FIANA Dossier

For many years, a lot of the responsibility for things that are not floor covering-related have fallen into the laps of floor covering people. This has been, and still is, the case when it comes to:
  • Substrate moisture level
  • Jobsite cleanup prior to installation
  • Cracks or imperfections in the substrate
  • Clearing access to the job

    There is no reason why these items should be the floor covering installer’s responsibility. Let’s take a closer look at each.

    Substrate Moisture Levels

    This should now and always be the responsibility of the general contractor. The general contractor should provide a substrate with acceptable moisture levels before having flooring installed. Should a problem occur because of a moisture problem after the installation, it should not be the responsibility of the floor covering installer to correct it. The sooner flooring contractors/installers include this in their agreements, the sooner they can begin charging for callbacks caused by moisture problems.

    Suggest testing the substrate prior to installation, and advising the general contractor/owner if the moisture content is above acceptable levels. Have them correct it.

    Jobsite Cleanup Prior to Installation

    This should be the general contractor’s/owner’s responsibility. The flooring contractor/installer should not have to clean up after other trades people. If they do, they should certainly be compensated by the general contractor or owner. All too often, installers will spend hours cleaning the jobsite simply to a level where they can then begin the installation.

    When installers are paid by the square yard, this should not be their responsibility, unless they are paid extra to do it.

    Cracks or Imperfections in the Substrate

    This, unless provided for in the contract, should also be the general contractor’s/owner’s responsibility. Floor prep is, however, usually included in most contracts. In that case, the flooring contractor should come to some agreement with the general contractor as to the amount of floor prep that is to be included in the contract. This is to help ensure that when the actual floor prep is begun, it is not more than what was originally agreed upon.

    In the event that there is more than was agreed, a re-negotiation should take place to reflect the additional floor preparation charges. Preparing a substrate can be, and often is, as time consuming as the actual floor installation.

    Clearing Access to the Job

    It should not be the floor covering installer’s responsibility to move equipment or materials belonging to other trades out of the way in order to reach the installation area. This can be very time consuming, and can often delay the installation considerably. When the general contractor/owner calls for the flooring to be installed, they should be sure that there is ready access to the installation area. In the case of high-rise projects where elevators must be used, the general contractor should arrange the scheduling of elevator access, and then notify the floor covering installer.

    Of course, the installers must be punctual, or else they will lose their access window and be forced to wait, through no one’s fault but their own.

    In writing this article, I thought of many things that could and should be changed in order to make installations go better. I’m sure that there are others, besides those I have mentioned here. Let me hear from you about those that you think are important, and I’ll try and address them in the future. You can fax me at (817) 326-4097, or email me at