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When it comes to costs, litigation and the need to replace flooring prematurely are wild cards because they aren’t predictable. Not every poor installation will be so bad that it results in replacement and a lawsuit. But when corners are cut, the risk of replacement and litigation presumably increase.
Reasons for failure range from issues with the substrate such as moisture, to the use of an abatement chemical, whether solvent- or citrus-based, to a failure of the flooring material. The latter could include indentations in vinyl flooring in a hospital under the heavy loads of beds; luxury vinyl planks lifting, cupping, curling or doming; carpet fading, soiling, or coming apart; odors emanating from vinyl-backed flooring products — the list goes on.
Consider all the costs involved if a flooring failure goes legal. Rarely does a flooring legal issue see the inside of a courtroom; almost always there’s a settlement, which normally costs all parties something. On top of the fees your company will pay to fight or resolve a case is all the time you’ll have to spend putting things together to plead the case. In addition, and here comes the really painful part, the cost of having to replace the flooring normally runs about 10 times what the original costs were. Remember that the entire facility has to be dismantled because everything is sitting on the flooring, and occupants have to be displaced, which means the business essentially is shut down. The cost of replacing the flooring material is the least expensive part of the proposition, though it still encompasses ripping up and discarding (wasting) the original floorcovering, and then re-installing new material, with whatever new floor prep is required.
Legal costs are over and above the 10 times cost. Now you’re into another galaxy of expenses to resolve issues that often would have been avoidable had the parties involved not been in such a hurry to complete the project and rushed the flooring installation or failed to use common sense.
While you may not consider it as a cost, keep in mind the stress you’ll have to deal with throughout this process.
Do it right the first time
Do it right the first time should be your motto. If price is driving the process of getting new or replacement flooring, and you’re looking at ways to cut corners, you can be sure that at some point these cut corners are going to come back to bite you.
One medical facility is on its second flooring replacement in 18 months, and unfortunately this floor will have to come up too. The slab-on-grade concrete is so wet that a complete mitigation process will have to be undertaken. The facility with specialized medical equipment will be put out of business for a period of time. The flooring replacement costs with mitigation of the subfloor will run in excess of $300,000 for a 10,000-square foot-building. The business interruption cost in this facility could run in excess of $2 million. All for an initial value engineered savings of less than $50,000. Unfortunately, serious problems like this arise every day.
On any flooring project — whether a new build, replacement, or renovation, regardless of the space or type of business — think ahead and consider what the real cost of flooring will be. The goal is to get it in the door and keep it on the floor.
Lewis Migliore (email@example.com) is president of LGM and Associates, which offers technical flooring services.
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