Site conditions are a constant challenge in the flooring sector. Richard Catt suspects most CFJ readers will nod in agreement when he details the following scenarios that might sound ludicrous to those outside the industry.
OVER the years I have both witnessed and been a party to discussions, sometimes in the bar over a pint, that include anecdotes where a contractor has turned up to site and cannot start a job because the site conditions are unacceptable.
Conversations such as a contractor speaking to a site foreman and saying, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t start fitting today as the site conditions are not acceptable’. ‘What do you mean the site conditions are not acceptable?’ replies the foreman. ‘Well, windows and/or a roof would be nice!’ says the contractor.’
Moisture is a constant topic in CFJ and never-ending in terms of education for main contractors and builders.
If it looks dry, it is dry… right? But at the extreme end I know of members being expected to sweep standing water off a floor before supposedly applying a smoothing compound, adhesive and decorative floorcovering. A clear area to work in shouldn’t be a luxury, but when many newbuild projects and refurbishments are won on unrealistic timescales, then badly managed, it is more of a rarity than it should be.
Lighting is another thing that isn’t always provided and when using knives and matching up patterns, it is again a necessity, not an option but not always provided. There is only so much that can be done to ensure these elements are in place, but as with many areas CFA work on, we can help members with the foundation of good practice, and support if it doesn’t go right.
Signposting British Standards and the CFA Guide to Contract Flooring, which contain a lot of relevant technical information, is always important in contract discussions and pre-start meetings, to at least give reference points for discussion if problems occur.
With our varied climate, ensuring temperatures are maintained in winter is another potential pitfall and something we have worked on over the past few years. As well as access to British Standards and the CFA Guide in sections, CFA has created some really useful additional benefits for CFA members to help with site conditions and particularly the problem of heat, or the lack of it, on many sites in winter. CFA members have access to:
- A special Winter Warning card that can be left onsite to give an indication of site conditions and temperature. Like indicative moisture testing, it has a scale that indicates whether it is too cold, too hot or within the acceptable range.
- An email footer (template) that can be included on all emails sent to clients over the winter period. It outlines what is required under British Standards and best practice in (section 2 of) the Guide to Contract Flooring 2022.
- For members section 2 of the Guide to Contract Flooring in a data sheet format. Making it easier to send by email.
- A simple (less technical) flyer that provides a more visual explanation and short quotes from leading industry experts that can also be sent by email or printed and used onsite.
We have produced the ‘Winter Warning’ site cards before and for CFA members they have proved really helpful. CFA members can obtain these from the CFA Offices by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Knowing someone has your back is helpful and if you are building a case for better site conditions, being able to demonstrate those requirements come via an independent industry body, as opposed to just being your overzealous demands, is undoubtedly beneficial.
In the worst-case scenario, CFA have standard templates and disclaimers that can be used to try and offset liability and indeed they sometimes simply lead to a better conversation anyway. Then, finally, legal advice and a dispute resolution service are all wrapped up in CFA membership. We don’t have a magic wand, but we do have some practical support and solutions that can help limit and manage the risk. Don’t leave these things to chance, join the CFA.
The CFA is a leading trade association representing the flooring industry. If you would like an application pack or further information on the benefits of membership, please contact the CFA offices.