life lessons learned the hard way, for sure. I'm sorry this happened. At least he gave you a warranty, which hopefully you won't have to use.

Robj98168 said...

Jennifer- I am sorry you had to go through this mess... But it seems the only way we all learn lessons- I know if I ever hire a contractor again- I will insist on a end date contract (be done by this date or pay a fine) and insist that THEY go through the final inspection. And insist they use the material I want not the easy to lay floor tile. I was such an easy guy before but now am hardened into a hard guy to do business with.

Green Fairy said...

Yikes! I'm so sorry to hear about your mortar situation. When our P.O. "tuckpointed" the garage they used tubes of Quikrete cement. I was horrified to find the empty tubes in the basement, realizing what they did. Now, just a year later, the mortar is crumbling right out. We'll have to chip it all out and redo it ourselves.

Larry said...

What a mess....