The Homeowners' Issue

The homeowner built a new house and selected a solid hickory 5-inch-wide plank floor.Shortly after moving in, the dishwasher leaked onto the wood floor, and approximately three days later the floor cupped. The builder contacted the plumber, who found one of the plumbing fittings on the dishwasher was not tightly secured. The flooring contractor said the area in front of the dishwasher had to be replaced, and the plumber paid the wood flooring contractor for the repairs. The homeowner told the builder and flooring contractor there was no rush to fix the floor because they were going to be away on vacation for the summer. When the homeowners returned, they found the wood floor in front of the dishwasher had crowned.

Roy: The Inspector's Observations

Most of the crowning was directly in front of the dishwasher and out approximately 6 feet in front of the dishwasher. I measured the height of the crown at 3/64 inch, or .046 inch. I interviewed the flooring contractor, and he reported he replaced the floor approximately 4 feet wide in front of the dishwasher. I removed the panel of the dishwasher and could see the floor was refinished up to the dishwasher's legs. There were scraper marks under the dishwasher, as well as stain overlap from the previous coating. I concluded the floor was never replaced in the water-damaged area as claimed by the flooring contractor, but instead had been sanded and coated before the boards had thoroughly dried, which caused the crowning. The resanding decreased the life of the wood floor.

Blake: The Attorney's Analysis

This sounds like a bait-and-switch. The installer recommended replacing the affected area, so the plumber paid for that. Then the installer only refinished the area but still took the money for a replacement. Making matters worse, the installer botched the job and sanded the boards before they had dried. If the installer had performed the refinishing properly, the homeowner likely would never have known the difference (and would have had a floor with a reduced life). As a reward for this attempt to cut corners, the installer must now actually replace the affected area and, in all likelihood, has probably lost this GC as a customer.



See more on this topic: Moisture & Wood Floors


Blake R. Nelson is a construction-law attorney with Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC in Minneapolis. He can be reached at bnelson@hjlawfirm.com. Roy Reichow is president at National Wood Flooring Consultants Inc. and an NWFACP-certified inspector. Read his WFB Inspector Blog at www.woodfloorbusiness.com/blog.