How much may new interior paneling differ from the original when your ship is a sailing monument? Not a math problem, but an essential question for Karel Baas’ claim.
Karel Baas bought a Lemsteraak, built in the 1930s. Baas instantly fell in love with this unique piece of sailing heritage and decided not only to have it blasted and painted, but to have it fully restored and thus preserved for posterity. Since he is not an expert, Baas called in an expert. Photographs were taken of the original interior, because it would have to be completely removed for the restoration, to be put back later, including details such as wood carvings, stained glass and, for example, the slide-out cage with copper sledges. Because this was a specialized project, Baas turned to a carpentry company experienced in this type of restoration carpentry project. After six months, the shipyard backed out, saying it would be difficult to put the original paneling back on the vessel. The yard said it would be quicker and cheaper to place new panelling that could not be distinguished from the original. Based on that promise, Baas reluctantly agreed. It was agreed that as many elements of the original interior as possible would be replaced. Unfortunately, as is often the case with projects of this kind, the months were long and the construction was postponed and rescheduled many times. Boss did receive invoices with regularity. After he had paid for three quarters of the carpentry, lacquering and painting work, but the work delivered was seriously behind schedule, he had had enough. Emotions ran so high that under the guidance of a mediator new agreements were made with the intention of bringing the project to a positive conclusion. The construction supervisor then had to assess the work done. The result was not cheerful. The new oak was not painted in the same color as the old and the paintwork was silk gloss where high gloss had been agreed upon. The dimensions of the cabinet doors had been doubled so that fewer doors were needed – thus savings had been made on labor-intensive parts. The proportions of surfaces in the paneling had changed and the alignment of moldings did not match. As a result, it did not match the original paneling at all. The staircase had been placed crookedly and woodwork was visibly ‘stapled’ while at the time of applying the original panelling stapling had not yet been invented, etc., etc.
With this, the dispute was a fact. The yard refused to accept the construction supervisor’s report and wanted full payment of invoice before completing the work. Boss felt that a complete default had occurred and paid nothing more. The matter escalated and a lawsuit was filed. The judge has not studied the matter further and appoints an expert. He must now assess whether the work delivered by the yard corresponds to the expectations that Baas was entitled to have. Baas states that the parties had agreed that authentic panelling, the same as the original, would be delivered. The yard says that authenticity was never discussed, only that the panelling had to resemble the old. Hence the opening words of this article: is similar to now to be considered the same? Should Baas be satisfied with panelling that, in his eyes, has more in common with an Ikea interior than with an interior as it was crafted three quarters of a century ago? Should he settle for staples instead of brass screws? The expert still has to report and the judge still has to rule, but between Baas and the yard things will never be right again.
Tip: It makes quite a difference whether you have a DIY door installed or a handmade solid oak door with brass hardware. While both do what they are built to do, which is to open and close. Again, when you take on a project that transcends “home, garden and kitchen carpentry,” make sure you fully document with a professional what the old situation was like and make clear agreements about what is expected of the items being replaced. Keep in touch with the work site as often as possible and have them provide insight into the work with the help of photos. In this way you keep the costs under control and it is possible to intervene in time if the work is not going as you had imagined.
More information or download old articles: https://www.anwb.nl/kampioen/algemeen/digitaal-archief