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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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I am a woman and am not handy with home improvement

Customer Question

Hello, I am a woman and am not handy with home improvement projects.
I hired a large respected plumbing company to install new faucets in a marble bathroom sink. The faucets to be replaced were the original faucets put in by the builder of my highrise apartment building around 1986. These original faucets worked just fine, I just wanted a more updated, modern faucet. The owner of the plumbing company came to my apartment and showed me photos of new faucets online. He explained that I needed a widespread faucet, and that they were standard. He looked at the current faucets and said my selection of the Kohler Laure faucets would work just fine. I needed two faucets and one spigot.
Plumbing Company then sent a guy to remove the old faucets and replace with new ones. My bathroom is small, so I explained to the installer that I would go to lunch (in the same building), and that he could reach me if he needed me by calling the restaurant. The installer knew where the restaurant was and how to reach me. He had done plumbing work for many others in my apartment building.
When I returned from lunch the installer explained that the new faucets I had selected didn't fit, so he had had to "make the holes bigger." Apparently, he used a regular drill and drill bit on the marble. When I looked at his finished job, I saw that he had made the holes too big. There were gashes in the marble around the new faucets, some of them large. He had tried to fill in the gashes with white caulk.
It was very obvious that he had screwed up. I told him that I was not happy. He took photos with his phone, and said that he would give them to his bosses.
I sent a memo to the company the next morning explaining what he had done. They acknowledged the problem in an email and said they would take care of it. They said that they would get the damaged marble filled in -- and no one would know that there was ever a problem. My marble counter is 9 feet long, it has a back-splash all around it, as well as a large mirror behind it.
I told them that I didn't want a "patch job" and I was certain that any future home inspector would notice and reduce the price when and if I ever sell the unit. '
Yesterday, after I washed my hands and face, I noticed that water had splashed on the counter surrounding the new faucets. There was a bit of water on the counter. When I opened the cabinet, there was water dripping down the back side of the cabinet. This had never happened before the new faucet was installed.
The plumbing company owner, who is a plumber himself, had never even turned on the water when he inspected the damage on the counter surface. He had never looked under the sink to see if there was damage to the marble on the underside of the counter as well as the top.
A friend of mine crawled underneath cabinet and looked under the counter after we splashed a little water on top of the counter near the faucets. Sure enough, there was water dripping down the back of the cabinet under the sink.
I have not told the plumbing company about this yet.
They have been pressuring me hard to let them do cosmetic work to fix the gashes on the top of the marble.
I don't trust them. Should I get my own Master Plumber to go crawl in the cabinet under the sink and do a professional looking report on the damage he/she sees? Also, I think I should get the best marble company in town to see the situation and do a report as well.
This is a major headache for me. The Plumbing Company is trying to blow me off with a cheap cosmetic fix on the top.
I am 68 years old, and I don't need this additional stress.
I have an email where the Plumbing Company acknowledges that their person messed up. But they want to spend as little money as possible on the "fix". They had quoted a price of about $450 for the faucets and $400 for the original install.
A new counter would cost thousands and make a big mess.
They are a big company and can afford to pay for the costs involved to replace the counter.
If they can't satisfactorily fix the problems they created under the counter, which obviously weakened the marble, I am at risk not, and in the future when I go to sell the unit.
Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Dear Customer,I am sorry to learn of this situation and you are correct - the plumber is liable to you for the cost of replacement or repair to your sink and countertop to restore it to the condition that it should have been if they had performed the work correctly (this is called the "benefit of the bargain" damages for a breach of contract claim).Rather than go to several experts, I would recommend speaking with one of your friends in the building that can refer you to a good general contractor (or if you don't have a good reference, contact a local construction defect attorney and ask for a referral to a general contractor who does construction defect work). You really need a general expert to do this as opposed to getting multiple experts (this isn't something where you would need specialists in every field - the damages simply aren't high enough to need that type of specialization).If you can't get the plumber to settle with you for a reasonable agreement in direct negotiations I would recommend trying a dispute through the BBB (the BBB offers no cost dispute resolution to consumers - while they don't have any enforcement authority, they are fast and free, and they often get good results for consumers in your position - their disputes are posted publicly so there is a lot of pressure on businesses, especially large ones, to settle).If your BBB dispute is unsuccessful (or if you want to skip this step altogether), you can then file a breach of contract claim and sue for the cost of replacement repair - again a general contractor should be able to get you these estimates (you can go and get marble and plumbing experts if you wish, but really this is not necessary for this dollar figure).

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