Cabinet Warranty In Unfinished Buildings

Other Versions
Covering yourself against damage caused by humidity and temperature. April 10, 2005

We are located in northeast Georgia. Most of the contractors here require cabinets to be installed as soon as the drywall is primed. It may be 4-6 weeks before the house is completed and during this time there is no heat or AC to control the humidity in the house. I would like to know what some of you are doing about this situation. We continually have problems with the face frames and doors swelling. I am thinking about requiring the HVAC to be operating within 1 week after installation or the cabinets will not be warranteed. What do you think about this requirement? Any opinions will be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
If you have a warranty on your cabinets make it in writing and state what it takes to maintain the warranty and what it takes to void it. Door manufacturers have been doing this for quite some time now, they state that if the top and bottom of the door is not sealed the warranty is void. You could make a statement such as "Cabinets require a stable environment to assure that they are within our tight standard. Cabinets must be maintained in an environment that is within 15%-50% relative humidity and 55-95ļ F to keep the warranty active. Any conditions below or above these extremes voids our warranty" and then enforce it. You can put/hide an inexpensive thermometer/hygrometer in one of your cabinets and then use the maximum and minimum setting to determine if the extremes have been violated. Protect your butt or your contractor will have it on a plate.

From contributor B:
This is really simple. If the house is not heated or air conditioned as in the environment that people are going to live in, there will be no installation unless the builder accepts full responsibility for anything that happens. Thatís how I have done it for last 25 years. The builder pays to fix everything unless house is stabilized. Your builder is probably pushing you so he can collect the next step payment from the bank.

You probably can't do much about the faceframes but you should keep doors, drawer faces and applied end panels in your shop until after everyone else is done. I find that other subs do the most damage to my stuff.

From contributor C:
Someone needs to buy a $125.00 dehumidifier and keep on working.

From contributor D:
What about all of the other items in the house that are going to be affected - wood windows, doors, drywall mud, wood floors etc. Your concerns are justified and the builder should be responsible for this short sighted shortcutting.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the replies. The idea of buying a dehumidifier doesn't make much sense. We generally keep 3-4 houses going at a time and I don't think a small dehumidifier would do much good anyway when the houses are being left open. The best option is to install at the very latest time possible but trying to convince the contractor of this is another thing. If any of you have any other suggestions, please let me know.

From contributor B:
Get another builder! That is my second suggestion - if this cheap so and so wonít get those houses either air conditioned or heated before installation then dump him - but not till you get a better one.

From contributor E:
This is the first part of the warranty section of our current contract:

Residential Warranty

ē All our work is stored and processed in a climate controlled environment to closely match the existing conditions of the average home in our area. All new home construction with any type of heating and cooling system and any existing homes with forced air heat and/or central air conditioning must have an automatic humidification/dehumidification system to keep humidity and temperature at consistent levels before and after we deliver. We suggest running the heat and/or air conditioning along with your humidification/dehumidification system for a minimum of 4 weeks before new work is installed. The humidity range should be between 30%- 40% and the temperature should be between 62 and 78 for a minimum of one week before we deliver. Large changes in humidity and temperature will affect framing of your home and our woodwork. This may cause movement and settling of framed structures and woodwork, causing racking of woodwork or gaps to open between newly installed woodwork and existing home. Problems caused by this are not covered under our warranty and repairs will be charged on a time and materials basis.

Most builders donít care about anything but their progress payments. They just have the cabinetmakers make repairs and the painters recaulk and repaint after everything settles and shrinks. I agree with contributor B. Either get paid for the repairs or find other contractors.

Have we ever kept a thermometer/hygrometer on a job? No.
Have we charged for repairs due to excessive shrinking and movement? Yes.

Builders will either learn the lesson the first time or decide they donít want to use you anymore. Either way you are better off.