My Big HUGE Remodel Disaster!

remodel disaster

I asked on Facebook last night and you guys wanted me to tell my remodel disaster story. So here I am. It is a mess and we are still in the middle of it, it is not close to being over and I am actually embarrassed to tell anyone had bad I screwed this one up.

This was my living room before. Nothing wrong with it. Previously there was beautiful wood paneling that was painted over before we bought it, but since the railing on the stairs and the balcony just didn’t look right to me. They looked awesome in pictures we have seen with all wood. But painted they have bugged me. I thought it would look much better with wrought iron. I priced it out and waited a while. I priced it out again and figured I had a few options.


I could buy a kit from Home Depot, and have it look just like everyone else’s in town. OR, I could buy the materials and have someone build me a “custom” banister that would really be awesome with all the cool old features of this house.

Pricing it out, I thought I would be about $300 more for the custom which over the 30 years we plan on living here seemed like it would be worth it.

I had 3 people/companies come and give me estimates. Well, they were supposed to anyway. No one EVER got back to me with the actual estimate! I called each of them back and reminded them, and still no estimate. I started to think something was wrong with me or my house. In talking to friends I am finding this is very common, it is difficult to get someone to actually get back to you. Weird. After a month of looking I finally placed an add on Craigslist asking for a welder with experience. Still crickets.

After a month and I had forgotten the ad, a man emailed me and asked if he could come give me an estimate. We talked on the phone and he seemed really motivated to work and was sending me some pictures over of work he had done.


He came by and after a very lengthy conversation, he works another full time job but wanted to do this on the side for some extra Christmas money. He talked a good talk and we agreed to buy the material and he would start Saturday. When asked what he was charging, he said I need to make $200 a day, and it will take 2 days. I am figuring on $400 for labor and about $400 in supplies….

$800 in supplies later, and he doesn’t show up on Saturday. Sunday he gets there with a friend and they announce they had to rent a welding machine which they want us to pay for. My husband is finally involved and was like, “um, don’t bid a job if you don’t have the tools” so they decide that they will pay for it. They rip out all the wood railings and get a few things welded and decide they are done for the day. Ummm, what am I supposed to do without railing and little kids???!!!! OMG! My husband rigs something up and they promise to be back next Saturday. My house is tore up and we make it clear we have a huge birthday party in 2 weeks and MUST have it be safe for all the kids coming over.

IMG_6288My husband getting the wood ready for the railing that doesn’t exist.

Long, long, long story kinda short. He finally just doesn’t show up because I think he was actually so embarrassed over the fact he had no idea what he was doing and had wasted so much material and time. He never showed up on time, everything was done sloppy, he didn’t appear to have any welding skills, he seemed to be stoned (I am not joking) occasionally, he built the rail that goes up the stairs completely wrong to the point of not being able to save the material. All this and we had paid him $650 up to this point. Why? Because I guess we are stupid and fell for his sob story, after story, even my husband who isn’t a softie felt like he was telling the truth. *oh and I have to have a birthday party here filmed for a commercial with no railing. Awesome.

* oh wait, AND this guy took all the leftover and messed up material and WON’T return it.

My husband determined to not let me screw this up even more hires someone to come fix it.

This guy has a company name this time, written on the side of his truck, actually writes us an estimate and is supposed to start in 2 days. We go and RE-BUY all the material again. This guy doesn’t show up for a few days and gets working on it. His estimate was around $400 to build the rail going up the stairs. Should take him a day. Three days later and he goes to install it, IT DOES NOT FIT. He did the same stupid thing as the first guy and didn’t build a frame first and all the pickets were off at the top.


Not only does the railing going up the stairs not fit, but the 2 sections at the top don’t fit. See, I guess the welding gets so hot that it can warp the iron if you are not welding it on a jig. They were not. The entire sections are warped and can’t be used unless you can bend iron, and they can’t do it. MORE WASTED MATERIAL.

My husband is soooooo pissed, he tells this guy to go home. It is right before Christmas and we are just too tired to deal with it. Oh, and at this point, the second guy has been paid $600.

At this point we are out $2900 and have nothing to show for it.

Last week, the 2nd guy starts texting my husband again asking if we got it done or if he can try again. We are both just so sick of it, that I think we are getting used to the no rail on the stairs and the weird set up that we have keeping kids from falling out of the hallway, that we considered giving him another shot. Paul goes AND BUYS MATERIALS AGAIN. He has to, no matter who does it, we have to have the materials for them to do it. This is the THRID time.


 This piece is so warped it won’t fit in the space.

The guy comes by, they talk for a couple hours about what to do. He leaves with some of the pieces and then starts texting back “when can he come by and pick up some money?” Umm, I am sorry, what? So far he has been paid $650, and we have nothing to show for it, and he wants more cash? His argument is that he can’t work for free. Ours is that we have already paid him for the stairs and have nothing. It is not our fault he screwed it up the first time, he needs to make it right. We will absolutely pay him to fix the 2 top sections the other guy did… but pay him to do the stairs over again? Nope.

He kept arguing he wanted more money and so my husband just said goodbye.

In the mean time we have called 2 other places who are supposed to come out and give us estimates, but they have been a little flaky just on the phone. In a city this size why is it so hard to find someone who can weld and is competent?

I should have just left a perfectly good railing alone. I am out $3700 at this point and have nothing to show for it. I am so sick to my stomach when I look at it, that I am afraid I will never like anything that is there. I have always done all my own remodeling, from kitchens to bathrooms and have never messed anything up so badly. We have had to use money that was set aside for far more important things to try and fix this, I feel horrible.

Any advice?

P.S. I will say I had to leave so much of this story out as far as the guys we were dealing with or you would have never been able to read it! But I think you get the point of what we were dealing with and how I got into the mess.


  1. christiana says

    Oh I feel your pain and frustration. I hired a guy just to retile the shower and it was so shotty and he said it was b/c he gave me a low estimate and we remodeled the rest of the bathroom and when I started pointing out his bad job he wanted to talk smack about the job my hubby did. It is our house and my hubby works 60+ hrs a week so the part he remodeled might not be perfect but he did it and I was happy but oh I can relate

  2. Ann says

    Oh MY Goodness!!!! I wish we had welding experience & welder, we would come help you! Who shows up for a job & has to go rent the equipment to do it! Sad thing is, typical nowadays. We learned a long time ago about all the shady players. A tornado hit our house & we needed extensive work to be done. After getting scammed one too many times I was done hiring out. It took 2 years, but thank the Lord for the internet. I would have never thought I could learn how to rebuild a wall, etc, etc & it’s actually still standing, LOL. What a disaster, SO SORRY. The wrought iron is going to be BEAUTIFUL though : )

  3. Nickie says

    OMG! I think we used the same guy. LOL (not really funny but what else can you do but laugh and cry) Our guy talked such a great game. Lots of big plans. Was helping us out on costs because we didn’t have a lot to work with, but we knew the guy from years past so we proceeded. Never thought this would happen to us. He never showed up on time, took 1 month to do our roof and half of our bathroom. The bathroom looked like crap, the tiles were lined up, the toilet was installed crooked, and the tub was installed wrong too. Ugh! After 4 months, he finally showed up to finish our roof. But we had to tear out everything in the bathroom and we’re gonna have to do it ourselves.
    We felt horrible that this happened to us. We feel better that this can happen to anyone. Thank you for your story. Really hope y’all are able to get this project done soon. :)

  4. Crystal Stearns says

    I have your fix. No kidding. These people do excilent work. Have their iron stone stair railing in my own home. Call latham Stairs and Milwork. Sanger, TX, (north of Dallas) 940-458-3075.
    There was no on site welding, everything came precut and easy to install. So sorry for your problems. I don’t 2 whole howe remodles and know how overwhelming it can be.

  5. Carina says

    So sorry to hear this! Unfortunately, what you are describing is very common. We own our own business and have the hardest time finding vendors, they don’t call us back, and every custom order we get has had some kind of problem. And don’t even get me started on house projects! My husband has ended up doing all the work for us because even doing it for the first time, he does a better job for 1/3 the cost. Unfortunately, this means we have a lot of projects 90% done :-). Hope you find some help soon, wish I could recommend someone.

    • Tiffany says

      Carina, In talking to people I am also finding that this is common and it is really sad. If someone is actually motivated and competent they could really make some money remodeling. they are just so few and far between. :(

  6. Roxana says

    Before you hire a company to do any remodeling, foundation, or basicly any work. I personally would ask the company for references. If the company has none to give move along. Or look for the BBB logo. If the company has the BBB logo you can actually go to the web site and read reports good or bad from the consumers. If the workers do a bad job once and screw you over don’t give them a second time to do it again. Right now with the way things are anyone will say anything just to get money in their hands. People can actually cut pictures from the internet to make it look like they did that work just to have something to show you!! TO many con artist out there for looking for a quick way to get cash. I am so sorry this happened to you and is still on going! Remember references!! not just 1 or 2 either. Your home is your biggest investment. Good luck with whoever you hire next. Just my advice.

  7. says

    HOLY CRAP, Tiffany! I can’t believe that freaking mess! I am sure you are drained and exhausted but I would be SO FREAKING PISSED!!!!!! Have you considered from scrapping the wrought iron, and going back to wood? So many more people can do wood than metal. It just sounds terrible. And such a hazard!!

    I think one precaution to take if you DO hire someone else again is to make sure they are licensed and bonded- this helps protect you. Also have a written contract. My sister had a contractor nightmare a few years ago, and the company basically went under in the middle of the job. She was able to do something about it though because they were a real business.

    Good luck. Holy crap. What a disaster!

  8. Sami says

    When I decided to redo railings on my grandmother’s house, my uncle was the one to suggest a local welder who at the time was more familiar with doors and gates. The welder didn’t even know what to charge us but said he would do his best. It ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made. He knew iron like the back of his hand! My suggestion is to find someone who has more experience with gates and doors. They know how to weld more well than a simple handy man.

  9. Jill says

    Why haven’t you gotten your money back from both. You paid for a job done and they did not do it and they should pay for the Materials they ruined. We have owned a few bunisesses that we were providing a service and have always known if it wasn’t done right then we didn’t get paid. If you have to take them to small claims. I know it’s hard. I don’t like it either but they failed in the ” contract ” that y’all had to get the job done right. Don’t get ran over by these guys. If they are ripping you off they are doing it to others too. That’s just my 2 cents.

    • Tiffany says

      This is ongoing right now as we speak, not something that happened a while ago! We are still in the I want my supplies and things back right now talking to them. I am sure they know it is a PIA for us to go to small claims court, but I am thinking that is where we will have to go. Thank you for the encouragement!!

  10. julie says

    my husband does kitchens (cabinet, granite, sinks etc..,) He is the one he manufacturers call to fix what other dealers and remodelers have messed up. You might be lucky it wasn’t the kitchen with 7 kids. He has seen kitchens that are torn up with families (moms) ready to check themselves into the hospital after dealing with the mess and unethical contractors. GOD BLESS an I hope you get it all fixed soon.

  11. Kristi Tabor says

    I wish my dad lived in Texas! He did our stairs when we built in Louisiana, and he did a wonderful job. I know he would do it for you and be reliable. Maybe he can take a little road trip??????

  12. says

    Tiffany, Been there done that! Sometimes I complain because we have SO many “projects” that need to be finished, but we have decided that doing it ourselves really is best. Yeah it’s nice to have someone else break their back with all the hard work, but if you have some time to do it yourself it’s not only much more rewarding but you also know it’s done right.

    My husband recently re-piped the whole house. We have “access” wholes all over the house. Needless to say I’m getting good with sheetrock and floating. <> Once each room is completed – MAN does it feel GOOD!

    I know you and Paul are very busy but maybe something different. The spring Home Shows are coming soon. Maybe you can find a different solution then.

    Good Luck.

  13. Jackie Dunlap says

    Some professionals that do side work may not own their own tools. So renting tools doesn’t necessarily raise a red flag for me. We started a basement remodel and bought materials because we didn’t want materials to be marked up. My husband wrote a check for half of the labor and I flipped out since we had agreed to write it for 1/4th labor to get started since we bought all material. The person had NO idea what they were doing. Built walls and ceiling framing with drywall screws. When I finally had to kick them out and got someone new in we literally gave a half a tug on the framing and the ceiling came down… at that point we were out almost $2000 in materials we tried to salvage and the $750 check for labor was cashed. it cost us anothe $2300 in labor and over another $1000 in replaced/new materials….

    • Tiffany says

      Ugggggg I am so sorry Jackie! That is true about the tools. I can understand not having everything as they are expensive.

  14. Toni says

    Wow, what a mess! Which you would have said something before Christmas, my dad is a fabulous welder and has been for over 35 years and he was here for a couple if weeks. He doesn’t carry equipment with him though.

  15. Charity says

    I’M SO SORRY THIS HAPPENED TO YOU! Please keep us updated on the ongoing project because I’m sure you’ll find someone who will do it RIGHT, and then we will all want to know who it is. :)

  16. Beth says

    My advice after remodeling homes and offices: never ever pay a contractor until the work is done and satisfactory. On a longer project (we gutted a 100+ year old 5000 sq ft home) I paid every Friday. But not a dime before- absolutely no money down. Never. Ever. Ever. So very sorry for your loss! So frustrating that there are so many shady construction people! The good ones are such a find! Good luck to you! You can get a judgement in small claims court but they may be long gone by then, and a judgement doesn’t equal payment.

  17. Heather C. says

    Can I just say “my heart goes out to you?” I have no idea how to do anything, so my husband and I just purchased a “turn key” house with inheritance money. I am SO sorry you are going through this….it SUCKS (to say the least.) Hang in there (no pun intended) and keep the kids safe. The banister you DID choose is BEAUTIFUL.

  18. bernadette says

    So sorry to hear that! Wish I could help you out. If you need tile I know of someone great who is not flaky. He did the work at my house and it was beautiful. Wish he did welding. BTY- you can purchase an A+ rating on the BBB.

  19. Gina says

    Three words-Small Claims Court!
    I would not have been able to keep my cool with either guys! I probably would have punched them right in the face!

  20. says

    Dear Tiffany,

    I just read your remodeling disaster story, and wow! It sounds like you went through a lot just trying to improve your home. I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a tough time with your remodel.

    I work for Kukun, a company that wants to transform the home remodeling industry from an offline, fragmented, and frustrating undertaking to an online, modern, and, user-friendly experience (visit to learn more). I think your story would really resonate with our readers, and help them learn what to watch out for with their own home improvement projects. Would you be interested in telling this story and being featured on our site? I can be reached at

    Look forward to speaking with you soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.