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To Site-Prep or Not To Site-Prep
is not a Question
By George Porter
In the last two months I have been asked by at least five state
organizations both private and governmental, "Can we get
out of preparing the lot?" Some have wanted to make it the
state law that the customer has to do that and then dealers don't
have to mess with it. I guess that a person can do what ever he
wants if he is willing to put up with the consequences but they
asked so this is what I sent to them all. You might find it interesting
Points to Consider When Addressing the Site-Prep. Situation
# 1 Do we need Site Prep? Yes
Do we care who does it? No
Must it be done correctly Yes
# 2 100 years ago Doctors never washed their hands till the
operation was over. This was an accepted business practice and
the custom for thousands of years. Can you imagine the discussions
they must have had when they were making the transition to sterile
procedures. Surely there were people who had been practicing medicine
for 40 years who thought this was more trouble than it was worth.
If the patient wanted to wash up before the operation then fine,
but Doctors were not in the business of running a bath house.
People by the droves were dying of infection for thousands of
years before antiseptic procedures were used and it was just part
of getting sick or injured. They didn't know any better then,
but we sure do now and there has been a thousand fold decrease
in patients dying.
Site preparation is as necessary as sterile procedures, even
if some people don't know it yet. The house can be ruined without
# 3 Installing a home is like stacking blocks. You can easily
fix the last block on top but not the ones on the bottom. In fact
the ones on the bottom can cause the whole stack to fall. You
must be sure the proceeding work was done correctly before you
can put on the next layer. So it is with installation and site
preparation. Site preparation is the first building block, the
rest of the stack can be no better than it is.
You could hire someone to lay the first block and then you
do the rest. If however the first block is laid in an obviously
improper manner and you finish the stack then two people have
made a mistake. The guy who laid the first block and the fellow
who didn't care and laid the rest on top.
# 4 What if?
*The customer was contracted to supply the blocks and he got
some old used chipped and cracked cinder blocks. Would you use
them or tell the customer they were not good enough? How is this
different from site prep?
* You contract with the customer to do the site prep. for your
own home you were setting up? Would you accept it if it was not
adequate? Why not? In legal terms you are much safer in this situation
because you would probably not sue yourself for a bad installation.
# 5 If I were you:
* I would only let the customer do the work if he had the work
approved or certified by a third party. The building inspector
or the State or an engineer or someone who has the authority to
approve and/or accept responsibility for the work. This would
relieve any shouting matches between the customer and the dealer
about whether or not the job they did was good enough.
* I would promote the idea of a Certificate of Occupancy. The
whole thing has to be done right to move in. This would demand
that nothing could be ignored and it would not care who does what
as long as it is done right.
* I would not allow the customer to do any work that could
mess up what I had done.
Example: The customer could install his own skirting. If it
is wrong he can fix it but I will have done everything by the
book up to that point. All mistakes here would be made by the
customer alone. Much different than if he did something badly
and then that action made everything I did after that inadequate.
Example: You cannot have water standing around the footings
under the home. No one cares how you keep that from occurring
but it cannot be allowed to happen because it will cause them
to settle constantly and ruin the installation. The easiest solution
is site prep but there other solutions like waterproof walls and
drain fields etc. The point is how can you install the footings
correctly if you accept a lousy site prep as the method
of keeping it drained under the home. You can't. Accept is the
key word here, if you build on preceding work most courts say
that constitutes acceptance of that work.
That's how I see it. What you do is up to you and the lawyers,
both yours and the customers. Good luck.