Addie Mills
Daymon Gardner photo Addie Mills

Sometimes even the best-run construction jobs head south, but in two projects involving 84 Lumber’s installed sales division in New Orleans, alleged poor work, bad management, and legal bullying have left several small contractors devastated.

The news of a fresh legal entanglement for the Eighty-four, Pa.–based supplier comes less than a year after a similar ProSales report, which involved 84 Lumber and a western Maryland builder who has waged a four-year legal battle over allegedly shoddy construction by the supplier’s installed sales division that resulted in newly built homes being condemned and the builder in bankruptcy.

To some observers, the New Orleans dispute highlights the need for tight controls and oversight in installed-sales projects, while others point to what they say is a culture of arrogance at 84 Lumber that exacerbated an already problematic commercial project.

For dealers, 84 Lumber’s travails offer a couple lessons, according to LBM experts. First, stick with what you’re good at and only add services as you develop expertise in those areas. If you’re going to do installations, regardless of size, you better know what you’re doing because, if you screw up, it can cost you a lot of money.

Also, follow best practices, pay attention to details, draft a clear and well-written Scope of Work document, provide jobsite management, and specifically spell out the responsibilities of all parties involved in the project.