Chris Maskell

Does this scenario sound familiar?

The floor covering contractor is complaining about poor site conditions, the confusion around who is responsible for what on site and having to fight for legitimate extras. Meanwhile, the construction manager is complaining about flooring contractors rejecting slabs and consultants issuing boilerplate specs. Building owners are caught in the middle, and in unison, everyone complains that “no one reads the specs anyway.”

So, what’s the solution?

Like most things in life, change starts with awareness. In this case, awareness of a standard flooring specification that all construction parties can trust and use to guide floor covering installation practices fairly and accurately. Such a guide would help everyone involved in a flooring installation navigate the usual challenges associated with getting complex flooring systems installed on time, on budget and with a warranty intact. No small order in today’s fast track construction environment.

Three issues we all know too well:
  1.  Inadequate moisture testing
  2. Slabs that don’t meet flatness tolerance
  3. Surfaces that need extra preparation and contamination removal

Dealing effectively with these issues starts with responsibility being placed with the right party in the specifications. When this is done, budgets, planning and bid pricing will come from the top down and align at the end of the project when the flooring starts. This is what the Floor Covering Reference Manual of Canada was created to do.

For example, each flooring category included in the manual (carpet, resilient, hardwood, laminate, cork, bamboo) has its own Scope of Work section that spells out “work included” and “work not included” for the flooring contractor.

The three issues above are just a few examples of work that does not fall under the floor coverers’ scope Chris Maskell according to national standards. These and other such items can, however, be undertaken as billable extras.

With Scope of Work understood by the construction manager and flooring contractor, both parties stand a better chance of working together when the rush to complete is on. Without it, inadequate moisture testing, slab rejection, bond failure and millions of dollars in unnecessary claims will continue to plague our industry, and flooring contractors will continue to face the tough position of trying to say no to their valued customers. Something that is especially difficult to do if you’re owed money and trying to build a relationship.

Getting the right floor specification included is a good start, but getting specs read and followed on site is another big issue.

This is where independent, certified floor inspectors become a valuable industry resource. Inspectors give the specifications a voice on site before, during and after installation. Inspectors create transparency, love reading specs and cross referencing, they ensure product limitations are understood before they are installed, report on site conditions, present the facts on behalf of the installer and help identify problems before they cause delays. This specifiable resource is called the Quality Assurance Program (QAP).

Quality Assurance Programs are not new to the construction industry. Several other trades have operated their own successful QAPs for decades, including paint, roofing and millwork. Floor coverings is just the new kid on the QA block.

The program targets larger commercial projects and building owners that want an added layer of security to ensure quality is delivered. These typically include universities, healthcare, school districts, government, municipalities, cities and large commercial real estate property owners.

NFCA is actively talking with building owners and consultants in various provinces and placing this information in the right hands. Doing so will help create an opportunity for positive change. For manufactures and distributors, over time this will reduce claims. For flooring contractors and construction managers intending to deliver a quality product, it’s a long overdue move in the right direction.

The National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) promotes industry standards for resilient, carpet, hardwood, laminate, cork and bamboo floor covering installations.

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