Issues in Final Stages of Basement Remodeling

Answered by Jeffrey ~ August 26, 2011 ~ No Comments

I'm currently remodeling the bathroom in the basement. The contractor found some problems in the final stages of the project, and I need help figuring out who is responsible!

Justin G. ~ Manassas, Va

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Justin. I agree with you that there should not be any additional construction cost on the project that should be covered by you when the mistake was on the part of the general contractor or plumbing contractor. I would be surprised if there was cement in the drain line unless the line collapsed for some reason when the new cement floor patch was poured and it that's the case, the problem is larger than a blockage. I would think it more likely that some gravel got into the lines when they were being installed.

Most jurisdictions require that a pressure test be placed on drain lines before they're covered up, but unfortunately this test normally only indicates leaks and not potential blockages. The contractor may have done everything properly, but the blockage just went undetected. I wouldn't say that anyone was at fault in your situation -- it was just one of many types of accidents or mishaps that can happen in the construction industry. I have had to dig up main drain lines from the house to the street just prior to customer settlement due to blockages being discovered at the last minute.

The good news is that your contractor should be able to determine a fairly accurate location of the clog by using a plumbing snake or camera in the drain line and only have to cut up a small section of the floor.

If your contract for the project is fixed price, then the contractor's additional construction cost should not be passed on to you. While it was an unfortunate accident, it certainly shouldn't be your responsibility to bear the financial burden. General contractors encounter these types of issues every day and normally have the sub-contractor involved -- in this case the plumber -- correct the problem and any costs not covered by the plumber are absorbed by the general contractor.

The only exception that comes to mind would be if you have a "cost plus" contract with the general contractor where they submit a list of labor and material costs to you for payment plus a percentage on top to cover their overhead and profit. However, even if this is your arrangement, you should not have to pay for re-work that wasn't caused by you. If the contractor continues insisting you pay the costs, then you might want to seek advice from an attorney.

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