Advice on shoddy workmanship - hole in the bathroom floor and bathpanel

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by cammy0102, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    Hi guys,

    I'm after a bit of advice. I hired a plumber/tiler last week to do rectify some issues in my bathroom but he ended up causing more problems I think.

    Here's a bit of background in to the original issues:

    I bought a ground floor period conversion flat bout 2.5 years ago and carried out a full renovation including new plumbing, new bathroom and kitchen. Funnily enough the day I got the key to the flat, there was a big leak from one of the pipes running in the wall in the old bathroom and it flooded the bathroom and the adjacent living room. I wasn't too worried about this as I was going to re-do the bathroom. About 6 months after the refurbishment, I noticed that a couple of the floor tiles started lifting up and cracking. Where this was happening was very close to where the leak was in the old bathroom. Anyway I got my builders to come back, remove the tiles, remove the screed (and some concrete) and investigate. When they removed the tiles, the screed (which was from the old bathroom) in the area seemed pretty wet. At first we thought there was a leak in some of the new plumbing or even a leak from the soil pipe of the WC which is buried under the floor (we kept this from the old bathroom) but there were no new pipes near the area and no leaks we could see. The guys removed screed/concrete from an area about 1.5 sqm and to a depth about 10-15cm. This area dried up over time (took a few months) and has been dry since then. So I came to the conclusion that it was probably caused by the water from the leak in the old bathroom getting under the floor and when they did the new bathroom, they tiled on to the wet floor (screed).

    Also around the same time I had the issue with the floor tiles, I noticed the pressure in the boiler was dropping every day. My builder's guys spent a few days trying to find the source of the leak to no avail. They took the bath out to investigate the copper pipes running under the bath ( buried in the floor). The bath panel (the frame and the tiles) was broken to do this.
    They finally discovered the source of the leak - a small crack in one of the pipes. I was very upset when I saw that the copper pipes had no insulation and they had been buried in concrete. When they were fixing the leak, I got them to replace some of the pipes that were buried in concrete and also insulate them. But I am sure there are other places where they've buried copper pipes in concrete without insulation. Unfortunatley it's not an option to rip out my wooden floor and the kitchen to sort this out so I'll have to live with the risk of a leak in the future. Anyways they put the bath back but didn't re-do the bath panel as they were planning on doing floor and the bath panel at the same time.

    Recently I contacted the builder/contractor to get the floor and bath panel done but he said he was having problems with clients and his guys so asked me to find another builder to sort it with the money outstanding (1000 pounds but there a number of other small jobs that he had to finish as well).

    I then found a plumber from mybuilder website. He said he could do the whole job including tiling. Initially he gave a good impression however as time went on, I was starting to doubt his skills and experience. We had a disagreement last week as he was taking too long (I had to take a number of days of unplanned annual leave) plus he made a few mistakes.

    He filled the hole in the floor with rapid drying cement. He used about 2.5 10kg bags of it and did it in a few batches (over a couple of days). I can see that there are cracks all over the area where he filled up with cement. I am worried he used the wrong material for the job or he didn't do this properly.

    With the bath panel, he only half finished the job. He has created the frame (but there's no wood at the top going across to support) and has screwed a green plasterboard (moisture resistent) on to the frame. Again, I am not sure if he's done the bath panel frame properly.

    I've had 3 other plumbers come in this week to look at the bathroom (found them on checkatrade and a lot more expensive, quoting between 400 - 600 pounds a day) and sort it out. They all said the previous guy didn't know what he was doing.

    Couple of the guys said the bath panel needs to be taken out and rebuilt. They said he should have used a waterproof board like aquapanel. Apparently there's too big of a gap for tiles and adhesive (frame needs to be sitting a little bit closer to the edge of the bath). At the moment the gap is probably over 20mm so when you take the thickness of the tile in to account there will have to be between 10-15mm of adhesive which apparently is too much.

    With the floor, a couple of them said he shouldn't have used rapid setting cement in this heat. They said he should have used self levelling componund to fill the hole. One guy tapped on the cement and sounded a bit hollow and not very hard. He also pointed at all the cracks in the cement and said that if you tile on top of that, the tiles will break. He reckons all that cement added recenlty needs to be taken out.

    OK so that's where I am at the moment. I am pretty sure the builder that did the work last week didn't do a good job but I am not sure if all of it needs to be re done or or whether I can salvage some of it. What do you guys think? Does the floor need to be done again? Or will tiling on it will be ok? Perhaps we can add something else on top of it (there's still about 2cm gap for tiles and adhesive).
    What about the bath panel. Do yo uthink the frame has to be done again?

    Sorry about the long post but I wanted to explain the situation. Thanks in advance for any input.

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  2. CGN

    CGN Well-Known Member

    Rapid set concrete would have been OK. Mixed up and done in one hit, left slightly shallow, bit of self levelling compound to finish off with, although with care, not strictly necessary.

    Wouldn't use PB, even MR as a base for bath panel. 12mm Hardie backer or similar and yes, frame needs sorting. Its not a big job, 2 days tops.
  3. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    So I don't need to worry about the existing rapid cement the previous guy used to fill the hole in the hole? Cracks in there aren't an issue? I had another guy come in before and he said he'll add a bit of self levelling compound to the existing cement base and then tile on that. Will that be OK? As long as the tiles don't crack I"ll be happy.

    With the frame for the bath panel, I'll get them to remove the plasterboard and attach a hardie backer or an aquapanel?

  4. CGN

    CGN Well-Known Member

    Still shouldn't be cracking, prob due to a slightly dry mix and/or not wetting the hole! Its not a product I tend to use often, but I've used a fair bit on a job I'm doing at mo where fast drying times are important and no issues with cracking. Anyway, im sure it'll be fine and the SLC will give a good surface to tile on. Just make sure its primed properly with SBR before the SLC. Good luck.
  5. John Southcombe

    John Southcombe New Member

    Sounds a bodge up to me!
  6. Allsorts

    Allsorts Well-Known Member

    I'm sure a skim of levelling compound will be just fine.

    Why is there a crack? I don't know, but is the weather hot where you are?

    As for the bath panel, there should be a supportive frame built up to right under the bath overhang, and then a board suitable for tiling screwed on.

    If a proper full-height frame had been built first, then I guess the water resistant plasterboard would have been 'ok', but it certainly isn't ok when supported to only half or three-quarters its height.
  7. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    Thanks for the helpful replies guys.

    A couple of the trades people that saw the work this week said, in this heat (it was constantly around 30C the days the previous builder poured cement mixture in to fill the hole) you shouldn't be using rapid setting cement. They think that's the reason it's cracked. Of course it's possible this guy hasn't used enough water or something.

    If using this screed is not going to be an issue, I'll get the new builder to apply a layer of self levelling compound and then tile on it.
  8. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    Hi guys,
    I managed to find another builder to do the floor (level it, tile) and the bath panel.
    He's going to add support to the top of the bath panel frame and use an aquapanel.
    Regarding the floor he said he'll use self-leveling compound to level the floor before tiling. I asked him about priming it with SBR but he said there's no need and he'll use PVA.
    Do you think that's OK?
  9. Allsorts

    Allsorts Well-Known Member

    PVA has many uses - that's one of them.

    You've found a good cove - relax. :)

    (Though not in the Frankie way - unless that's your - and his - thing.)
  10. goldenboy

    goldenboy Well-Known Member

    The answer for me would be to stop using checkatrade and mybuilder and defintely stop using trades that are able to work at very short notice. I dont know a single decent trade using either.

    Plan ahead and get proper recommendations. Proper actual ones not online reviews.

    Any decent trade is booked up at least a couple of months.

    As for plumbers charging between £400 and £600 a day? Thats crazy.
  11. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    Cheers Allsorts. What about the bath panel? Should I use an Aqua panel or a Hardibacker board?
  12. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    This guy was recommended by someone else and not someone I found online so fingers crossed he'll do a good job.
  13. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    By the way, are you guys builders or DIY types? (There are a lot of knowledgeable people on this forum but I've often wondered if the builders really had time to post on forums :D)
  14. goldenboy

    goldenboy Well-Known Member

    Plenty of genuine tradesmen on here. Some diyers. Some retired.

    Most builders spend their time driving around in pick up trucks trying to look like Tommy Walsh.

    They have plenty of time on their hands.

    This day and age, especially for the self employed, if you arent subbing to a builder, you can pick your working hours. Especially if you have keys to properties or are working in the workshop

    I worked yesterday afternoon on a house swinging doors, then put the kids to bed, then off to the workshop in the evening to get on with a job.

    Today? Mainly playing football in the garden with the kids, eating pizza and going to the library!(school holidays!) then get on with some stuff tonight.
    Jord86 likes this.
  15. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    OK fair enough. I've found the advice given here really valuable :)

    What do you think is more suitable for my bath panel (to be tiled)? Aqua panel or a Hardibacker board?
  16. MalcyB

    MalcyB Member

    As goldenboy says don't use checkatrade or mybulder or any like those. Also don't use a builder for tiling. Him saying he'll use PVA says it all!
    Jord86 likes this.
  17. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    I'm confused now. Allsorts said PVA can be used before adding self levelling compound and you are saying it shouldn't be?
  18. MalcyB

    MalcyB Member

    Use a tiler that knows what he is doing. Different makes of self levellers you need to use the their primer otherwise if it goes wrong then they will pass any blame.
  19. cammy0102

    cammy0102 Member

    So what's wrong with using PVA? I've seen this suggested elsewhere before adding self leveling compound.

    And it's not as easy as you thin to to find a good builder, plumber, tiler, etc. I've been asking loads of people and no one could recommend me good people. The couple of good tradies (plumber and electrician) nwere actually from mybuilder.
  20. Allsorts

    Allsorts Well-Known Member

    PVA is a sealer and adhesive. If the existing filled hole has in any way a 'dusty' surface, there's a fair chance the thin layer of levelling compound may not adhere properly. I cannot be certain that PVA is the correct choice here, but the recommended method will be on the S-L compound's pack (or on their website). They may even state that their own primer 'must be used'.

    As for the choice between Aqua panel or Hardibacker, I don't know. I suspect both will work equally well. Both are rigid and strong (I understand), and fully waterproof. Is one thicker than the other? Does it cost a lot more?! Since this is a panel that's going on to a wooden supporting frame and not directly against a wall, I'd be inclined to choose the stronger and stiffer of the two. But I bet both will be fine - and miles better than unsupported plasterboard :)

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