Builder mark-up

Q: We recently purchased a new home and spent a considerable amount of money purchasing our hardwood through the builder thinking that would be easier. We purchased their most expensive hardwood, **** ***** ****** Maple in Walnut, installed in every room but the kitchen and washrooms.

The floors that were installed originally had too much moisture, shrank, and showed the subfloor. As an added note, the installer who inspected it found 3 OAK boards in the floor! After much ado, the manufacturer agreed to replace the main floor, upstairs hall and MBR.

The main floor was replaced and is lighter than the existing floor and what I originally purchased. This is glaringly obvious to me, however not so much to my husband or the builder. Fortunately, the new install guys failed to remove the first 3 rows of the old floor so I was able to prove my point.

My question. One – I find it hard to believe the floor I got is the highest grade. There are many short boards and the colour is very inconsistent with big blotches and streaks in many places. The builder tried to tell me this was a normal characteristic of wood flooring but I completely disagree. The blotches have nothing to do with wood grain and look like someone left a rag with stain sitting on it for too long. In some places the boards look like they have cat stripes that have no correlation to the grain of the wood. The installer thinks they are burn marks. Is there any standard that I can use to make my point? I have had dark maple floors (******* ) before and they looked NOTHING like this. I spent significantly more money on this flooring than the ******* since I went through the builder and I feel like I have been taken advantage of. There is little I can do to prove my point. I suspect the best offer I will get at this point is that the first 3 rows will be replaced to match the rest, which I am not thrilled with.

A: I’ve only installed one or two **** ***** ****** floors, and they were oak. If I were staining maple, I would warn the homeowner that the NMFMA does not recommend staining maple on site because of the wide range of density throughout the floor and the blotchy appearance that will result. However, that shouldn’t be a significant issue with factory finished.

Generally, the better the grade, the longer the pieces. This applies to unfinished. However, some companies that produce factory finished floors appear to use a wider array of lengths and grade quality since it will be stained anyway, and who is to notice? I am not saying **** ***** ****** does that, but I am sure ***** does. Even ****** has a lot of shorts now, though their milling is very good, as well as the staining and finishing. In any case, there is no way I would consider **** ***** ****** to be top of the line.

There are a number of reasons I prefer site finished over factory plank and when a potential customer is shopping, I outline my reasons and let them decide.

It sounds to me there has been some lack of communication on this project. The installer doesn’t have any control with what is put in the box, but it is up to him to open some boxes and show you what you have purchased before installing it. If I was installing a floor, I wouldn’t be thrilled with a lot of shorts. It would have been good if either you or they had said something about the short pieces and any others that didn’t look like they belonged.

Builder mark-up is quite high, and it’s not unusual to have underpaid sub contractors doing the work. So my usual recommendation for someone moving into a new house is to go with the cheapest package, and do any upgrades of flooring and trim afterward, with companies you have shopped out and trust.

If the floor is not the colour you paid for, then it sounds like there is a problem! Whether it is enough of a problem to fight over and go through it all again is up to you.