Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall my chronicling here the renovations at Port Swiller Manor last summah?  For those of you who may have forgotten the details, part of the project was the renovation of the upstairs bathrooms (which had not been touched in about twenty years).  Amongst the changes to the Mawster Bawth was the removal of the ratty old hardwood from the little dressing area and closet and the grubby tile from around the bath, and their replacement with 12×24 slabs of slate.

The effect was very nice and all seemed well for quite some time.  However, a few months ago, ol’ Robbo began to sense what seemed like a couple of faint “soft” spots in this new floor, places that felt relatively spongy compared to the rest of the surface.  At first I dismissed these sensations as nothing but neurotic fancy.  But as time went on, they seemed to become more pronounced.

By a few weeks ago, I could definitely sense a shifting in the tile under my feet, especially right around the entrance to the closet.  Shortly thereafter, in approved plate-tectonic fashion, the tiles in the area began to spit up the grout between them.   It was at that point that we called the contractor (who we had doing some other things anyway) to revisit this project and view the evidence.  He took a look, agreed that there was a problem, insisted that it was covered under our warrantee and arranged to send his flooring guy back to do a more thorough diagnostic examination.

Well, the floor guy was out this morning.  After prying up the tile and poking around beneath, he affirmed the contractor’s initial impression that the problem lay in the sub-flooring, which was not sufficiently strong enough to keep the tile and its substrata firmly in place, but was instead bouncing off the joists.   He first suggested that the plywood might not be of industry-standard thickness and then that it was not screwed down firmly enough or in enough places on the joists to hold the new, heavier floor securely.

Having said this, he called up the contractor to make his report.  I could hear both of them.  My Spanish studies only went as far as 9th grade, but age and experience allowed me to generally piece together what was being said:  After reporting his findings, the floor guy suggested that these problems – plywood thickness and screw-spacing, were “preexisting conditions” and therefore ought not to fall under warrantee.

Our contractor, bless him, went ballistic.

Amongst a stream of other verbiage, I caught a good deal about “my name” and “reputation” and “bad for business” and, in essence, “you should have got it right the first time, now fix the damned problem!

The flooring guy seemed quite chastised when he got off the phone.  Whether he knew that I understood what had happened, I couldn’t say, but he was all friendliness and helpfulness.

So they’re going to pull up the tile, double or treble the screws on the sub-flooring and try it again.  (The plywood thickness is industry standard, btw, and the joists are not too far apart.)  And yes, it’s covered under the warrantee.

Not that I blame the floor guy for floating the suggestion – I don’t know what the margin is on this kind of work, but even if maintenance/repairs is factored into the original bid I would think somebody is still going to eat some costs – but it was heartening to hear our guy arguing on principles of integrity and Good Business.

Of course, he also knows that we’re thinking of building an in-law suite over the garage a few years down the road and that we’re pleased enough with his prior work to consider him first in the running for the job, but still…..

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