After the deconstruction was completed, and the drywall was replaced, the house sat vacant for a few weeks, until the Nashville Flooring Installation was undertaken. Bear in mind now, that the liquidator did not measure, and the liquidator treated this job as a "CASH and CARRY" proposition.
The installer, who shall remain nameless, arrived on scene a few weeks later, and without much fanfare, slapped down some #15 roofing felt over the existing sub-floor and installed the floor. The floor was a pre-finished hardwood floor, and in short order, the floor was laid, the man was paid and the owner beamed at his beautiful new floor.
A little less than a week later, the homeowner, an experienced realtor, whom has seen many beautiful homes, noticed that something was not right with his new floor.
Cracks in the face were developing and the edges were beginning to curl. "CUPPING" the most dreaded word in all of hardwood flooring land was besetting his beautiful and expensive ($10,000.00 worth) of new hardwood flooring.
Now who's fault is this? The liquidator who sold “CASH AND CARRY?” The Installer who busted in, slapped down the floor and disappeared? The Insurance Restoration company for not drying or replacing the sub-floor, which previously had a glued down engineered hardwood floor? Or was it the realtor, who owned the home and was final decision maker as to what would be installed, and when it would be installed?
The answer is: All of the Above. The liquidator, or for that matter, any retailer, even one selling "Cash and Carry" should be asking questions about the application. Where is this material going? What type of sub-floor do you have? Why are you replacing your floor? These are all reasonable questions.
The Insurance Restoration company, which frequently deals with flooded structures, could have asked the same questions, to see if the condition they were leaving the sub-floor in would be adequate to accept a hardwood installation. Somewhere to, the question should have been asked and answered-- was this substructure treated for potential mold and mildew growth as a result of it's immersion?
This installer – in fact all installer's -who consider themselves professionals, should always start with a moisture reading of the substrate. A well equipped installer knows the most important tools in the tool box are a wood moisture meter and a concrete moisture meter.
Yet-- most still don't carry these tools with them. Smart Estimators never leave home without these devices. The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a Pound of Cure” has never been more true than looking at the results obtained by performing the simple task of checking a substrate for accepted moisture limits before beginning an installation.
Here's where the famous Tail-light warranty comes in. This installer, like most installer's offered a one year installation and workmanship warranty. It is my contention that the installer is the “final decider” as to whether a job is ready to proceed. The installer has to momentarily set aside his own desire to begin work and draw pay, long enough to perform the simple task of measuring the moisture content of the sub-floor to determine whether or not he or she should proceed.
I believe that the term workmanship includes or should include this simple five minute task. We have sometimes even witnessed judges-- after much hairsplitting-- award damages to consumers holding installer's responsible for such events, even when waivers have been signed-- because these are the tradesmen who should be familiar with the challenges of their trade.
Clearly the Flooring Manufacturer is not responsible for the problem, because the manufacturer's almost without exception-- exclude responsibility for adverse job site conditions-- because in all fairness, they are never there. These Manufacturer's, almost universally have clearly spelled out in their installation instructions what to do and what not to do with their products. With rare exception, all instruct the installer or consumer to check the substrate for excess moisture, which will damage the floor.
Ultimately and Unfortunately, the consumer is left with less than desirable results, because all along the way, and this includes the consumer too-- no one initiated a simple site inspection, to check for excess moisture.
So the Tail-light warranty strikes again. The installer takes the check and disappears into the ether that is the “catch me if you can” world of independent contractors. Oh yes, the consumer called the installer to come back and see if there was anything that could be done, only to discover that installer would not return the call.
The Insurance Restoration contractor is liable only if they were contracted to dry the sub-floor, or replace the sub-floor and/or structural decking and failed to do so.
The Hardwood Manufacturer is in the clear. They did nothing wrong. The liquidator will not be bothered to come inspect, as it was a cash and carry sale and they too are not responsible for the job-site conditions. An NWFA inspector can be found at www.woodfloors.org who can ultimately do the postmortem and the report would probably read like this:
An unacceptably high sub-floor moisture content led to the buckling and cupping of this solid hardwood flooring. A simple moisture test, would have averted this failure. It is unclear who was charged with the responsibility to assess the substrate moisture content. The manufacturer and liquidator do not appear to be at fault.
The direct responsibility for failure to take a moisture test of the substrate prior to installation lies either with the installer and/or homeowner.
Moral of the story?
The internet has led to a lot of consumer's doing a lot of DIY projects (subject to the same problem) and to consumer's hiring independent contractor's with whom they are not familiar. The traditional installed sales section of the marketplace has been in decline, and consumer's are encountering unexpected outcomes due to a lack of proper site analysis and substrate evaluations.
Protect yourself! There's a ton of great consumer advice and installation and pre-installation advice available at www.woodfloors.org offered by the Industry's most respected Association.