What is that Signed Release Really Worth?
Tile installers who use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook, along with tile industry accepted best practices can confidently install tile of lasting beauty and durability which will stand the test of time.
Unfortunately, the well-meaning tile installer may encounter jobsite situations that do not meet these industry standards. Being asked to complete an installation which is outside industry guidelines is one thing, but agreeing to complete the work is another. In doing so, the installer places him/herself in a precarious situation.
For example, a homeowner desires to have tile installed in their home over a floor surface which is not acceptable. The floor does not meet the flatness requirement (within 1/8 in. in 10 ft.) for large-format tile. The installer wisely suggests that a cementitious patch or self-leveling underlayment (SLU) be used to bring the floor within this flatness requirement.
However, the homeowner does not want to pay for the labor and/or materials required to correct the situation, and wants to proceed with the installation as-is. The installer, who really wants the job, reluctantly agrees to do the job without the appropriate preparation work. In completing the contract, the installer asks the consumer to sign a document that states the patch or SLU will not be used as a part of the installation. The consumer signs it.
The job is completed, but the customer is not satisfied with the outcome. It ends up going to court. During the hearing, the installer explains that the consumer was not willing to pay for the needed preparation work, but proceeded with the installation based on the signed release from the homeowner. The judge asks the installer if he/she is a tile expert. The installer replies, “Yes, I am.” The judge says, “As the installation expert, you should not have done the job. It was your responsibility to complete the installation according to tile industry standards. Asking the consumer, who is not a tile expert, to sign away their rights to a quality installation was inappropriate.”
The installer is found at fault and must pay the consumer the cost of having the floor removed and replaced. The installer thought the signed document was an ace in the hole—it was actually worthless.