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External door warped - who is liable?

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Marek S

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Hello there,

I have recently made and fitted a gothic-headed hardwood door and frame. They were fitted nicely (so far as I can remember), but now, six months later, the door has warped quite considerably (approx 5/8" across the full height), and the client is angry as hell.

Usually I would say this is down to bad luck and the fact it's a wooden door, and do my best to make it work for the client, either by replacing the door, or by putting the door under various kinds of pressure in the shop. However in this particular instance I think there is quite a strong case to say that the client is to blame, for one main reason: they insisted that the door frames and doors needed to be fitted *just* before a screed floor was laid across the entire ground floor (>100m2), so that the screed could run up to the bottom of the frames. I wonder whether the excess humidity in the screed floor could have contributed to warping the door.

Has anyone else has come across this problem? And if so, do you have any advice (legal or otherwise) on who might be liable in this instance? Would be really great to hear your thoughts.

Many thanks in advance!
 

Adam W.

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Screed is normally laid fairly dry. You might just have to bite the bullet instead of trying to argue your way out of it, Bristol is a small place and your reputation might take a knock.
 
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Sporky McGuffin

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Not a legal or woodwork expert, but you can either get into a fight, or fix it. The latter is usually cheaper, easier, and results in everyone being happy.
 

Doug71

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What hardwood and how is it finished?

What construction is the door, I often think once you have any kind of arch there is more chance of movement.

My front door is made from Idigbo, it's quite big about 3'6x7'6. This time of year it gets a real bend in the lock stile, it still touches the frame in the middle but is probably 10-12mm away at the top and bottom, in the summer it's dead straight, I put it down to the outside expanding in the damp and inside drying out because of the underfloor heating (don't you just love working with a natural product). Who knows your door might straighten up again over time?

It's when you start having problems with bent doors that suddenly Accoya seems a cheap option.
 

Blackswanwood

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The Conusmer Rights Act is the applicable legislation. If I were the client I’d be pointing out that the CRA says goods should be durable and fit for the purpose intended …. you knew about the screed and therefore have supplied goods that are not fit for purpose.
 

Bristol_Rob

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Personally, I believe the UK legal position (statutory rights) is that a customer can expect a minimum of 12 months workmanship and material warranty from his purchase from the date of install.


So unless you can prove it was down to something other. I believe you are responsible for resolving it to a reasonable satisfaction. Which may include remaking it. (Yes, that would suck).

(Not a lawyer, but I am a contract administrator on construction projects)
 

doctor Bob

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which way is the bend / bow /warp. i.e. does it bow into house or bow into frame?
I think you have to take responsibility and try to understand why it happened, otherwise I'd be worried it's a repetitive cycle.
 

powertools

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To be honest you may be right about the cause of the problem but if you knew what they were going to do you should have put your concerns down in writing and got them to sign it so that they would take responsibility for any problems.
 

Doug71

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Does accoya not move ?
No it doesn't swell, shrink or bend, that's the reason everyone now uses it for doors and windows etc. Accoyas cells are full of vinegar instead of water so they can't take on or lose moisture. Some people report a bit of movement but I have never had a problem with it.

It can move if you saw a length down the middle and the internal tensions are released but obviously that is nothing to do with moisture.
 

thetyreman

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I'd be really frustrated with the customer if this was me, do they not realise wood moves? probably best to try and fix it and move on but they shouldn't be ordering a solid wood door expecting it to never move
 

johnnyb

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exactly right but how much is acceptable? I often reckon movement of any amount is possible in any wood. my front door is in a plastic porch. 3 summers ago the door warped after 50 years. it promptly warped back when the weather changed. its redwood. ironically nearly every plastic door and window doesn't seal properly. many have light coming through. they sag in summer. it's already stupid money to make a hardwood door. then this happens.
 

Jacob

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I had this prob years ago when plasterers came after I'd fitted all sorts of stuff. Everything expanded. Took me a week to put things right.
With hindsight I should have first fixed where possible and then 2nd fixed when all was bone dry.
It was my fault I should have known.
Just another miserable learning experience!
 
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Sporky McGuffin

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I'd be really frustrated with the customer if this was me, do they not realise wood moves? probably best to try and fix it and move on but they shouldn't be ordering a solid wood door expecting it to never move
Why should they know that?
 

Marek S

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To be honest you may be right about the cause of the problem but if you knew what they were going to do you should have put your concerns down in writing and got them to sign it so that they would take responsibility for any problems.
Yes, I think part of the problem is that the client more or less forced us to fit the frame and door when we did, although you are right that we should have raised the possibility that the joinery might move, and made sure we had a written record.
 

Marek S

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Personally, I believe the UK legal position (statutory rights) is that a customer can expect a minimum of 12 months workmanship and material warranty from his purchase from the date of install.


So unless you can prove it was down to something other. I believe you are responsible for resolving it to a reasonable satisfaction. Which may include remaking it. (Yes, that would suck).

(Not a lawyer, but I am a contract administrator on construction projects)
Thanks, that's helpful! I think the point I was trying to make is that perhaps it becomes difficult to justify a guarantee on products when the context in which the product sits (in this case a house with a new screed floor) is evolving, and might involve extreme changes in temperature / humidity that are really beyond our control. I mean, what if the customer decided to put a radiator in front of the door for a week and the door warped? Would we still be responsible then? (Genuine question)
 

Marek S

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Screed is normally laid fairly dry. You might just have to bite the bullet instead of trying to argue your way out of it, Bristol is a small place and your reputation might take a knock.
Thanks, this is good to know.
 

Marek S

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What hardwood and how is it finished?

What construction is the door, I often think once you have any kind of arch there is more chance of movement.

My front door is made from Idigbo, it's quite big about 3'6x7'6. This time of year it gets a real bend in the lock stile, it still touches the frame in the middle but is probably 10-12mm away at the top and bottom, in the summer it's dead straight, I put it down to the outside expanding in the damp and inside drying out because of the underfloor heating (don't you just love working with a natural product). Who knows your door might straighten up again over time?

It's when you start having problems with bent doors that suddenly Accoya seems a cheap option.
It's sapele. And my apologies -- its not actually gothic-headed (strictly speaking). It's a square panelled door with gothic cut-outs across the head.

Since posting this I have read that some companies recommend leaving the door for a year before trying to address any warpage issues. Will think this over.
 

baldkev

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I recently had a call from a customer, a cupboard ledge and brace door i made has warped.... nearly 2"! Its one of a pair. The other is still dead straight.

I made it last feb, the cottage is cob walls, thatch roof, been previously refurbed by another builder and has underfloor heating. This year though the heating has been left on frost protect, the door has taken on moisture and warped. The walls feel damp and the mdf skirtings they put on ( yes, they did ) have swelled and look like you might expect.

I'll have to pick it up and probably make a new one. Its a total pain in the ass and i definately dont need the hassle, but ( touching wood ) its not often i run into trouble, so ive got to get it done, then sit down with a cider and feel good that its out the way.

Personally, i think if i had concerns i would have fitted a temporary door, or, better still, fitted the frame, with fixings drilled etc, mark the inside faces, remove frame and then fit a 4x2 to tye marks. The screed ( if wet pour like anhydrate, it would have had a foam edge running around the perimeter anyway ) and in any case, the screed wouldnt be the finished surface so it wouldnt have any bearing if the frame was fitted as it will be covered

Good luck, kev
 

Cabinetman

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The very first thing you need to do is to talk to them in a reasonable way, as you said time is the thing here, personally I think it’s absorbed a lot of the moisture from a new wet house and floor and in another six months it could be flat again. Give the customer assurances that you are really concerned and your priority is that they have a well fitting door, but it may be the moisture problem that is the cause, fit draught excluders and fix a date to come back for a site meeting you may need to give them something in writing, as this will take them outside a year? Ian
 
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