With so much litigation occurring in the construction trades it is vital for documentation of installations prior to, during, and post installation. Remember the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Well, that saying holds so true if you ever end up having to defend yourself. Photo 1 is displaying tools that are used both in estimates and also documentation of installations.

A good camera with macro (close up) capabilities comes in very handy, as many photos require close up shots. A tape measure is used for a visual size reference; pliers to disengage carpet, and a nylon tucking tool to re-tuck carpet. So why disengage carpet? Ever had to do carpet removal of an installation to find out that the tack strip was an inch or more, away from the wall, or even multiple rows as in Photos 2 and 3?

Knowing that the gully should be no more than 3/8-inch and knowing that the tack strip will need to be replaced gives the installer more credibility to ask for more money by documenting the facts. A before picture with the incorrect gully space, and an after picture with the proper gully space establishes the documentation. The estimator should have caught this prior to the installer on the day of installation, and that's why it's important to instruct the use of these tools during estimating classes. Photo 4 shows damage from a forklift stinger that was not visible until the carpet was completely unrolled.

With so much emphasis on moisture, documentation of the interior substrates is becoming more of a priority with many companies. Documentation of the exterior is equally as important as many of the moisture issues that occur are a direct result of the exterior surroundings (Photo 5).

Photo 6 is a picture of a home that has been built right next to a dry creek bed that bends around the home. This particular home had severe moisture issues but the installer did the proper testing procedures and documented with photos. The installation eventually proceeded with a moisture remediation product and with the homeowner's attorney, giving written documentation to the flooring contractor, that the homeowner understood the possibility of moisture issues in the future and that they would not hold the installation company liable for moisture related issues.

Photo 7 is displaying a moisture meter that has gone off the scale for a reading; although a moisture meter is not a quantitative test, documenting the reading can establish the necessity of a calcium chloride test or an in-situ relative humidity test.

Photo 8 is displaying damage to flooring and walls due to moisture, even though the consumer may be aware of the moisture damage, it's not a bad idea to document this type of damage prior to doing any type of work as this proves there was damage prior to removal and installation of any flooring products.

Photo 9 is displaying a very large concrete joint issue. This type of concrete joint can cause moisture related issues, buckling issues, telegraphing issues, and more. The potential for something to eventually go wrong is very likely with this type of joint, documentation with a photo and discussing the potential issues with the end user prior to installation may eliminate a call back down the road.

documentation with a photo and discussing the potential issues with the end user prior to installation may eliminate a call back down the road. So you say you have been installing for twenty years without any problems so why start documenting now? Because times have changed, consumers are becoming more educated with access to the internet, products have changed and flooring contractors need to protect their business interests and maintain a profit. Digital cameras are affordable and we have the ability to reproduce the photos on a disc or keep it in an electronic file in a computer. If you don't own a computer that's still alright, you can take your cameras flash card down to your nearby photo center and have them put your pictures on a disc or get actual prints. 35 mm cameras are still great, although mine has been in the closet for a few years now. I hated taking several pictures of one area and having to pay for several prints, only to have one or two that were worth using.

When taking photos for documentation, try to include items in the photo that can document that the photo was taken at that particular job site, the structure itself, furniture, end user or contractor. A small dry erase board works well in a photo with the time, date, products, problem description, and job name (Photo 10).