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Question DetailsAsked on 6/8/2016

We had a contractor build a front room for us. It started to leak, he came to fix it and then never came back

It was built 10 years ago.
Started to notice black stains on the wooden baseboards. He came over to take it off to see total decay, ants, tar paper eaten away and holes to the otuside through the mortar and stones on outside of home.

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1 Answer


Sounds like the mortar job was poorly done, or possibly flashing or watershield was not properly done.

After 10 years I would not expect him to provide free repair service on it, and any implied or expressed warranty has surely expired - so you should expect to pay for the work. One question you have to answer in your mind is if you think he is competent to do the repair, if his (or his subcontractor's) apparently substandard work was likely (unless there is obvious torn out flashing or damaged/missing siding at the damaged spot) the source of the problem in the first place. You might or might not want to give him a second chance to get it right, or you might decide that if he did not know how to keep the water out in the first place he probably does not know any better now. He might have learned in the last 10 years, but SOOO many people go by the truism that "Practice Makes Perfect" when that is not at all the case so most people keep on practicing bad or incorrect methods. Only "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect" - practicing doing it wrong does not make your product or result better, and that is generally only going to happen as a result of retraining or education on proper methods - not something most contractors do or are required to do.

Depending on how much decay you saw (and maybe after tearing off a bit more baseboard and bottom of the drywall to see the bottom plate and the bottom of the studs), might be a job for a Structural Engineer to first evaluate and recommend a fix if there is major structural/framing damage, or if more minor may be a case to go directly to a Foundation Repair or Remodeling- General Contractor contractor (your Search the List categories) to tear into and replace the damaged materials, sealing up deficient foundation mortar/grout and doing proper water sealing and flashing in the process.

How much wall repair will be needed, and if the water or ant (assuming carpenter ants here - very large jet shiny black ants) damage is into the flooring or subflooring or house framing - you don't know until you get into the situation. Ants may also have expanded subsidiary colonies into the walls or attic or such, so some tracing down may be needed, which commonly involves some additional localized drywall removal.

You will likely have to integrate the work with a visit by a pest control company - commonly, because of the toxicity of spray poisons, a non-poisonous (to humans) ant control powder is put down around the house (commonly a diatamaceous earth or borax compound which due to its sharpness or drying action damages their carapaces or tears up their intestines non-poisonously) to kill the existing ants in the home at least several weeks before the work starts, then the repair work is done, then ant poison baits or perimeter powder (or both) are put out to poison any remaining ant nests and exterminate them as well as to act as a preventative against their return to the scene of the crime. This last step is important - the survivors remember where the destroyed nest was and try to reaccess that area and rebuild in the same vicinity - and it is REAL hard to keep out ants that want in. This process kills off the existing in-house ants initially before repair work starts (necessary to prevent them picking up and moving out to set up multiple colonies elsewhere in the house when their nest is disturbed) and avoids the dangers of treating for the ants first with poison which the workers can then be exposed to in opening up the walls. Commonly chemical treatment, if in an area where termites or ants are a common issue, is also put into the walls before they are closed up, as a preventative against the ants returning and to catch any stray ones that were wandering around when the work was done and then came back to find their home missing. This requires close coordinaation between pest control and reconstruction contractors, and the GC's contract has to spell out stopping points for the treatment as appropriate and make HIM responsible for calling the pest control guy to get the treatment done when he is at those stages, and to prohibit him from going ahead with work or tearing out or closing up the areas before the appropriate treatment step is done.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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