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Flooring Installers Avoiding Complaints

Sid Bourne’s top tips to installers on avoiding fitting complaints

I WAS recently called in by a consumer who was extremely unhappy with his new solid oak flooring purchased from a large merchant group. He insisted that the wood flooring sold to him was faulty.
I questioned the consumer who said the flooring was buckling. As a result he had to have part of the flooring removed. The consumer had gone back to the supplier who said he would need to get an independent assessment and hence my involvement.
I duly asked the consumer questions about the installation and who had installed it. And ‘yes’ you guessed it. It was Bob the builder again! I commented that it would seem that the problem was most likely caused by the installation.
But the consumer stated that he had invited several experts to visit the property and all said that the flooring was the issue.
I explained to the consumer that my report would be 100% based on the facts. So I again asked the consumer whether he wanted me to do the inspection. Absolutely yes, was his answer.
So I went on the site visit and found an amazing number of issues, including the state of the subfloor, which was a new concrete floor.
The customer told me that the subfloor was perfectly dry. How do you know that? I asked. Did you have it tested?
No he answered. But Bob the builder and told him that it was dry. So Bob did not bother to do a moisture test!
Did Bob explain why he had decided not to test the subfloor for moisture? No, and as a consumer he did not feel it right for him to question the judgement of an ‘expert’ (even though the ‘expert’ in this case was Bob the builder who clearly didn’t know a thing about moisture in subfloors).
Luckily Bob the builder was not present or would have got a piece of my mind. I first checked the area where the flooring had been removed to find the solid oak planks had been adhered by way of spot gluing and I mean spot gluing. I have seen bigger frozen peas than the amount of adhesive he applied.
The second thing I noticed was the state of the concrete subfloor, which I can only say looked like the topping of an apple crumble with only some custard missing.
I then carried out my moisture test on the oak flooring. The MC (moisture content) registered at 19%. There was cupping everywhere. I completed my report and sent it off to the consumer who, on receiving it, was on the phone giving me such a bo&%”ing and told me I was an idiot! After a few minutes when he had finished sounding off, I said I would stand by my report.
The consumer said he would contact Bob the builder who would surely be able to get his own ‘expert’ to rubbish my report.
Several days later I received a call from Bob who ordered me back to site. I said I would as long as he paid for my time. With that agreed, on the arranged date and time I turned up to be confronted by Bob the builder along with his expert and the consumer, so I was well out numbered.
On the second site visit two weeks later Bob’s expert started going through my report. I said to him, ‘I don’t want to be rude but who are you and what do you know about flooring?’
He replied that he was a qualified surveyor with many years of experience in hardwood flooring.
OK, I said, let’s start. The first thing he said was that my moisture reading was incorrect. His reading was only 9% MC. I said OK, let’s both check the floor together.
I got out my Tramex. He produced his budget made-in-China meter.
I took up a piece of the oak flooring I took reading and got 18% MC this time which is not unusual as this was a couple of weeks after the original reading.
He took a reading and announced that he’d got 7% MC.
I thought that his meter was not working properly so I asked if I could use it. First the 7% comes up then the meter starts flashing then the number 1 appears in front of the 7 and then went out. I told him that his meter was faulty.

However it is saying 17% MC. If looks could kill the surveyor was totally embarrassed.
We then went on to discuss the state of the concrete subfloor. It looked like apple crumble, which the surveyor did not think was a problem. I then asked him: ‘I assume you know the standards for subfloors?’
The expert paused and looking more embarrassed, replied: ‘Of course I do, but I can’t quite remember the details!’
So I asked him to outline the standard for installation of wood flooring. In response he starts quickly looking through my report. ‘No cheating,’ I said, causing him further embarrassment.
Meanwhile, I said to the consumer: ‘I am very sorry that you are unhappy with my report. I told you the details would be as I found them. I am more than willing to back this up if it goes to court.’
At this point the consumer now starts to realise that Bob the builder is wrong and he asks Bob to rectify problem. In response Bob was adamant that he had done nothing wrong.
I said I would leave it to all of you, but you need to determine who you believe or get another joint report from a recognised expert in the wood flooring industry. At this point I left with them to sort it out.
The consumer contacted me on the same evening and asked me what he could do. I said he could not blame the product or the merchant. So that leaves just Bob. ‘You will need to have job done right and by someone who knows what they are doing’.
The consumer called me only a few days ago several months after my visit to thank me for the report. Bob did pay up and the consumer employed the services of a real wood flooring installer who made good the subfloor and installed the wood flooring perfectly.
At a result the consumer had become extremely happy. He could not apologise enough for the way he talked to me. He could not believe he was hoodwinked by Bob. I told him ‘not to worry. It comes with the territory.’ I then rode off back home to await my next instruction.
But of one thing I am certain, this won’t be the last I hear about Bob the builder.
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This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at