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Question DetailsAsked on 1/23/2018

Contractors specifications

The contractors specifications call for the home to be build with plywood sheathing throughout...However, the home was built with "Norboard" sheathing throughout. There is a cost difference of about 6 to 10 dollars per sheet, should the home owner get a credit for the substitution of building materials?

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1 Answer


I am going to assume Norboard does not make true plywood - which should have a APA (American Plywood Association) plywood rating on it. As far as I know they only make particles board, sawdust compostion board (MDF), and OSB (oriented strand board) - substandard products for house sheathing and subflooring, in my opinion. And no, a pressboard product is NOT "plywood" if he tries to convince you they are the same thing.

Personally, I would reject the house for a fundamental flaw in construction. But as you say - you should certainly get a couple of quotes on bundle quantities of comparable thickness Norboard and Interior/exterior sheathing rated plywood as a basis for negotiating a credit - not only for the price difference but I would be asking for additional for lesser quality of product.

If this was used for exterior sheathing and roof sheathing I would also contact your building inspector and see if that is even legal in your area - many areas are not prohibiting such products for those uses because of the large number of failures when they get even moderately wet. Plywood (interior/exterior or exterior rated) can handle quite a bit of wetting for a short time without delaminating - not so with pressboard products, plus if in a high wind or seismic zone they are less resistant to those loads - and if they ever get wet due to a plumbing or siding/roofing leak you can count on swelling and delaminating damage whioch ordinarily would not occur with true plywood.

Be prepared for strong backtalk from the contractor/builder because replacing this or giving you a fair credit is a majo hit - probably enough to more than wipe out all the profit on the job or more. A question is likely to come up, assuming this is already built as you say, why you or your rep did not catch this earlier - before or during the dry-in for instance - though generally failure to catch a flaw does not constitute acceptance, barring any specific form or indication of specific acceptance like if the issue was discussed during construction and then you dropped it and did not follow up on it.

I certainly would not be doing final acceptance or payments on this house without final resolution of this issue - do NOT let them talk you into paying or accepting and moving in with it relegated to a "punchlist" - this is not a "punchlist" category of item in my mind. To me this falls in the same shyster cost-cutting category as substituting Pex for specified copper piping, PVC for cast iron buried sewer, economy three-tab shingles for architectural, tarpaper for synthetci roofing membrane, cellulose for fiberglass insulation, etc - all of which commonly happens on new builds and additions/remodels without ongoing inspection during construction.

BTW - if your architect (working for you) was tasked with construction inspection/ observation on your behalf, you likely also have cause for claim against his Errors and Omissions insurance for negligence, if the contractor refuses to make this right.

BTW - if the contractor refuses to make this right, you have legal action and filing a claim against his Bonding company to get it rectified or settled to your satisfaction. And if contrary to building code, getting a failing building inspection would put a lot more weight behind your case - as would be a formal letter report from Architect or a professional Engineer that this is a significant deviation from the specifications would carry a lot of weight.

And of course, if they took this shortcut, how many more are there - plumbing, wiring, foundation, interior finishes, etc ? Brings into question the integrity of the builder if he did/allowed this.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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