While writing this month’s Tool Time feature on moisture-control products, I came across a very alarming quote from one of the interviews. Now, we all know about fast-track construction, which occasionally works out fine for everyone involved, but can often be industry code for “taking so many shortcuts, it’s a wonder the house is even standing.” I get the philosophy behind it: In this cash-strapped economy, sometimes people need to take whatever job is offered to them, even if it goes against the grain of everything they have learned. Principles are one thing; putting food on the table is quite another.

However, what I learned in this interview goes so far against the grain it seems less like self-preservation and more like rapid-fire self-destruction, with the capability of obliterating reputations in the blink of an eye. I am hoping this is not a widespread phenomenon, but the fact that it even exists at all is shocking. Apparently, there are builders and contractors out there who are going in and performing fast-track construction to the point that moisture tests are not even being performed.

I tried looking at this from several different angles, but could not come up with a viable reason how this could ever be a good idea. Whenever I informally poll installers or contractors at industry events about what their top concern is or what brings them to a show, the answer almost always revolves around something to do with moisture control.

I understand that moisture tests can be time-consuming, what with specific periods of acclimation and waiting around required before the tests can be completed. In fast-track construction, the equation of time equaling money is all the more pressing. But how much time is really being saved by potentially trapping a high, unsustainable level of moisture below a floor that, given enough time, willbubble up, break adhesive bonds and absolutely wreck the flooring? Is it truly saving time when the entire installation will have to be redone?

History is littered with examples of spectacular disasters that with hindsight seemed eminently preventable. People seem to think that doesn’t apply to the present, or doesn’t apply to them. However, if you are cutting corners wherever possible, believe me, it does. If you make it a habit of taking shortcuts instead of following the standards, then when failure does strike, don’t wring your hands and wonder who to blame. Rather, pat yourself on the back for being so lucky for so long.

Following the rules makes good business sense. If you can show you dotted every iand crossed every t,following the warranty instructions for the flooring and the adhesive and meeting all the requirements, you are protecting yourself, your reputation, and that of the industry at large. Spirited discussions about which ASTM method is best for moisture testing show the industry is willing to adapt, evolve and grow. But not conducting moisture tests at all? That’s not a conversation worth having.