Finished Surface Protection

July 2007

How far do you go to protect finished surface protection from the trades still working inside your new projects?

With drywall and plastering the task is the most difficult. You are the first to finish your completed area and then comes trim, carpet and everyone else. The use of caution tape and buckets to prevent anyone from marking up the walls helps, but as we all know that when all is said and done, the finishers are responsible for any defects in the wall.—Wayne Dickinson, Dickinson Drywall, West Bridgewater, MA

By protecting finished surfaces as well as all aspects of a project at all costs will be worth its weight by all means.—Anonymous

This is tough because there are a lot of other trades that could care less if a product is finished or not; they have no regard for our work, some not realizing that it is a finished product. We only try to protect our work while working in that area. Once we have completed, the GC is the owner of that work. Most GCs try to have this buried in their contract, that the subcontractor will protect finished work until the project is complete—I don’t think so. I always remove this paragraph from the contract.—Shaun Patterson, S. Patterson Construction, Inc., Bakersfield, CA

As a contractor we require in the general conditions that responsibility for protection of our work is taken over by the general contractor overseeing the job, once our work is accepted as complete.—Anonymous

We ask the homeowner (the boss) to advise any fellow contractors about their potential monetary liability if any damage is done by that contractor. Once those contractors are aware that the cost of their carelessness will be laid upon them, they become more careful and we almost never have any problems.—Rick Crawford, All-Dry of Missouri/Iowa, Inc.

Good Luck!, This is a topic that I am sure frustrates every contractor. This is a constant battle for us.—Leon Kerns, Superior Interiors Inc., Boise, ID

We do everything in our power to protect the work from all of the other trades around us and expect the same. When we do jobs with special finishes, we state a ridiculously high price to do any repairs to the finished walls. And we charge it if we do have to make any repairs.—Anonymous

All of our subcontracts with the prime contractor call for us to protect the work of other trades; this is an industry standard and something we have to accommodate. However, be aware of sneaky contractors that try to place language into your subcontracts stating that you protect your own work from other subcontractor trade damage. This language is open ended and is what the contractor wants to avoid—their involvement when a dispute/damage arises. Since we perform a significant amount of EIF systems, we’ve been successful in adding addendums to our subcontract stating that the protection of our own work ends once the finish coat is applied. We also have a specific set of contract addendums that we try to incorporate into each subcontract agreement. Protect yourself. Most contractors are willing to negotiate contract addendums, especially when they’ve used your number in their budget.—Brian Mead, President, Commercial Builders, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL

It cost very little to take digital photos of our finished walls and ceilings. Not only do I end up with photos showing the finished product, but often I get photos of other tradesmen actually damaging my newly installed ceiling or walls. These go a long way toward getting paid for repairs. It also slows down the amount of damage once other trades find out you’re taking photos.—Mark Chancellor, Owner, Mark Chancellor Drywall, Dallas & North Texas area

We first try to cover ourselves in the contract by stating that when our work is done, we’re done. Once we’re on site, we try to "make nice” with the foremen and supers from the other trades, and make friends with their workers. They’re the ones who are doing the damage, so they’re the ones you want to be on your side, even after you’re gone.—Anonymous
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