Ok, the full story on the handyman and the sink install from Hell:
Prior to this, he'd also made the window screens and put the skylight in. He had been less than impressive from the get-go - often did not follow through on returning calls or coming to the house when he said he would... everything took longer than he thought, either because he forgot to bring a tool he needed to make the screens, ran out of material, or just not budgeting the right amount of time... and he's one of those guys with a lot of self-congratulatory stories about how some client went with a lower bid than his and he ended up getting called back to do the job right...
But my friend Buck had worked with him a lot and had recommended him, and he seemed to at least be doing a decent job on the screens, so figured I'd just let him finish the work we'd originally talked about (skylight, screens, and sink install.)
Now, even though I'd done the bathroom sink and faucet myself and could've easily done the new kitchen sink install myself (and in fact in the end I *did* end up doing the sink install myself, between fixing his screwups initially, and having to take the sink out and in again when we did the tile), I've been kind of in a hurry to get these projects done... anyway that's why I hired someone instead of doing it myself.
So, once I had the sink and faucets we scheduled a day and time when I could be at the house, since both the old and new sinks are heavy (iron) and, as I told him, I did not want to risk damaging the tile or cabinet work with just one guy manhandling the sink in and out. I ended up deciding to go with a different faucet, so called him to let him know we'd be postponing. He was originally planning on doing more screenwork after we'd put the sink in, during the same visit, so I asked him if we was still planning on coming over to just do the screens. He said he would if I wanted him to, but preferred to just do the screen work when we eventually did the sink, so he wouldn't have to come over twice. There was another red flag - since everything had taken longer than he thought prior to this, the proper mind set would be "Yeah, I better do the screens now in case the sink install takes longer than I think it will...", but he just does not think that way.
So, the new faucet gets delivered and we schedule a day and time for me to be there to help with the manhandling of the sinks. I get home and he'd got there early (I had forgotten to bring the house key in from under the mat, from when he'd been working here previously), and had already pulled the old sink out, and when he did he'd pulled up about a third of the surrounding tiles with it.
I was so pissed - if he had waited for me as I instructed, with both of us lifting the sink there would've been a much better chance of us seeing there was something sticking, and known to cut through the grout a little more. (Or if he was worth a damn he would've just cut through enough in the first place.)
And the fun didn't end there. When I was looking at sinks, most of them were 9" deep and my current one was 8". I'd asked the guy if a 9" sink would be a problem and he said "No, we'll just cut an inch off the tailpiece". But once he got the sink in he realized that that only works on the right side (it's a double bowl, which he knew going in) - the disposal side of course doesn't have a tailpiece, as the disposal connects directly to the bottom of the sink. So the disposal was an inch lower, which meant the pipes which were connected to it no longer lined up with the trap and everything else. So he says we need to go to Ace to get some pipe pieces.
Now bear in mind, this is 3:00 in the afternoon and I had planned only on helping him for a total of about 2 minutes: lift a sink out and put another sink in. I had a lot of HP work I needed to finish that day. But he wanted me to drive him to Ace since he had a trailer attached to his Bronco, so didn't want to navigate downtown with it. So fine, I drive him to Ace.
We get back, he spends a few minutes under the sink, and says "Hmm, this isn't going to work - we need to go back." We go back, return some parts, get some different parts, go back home, he spends a few minutes under the sink, and says "We gotta go back again."
From 3:00 till 6:00, we repeat that process and went to Ace 6 times. Might have been 7, I kinda lost track. One time I went on my own with instructions on what to get, but he wasn't specific enough and I got the wrong thing, so we both had to go back again.
The last time we went, they did not have the part he was looking for. He says, "That's ok, I can make this work." We go back to the house and he finishes up. 30 minutes or so later, he says he's done, and takes off. I go inspect, and there are 3 leaks. One was at the supply line where he didnít use enough tape. One was at the seal between the strainer and the sink - I was watching him when he put the strainer in and he wasn't using any plumbers putty at the top... I asked him about that and he says "Oh, the instructions said you don't need plumbers putty because of the gasket on the underside". Seemed strange, but if the instructions said... Well I ended up getting another strainer because no matter what I did I could not get this one to seal, and had ripped the cardboard gasket in the process - and in the instructions in the new (identical) strainer it specifically says to use putty on the top.
The third leak was coming from where the bottom of the strainer attached to the tail piece. I unscrewed the nut covering the joint and discovered that instead of using a tail piece with a flange, which is what Ace didnít have that last trip, he had just used a tailpiece with a hacksawed edge. So there's this jagged edge that somehow he was expecting not to leak. Unbelievable.
So I went to Home Depot and got the parts I needed to fix that. Now I'm in for $50 of Ace and HD parts that I didn't expect to have to buy, $50 more in Ace parts that he ended up not using but boogered up so bad I could not return them, and between shuttling him to Ace, going to HD, and fixing the leak, about 7 hours of my time. I finished at 10PM and still had a couple hours of HP work to do.
I haven't said anything to him because it's easier to just not call him again. I also had to clean up an unbelievable mess he made in the upstairs bath from the skylight install, since I don't want him anywhere near anything in my house ever again.
I told Buck this story and he apologized - he said that this guy ordinarily does good work, but lately he's also been slipping at the jobsite they work at, and actually got fired recently for screwing up too much.
It was a good lesson - I will *never* again hire
anyone to do what I can do myself... Even though I realize this guy was one end of
the spectrum, I also realize now that even the best contractors/handymen are not
going to be as much of a perfectionist about my house as I am.