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What Happens When You Hire a Bad Subcontractor

Finding the right subcontractor is an important step in the construction process, but sometimes we hire the wrong person. Learn how to stand your ground with bad subcontractor.

Written by Gary Saymansky
Photography by Gary Saymansky
What Happens When You Hire a Bad Subcontractor
Photo Credit: Gary Saymansky


Building a log home requires many moving pieces. Before the day you finally get to move into the home you’ve been planning for years, you will deal with dozens of people and encounter personalities of all sorts. In Becky’s and my experience, most of these people have been a pleasure to work with; but unfortunately, there have been a few bad apples in the bunch.

Setting expectations up front is essential when you’re engaging a wide range of subcontractors for a custom build. I made it very clear with all of our subcontractors that we will not pay for other people’s mistakes — a policy that is standard practice with most subs. Our contract with our builder, Raymar Log Homes, included installing materials up to the roofline, including the tar paper, which they did flawlessly. For the shingles, we decided to outsource the material procurement and installation to a different contractor. Unfortunately, this is where we encountered our first “bad” subcontractor.
 
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Photo Credit: Gary Saymansky
With the log walls in place, Gary's builder, Raymar Log Homes, set the roof sheathing and installed the underlayment flawlessly.

We chose Owens Corning’s green architectural-style shingles to give the roof depth and match the trim color of our windows and doors. When the shingles arrived at our site, I knew immediately that there were not enough. I brought this to the attention of the roofer. He assured me that there were plenty shingles and went as far to question my ability to determine the quantity of shingles needed.

As it turned out, they were short; in fact, they missed the entire sunroom roof completely! Immediately the subcontractor began asking for additional money, and I told him from the beginning that we do not pay for other people’s mistakes. A few weeks later, he did bring the shingles that were missing, but still he demanded more money for materials and installation. Knowing we were in the right, we refused.
 

Our only recourse at this point was to withhold a substantial portion of his final payment until he made it right. Eventually, he accepted responsibility and completed the work, but it took some time and doing to get it done. On the downside, when the roofing crew finally finished laying the shingles, they did it on the hottest day of the summer, and their shoes “marked” the shingles with the roofing tar. When I noticed the problem, I called Owens Corning, who sent a rep to our site to look at the issue. Unfortunately, the installer’s carelessness voided my warranty on the materials. If we want to fix the problem, we’ll have to back to the subcontractor for restitution. Given the challenges we had getting him to provide the materials we ordered in the first place, Becky and I decided this is a fight for another day.
 
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Photo Credit: Gary Saymansky
But when it came time to lay the home's architectural shingles, the subcontractor Gary hired fell short, neglecting to have enough materials to finish the job and had no shingles for the sunroom. Gary stood his ground and the roof got done.

The bottom line is that no build is going to go perfectly. There are going to be hiccups along with way. Becky and I felt we did our due diligence when selecting our subcontractors, but it’s important to keep on top of them and handle any misunderstandings early and firmly. Stand your ground and keep a positive attitude.