Is my contractor responsible for accidental flooding?

Answered by Brett ~ March 24, 2012 ~ No Comments

While removing my home's old floors, the flooring contractor accidentally cut a water line that was running right under the plywood subfloor. Although he turned off the water before to much water flooded the crawlspace, there is going to be some plumbing repairs needed. Who should pay for the damage?

Peter ~ Harrisburg, PA

Brett Kulina

Peter, unfortunately mistakes happen during construction, and it is not always clear who is responsible for the costs to repair the unexpected damage. If your flooring contractor was unable to inspect the area beneath your home's sub-floor, then it would have been very difficult to anticipate the exact location of the underlying water line. In fact, it sounds as though the severed water line was incorrectly installed too close to the underside of the plywood sub-floor. Water lines and plumbing pipes are generally installed on the underside of the floor joists, which keeps them safely out of the way of nails (and saws!) when the finished flooring is installed.

Although you were probably not expecting any plumbing problems during the installation of your new floors, your best bet may be to just pay the bill and keep moving forward with your project. Regardless of how much water flooded your crawlspace, you now need to make sure that the area is completely dry, because even a small amount of water can breed future mold problems. If your home's crawlspace has a plastic vapor barrier covering the bare ground, then you may need to temporarily peel back the plastic sheeting to allow the ground to dry. You should also open all of your crawlspace vents and access doors and then position a small fan to help circulate fresh air over the wet areas. While you are in the crawlspace, make sure that there are no other water lines or electrical wires installed under the your home's sub-floor.

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