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How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?

 
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:20 PM   #1
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How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


I have a customer who is not satisfied with the drywall finish in their one year old house. They were satisfied at completion but during the first year they have had a few nail pops show up and a couple butt seams that can be seen when the light hits them just right.

But these few things lead them to scour the entire house with a halogen flashlight. Seams and inside corners that look perfectly fine and acceptable in broad daylight, look awful with a halogen shining across them. Inside corners specifically show ripples and bumps at the nails but you can not see them without that light laid flat in the corner shining parrallel to it.

Our contract calls for arbitration if a dispute arises. We may be getting there. My question because I've never had to deal with this before is this. If the experts we pick agree that a corner looks fine under normal circumstances is it normal to let the homeowner then light it up like that? If it looks good, how far is considered acceptable for them to try and make it look bad?

Btw- I say nail pops but yes we do screw everything.
Also out of curiosity I went through my own house with a halogen. My inside corners surprisingly look identical and I have never been unhappy with their finish.
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:27 PM   #2
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


I make sure all corners are finished by using a powerful light source. That way when you have customers like this. I had one not long ago who done the same thing with a light but I made sure it was perfect. But they have to remember there's a general rule of thumb of 6ft from the wall is an acceptable distance to notice flaws. The issue is you may or may not be able to see them problems at 6ft if the light hits it just right. I have been able to see drywall issues from 20ft away when the light hits it right but couldn't see the issues at all from 5ft away with normal light. I would say fix the issues and learn from the mistake.

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Old 03-03-2013, 09:34 PM   #3
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


Thanks for the reply. Yes from 5-6' away these corners look flawless. The only way they look bad is when they lay the flashlight in the corner and shine it up the corner.

I'm all for fixing any problems and keeping customers happy. But if they have to do something so unusual to expose the problem, is it really a problem?
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:39 PM   #4
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


I would say its not really a problem as people ain't gonna be standing there holding flashlight into corners but if they ain't happy they ain't happy.

Its an awkward situation because they been happy with it for a while and now they are going over it with fine tooth comb.
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:42 PM   #5
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


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Originally Posted by ECinc View Post
I have a customer who is not satisfied with the drywall finish in their one year old house. They were satisfied at completion but during the first year they have had a few nail pops show up and a couple butt seams that can be seen when the light hits them just right.

But these few things lead them to scour the entire house with a halogen flashlight. Seams and inside corners that look perfectly fine and acceptable in broad daylight, look awful with a halogen shining across them. Inside corners specifically show ripples and bumps at the nails but you can not see them without that light laid flat in the corner shining parrallel to it.

Our contract calls for arbitration if a dispute arises. We may be getting there. My question because I've never had to deal with this before is this. If the experts we pick agree that a corner looks fine under normal circumstances is it normal to let the homeowner then light it up like that? If it looks good, how far is considered acceptable for them to try and make it look bad?

Btw- I say nail pops but yes we do screw everything.
Also out of curiosity I went through my own house with a halogen. My inside corners surprisingly look identical and I have never been unhappy with their finish.
Does not sound fun at all. Whatever the outcome of this pending dispute, I hope you incorporate an "acceptable standards for installed materials" clause in your contract to CYA in the event that this happens again. Probably won't happen again, but a few minutes of typing might save you in the future.
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:02 PM   #6
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


You should be in the clear. I would maybe even refer them to USGs level guide for drywall. I believe they suggest that if there is going to be any abnormal amount of light(among other things like high gloss) on the wall then a level 5 is recommended. Which of course would be much much more money since it is basically 5 times as labor intensive.

Couldnt find the usg one i had in mind but here is some info you could print out to bring to the arbitration from NG. http://nationalgypsum.com/resources/...revisiting.htm
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:10 PM   #7
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


What level of finish did they pay for? Level 3 is the most common. Enough to make it look flat but not enough to make it look flawless under harsh lighting.

If they paid for a level 5 then they have a complaint. If they paid for standard then you can tell them stand 5' away under normal lighting conditions and if they can find defects then they should be repaired.

But now since they know where all the defects are you can't really trust them to be truthful about the conditions of the wall.

Have the arbitrator come into the home and decide for themselves.

The pops and butts should be fixed as long as it is within your warranty period.
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:34 PM   #8
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


What level of finish were you shooting for, and what level did you actually get? What did the customer originally expect? What level is he expecting now? Did you use better lighting conditions mudding than could be expected for normal lighting?

Maybe he should have asked for a level 5 finish, but that really would have to be called out up front.

Would I agree a grazing light inspection should be about perfect on a level 5 finish? Sure.
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:40 PM   #9
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


You need to start by acting in visibly good faith. If there are things that you currently agree need to be fixed, you should give them a written offer to do the fixes right away, providing a specific list of items that you think should be fixed. That will put you on the strongest footing in the event that there are remaining issues that need to be arbitrated.

As far as the standard goes, construction defects have been litigated and arbitrated to death. An arbitrator or expert will use manufacturer's instructions and industry specs. USG's description of levels 1-5 is here: http://www.usg.com/documents/constru...k/chapter5.pdf

I'd think that the fact that they've lived there for 1 year without complaint would be in your favor.
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:48 AM   #10
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guidelines. You will cringe as you read it because you swear that you would never build something that only met the minimum standards.

But once every ten years or so, when that odd customer goes sideways with the halogen, you'll have something to measure it by.

Well worth the $25.00. Incorporate it into your future contracts.

http://secure.builderbooks.com/cgi-b...lderbooks/620#
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:53 AM   #11
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


Great references fellas! That is why I love this site.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:44 AM   #12
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


Just for what it's worth - for residential work, it's difficult to justify aiming lower than level 3. And level 3 is a pretty high standard.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:01 AM   #13
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


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Originally Posted by Timo View Post
NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guidelines. You will cringe as you read it because you swear that you would never build something that only met the minimum standards.

But once every ten years or so, when that odd customer goes sideways with the halogen, you'll have something to measure it by.

Well worth the $25.00. Incorporate it into your future contracts.

http://secure.builderbooks.com/cgi-b...lderbooks/620#
Standards are great - there are a lot of guys out there that don't know about them,
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:07 AM   #14
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


I agree and lived that. I never knew that there where levels of drywall finish until I started hanging around on U.S. forums. Never ever heard anyone talk about them at all up here in the frozen tundra of Canuckville.

My inlaws built a house 4 hours north of here. The builder told them that he could come back and fix any bad seams and nail pops. Sure enough one year later he came back and had the taper fix anything that was wrong. Even a couple things that he didn't have too. I was really impressed.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:04 PM   #15
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


People are strange. People will complain about things after strange periods of time. Never during their walk through. Most likely what happened was a friend or family member in the trade pointed it out, out of spite and now they are complaining. It's happened to me before. Laid down 500 sq.ft of 12mm laminate last summer and installed quarter round in one day. Started 9am and finished by 8pm. Clean-up, payment and final walk-through took about 2hrs. During the walk-through the floor looked good, no complaints. Got a thank you very much, and I was on my way. Get a call months later asking me if I can swing on by because there is a problem with the floor. I was in the area so I stopped within 30 min of the call.

What were the problems?
1) In the closet the builder terminated the baseboard like 2" before the wall where the door was on. I don't know why so you can see the expansion joint, because there is no baseboard there so I didn't put quarter round.

2)The wall is crooked and its noticeable now with the straight floor opposed to the carpet. I didn't put the walls up nor touch the wall.

The client happened to be my hair dresser. What happened in the time I completed the job to the time I went back. Client of her's went to get his hair cut, a fellow tradesman to be polite, noticed the floor and started to find things to nit pick because he didn't get the contract and I did.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:10 PM   #16
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


finish standards are normal light and six feet.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:04 PM   #17
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


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Originally Posted by Greg from K/W View Post
I agree and lived that. I never knew that there where levels of drywall finish until I started hanging around on U.S. forums. Never ever heard anyone talk about them at all up here in the frozen tundra of Canuckville.

My inlaws built a house 4 hours north of here. The builder told them that he could come back and fix any bad seams and nail pops. Sure enough one year later he came back and had the taper fix anything that was wrong. Even a couple things that he didn't have too. I was really impressed.
How was the painting/touch up handled?
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:03 PM   #18
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


According to the amount of coats applied my drywaller put on a level 4 and primed it.

As far as our specs or what was promised the customer, levels were never discussed.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:50 AM   #19
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


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Just for what it's worth - for residential work, it's difficult to justify aiming lower than level 3. And level 3 is a pretty high standard.
I wouldnt go as far as saying level 3 is a high standard. Level 3 is a good start for a plaster finish going over the top or a heavier hand texture.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:27 AM   #20
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Re: How Far Can A Customer Go To Make Drywall Look Bad?


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I wouldnt go as far as saying level 3 is a high standard. Level 3 is a good start for a plaster finish going over the top or a heavier hand texture.
Chris, I agree that level 3 is the starting point. It still requires considerable care, and many nominally level 3 jobs don't meet the level 3 standard. No tool marks in particular.

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