Conversations with tradesmen: painters decry quality of condo construction

We had coffee with a couple of painters yesterday – the kind who make your home look nice, not the tortured-soul, emote-on-the-canvas variety – and the experience didn’t give us a lot of faith in the quality of construction at many of the new and converted condos now on the market. These guys paint older houses, but lately, they’ve also been doing a lot of work for general contractors. Currently, they’re working on a nine-unit condo conversion in Edgewater and a new-construction condo building near Hamlin Park.

“I can’t believe the state of these places when I get to them, and he [the general contractor] wants me to fix the mistakes of the carpenters, the drywall guys, the floor guys,” Painter One said. “I’ve never seen crews like this. They have no idea what they’re doing, and I wind up filling in holes and covering things up to try to make them look decent.”

Painter Two agreed: “The quality of the materials and construction is terrible. That trim the other day – I don’t even know what it was. It looked worse than poplar. Everything’s crooked and slapped together. You’ve got your nice granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, but you could put your finger through one of these doors.”

Surely, buyers, especially in a buyers’ market, aren’t putting up with this? “They don’t care,” Painter Two said. “All they care about are views and parking. That’s it. If the place looks OK on the surface, they don’t understand how bad the quality of the construction can be.”

But sales have slowed as far as they can see, nonetheless. “At this conversion, the building’s done and they’ve only sold one unit – and that was sold a long time ago to one of the real estate agents. He thought it would sort of get things moving, but it didn’t work that way.”

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