I recently took a call from a disgruntled owner who just completed a very unsatisfactory $1 million floor renovation which included the extensive use of porcelain and natural stone tile. Now that he can’t live with the finished product he is out to sue everyone involved.

This job was really unusual since a project of this caliber was completed with very few specifications. The tile, grout and other visual items were selected and approved, but the site conditions were never addressed with the owner.

When the tile installer looked at the job, he noticed that the floor was 1 1/2 in. out of level and not flat enough to install the large-format tile. The slab was also heavily cracked. The tile contractor brought these issues to the attention of the general contractor, but was told to bid the job as inexpensively as possible, not worry about the condition of the substrate and not tell the homeowner about the problems.

The job was not yet completed and already had numerous broken tiles, as seen in the attached photo. Ironically, the broken tiles occurred in the area where the deepest fill would have been required to flatten the floor. You may ask how it was determined that the broken tiles were the result of improper floor preparation. The homeowner was a camera guy who was excited to chronicle the progress of his project—little did he know that he was documenting a failure.

The details for this project could go on for several more paragraphs, but the point here is that the tile contractor should have known better. He did tell the general contractor that the substrate was not tile-ready but he was told, “Don’t worry about it. Just get it done.” That’s when the tile contractor should have walked away. He did not, and will most likely end up paying for some—if not all—of this failure.

When bidding a job, look at all of the jobsite conditions, bid them accordingly and stand by your assessment of the job. Being talked into doing this job was a bad choice. Just be glad it wasn’t you.