I Really Dislike Seeing Finished Carpentry Like This, Especially On New Construction!

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

I really like seeing finished carpentry this, especially on new construction.

One thing I like to see on new construction, especially the high end, is the finished carpentry.  Indoors and out. 

That is the easiest way, and most visible way, a builder can set itself off from the crowd.


These are both representative of what I found on a recent new construction inspection.

The left is trim outdoors.  Small cracks all over the place had not been caulked.  The painting was very thin, and sloppy, probably done when it was too cold outside ** .  Also, there were large gaps left where the trim had not been cut properly.  Look at the trim on the left.  That gap is 3/16".  Even if that is caulked it will be ugly.

** Note:  exterior painting should NOT be done when the temperature is below 50F OR if it will freeze the night after.  Read the label!  Why not?  Because the surfactant leaches out.  What is the surfactant?  Oh, just the chemical that helps the paint to bond to the surface it is intended to adhere to.  So your paint will begin to peel in short order, probably the very next summer!  You can see if the surfactant has leached out in a few days as small dots of brown will be dried on the paint.  I see that all the time on new construction and point it out not only to my clients but also the supervisor.  If the supervisor pretends not to know that painting should not be done when it is cold, I make a point of offering an embarrassing lesson in front of the buyers.  Trust me, supervisors don't like that!

The photo on the right is in the kitchen.  There is granite counter and ledge tops.  It is called Venetian Gold, and that is a Level II of the five granite levels.  It is a very nice-looking product!  The splash block is tile.

So, what's my beef?  LOOK CAREFULLY!!  The caulking between the (unattractive) casement molding and granite had been slopped onto the granite all along that counter top.  The grout above and between the splash block tiles is already cracking.  They got paint on the splash block and granite.  And worst of all - the wood trim is merely cut at a 90 degree angle, and not back edged! The end is unpainted and I can see tile glue in the gap!

What is back edging?  It is FINISHED CARPENTRY!  Look to the left.

Rather than simply cutting the end of a piece of trim, like we see in so many places on new construction, the end is cut at a 45 degree angle and a small end piece is cut to fit into that slot.  It finishes off the end, making the end look like the molding.  This is the back edge I cut on the chair rail in my dining room.  There are six such cuts in my dining room.  They all demonstrate finished carpentry.

I have to say, Mr. Brautigam, my 8th grade shop teacher, would have given me a D for the work in that kitchen above.  And a talking to probably.  It is schmuck work.  It is NOT finished carpentry. 

If I was a supervisor, I would be embarrassed to show that to my buyers.

My recommendation:  when you walk through your new house, look carefully.  Check the FINISHED work.  Is your house a show piece, or is it sloppily and unprofessionally done?  Remember, as the buyer, you are the boss.  You deserve work Mr. Brautigam would be happy to give an A.  (Like he used to give me...)



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Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560



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Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

I did a mortgage recently on a home that looked like a twin to the photos that you have. In reviewing the photos on the appraisal nothing was mentioned, the home inspection didn't address anything about the workmanship either.

In asking the buyer, my borrowers, they indicated that the property had been on the market for over a year and it was the home of their dreams. At that point, I was not going to address any of the below average workmanship.

Jan 29, 2012 11:24 PM #4
Carol Zingone
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS

Jay, it's amazing what goes unnoticed in new construction, as many buyers just want a clean new house. Many inspectors many point these kinds of items out, as items that are not necessarily items to be concerned about, but it shows lack of pride in the construction process, and what else may they have not done correctly???

Jan 29, 2012 11:25 PM #5
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

This kind of work is everywhere Joe.  Part of the reason it is is because people accept it!

Professionalism is my biggest problem with new construction Carol.  The pride you mention.  That is what we get when workers are hired from the local 7-11.

Jan 29, 2012 11:36 PM #6
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

It just shows that not every product is made equally. Too bad every home buyer doesn't understand that fact at least until later. 

Jan 30, 2012 12:22 AM #7
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Jay, Unfortunately most buyers probably wouldn't pick up on these details until they'd been in the home for months (assuming they even did then).  That new home eye glaze puts a nice filter on reality. 

Jan 30, 2012 12:41 AM #8
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

In my opinion, that is not finished. It is amazing to me that the guy (I won't call him a carpenter) that does that kind of work does not have the pride to make his work look good and be complete. When I walk into house that kind of stuff just jumps right out at me, and bugs the hell outta me!

Jan 30, 2012 12:47 AM #9
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

You have to wonder if that is what you CAN see looks like...what other kinds of tradespeople in this construction slopped thru their end of things...ewwwww.

Jan 30, 2012 01:23 AM #10
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay -- it is amazing that they would put in granite counter top and then be so sloppy with their finishes around it.  Cracking grout, before the home is even sold?  Looks like they should reinstall a bunch of stuff, with a higher level of professionalism - if they are really trying to sell this house (or allow a markdown to get it done properly.)

Jan 30, 2012 06:34 AM #11
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

The problem I've seen is the supervisor doesn't know either.  Your shop teacher and mine were cut from the same mold.

Jan 30, 2012 06:42 AM #12
David Artigliere
Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia - Collegeville, PA
ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect


Pet peeve of mine, too!  I just had a new construction that was supposedly all finished except for the driveway and sidewalk.  I walked inside the home and saw far worst- they weren't nearly done.  Some builders just tell you what you want to hear.  I told the client he'd be better off waiting until they were REALLY done and we'll see what we have after that.  Problem is he needs to settle tomorrow to secure his financing, but that won't be happening.

Jan 30, 2012 08:51 AM #13
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jim - one problem is that a lot of people don't realize that there is such a thing as back edging!  They have never seen it!  It would be nice if there was a Best Practices TV show so people could see what excellent is.

I think you're right Bliz.  IF they picked up on it at all.

Me too Fred.  No finisho.  It is sloppy at best.  Those are things that would bug me forever if I lived there!

S&D - that's a big problem when things get "finished."  You can no longer see behind!

Jan 30, 2012 09:53 AM #14
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Steven - professionalism is the word I have often used to describe my biggest problem with new constrution.  I have also often called it "7-11 construction."

I hear you Jack.  Like the time I asked the supervisor why they didn't use stainless steel or dipped nails on the front porch railings and the supervisor asked, "Dipped in what?"  I rest my case, and yours!

Mr. B was great.  I have a couple of very funny stories!  I had him for metal and wood shop and printing class.  I printed my own business cards, in 8th grade, the only kid in the class to do so.

You got it David.  I have done that before - walked off to say we needed to do this a different day.  But if the financing/settlement need to be done, the buyer has little choice.


Jan 30, 2012 09:56 AM #15
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - That looks like a perfect application for "wide caulk." Does Billy Jays offer that?

Jan 30, 2012 12:44 PM #16
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

John - Get Yer Goop! would probably be perfect for this.  It's made for wide loads!

Jan 30, 2012 10:03 PM #17
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

There are some carpenters and then there are some carpenters.  Looks like they turned up with one of the latter.

Jan 30, 2012 10:26 PM #18
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Or one of neither James!  Maybe not even a handy man!

Jan 30, 2012 11:23 PM #19
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

Jay,  Seems so common these days.  Everybody is in a hurry and quality experienced work is rare to find.

Jan 31, 2012 03:22 AM #20
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The word professionalism is my biggest problem with modern construction Vince!  Hurriedness is only a part of it!

Jan 31, 2012 05:14 AM #21
Eric Middleton
Closer Look Property Inspections Inc. - Uniondale, NY
Professional Property Inspector

Jay- one of the problems that exist today in the building industry is lack of pride in the work. The quality of work and craftsmen today just don't compare to yesterday.

Jan 31, 2012 02:05 PM #22
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That is the biggest problem in the industry, in my opinion Eric.  See my comment #22m and others.  Part of the reason for that lack of pride is that builders don't hire professionals, just whatever they can.

Jan 31, 2012 09:21 PM #23
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