Sep 4, 2016
Unreliable and poor craftsmanship
Let me preface this experience by saying Ray seems like a nice guy. But this project ended up being a big letdown. His craftsmanship was extremely poor and he was very unreliable. By far my worst experience with a contractor. So if you’re planning on hiring Ray for a job, I would highly recommend getting an agreement and timeline on paper so you can protect your money and force him to actually deliver what was agreed upon.
An overview of the project:
- pine treads, which can be stained and look nice (later was upgraded to Walnut)
- pickets at intervals that accent the staircase
- poplar wood top rail or steel
- tear down old staircase and rebuild staircase in 2 days
- project to be completed in early August
Ray was supposed to begin project in the first week of August. This was a major factor in why I chose to go with him instead of another contractor. After we came up with a verbal agreement and he received a deposit, he pushed start of project up to August 15th. But he blew me off and finally began project on the 17th (he tried to push more, but I voiced my displeasure and he finally agreed to start on this date). Even then, he demo’d the stairs and did not leave us access to basement - which was part of original agreement.
He then pushed off “finishing” the project until August 19th. He agreed he would check back in a week and fix items that were problematic. I trusted him and paid him in full on the 19th after we came to an understanding he would return and complete the job.
What he had left to do was:
- add a final step, as we agreed upon
- add a newel post, as we agreed upon
- fix the first step, which was 1 1/2" longer than all the other steps - this made the 2nd step 1 1/2" shorter than the other steps and awkward/unsafe to step onto
- fix the railing, which was aligned over half a foot off
- fix the 2nd to last rider which had a huge gap
- fix anything else we were not happy with
I wanted the stairs fixed and properly finished before I brought my newborn child back from the hospital, so he agreed to come back on August 24th to finally finish up this half-month “2-day” project. He again blew me off and did not provide a time when he could come by. I tried to follow up with him a few times, but received no response. I was obviously low priority since he was already paid in full.
I finally gave him a deadline to finish the project August 29th so I could move on with my life. He was not happy about that. He felt the items I outlined were out-of-scope (there was a point about sanding that he was correct on, but everything else I mentioned were in original scope). We agreed to part ways. I was on my own - as per my suggestion - to finish the project and get the stairs into an acceptable state.
When I pointed out all the issues with his craftsmanship, he said I received what I paid for. I had to remind him the agreement was to utilize cheaper materials to keep the cost down. At no point in time was deterioration in craftsmanship ever discussed. In the end, I feel the project was at best only 3/4 complete.
A few other important notes:
- he never disposed of the stairs that were demo’d (as we agreed upon). He just left them in my driveway. I was sick of looking at them for a week, so I disposed of myself.
- used a ton of re-purposed materials that he took from previous jobs, further enhancing his profits from this job
- during initial meeting, offered to fix a lighting fixture for my wife. Still have not received that item and based on our experience not expecting to get that back at all.
Be sure to protect yourself if you decide to hire Ray.
Replied to Dave P. - Sep 5, 2016
you and your wife completely agreed on what I did, she made me change the banister and I did not use one piece of reclaimed wood. You agreed on the oak treads before they were bought,you wanted that 1.5 inches added to your step. I told you I would be back in one week after the baby and you texted me 2x a day everyday for a week Really your got what you paid for. ! you did not talk to me one time or answer you're phone you text every thing. the contractors doing the bath even thought the steps looked great for what you paid. Even you said they looked great, right when you handed me the money ! OH, yes, I do see a spot of white paint on one tread. Wow. we're done!