The short: I hired TR Young Services to completely re-do the floor of the bathroom in my DC rowhouse (new joists, new plumbing, reconfigure, add floor heat). Some of the work was great, but many details were missed and nearly three years later, when they finally finished, the floor tile looks atrocious. And my standards are not particularly high.
The long: here we go. When I was selecting a contractor, one thing Thomas emphasized was the fact that T.R. Young had employees do all of the work – they didn’t subcontract. I liked that. When the work started, we learned that the guys doing the work had just gone from being employees to being subcontractors. That didn’t set a good tone, but we liked them and the work they did. In fact, we liked a lot of the work they did. They were nice, they cleaned up after themselves, and much of the work they did was great.
So what were the problems? As they finished up the project, lots of details got missed. They left gaping holes (¾”) in the floor tile at the radiator pipe penetrations. When I mentioned that, I was given two escutcheon plates, and I had to stuff and caulk the holes and install the plates myself. Other pipe penetrations got no escutcheon plates. The shower curtain rod was never installed properly. The shower plumbing got very scratched up. They didn’t use an elastic grout along the walls, so the grout there cracked immediately. And then there is the electric floor heat.
I wanted hydronic heat for the floors, but Ron, the one who handled my project, convinced me that electrical heat would be great. And it was great, except for the cold spots, in front of the commode and the sink, where one tends to place bare feet. I asked if it was fixable or if it was just something we would have to live with. Ron said he could fix it. So he tried. Over the course of well over a year, they took part of the floor up, tried to fix the heating mesh several times, and failed. Then they tried to order some sort of patch kit, but after months abandoned that idea.
At some point, one of the workers broke the leveling foot on the sink console. This was never mentioned to us – we discovered it ourselves. And when we called Kohler, we were told that the leveling foot cannot be replaced, and that the entire console ($300) is therefore a loss.
At another point, I got an email from Ron asking if we could make an early progress payment because he was having cash flow problems.
After about a year of back and forth on the floor heat, Ron finally said that it couldn’t be fixed, so they would have to take up the entire floor where the heating mesh was and re-install it. The result is abysmal. It is the worst tile job I have ever seen. The tile is a simple pinwheel pattern, and the little squares and rectangles now stick up all over the place, making it very lumpy. In addition, the grout lines go from about a half of an inch wide to next to nothing. And the new tile doesn’t match the tile they used earlier. Grout was left not only on tops of the tiles, but also in random spots around the bathroom. And, again, they used non-elastic grout at the wall border, and it has all cracked.
As for the heat, when I went to test it, I learned that the new controller that they installed isn’t programmable like the original one. It takes about 45 minutes for the heat to kick in, so normally you set the controller to heat the floor to a temperature by the time you wake up to use the bath. No way to do that with this controller, making it not particularly useful. I have tested the floor heat, and found it wanting. Even after 45 minutes or more, there are cold spots.
I told Ron about the uneven tile, and he said he would come take a look. That was over two months ago. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, because I really can’t trust them to do the job right. We are so, so disappointed. And we are stuck with a terrible-looking bathroom floor that doesn’t heat up properly.