One of Your Jobs is Going to be Inspected
October 1, 2002
The inspection: It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. The first thing to do is not panic. Complaints are part of your job if you are in the floor covering business. Some are simple: "that's not the color I purchased," or "the pattern doesn't look like what I bought." Another common one is "there are bubbles in my living room carpet or kitchen floor." If it's a commercial job, there are complaints on bubbles and seams, pattern match, and overall appearance. It goes with the territory. What should you do if you hear about an inspection on an installation you did, and you haven't been notified? Call the floor covering retailer or contract furnishings company and get yourself invited. If it's a small job, the floor covering company and/or distributor will probably walk the job and come to a conclusion on what can be done. If it's a large commercial job, the floor covering manufacturer will have its installation expert present, along with a salesperson. The distributor of the products in question will have his expert there; the adhesive manufacturer and surface preparation products manufacturer will have experts present; and in many cases, a lawyer or two will be present. If the installation contractor is not present, guess which way the fingers will point. As soon as you confirm that you will be present, sit down with your employees who were on the job and review everything that happened during the installation. Decide if you were given adequate time to properly install the floor covering materials or if you were pushed because of that all-important opening date. Were there any unusual job conditions, such as heat, humidity or cold, that could affect the outcome of the job? What was the condition of the floor surfaces you were expected to cover? Were other trades working in the same are you were working in, causing foot, cart, or forklift traffic before the floor was ready to accept abuse? Use this memory refresher to assist you when you make your inspection of the floor in question. Don't be led into a quick answer or be influenced by one of the experts present looking for someone to agree with him. Draw your own conclusions, and say you will prepare a report in a day or two. At this time, you might take your distributor aside and discuss products used during the installation if you feel they contributed to the problem(s) before you submit your suggestions and conclusions. Sit down to review the complaint at a meeting with your employees prior to preparing your report. Review any other complaints you may have had previously on products used on the job in question. Go over the products you installed, the products you installed them with, and any problems, unusual conditions, and interference from other trades that were working in the same areas you were installing in. You will then be prepared to write your report and even offer opinions on how to solve the problems that were not installation faults. I have suggested several times over the past few years that you keep a journal or a special file on the good and bad features of the products you usually use, as well as the handouts or literature you receive about new products. The industry has had a multitude of new products introduced over the past few years, and in many cases the installation procedures for products that have been on the market for years have been modified. Thus, you cannot use the same installation procedures you used in the past. Attend distributor and manufacturer open houses or seminars to stay on top of installation products and procedures; this will assure proper installation and result in fewer complaints.