The bulk of the drywall installation is complete and I have some major clean up on my hands. Thankfully my friend Joan has jumped in to help. I don’t know what I thought would happen, but I most certainly never imagined the magnitude of plaster and dust left on my floors. Early in the project, when I was considering hiring a general contractor (brief consideration) I met with one gentleman who said his drywaller would want $86/sheet and in the end the amount of dust remaining would fit in the palm of my hand. I’ve already filled two, 16 gallon shop vac bags.
To refresh everyone, pictured is Rogelio Soto (green shorts) and his crew. I never learned their names and Rogelio used their statures to distinguish them to me, so from left to right are Muscles, Skinny, Shortie, and Rogelio. We were all smiles on day one, but I’m not smiling now. This experience has been a painful lesson to learn. Selecting Cesar Filipe of Cesar Home Remodeling, who in turned gave my job to Rogelio (some guy he knew from church) is without question the worst decision I’ve made in this entire project. When I pulled the plug on Cesar, I should have pulled the plug on Rogelio too.
I wish I had the luxury of meeting them on day one, handing them the keys, and then returning when all was done. If that could have happened, even with all the dust and plaster left, I would have been happy with the outcome. Rogelio shared with my father that he doesn’t like to hang drywall, but he’s a good finisher. He needed to be because the gaps they left in some areas required an expert finisher to hide and he hid them well. A few people have walked through my house and commented positively on how well the drywall looks and it does. Once I share the entire experience they quickly change their minds.
Day three started with me entering my home to find one of my communication cables dangling from the ceiling. They had cut the line. When I pointed it out to Shortie he immediately said it was already like that. Shortie understood the most English and was the translator for everyone else. I went to Rogelio, made him take down the piece they hung, to revel the other end. At that point he showed remorse and took blame for it being cut. Fortunately it was an RG6 line that my father was able to splice together, but if I had not been there they would have covered the cut line without saying anything and I never have known why my TV signal was not working from that location. Needless to say I became very concerned over other lines that could have been cut. All of my communication and audio lines were run along the strapping in the ceiling.
That’s when I was ready to pull the plug on them, but my father talked me out of it. He thought they were doing a great job and I needed to calm down given that problem was easily fixable. Rogelio assured me that was the only ceiling piece cut after it had been hung. I forged ahead, but instead of using the drywall install time to prepare my current house for sale, I spent everyday at the house, basically babysitting.
It was necessary too. Over the course of their hanging they covered up 8 outlet boxes, two can lights, and as late as yesterday I discovered a covered cold air exchange, which I cut out myself. If I had not been there these things would have stayed covered. I was told 1-2 covered items is to be expected, but 11 is ridiculous. I know my daily presence was annoying and concerning to them, but their performance was the same for me.
With the removal of Cesar, my payments went directly to Rogelio and he wanted half after all the drywall was hung. I created a 3-part payment with him. 1/2 after hanging, 1/4 after taping, and final 1/4 after I had dressed all my gang boxes with plugs and switches, to ensure they were operational, and primer coat had been applied, so it would reveal any touch-up that was needed.
Back Story: Right after we finished hanging insulation I had a panic awakening one night with the thought of my electric not working. I knew once the drywall was hung it would be very hard and expensive to trace a bad line, so against my father’s wishes I dressed every outlet and switch to test every light and plug. Everything was working prior to Rogelio’s crew starting. When Rogelio did his walk through prior to starting he asked me if I planned to take the outlets and switches off and I said no. I asked if he was capable of measuring and cutting for the holes and he said yes. Later that day Cesar called and asked that I remove them as they could be faster and more accurate with routing out the holes. Reluctantly I agreed to remove all, but the 3-way and 4-way connections as I had paid my electrician to make those connections.
It has taken me 4 days to dress my gang boxes and it revealed 31 nicked or cut wires inside them. That works out to be about 1 in every 3 boxes. Fortunately I know how to make the repairs, but there is no way I should have needed to do so. I actually had to call in my electrician to help with the bedroom lights circuit because none of the bedroom lights worked after I did what I thought was needed. Despite my leaving the 3-way and 4-way switches in place, they managed to cut through two of them and that somehow impacted all the bedroom lights. That was a $233 expense that I feel Rogelio should cover. He does not agree. He actually feels I should pay him more money because the job was more difficult than he expected. Remember he walked through the house and accepted the job from Cesar based on that walk-through.
I don’t have a picture of the final crew, but the project was completed by Rogelio, Shortie, and Rogelio’s pre-teen son. Muscles went back to Mexico and Skinny left for a roofing job. What I was told would take 10 days, took 17.
Make sure the person hired is actually doing the work.
If a sub is involved, vet the sub.
Demand that at least one person on crew speaks and understands English fluently.
Protect my floors myself, don’t assume the contractor will.
Don’t hire a contractor under 40 years of age. Experience can only come with time and you need a person with experience.