Contractor Woes

Back on 04 Jan, we noticed that the paint near the kitchen window was still peeling and flaking and easy to remove. I called the painting company and asked about it; they wanted to set up an appointment to talk about things. We met with them today.

We first talked about the terrible state of the front porch. The roof above the porch failed a long time ago, letting water into the structure of the porch (and probably into the house, too -- we don't know that the ceiling in our hallway was lowered because of water damage, but it seems likely, judging from the other modifications we've seen). Bottom line, if we leave the porch as is, water will continue to get inside and ruin the porch and paint job. We need to get it fixed. Kiss another $2500 goodbye.

Then we talked about all of the prep work on the house that had been done so far. They scraped, scraped, scraped, scraped. They removed the old gutters and put up new 1x8 fascia board. They treated all of the metal (roofs, nails) on the house with Penetrol (Flood), a rust-inhibiting primer (that red/brown stuff you can see on the house in the January pictures). They painted on some wood conditioners (brand unknown) to prepare the wood and improve paint adhesion. They primed the house, using Fresh Start Interior/Exterior All-Purpose Alkyd Primer 024 (Benjamin Moore). That day, they had started caulking [Dynamite 5000 (Sealant Technology), Alex Painters Acrylic Caulk (DAP)] and filling voids [Permanent Patch 101 (Shur-Stik), Flexall (Custom Building Products), Exterior Spackling Paste (Synco)]. Sounds good, right?

We were initially surprised that they primed the house so soon in the process -- we thought there would be more scraping and then sanding. When I called to ask about it, they said that the first coat of primer was sacrificial -- it would help detach the paint that wasn't entirely stuck to the house. After a few days of drying, they'd come back and do a second scraping of the whole house to remove the newly loose bits. Well, after the primer went up, there was no scraping. They proceeded directly to the wood filling and patching. I brought this up with them, and they didn't seem to think it was a problem, though I never did get a good explanation. (I'll be following up with the Benjamin Moore representative and another independent painter to see what they think about it.) Bad painters.

We moved on to the state of the paint around the kitchen window. It had us worried about the finished surface of the paint after all coats had been put on. They assured us that the paint which was left on the house after the scraping phase was completely adhered to the house. We showed them how the paint could still be picked off using a fingernail (even after the primer had been put on), and they agreed that it would be a problem. As a result, one of the workers was assigned to re-scraping that section of the house. Good painters.

I'm still concerned that work on the house isn't proceeding in the order of the plan described in the contract. I'm willing to give people a bit of a break, as long as all of the steps are completed. But things are now out of order enough that I'm thinking steps have been skipped. For example, all of the trim bits on the house that were loose enough to come off have been removed. From the contract, we were led to believe that they'd be refastened. Also, again from the contract, we expected that damaged, gouged, and decayed wood would be cleaned up, filled, and sanded before any paint went up. It hasn't happened yet, and I'm getting worried that it won't.

There will be many phone calls and physical inspections this week...

posted by noel on 01/30/04

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