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Cowboy contractor

Well it’s officially been two months since we demo’d our kitchen, I have to tell you I really thought I would have my new one by now, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

There was a miscommunication between myself and our contractor that led to a delay in obtaining our permits, then we went on vacation and here we are today, still no kitchen but it’s getting there slowly.

Flooring is so incredibly expensive, I had not realized just how expensive until we started this process, we have swung from replacing our whole 600 square feet room flooring, to tiling just the kitchen area and then just sanding our original pine flooring and restainining, well the cost for replacing the wood floor alone was $6000 and that was with a reasonably priced wood floor, to tile just the kitchen area was another $6000, and as much as I would love to do this I think a tile accent at a later date will be the way we will proceed.  We have settled for the bargain priced sanding and restainining of our original floor boards, it’s half the price of the other options but still in my opinion an expensive option at $3000.  We hired a flooring contractor recommended by our project manager, not thinking about how it all works in the US, we took this guy at his word, I’m not a stupid person but in this case I feel very idiotic, he wrote a number on a scrap piece of paper as a quote, we wrote him a check for $500 and then another one for $750 a few days later even though he hadn’t started any work.  One month later he started work on our floor, he was late every single day, not just 30 minutes either, he was 5 hours late some days, when he did eventually arrive he would unload his limited equipment and kind of work for about an hour, then there was always an excuse why he had to leave… A 2 day job was taking 6 days and counting.  After a couple of days and a couple of hours of work he asked for another check this time for $1250, of course he didn’t give us a receipt again, he also wanted another check at the end of this week for another $1250, he explained the wood he placed into our floor had escalated from $400 to over $1000, even though he only bought approx 30ft of wood at $2.65 a foot,  I was totally against paying him more money, but Paul wrote him the check and I, a couple of days later stopped that check, thankfully. His time keeping was terrible, his work ethic was horrible, he diluted the stain with mineral oil and emulsifier, it was so diluted the floor looked like it hadn’t had any stain on it the following morning to him applying it, even the second coat is a totally different color from the one he showed us.  It took him 20 minutes to stain our 600 square foot room, in out and gone, I looked at him mopping the watery stain on the floor one day and thought, I could do that myself.   I approached him about the mineral oil added to the stain and he assured me he wasn’t duping me, he had been doing this for 32 years, he knew what he was doing.


The worst thing he did in my opinion was lie to us about the stain he was using, he assured us he was using a water based stain, because the smell of oil was overpowering and not good for us to be living in the house, Paul and I had gone backwards and forwards over an oil based stain over a water based one, I had somewhere to stay whilst it was being done with our children if we used the oil based stain, in the end we decided on the water based stain, as he recommended it would be best, unfortunately he was a liar, he used a cheap oil based stain diluted with mineral oil paint cleaner, the smell was intoxicating, he did not warn us to ventilate the house properly, he did not open a window or door in our kitchen, he just left letting us think he had used a low odor water based stain, of course we ventilated the house as best we could, but we slept in the house with these horrible fumes, I allowed my 2 and 5 year old to breathe in these toxic fumes, we suffered from headaches, irritability, and breathing difficulties.  He had to apply this stain twice as he had diluted it so much the first time, and on both occasions he did not inform us or ventilate in any way, in my opinion causing damage to our health.

I have since fired him and I am in the process of retreiving our money, thankfully I stopped the second check, when he found out he was not happy.  After some research I have found out that in the State of New Jersey you need to be registered with the state to be able to do any kind of construction work here, you need to fully disclose your State registration number, your business name and address and proof of liability insurance, you also need to provide a written quote for anything over $500, he did not fulfill any of these requirements, I have since asked for this information and he hasn’t supplied it, so I’m guessing he is not registered and if so I am fully within my rights to report him to the New Jersey Department for Law and Safety, they will then prosecute him for my loss of money and the first fine he will receive is $10,000.  I have one thing to thank him for, I now know my rights and that I need to make sure anyone we use in the future has all the States requirements before we hire them.


This is my finished kitchen floor and it doesn’t match the color of the other end of the room at all.

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1 thought on “Cowboy contractor”

  1. Oh Karen, what a fustrating and maddening experience!!! We had run into similar situations and the stress is unbelievable. Hang in there my friend. Hopefully the next floor guy will be fantastic and before you know it, you’ll be drinking a glass of wine and laughing about the whole thing.

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