Home Depot Leaves Me With A Concrete Condo Floor And An Awful Lot Of Supplies

Navid’s idea wasn’t bad: he wanted to install wood floors in his condo, and chose to hire installers from the store where he bought the flooring and supplies, Home Depot. This should be a simple transaction: he gives them money, they come over and put floors in his condo. It’s just that something that employees assured Navid wouldn’t be a problem suddenly became a problem. There’s a large dip and some cracks in his subfloor, and Home Depot’s original rough estimate for how much it would fix to cost the problem was much lower than it should have been. Navid agreed to pay that expense, and the contractors walked off the job anyway, saying that they wouldn’t be able to warranty the work. Now Navid is stuck with a lot of supplies and a ripped-up floor.

The Home Depot is currently putting me through one of the worst customer experience of my life.

I recently purchased a condo and decided that I wanted to replace the carpet with a wood floor. After ripping out my carpet, I was concerned because I found that my concrete subfloor had multiple cracks and dipped slightly towards the center of the room. I talked to 3 different Home Depot flooring reps at a store #[redacted] who all said that the installer might have to put down a self-leveling compound before installing the wood, but that would be a fairly simple and inexpensive process. They all recommended scheduling an appointment to have someone come out, measure my condo, and look at the floors.

I scheduled this appointment, and when the measurer came out, I asked him about the subfloors. He also told me they wouldn’t be a problem. He said I might have to spend “one or two hundred dollars” extra to get the cracks filled and the floor leveled, but it wasn’t a big deal. Based on this information, I decided to also rip out the laminate floor already in my kitchen and install the new wood there too so that my floors would be consistent throughout the condo.

Over the next week, I talked to 7 or 8 different phone reps in Home Depots quote department getting quotes on different wood, underlayment, and molding combinations. I asked most of these reps if the uneven floors would be a problem (I wanted to err on the side of caution so I kept asking to see if anyone had concerns), and they all said it wouldn’t be a problem and quoted prices similar to what the measuring guy quoted.

I decided to place my order, pick everything up from the store, and haul it into my 2nd floor condo (Quite a workout hauling 31 boxes weighing 40 lbs each upstairs). I then scheduled my install for the following week.

My installers (contractors from [redacted]) showed up on the installation day and measured my condo again. After, they told me that my uneven floors would cause problems with any wood or laminate and recommended installing carpet. I explained to them that every Home Depot rep, including the measuring guy who came out and looked at my subfloor, told me it wouldn’t be a problem. At this point, the installers tried to guilt me by telling me that the uneven subfloor would cause the wood to crack and break and the contractors would have to pay for it out of pocket since it would be under warranty.

I asked if we could level the subfloor before the install, and I was told “it would cost a fortune” to do so. When I pressed to get a dollar figure, they said it would be a minimum of $1,000-$1,500 (way higher than the $100-$200 that I was quoted by multiple Home Depot reps). Since I had already paid for the job, hauled supplies into my condo, and ripped out the laminate floor in my kitchen that I wouldn’t have ripped out otherwise, I agreed to pay to level the floor and get it over with. At this point, the installers started giving me the runaround saying that they weren’t even sure leveling was an option and they would have to talk to their manager. They went outside for about 30 minutes and when they came back, they said they can’t do the job because there’s no way they would be able to warranty it (all of the sudden, doing the installation became their choice and not mine). We had a brief conversation about other options then they left.

I went back to the Home Depot store and talked to a flooring manager and one of the original reps I talked to. They said that [redacted] is the only contractor they use in the [region], and if they won’t do the install, then there’s nothing they can do. They admitted that the Home Depot completely messed up, but they’re not willing to do anything to help me.

Throughout this process, I asked about 10 Home Depot reps about my uneven subfloor, including one who came to my condo and looked at my floors, and every one of them told me that my subfloor wouldn’t be a problem. Now I’m getting a different story on the install date and I’m left with supplies that I have to haul back to The Home Depot, no laminate in my kitchen, and concrete floors in my condo. I’m beyond frustrated at this point and The Home Depot isn’t doing anything to help.

Start by escalating to regional managers and other higher-ups who are higher than the store level. In the past, other customers have found success using the executive e-mail carpet bomb against Home Depot. Ask friends and colleagues if they know of a contractor who can help you out of your sad, floorless state.

Comments

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  1. Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

    Sounds like lazy installers to me.

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      It’s just as likely that the subfloor level varied too much to fix it with just self-leveling compound and Home Despot lied to get the sale. All it would take was one big peak and you either have to bring the rest of the room up to that level or somehow grind that peak down without damaging the structure. Either one would probably be pretty expensive.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        But is that really what’s going on here? It’s unlikely he has a out-of-line peak here; the OP says the center dips a bit, not hard to repair.

        • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

          No idea, but we shoudn’t assume too much either way. IME many “estimators” are salesmen, not skilled installers. Still, I’m not sure why installers would ever turn down a job unless it was not going to be worth it (labor, materials, etc) considering what they were going to be paid.

          • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

            Oh, and I looked up “self-leveling compound”. The first one I found said it should not be used for more than 1/8″ at a time and no more than a total of 1/2″. Do you know how little that is across a room? You could easily have a dip of an inch or two and think it was just a tiny bend or bow.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Which is why you use legit concrete in those cases. Leveling compound is for the little stuff, and you use something else for the big stuff.
              It’s not rocket science. A skilled contractor can do this easily.

              • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

                Exactly. It’s not a $100-200 job for flooring installers and self-leveler. And it wouldn’t be a difficult task, but prepping the surface and the cracks for pouring new concrete would take a while, and as you pointed out, you’re talking about skilled labor.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Agreed. Leveling a floor isn’t that hard.

      FYI – HD and Lowe’s just contracts a single company to do their work for each area of expertise. My belief is that those company are basically fat cats, because they require no competition with other companies for work. They don’t have to answer to the public, generally, because they have guaranteed work as long as they don’t piss off too many people. It also means they can just say “no” to this kind of work.

      Check around with independent contractors. Not only will it probably cost you less, but you’ll get better service.

      • Audiyoda28 says:

        Agreed – leveling a floor is a fairly easy process – even a floor that is quite varied. A combination of leveling compound and properly cut shims under a plywood base would take care of 99% of the problems found in a poor concrete pour.

        Find a good independent – it will cost less and the OP will get better service.

        • KyBash says:

          Yeah, because slapping on a cobbled-up band-aid is always a good way to fix things.

          If the floor needs more than 1/2 inch of truing, the best solution is usually to rip it out and pour a decent floor. The cost isn’t that much greater (you can tear up a lot of floor in the time it takes to jury-rig shims), and you’ll have something solid and reliable.

    • keepher says:

      Chances are the floor is in too bad of a state for the installers to make it work. No way would they be turning down the income if it wasn’t true. This bit of information is coming from someone married to a man who has been in construction for over 40 yrs.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Construction is not quite the same as a business contracted by HD to install a limited scope of items.

        • keepher says:

          Anyone that thinks someone standing behind a counter can know what the conditions are is at fault here. The people behind the counter are there to sell a product, I get to see this same type of thing because the hubs is in construction. A salesman is a salesman is a salesman. That does not make them qualified to judge what it takes to complete a job, that is why you have trained people doing it and not the sales people.

  2. Snowblind says:

    Call your Home Owners/Condo insurance, they may cover this issue and pay to complete the job.

    They in turn would go after vendor to recover for walking off the job.

    Home Depot should return the money for the installers, they brought them to the table, so they are responsible for their action.

  3. George4478 says:

    What is it that you want? Your money back or the job completed? Or either?

    You bought the supplies from Home Depot but who did you pay for the install? By refusing to do the install you’ve paid for, somebody is breaching a contract. If that’s the installer, you may be stuck with a lawsuit against them. If it’s Home Depot, then going up the chain of command is a starting point.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It sucks that Home Depot doesn’t care at all about the floors and basically lied, but the OP should consider himself lucky. He can still return the materials, then talk to a real flooring company.

    The installers saved him a lot of trouble by refusing to do the work. They didn’t start, then stop. And they didn’t damage his floors, either. That’s good. It means he didn’t pay for anything he can’t return and he can start new…this time with a flooring company with a better reputation.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Ugh, reading fail. I didn’t see where he already paid for installation. Does Home Depot require full payment up front? That seems like a terrible sign right there.

  5. BigDragon says:

    Looks like you got a bad contractor. I don’t think I’d want these people installing my floors. If they can’t handle a little dip in the floor I can imagine they’ll foul up edges, corners, and proper floor adhesion. The path of least resistance is probably to make Home Depot refund your money for the installation. The path of maximum resistance would be to find a good contractor who can get this stuff done and then bill Home Depot.

    My experience with big box contractors has been pretty bad. Do more homework next time and pay for the people who will do things right the first time.

    • KyBash says:

      I think it was a great contractor!

      A lousy one would have poured a couple of buckets of self-level, slapped the laminate on top, and walked away, figuring that if there were any problems later, they could talk their way out of it.

      In this case, the contractor refused to do a job that couldn’t be done well at a reasonable cost.

      • who? says:

        Agreed. A contractor that went ahead and tried to level a floor that he wasn’t capable of leveling would have been a bad contractor. This guy was at least honest about his abilities. There are different levels of skill out there, and there’s probably a contractor who can do the job properly, but he’s going to be more expensive than the ones HD uses.

        If this is the only contractor HD uses, then HD should at least refund his money for the install, and OP should find someone else who’s capable of doing the job properly.

      • humphrmi says:

        Yeah, refused to *do* the job… but accepting money for the job in advance, and not refunding it, not so much a good contractor.

        • KyBash says:

          Money in advance is probably a Home Depot policy (they don’t want to pay the installer and then have to go after the homeowner for the money).

          Are they refusing to refund the money? I didn’t see that.

  6. MonkeyMonk says:

    I would demand a full 100% refund from Home Depot and then take the job to a professional flooring company.

    You should save some money because the new company no longer needs to do the removal of the old floor.

  7. msftmargarita says:

    When it comes to home improvement projects, you should always do your own research and get multiple opinions/bids from various contractors. I got three bids just to get my carpets cleaned! Also, when discussing specific issues in your home, don’t rely on people on the phone. Bring in another person to actually look at it and get their opinion.

    Get your money back from Home Depot and bring in other flooring specialists to finish the job.

  8. Starrion says:

    Simply put, get a refund for any install services.

    Sign up for angieslist.

    Find an ‘A’ rated flooring specialist and verify with them that will use customer supplied material.

    Home depot and Lowes hire the people that can’t get work for themselves.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      I think he’ll have a hard time finding a reliable or reputable contractor willing to install Home Depot grade materials – or at least one that will offer any guarantee.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I think it depends on the brand, though. One of the reasons why flooring companies won’t use Home Depot supplies is because they won’t get any money from the sale of supplies to you.

        • jeepguy57 says:

          My uncle is a contractor and would not install Anderson windows my brother bought at HD. My brother returned them, bought Anderson windows from a local dealer – for about <10% more and he installed those. There is a difference, even among the same brand names, according to him. And he wasn't making a dime on the job. Love skilled family members.

  9. jeepguy57 says:

    While this situation truly sucks, I have no sympathy for someone who goes to the Home Depot (or any other large retailer) for any renovation work. This doesn’t surprise me at all.

  10. webmandan says:

    My wife and I decided to change out our flooring in our top floor before our first child came and had a similar issue with the contractors hired our by the furniture company. Not only did the measurer not catch that there were three or four areas that would need to be leveled for a floating, engineered wood floor; the installers brought and mixed the wrong stuff for a wood subfloor. When they installed it and came back the next day, the leveler was severely cracked in each location. When they came in and saw this they tried to stick me with the bill of getting two more buckets of the compound (UH-UH!) and redoing it (DOUBLE UH-UH!). I called up the furniture company and told them what they were trying to do who immediately called the contractor and within a couple of minutes after my hanging up, the installers’ boss called them and was yelling at them (I could hear most of this from several feet away. The bill for leveling (before discounting for the inconvenience) was a little under $500 for approximately 750 sq feet.

  11. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I wouldn’t trust or rely on an estimate from someone in Home Depot who hadn’t seen the floors.

    Did the rep who visited the condo give a written quote? For the material, install cost, or leveling cost? How did they know how much to quote for material & install?

    • George4478 says:

      When we did cabinets/countertops, we took our measurements into the store. Those were the basis of the initial estimate.

      Then the measurer comes to the house to verify our measurements and adjust the estimate accordingly. At that point materials are ordered and some money’s paid.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        This is how we just did our kitchen renovation. We could redesign the kitchen based off the measurements we provided, but the company wouldn’t go beyond that without coming out to do their own measurements. We were fine with that since it didn’t cost us anything and we knew they’d be able to measure correctly (and if, somehow, they had not, they would be on the hook for it).

        • George4478 says:

          Yeah, we used our numbers in the store to get an idea of how much cash we were talking about and to qualify for some size-of-project discounts.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Usually a person does an estimate. I’ve had a HD rep come out twice for different items, and they physically inspected the property.

  12. sparc says:

    get the subfloor fixed independently and then have them do the install….

  13. Sarek says:

    If the installers said the unevenness of the floor is unfixable, then they are right in not putting the laminate over that uneven floor. It would be a disaster. But since the HD measurer said it wasn’t a problem (plus all the other HD people), sounds like it’s on HD to refund it all. The installation was purchased along with the materials. HD’s responsibility, 100%.

  14. KyBash says:

    I suspect he has bigger problems.

    Dips in the floor indicate a poor pour. If the builder couldn’t get that right, what else in the condo is bad?

    A lot of cracks show it was inferior concrete, slipshod engineering, or extreme environmental conditions.

    I’d be more than a little concerned the floor above him might someday come crashing down.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Older homes can have dips and cracks in places, and it doesn’t mean they’re structurally unsound. When we were house hunting we saw a lot of houses that were fine, structurally, but had a lot of issues like cracked walls.

      • KyBash says:

        It isn’t a positive sign of a problem, but if there aren’t cracks and dips, you’re sure there isn’t a problem.

        When there are significant cracks in level concrete, I wouldn’t trust even a home inspector to properly diagnose the cause and recommend a fix. I’d want a contractor’s engineer to look into it.

  15. Red Cat Linux says:

    Sucks, OP.

    1) Get at least three flooring contractors in to look at the floor and quote on what it would take to get it done using your existing materials. Some will only want to use their own materials. Find that out ahead of time over the phone. Most will give free estimates on the job.

    If you get a majority of them saying that the job can’t be done without an arm, a leg and your left kidney thrown in, there’s your answer. Decide if you want to pay that and put your chosen flooring down on the repaired substrate.

    Sometimes the floor you really want is not possible due to the substrate. I wanted tile or slate in my house. I wound up with a similar subfloor problem, had contractors in to repair the damage, but still had to go with Amtico vinyl slate tile. Which looks awesome.

    2) Now you know if you’ll be keeping the flooring you already bought, you can get your money back from Home Depot for the installation or installation + materials, depending on which way you go.

    3) Hire a local contractor. Don’t ever hire through Home Depot/Lowes/Whoever. All they are is a middleman, sort of providing a general contractor type service, but often doing it so poorly as to make your experience miserable. Home Depot will make promises that the contractor they hire will balk at, and everyone will be unhappy.

    After Home Depot also nearly screwed up my tile order, I wound up ordering my tile directly through Amtico myself, hiring a local flooring company to install it and fix the subfloor… and being very happy with the results.

  16. Tedicles says:

    Dealing with floors in our remodeling currently, so I can see where this causes problems for both installer and OP. As some others have pointed out, the installers may very well be the heroes here, and I am not sure how much the OP understands about floors and leveling techniques. If it is a concrete subfloor with height deviations, there are only really 2 things to do:

    1. Add several inches of concrete to get a new level floor (think minimum is usually 4-5″) – then all your doors, windows, light-switches, etc. need to be altered due to the new floor height

    2. Use self-leveling mix, can be tricky and not perform as well over time as promised/expected

    • icerabbit says:

      Option 1 is only an option for a garage or basement which will support such additional weight, provided there’s enough ceiling clearance to support it as well.

      Option 2 should be fine. Only a light skim coat is needed to get things sorted. It may crack but will remain hidden and in place under the assembled floating finished floor.

  17. brookstileandstone says:

    Being a Home Depot installer, I can tell you a few details I have ran into installing, First the installer guarantee’s the install, if the floor isn’t flat the wood isn’t going to last, or be installed per the specs, which means the installer should of known better than installing it and has to pay for the repairs , nothing the installer can do to keep the concrete from moving and cracking or heaving more, He need a concrete guy witch isn’t Home Depot’s fault, they just sell stuff. No go jobs happen all the time, your dealing with a store that sell’s stuff, not getting a quote from a flooring company or a general contractor, who would look then quote a price.

  18. Buzz says:

    Response to Loias comments below. Lowe’s has multiple installers for every store. My flooring went to one installer while the next customer went to another. Yes, some stores do not have as many as others because of the area where it’s located. the store I use has more than 3 flooring installers. Some do better work than others just like independents do. At least Lowe’s has a area install manager and a complaint line if the installer messes up.

    • Buzz says:

      All contractors working for Lowe’s have to be able to be bonded. This eliminates a lot of would be contractors. Does that make all the contractors that Lowe’s and Home Depot hire better. Not at all.

  19. evilpete says:

    “Leveling” the floor with compound it relatively simple & cheap and will fix the symptom temporary , but it wont fix the structural problem

  20. icerabbit says:

    Quite simple.

    Real or fake wood flooring only supports a minimal amount of variation.
    Carpet / Wood installers aren’t equipped, licensed, insured etc to deal with issues beyond a small leveling patch or crack sealer.

    Either get the floor leveled / fixed by another contractor and proceed with the wood floor idea.
    Tear – out is not required (as someone suggested??), different self-leveling products are available.

    Or

    Get on the horn with Home Depot, take the flooring back to Home Depot and get your money back. Then install carpet, stain the concrete, …

  21. robbironas says:

    1st of all, this sounds like a big ole pile of bull spit to me. Home depot needs to get their crap together and put in this man’s floor. Aint hard, hell I know someone who’ll do it in 1 day – $250 in & out. Big Nave dropped $3k on damn flooring & home depot won’t put it in?! WTH is going on in our country? Last time I checked, America is land of the free & home of the brave! Not land of free money for motherjokin Homie Depot! Not only do they need to put his floor in, they also need to reimburse him for all of his damn time dammit! America!

  22. miker28 says:

    Had trouble with local Home Depot pertaining to a roofing job. Emailed the details to the BIG guy at Home Depot Frank_Blake@homedepot.com and got immediate satisfaction. Good luck.

  23. tinyhands says:

    Home Depot did this to me too when I bought a new door. They spec’d out all the raw materials, delivered it, then claimed they couldn’t do the work. They agreed to refund the installation charges, but it wound up costing me a lot more to find an independent contractor who would come and do it. And of course, I don’t have any warranty on anything HD sold me because it wasn’t installed by their people.

    Sears screwed me worse though. Far too long of a story to tell here in the comments tho.

  24. major says:

    Ok. People, there are leveling products that will go from featheredge to 1 1/2 inches in one pour. Yes it can be expensive. There is a solution to every install. 37 years of installation experience doing just that. Home Depot is a great place, but salesmen used to be in the industry of the department they worked in. But not any more. Many factors come into play with prepping a slab and the only one able to do that is a qualified installer with a straight edge. Please remember sales staff don’t have x-ray vision.