I recently wrote an article titled “Who’s Responsible?” in which the responsibility for both job conditions and substrate moisture was addressed. I received a few replies, most of which were pleas for help. It seems that it is very difficult for a flooring contractor to avoid liability in most of these situations.

This seems ludicrous to me. It is all-too-often a matter of passing the buck. And as the floor covering contractor is generally the last person on the job, it is easy to blame him or her for other trades’ failures to follow through on their responsibilities. Last on the job, last to get paid and, if a project runs short of funding, an even-longer wait for the check.

This leads me to suggest that the responsibility for these items should be spelled out in the contract. It is worth spending a few dollars up front for a good attorney to review your contracts for you, making revisions when needed, to help protect you from unjustified claims and lengthy waits for payment.

I followed that first article with “Who’s Responsible II?” which addressed the issue of who should bear the responsibility for furnishing the necessary equipment for an installation, the flooring retailer/contractor or the installer. The response, mainly from the retailer/contractor segment, would suggest that many installers have their tools furnished for them (I’m still waiting to hear what the installer segment thinks of that). But there is another group, one that has so far been left out of the installation equation, which also bears some responsibility: the customer.

Recently, I heard from an installer who has been in the business nearly 30 years. It is his practice to provide a handout to his customers, prior to beginning the installation, to give them a good idea of what they should expect and what is expected of them. This approach may go a long way toward eliminating unpleasant surprises for both installers and their customers.

I think his is a good one, and it could be adapted for use with all types of floor covering installations. Use it as an example to create your own handout, have it printed and have the retailer provide one to each customer when they purchase their new floor. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, a single handout, for all the trouble and confusion it may prevent, might be worth its weight in gold.