Problem with carpenters (not the band....)

Ok, here is my sad (but I guess I’ll laugh at it someday) story of buying a house in Taiwan and filling it up.

The house was pretty much straightforward to buy. Reason: In 20 new built residential areas in Yi-lan, it was the only one who managed to have a decent inside space arrangement (specially 2nd and 3rd floor). All the bathrooms have external light (kind of something I can not live without), are decent sized (the master bedroom one includes sink (big enough to do a dual one if I want), toilet with power plug for washlet, jacuzzi big enough for 2 (mounted in a corner) and shower with massage function (I personally added some wood in the jacuzzi and shower area so we can have a dry/wet area separation) and it is big enough for me to have to put lights (Broadway type, by Ikea) above the mirror) and good areas (hey… I like big bathrooms…).
It has 4 bedrooms plus an open area next to the master bedroom that will be my office for now (and maybe a japanese tea room in the future). Finishing up a veranda of decent size.
I didn’t like the kitchen they installed, so I bargained for a new one. As they couldn’t get to my Southern European standard (I would need the whole 1st floor to make a decent kitchen for my mom), they offered me a 100.000NT cash extra to pay for a new one. We found a decent one in Taipei that costed us 160K (full M, dishwasher included), after looking and looking and looking (maybe I’m just too difficult…)
The problems started when we needed someone to do the interior. The first house on our residential area is the one who, up till now, looks the better, so we asked for the carpenter contact. So we went to call him and set an appointment.
We discussed everything that we needed: fake ceiling on the living, kitchen and master bedroom, increase of an inside wall dividing the kitchen and living, sliding door between bedroom and walking closet, shoe cabinet, under stairs storage (2 small and 1 big in the first floor, 2 exterior drawers on the lower area, walk in in the highest, and wood separating our veranda.
He quoted us at first 80K for the work, which wasn’t that much, considering the work he would have to do. Then he asked us what we where thinking of putting in the closet, and we said probably we would use Ikea. He said he could build us also the closet, and asked for a design. We had a design we created in Ikea soft (we took it to do measures) and he said he would do it for 20K (Ikea price was at about 38K). We accepted, as long as he could provide the similar design. He said no problem. So we went downstairs, and we asked what would be the price for a tv set, following the Magiker design from Ikea. He said, if we wanted, everything would be 120K. As we were cutting about 65K from the Ikea list, we agreed.
Also, we asked if he knew some painter the day after, and we got a price tag of 50K for painting 3 ceilings and 1 wall, and, of course, rejected…
On the week before LNY, he started his work, alongside 2 other gents. On the first day of work, while we where there, he said that he was thinking what price tag the tv set should have (???). Of course, we had already agreed in the full price for all the work, so he would have no need to think about it. After 20 minutes of discussion, he finally remembered… We asked at the moment for the written price, and he refused to give us, saying that he was only protecting us. 2 days later, we returned, and found out some things where badly done (nothing to do with the original design, like shelves that are put at 2.2m high…). We started to have a small fuss there because that was simply stupid. His words where: “it looked strange, but I didn’t want to bother you to ask…” ( :astonished: ). Then some other details where completely wrong, like the extension of the wall went from 12 cm in design to 8, and the light switch for the kitchen was in the living (not exactly close to the kitchen, about 80 cm away from the point where it should be put). He also forgot important things like holes for the lights in the ceiling, power connection to the lamps in the ceiling… so we had to figure out how to do it (result of the last one was to put wood covering the cables going to a power plug, has to be painted to match the wall colour, but I guess no one will notice that is fake). By then I was completely fuming, but though to myself “the guy never worked in a project like this without an interior designer, so he must be really good at following orders only”. The shoe cabinet design was also something extraordinary (I can’t even speak), so the only solution was to make a new one - “I couldn’t imagine how you would want a shoe cabinet like the one you have designed, so I made a normal one”, his words…
Then came the LNY, we had our keys returned and everyone went in vacations. While we here in vacations, he asked my brother-in-law to go work, to make up for the time. When we arrived from our trip, we went home, and found out that he had already made almost everything. Also, he made a letter demanding that the price (because of our “sudden changes of design”) would now be 150K. We had agreed twice on the 120K mark, and where not wiling to change it. Then we went to see the house… it was so poorly done (specially the tv-set and the closet) that we started putting post-it’s on everything we found bad… only 72 points to revise… I’ll post some pics of the things he done, so that you can understand how bad that was.
We called him to go there the next day, so we could get him to redo everything. That day, the painter came (neighbour to my father-in-law) and he was so unimpressed (read disgusted) with the work, he said he needed so many things changed before he could start that we lost the count (of course, we can hide every detail with paint, but we don’t want to paint the whole house).
On the day after, at 8:30 am we arrived to our place, and found out tools from the carpenter, tv-set doors and some fixed stuff. As he supposedly has no keys, we called the police to denounce a break in (believe me, if this guy was normal we would let that one go, but we just can’t). So he arrived and the police was there, and it was 30 minutes of him explaining to the cops that his work was good, and us just trying to know why and how he managed to go inside (I had a mp3 player recording the whole conversation…). The cops made the report and, because he was our carpenter, decided that there wasn’t enough material to do anything (at that moment, but warned us that a second go and he gets a “go to jail card”. As our area is all new, there are several houses being worked, so he called some painters working in a house close by to testify to the police his work was good (we spoke with them the day after and they said that they only needed to see the shoe cabinet just to see how bad it was), but they didn’t want to get involved.
So the cops went away and my wife told him, either he fixes up everything or he wont see the rest of the money (we paid 50K after he finished the ceilings and the storages). He said he would make it, so, as we had an Ikea shipment arriving the day before, started to go do some DYI. After a while he said he needed to go, because he didn’t have enough tools to do his job, and asked us to be there the day after at 7:30am. We agreed…
Then comes the day of today… We were in a cab at 7:25 and he called us asking why we where not there (good way to say good morning). When we arrived, my wife picked up a chair and started to do some crochet (thanks mom). After 10 minutes of him working on the wood panels, his friend arrived to take care of the closet (a little information about this closet is that we actually had to buy pieces from IKEA for him (trouser hangers and tie hangers).
So they went to the second floor and 1 minute later the new guy calls my wife to tell her that she is crazy and he can’t possibly do everything written there to revise (and believe me, there are 24 points). The carpenter comes and tells him he has to do it, so they go to work on it. We decide at that moment to go buy breakfast (there are limits). While we where coming back from the breakfast shop (about 4 minutes walking), we see them going home, and telling us that they are taking the doors of the tv set and storage to remake. We went home to do eat breakfast and do some Ikea DYI, and after 1:30 hour, my wife calls the carpenter to ask when they where returning. Answer: “We will need 2 days at least to make the doors to match your standard” (6 pieces of wood + 4 glass pieces). From that moment, we knew something was wrong, so we started to think that they wanted to put some pressure on us to accept the work like it is (if they take long time, it simply delays everything). So we told them, that if Friday everything isn’t repaired, they can forget about coming back (and, of course, no money). We will ask someone else to finish his job (the painter said that with work it can be done to acceptable standards).
So we arrived Taipei, and, while we where on the train, the carpenter called us that we cannot do anything, because the materials are all his. So we decided to look for information and legal stuff.
My wife found out that, according to the law, if we consider the work the be defective, we are entitled to ask for repair, and to establish a deadline (all things we did). After that, the contract is considered null, and we can even ask for compensation (you don’t know how much time we lost already with this).

So, we are now quietly waiting for Friday to come to send him a nice contract termination letter by registered mail. Probably, what will happen is that someone else will take his job, and that we have to pay someone else to finish it (hope not 70K…).

This is what happened until now, I will add the photos for your viewing pleasure, and will keep you updated on this matter.

Cheers
Miguel

Wow, I feel for you.
We had a situation where we changed back from the kind of tiled (office) ceiling to plain wood plates… You should have seen the job they did. My 6x6m living room is still a patchwork of shadows, but after 5 return jobs with 4-5 persens each time, they managed to do it at 30K. Luckily, I felt wealthy at that time, but every time i look up I hate it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/17105585@N00/

Here they are… alive and kicking…

I’d buy the stuff and do it myself (maybe hire a few helpers or friends)

Carpenters really suck here, You think Tim the Toolman Taylor is bad? wait til you meet a carpenter here…

Wow. You would have gotten much better quality with Ikea. :exclamation:

I hope you didn’t pay him yet … this looks like a rip out and redo job to me …

in the recording we have there is so much stuff we can use in a legal case against him (not forgetting the fact that he has record in the police for breaking in our house) that I think he will reconsider a lot before coming to our place again.

You just don’t understand true art. Typical. Refusing to allow a craftsman to fully express himself.

what part of those pictures is art? For sure, not Art Deco…

He definitely had another view on details than we have …

Wow. Sorry about this, mr_boogie.
We recently had a workman break into our new flat to do some work. Really pissed us off. I wonder if that is considered normal here.

mr_boogie,

If he’s a carpenter, I’m a brain surgeon!

Whatever you do, don’t pay this idiot until you are satisfied. Somebody wrote something somewhere on this forum the other day along the lines of “losing money = the sum of all fears” here in Taiwan. Sadly, I have to agree.

Also, the overall quality of workmanship in general here is just terrible. It looks to me as if most capentry here is done using inferior plywood, some silicon, and a staple gun! :noway:

It appears as if the locals here don’t mind paying lots and lots of hard-earned money for poor workmanship — and here I don’t restrict my statement to carpentry only. :noway:

Well, we called Yi-lan mayors office and they said that, after friday, we just need to have pictures of the “work” he has done, and then they will provide us a free lawyer in case of need. The guy is so dead that even the fact he took out the doors is considered offence. So, here is an advise for all of you. The law says clearly that if the work is badly done, you have the right to ask for repair within a deadline, and after that deadline the contract is considered terminated. You can even ask for compensation if you want (although that would have to be done in the court of law).
Saturday we will have another carpenter repairing his work, so that we can start painting the house. The painter already said to us that for the doors and repairs those furnitures need, it won’t take more than 5K. So, in the end, the whole thing will stay at about 55K (which is not bad considering how much work is there). Also, if he wants to play something on us, we have it covered, as the police has a break in report (and he admitted he went inside). So, if he really wants to bury himself, we have a big hole ready.

I was just pulling your plonker, mr boogie. The guy’s a complete cowboy, of course.

I know sand, I played along…