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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Dilemma. What would you do?

laurelndJanuary 8, 2013
We are remodeling kitchen, bathroom and office and we had these rooms painted. When the floor guy pulled the toilet to put floor down, the back of it was covered in paint (see picture). My husband offered to pull the tank before they started, but was told it wasn't necessary. I called the painter and told them we need this cleaned up. They also need to come back and do touch up work. I told them they could do this all at once. They are coming out Friday to give me bid for trim, but want payment for the original job. I do think they will come back to do what they can to clean toilet and do touch up but if I pay them, I have no recourse if they don't come back. Any suggestions? Also, they broke a sprinkler head which my husband just fixed and they painted one room the wrong color, but did repainted it.
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It's unfortunate that some tradespeople just can't do a proper job. I would withhold some of the original payment until the mistakes and damage are rectified...Wish you luck on the rest of the project....
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:01PM
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I'm afraid what is out of sight is out of mind with painters. Unless they remove the tank to paint, it is rare that they don't get paint on it. They'll probably laugh that you are so concerned with the unfinished and paint-smeared toilet back which no one sees or knows about but you. However, anything they broke or did in the wrong color should be repaired or done over at their expense. I'm not sure I'd point out the toilet - that is standard ops for painters and they really won't care. Good luck!
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Susan Flowers
If you didn't pull toilet for floor, would you even know....unless it could show...or it's an expensive toilet, I wouldnt worry (might get diff painter next time)...Is the toilet new?
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:06PM
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It's the back of the toilet and not gonna be noticed. I have tried to paint behind a toilet and it is impossible not to get paint on it. Now that it is removed, I would make sure they touch up the wall just in case any missed spots are noticable, but would not worry about the back of the toilet unless it is visible from the sides.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Judy M
several choices, try to remove paint (paint thinner or similiar) repaint the back of toilet white ( it doesn't show anyway) or get a new toilet. Problems happen in redecorating and this one at least is fairly minor.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:12PM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
That all sounds like good advice to me!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:15PM
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Thanks for comments. Back of toilet won't show, but I'm not happy about it. If this is a common problem, a simple drop cloth over toilet would have prevented it. The toilet is not new.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 6:19PM
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Painters hate painting bathrooms. It's all cut work and trying to get the brush or roller into spots where the handle won't fit. And, lots of times you can't get a step ladder to fit around the toilet so it's tough to be able to reach the ceiling to cut the wall in. Drop cloths in bathrooms can be dangerous since there's just not enough room to drop it properly and it's easy to have a wrinkle or a corner that gets caught in or on something and someone trips or drops a brush. OK, not everybody is as much of a klutz as me, but I hope you get the point that it isn't necessarily laziness as the only reason that the tank wasn't dropped off.

I wouldn't even bother with the toilet issue. If you can't see it from two feet away in normal lighting, don't make a fuss about it. You said they have touch up work to do so concentrate on the visible issues and make sure they are taken care of. Sometimes we tell people to walk around with a pencil or a roll of blue tape and mark everything when you see it. Otherwise, you'll miss something and you can't expect them to do a second round of touchup unless they are already there painting.

Do yourself and the painters a favor and have them do your punch list and finish it all to your satisfaction before the trim bid. Then, they will know what level of work you expect and should be prepared to bid the trim work to the same standard. You probably don't want to hear this, but if you were a customer of ours, that trim bid would be high and if you went with someone cheaper, we wouldn't mind.
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Stacey Rushing
I am picky and this would bother me. I would wait for It to dry and use a razor blade to scrape this paint off, careful not to chip it. If you get a paint stick and glue it to a replacement pad of an edger you can paint the bak off a toilet with no mess. Also you can bag and tape the top of the toilet and then remove when finished. There is no excuse for laziness. If you have not figured this out and you are a painter....you are not a good one. I would pay them half...good faith payment and when they finish the job to your satisfaction pay me the rest. Then never use them again. Find someone that will do the job meticuloiusly.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 7:43PM
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Aja Mazin

I agree with you completely.
Your even husband offered to pull the tank before they started, but was told it wasn't necessary.

I would not want to hear sorry excuses.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 7:49PM
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You say lazy, I say reasonable and customary. Painters make money by accurately bidding a job. If your expectations are perfection, you can get it but be fair to the painters and describe the standard of work you wish done before they bid the job. Or, find a meticulous painter and go T&M (time and material). I don't know if these painters were sloppy or did poor quality work without seeing the job, but since that isn't a visible problem, I wouldn't be upset. As a homeowner you have every right to be picky, just state your expectations clearly up front. Don't ask for a bronze level quote and then expect a gold level result.

As an example of what I consider inappropriate nitpicking, consider the customer who just wanted a bid for ordinary painting and didn't want to pay for anything more than a single round of wall prep. Well, after the painting was done, she fussed about seeing brushmarks around a light switch. Those brushmarks were preexisting and she had specifically not wanted to pay for extensive prep work but then got upset because we hadn't eliminated those marks. What she requested and what we quoted was basic wall prep, prime as needed and two finish coats of product. We did not promise to redo the walls, we promised to paint the existing walls.

This particular customer was also upset because she could see shadows in her two story foyer when the sun shone at exactly the right angle. There again, that is basic construction quality and existed from the original drywalling and taping many years before. At the time of the quote, we always talk about issues we see and ask how far the customer wishes to take the project. This person could have had three coats of mud and floated that wall out two feet and that shadow would disappear. But that type of fixing is expensive, especially when it is 12 to 16 feet above the floor and has to be done from extension ladders, planks or scaffolds. That was at least a $400 problem to fix correctly and she didn't want to pay and we aren't just going to throw that in on a basic repaint job.

A different customer wanted her old double hung kitchen window repainted. She understood that the work would be expensive but she wanted it done right. We did it right and we had more than 12 hours in a 24x40 window and the trimwork to restore that historic window to original condition. Neither of us felt like we had been taken since the expectations were set before work ever started.
6 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 9:46PM
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Since your husband specifically offered to move the toilet tank for them, and the painters declined but still made a mess, then it is completely reasonable to ask them to clean it. If he has not asked beforehand, then you could chalk it up to "just sloppy painters". Perhaps this is just a language barrier but if not, then ask them to clean it up. :/
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 10:07PM
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It's just sad that you have to spell out that you want someone to do a good job!
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 10:28PM
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Aja Mazin
Excuses, excuses, excuses.....
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 10:29PM
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Try a magic eraser. Works wonders! But I see your point. This would frustrate me as well.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 10:50PM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
I agree with Linda on this. A basic painting quote does not include removal of items or fixing existing issues with drywall.
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 4:39AM
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Aja Mazin
Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders.

I think you need to review the facts.
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 5:06AM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
I am quite aware of the facts.
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 5:09AM
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In this case,, since the toilet had to be removed for the flooring anyway, the homeowner should have had that done before the painters even walked in the door. It is easier to paint a bathroom without the toilet in place.

Under normal circumstances, removing a toilet for painting is a very bad idea. It's a pain, messy, and any time you work with something like that, you have a potential for creating water problems. Painters aren't plumbers and while many of them probably know how to set a toilet, they aren't experts. Around my area, plumbers typically charge about $150 for resetting a toilet. If we were bidding the floor work, that bid would include $75 - $100 for resetting the toilet at the end. If you have ever had an old valve start dripping when you turned it or a corroded pipe break when you touched it, you will understand why we avoid plumbing. Don't think such problems don't occur in newer homes - the extremely corroded pipe was in a house about 10 years old and probably caused by a copper pipe touching electrical conduit elsewhere in the house.

If we were asked to remove a toilet for painting - or even told that the toilet would be removed specifically and only for painting - we wouldn't bid on the job because that is not a project we want to be involved with. I'm not being a bad contractor or lazy, just a reasonable one who knows that not all work is good work and not all customers are profitable and I am in business to make money. We're in the business to make a home look good. If you can't see it and it doesn't cause safety issues or potential harm to other systems, it is not a problem.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 6:49AM
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To be honest, if you can't see it, I would not worry about it. But well done you that you have not paid them ahead of time. The other thing is that they don't sound completely lazy because they didn't refuse to repaint the room and say that they painted it what you told them to and it was your mistake. They need to make the sprinkler head right.
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:02AM
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HI -- The fact that you could not see it is not the point , it's, if you think it was a sloppy job and not the way you wanted it . This is just a case of the painters being too lazy and wanting to get in and out of the job as fast as possible without careing. Still hold money back until it is done the way you want it .If they refuse , then hire another painter to finish and then they have lost their last payment .
1 Like    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:48AM
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LM Designers
Hold back the money until you are happy with the results.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 8:48AM
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Aja Mazin
Such creative excuses to avoid responsibility for shoddy workmanship!!!
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Judy M
Bottom line for me, is I might expect a homeowner to take shortcuts like this, but I would not considering rehiring a "professional" that thought this was the correct way to paint a bathroom. I would prefer to hire someone that wants to be proud of the work completed. A wax ring is cheap to buy.

For this specific problem,if the painter was unwilling to correct it, I would remove the paint myself and never rehire or suggest this painter to a friend or neighbor.

If the problem was of a different nature, I would consider holding money back.

sometimes, it's just faster to move on and get the project completed.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
I bet if you went into 100 homes, it would be done this way in 99% of them - and price of the home doesn't matter. We see it all the time when we remove toilets, including new homes. We see it in $2 million dollar homes and in $200k homes - makes no difference. You do not want painters doing plumbing - you will have far more risk and potential damage from that. BTW, it is even worse if people have had wallpaper put on. It is generally so nasty and ragged around the plumbing that it is unbelievable.

The original post indicated that the painter has fixed the issue of painting the wrong color with no problem and no fight. The homeowner has stated that the painter has indicated that he/she will remove the paint from the toilet and fix the issue if paid. Nothing here seems unreasonable. Somehow this is getting blown way out of proportion. If people work together to get to a desired outcome that is win-win instead of trying to point fingers and fight, the world would be a better place.

It's a porcelain glazed finish. The paint will come off in 5 seconds with a wipe of denatured alcohol.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Aja Mazin
Now I understand!

We should accept mediocrity and shoddy workmanship as the norm !
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 2:00PM
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It's your home and you should expect and then accept whatever level of workmanship you negotiate with the contractor before the deal is made. If you want something done differently than it is done in 99 out of 100 homes, there is nothing wrong with that. Just be clear and state your expectations up front.

It is a contractor's responsibility to state clearly
what will be done,
how it will be done,
what it will look like when it is finished,
who will do it
what materials will be used and
what amount of money is required.

It is a customer's responsibility to accept, reject or negotiate each of the above items and then decide if the resulting agreement is a yes or a no.

For best results, conduct those discussions before any papers are signed or any money is paid
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:03PM
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