Flooring disputes generally arise out of poor contractual documentation and/or defective work and/or materials.

Due to time pressures on construction projects flooring is often laid at non-optimum times. In the case of hard surface (timber and factory finished floating laminate boards) flooring this can lead to all manner of problems including, buckling, abnormal gaps, cupping, crowning, loose, squeeky and drummy surfaces, cracking and splitting, peeling finish, debris in the finish, sanding blemishes etc.

In the case of timber, laminate, tile, stone, vinyl and carpet flooring, incorrect installation and inadequate preparation can lead to poorly matched flooring, unevenness, fractures, loose and drummy surfaces, seam failure, scratches, dents, efflorescence, loss of shine, chipped corners etc.

Head contractors/owners will often request changes to the scope of work and specification including product substitution as work progresses and substrate failure is not uncommon. On the other hand, mistakes and errors are a feature of any building related work and some flooring contractors fail to have adequate quality assurance processes in place to ensure they achieve the agreed/specified scope of work to the specified standard, and/or to complete their work by the due date for completion. In other cases, owners regret their choice of flooring once it is laid as it does not meet their expectations and look for ways of having it replaced at no additional cost.

In the circumstances, it is little wonder that flooring disputes arise from time to time. There are essentially two types of disputes that we deal with:

  • technical (in the legal sense) disputes – ie disputes that arise out of non-compliance with the technical requirements for making and responding to payment claims under the Construction Contracts Act 2002 (the Act); and
  • merits based disputes – ie disputes about the merits of the parties’ arguments in terms of the construction contract that governs their relationship, or in the case of a contract with a residential occupier, the statutory warranties that are implied into every residential building contract under s362I of the Building Act regardless of whether there is a written building contract. Typical merits based plumbing disputes include disputes in relation to:
    • non-payment for work undertaken;
    • contract interpretation – what the parties actually agreed;
    • scope of work;
    • quality of work;
    • quality of materials;
    • time for completion;
    • payment – the value of the work undertaken in the absence of express agreement as to price;
    • estimates v actual cost;
    • variations – whether certain work is in fact a variation to the agreed scope of work and the value of that varied work;
    • defective work;
    • scope and cost of rectification work;
    • repudiation/cancellation of the contract; and
    • damages for breach of contract.
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With 20 years experience in the avoidance, management, and resolution of building and construction disputes, the Building Disputes Tribunal is recognised and respected as the leading independent, nationwide provider of specialist dispute resolution services to the building and construction industry.

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