Yes, fragile materials are excluded from Estimates. Just as we cannot accept responsibility for hidden or unobserved damage, when evaluating – or working on – a repair site, we cannot be held liable for accidental or unintentional harm that may occur to exceptionally fragile building elements. On many occasions, extremely thin or hollowed out trim wood, just to take one example, may be the source of a home owner’s concern, as it should be. Home owners must understand that visual observation of rot or potential rot must be confirmed by probing. We are as gentle as we can be when touching potentially rotted wood. However, water damaged wood that has been rotted from behind and hollowed out, for example, may well puncture when touched, and we cannot be held liable for that puncture. We try hard to avoid puncturing, but it can occur when wood is extremely fragile. Please understand: we did not create this fragility. Water damage caused the wood to become very, very fragile, and water damage is the cause of the problem, not probing by us.
In addition, fragile wood structures may be present in areas that are adjacent to – or which adjoin – the area we are being asked to estimate or are actually repairing. In the course of our work, we are frequently called on to do Estimates on elements of a home or business such as wooden window sills that have very seriously deteriorated over a very long period of time. For windows, trim, door surrounds, jambs, siding boards, etc., etc. that are in very bad or critical condition, we can’t assume any liability for any accidental damage that may occur to them during the normal scope and course of our repair duties. For instance, we have often seen window sills and door surrounds that are so thoroughly rotted in certain spots that merely touching them to determine the extent of the rot will crumble parts of them.
When working on or near such fragile wood, we take precautions not to further weaken these already frail materials. However, Clients must understand that it simply stands to reason that crumbling wood will indeed crumble when touched, and touching is the most necessary part of the estimating process.
Furthermore, repair or replacement procedures often involve the use of hammers, orbital sanders, and other power tools which can create vibrations strong enough to crack very porous wood or brittle hardboard.
As an example, Clients have hired us to replace rotted Board A, which is attached to fragile Board B, and when A is loosened for lifting out, B in its weakened condition may split as a result and therefore have to be replaced as well. We did not make A or B weak. They were weak to begin with, and if a Client authorizes a repair to Board A, the Client must also assume the cost of replacing Board B as well, if that proves necessary. If we were to harm a sound piece of wood, we will assume responsibility for replacing it, but not fragile wood. Clients who are unwilling to underwrite the cost of repairing both A and B in this instance should consider hiring another company such as a restoration specialist – restoration workers may be willing to take on the financial risk and responsibility of collateral, cascading or other types of accidental harm to water damaged wood. Hiring our firm, however, signifies that the Client accepts the financial responsibility for any harm to fragile wood trim, window sills, door jambs, etc., and other such structures.
Regretfully, we have even witnessed unscrupulous individuals asking for estimates to be done on obviously fragile structures and then trying to push financial responsibility for minor scuffs, scratches or other markings onto us, as if we had inflicted some significant incremental damage on the thoroughly rotted piece of wood to be examined. We will not accept responsibility under those circumstances, and we reserve the right to refuse to accept work assignments or to quit ongoing work for any reason, but specifically for such behavior as well. We take responsibility for our actions and for our work, but we do not accept responsibility for an already existing problem, such as rot.
Posted in: Policies in General