Don't Hire a Painting Crew when you need a Carpenter

In the spring of 2020, a friend hired a local 'Home Improvement' company to build a garden gate.  A few years ago they were strictly painters, but they have expanded.  I have kept an eye on two houses, which they are renovating for an absentee owner, and I am not impressed with the quality of their work (kitchens, bath rooms, etc.).  When I saw the garden gate a week after it was built, it was already sagging.  

Last week the current resident of the house called me in to rebuild the gate, since it now looked like this (photos 1 & 2, front & back).

  • The rails (normally 2x3 for fencing, and 2x4 for gates) were a 2x4 ripped to half width.
  • There was no diagonal brace to prevent sagging.
  • There were two vertical 'braces', which serve no purpose whatsoever.
  • The pickets were nailed on with brads from a pneumatic nailer.  These tiny nails are for interior use only.
  • Due to the gate sagging, both hinges had twisted (photo 3).
  • One picket was cut too short, so I had to replace it.
  • The gate was not wide enough for the space between the posts.  I had to buy a 1x6, and rip it down to true 4" to get the right overall width..

Photo 4 shows the correctly designed & assembled (with screws) gate, now with new hinges..

In a similar vein, my neighbor hired another painting crew/home improvement company to build a new screened-in deck.  There were 3 or 4 do-overs (incl. the building inspector demanding that the concrete footings be moved).


Well, remember that every single request for a contractor recommendation in these towns wants someone meticulous, clean, fast, high quality, and CHEAP, although they call that "fair".  It doesn't excuse that garbage work, though.


With all due sympathy to the homeowner and speaking as someone who has done this sort of work well, -that first install is hysterical. Three stooges?


DanDietrich said:

Well, remember that every single request for a contractor recommendation in these towns wants someone meticulous, clean, fast, high quality, and CHEAP, although they call that "fair".  It doesn't excuse that garbage work, though.

 is there anybody you recommend? I have gone with recommendations from MOL and never ended up particularly satisfied. And they weren't cheap. 


I do everything myself, except that I won't go out on  a roof anymore.  But I've been in the trades for 35 years.  So no, I have no one to recommend.  


DanDietrich said:

I do everything myself, except that I won't go out on  a roof anymore.  But I've been in the trades for 35 years.  So no, I have no one to recommend.  

 I dream of building a nice fence and a bar, but I think it would end up looking similar to that first picture. The thing that gets me is I have had 3 different contractors deal with different jobs and even their painting has been shoddy. Painting over hinges and moldings. I'm sure I'll eventually find somebody I'm happy with, but so far I haven't had much success. 


I'm not in your shoes, so feel free to ignore this, but I'd put everything I wanted and expected in writing.  Nothing super legal, just a typed page.  Then I'd give copies to the contractors you talk to, and use a copy for walk throughs during and after the job.  When you are happy with the list they get the last payment.


DanDietrich said:

I'm not in your shoes, so feel free to ignore this, but I'd put everything I wanted and expected in writing.  Nothing super legal, just a typed page.  Then I'd give copies to the contractors you talk to, and use a copy for walk throughs during and after the job.  When you are happy with the list they get the last payment.

 And, you should do this for plain painting jobs too.

  • Do not paint the windows shut.
  • Take storms off, and paint the inside of the frames.
  • Do NOT replace missing glazing with caulking.
  • Etc.

I have hired one of the more reputable and expensive carpentry firms and their work was very sloppy. I had to threaten not paying in order to get the work fixed.

There are no guarantees with cheap or expensive contractors.


yahooyahoo said:

I have hired one of the more reputable and expensive carpentry firms and their work was very sloppy. I had to threaten not paying in order to get the work fixed.

There are no guarantees with cheap or expensive contractors.

 You have a much better chance of getting good results from an experienced, reputable contractor who pulls permits.  Perhaps your sample size is too small to draw conclusions from.


What happens is the painters start prepping, then they notice some rotted wood. They tell homeowners wood needs to be replaced, homeowners ask painters if they know any good carpenters… painters say “oh we can fix that for you and save you some money”. After a couple days homeowners ask painters if they can do some carpentry work like decking and fence repairs, painters say “yes sir”  

I know one particular painting outfit that started out in a house on Hilton ave, within a two year period they went into the carpentry business…I won’t post their name, but I’ve heard of their not so professional wood working skills. 



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