Being a contractor today comes with more risk than ever before. As I try and keep up on my industry reading I’m amazed at the nature of some of the lawsuits, but also how many could have been prevented with a little bit of planning.
One of the key things that can protect a contractor is a well thought out and written warranty.
Most construction related problems that cannot be resolved typically will end up in arbitration or mediation as opposed to actually going in front of a judge. Understanding the arbitrators and mediators that are typically used cannot possibly be experts in all areas, you need a warranty that is straight forward, easy to understand and explains who is responsible for what.
Many contractors have gone to what is termed a “long-form” warranty that could have as many as 75–90 exclusions and limitations. On the other extreme is the contractor who offers a “tail light” warranty; my work is covered until you CAN’T SEE MY TAILLIGHTS!
I recommend a simpler more professional approach. There are really three (3) things a contractor cannot control on a project:
1. Excessive Substrate Movement — the only 3 things we know about concrete is it gets hard, it cracks, and you can’t steal it. After 25 years in the resinous flooring industry I have never had a customer who expected my flooring system to hold their building together.
2. Excessive Moisture Transmission — while we have methods to test MVTR (moisture vapor transmission rates), and products like Rock-Block that mitigate excessive MVTR rates, there are situations where things such as flooding, geographic changes in water tables, and surrounding construction can change thus increasing the chances for a moisture related failure.
3. Top Down Abuses — these are damages done to the finished flooring that a flooring contractor cannot control. These items include but are not limited to gouging by sharp nails in pallets, welding burns and chemical spills.
Consider the following example as a starting point for you to create a warranty.
ABC Flooring warranties the above referenced project for a period of ________________years for delamination, peeling, or wear-through.
Excluded from this warranty are:
1. Excessive substrate movement.
2. Excessive moisture transmission.
3. Customer abuse.
All warranty claims should be sent via certified mail to:
ABC Flooring, 123 Main Street, Any Town, USA 60085
Remember people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Take a minute in this new year to make sure you have a good warranty that will protect you and be easy for your customer to understand.