What Do We Do On New Construction When Doors Aren't Level Or Plumb?

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

So answer the question - what do we do on new construction when doors aren't level or plumb?

One basic rule of carpentry is that doors and windows be level and plumb.

Level noun 1 a horizontal plane with respect to the distance above or below a given point
Plumb verb 3 testing an upright surface to determine the vertical

When doors are shipped they have little stabilizers on the corners that insure that the door framing is absolutely square.  It is a perfect rectangle.

If it is a rectangle and level, it is also plumb.  We used to test plumb with a weight on the end of a string.  It still works!  Now we use levels with little bubbles.

Standing in the hallway I looked at the front door and with chagrin noticed something.

The right corner is angled down to the right.

When you approach the door it wasn't sitting flush in the wall either, but that did not photograph very well.

Setting my level on top of the door frame surprise, surprise!  Not levelo.  That's perfect Spanish.

And also placing my level againse the side framing, surprise, surprise again, it wasn't plumb!

You will notice that this door has four hinges and each is shimmed.

How do you make sure a door is plumb (or level) when installing it?  That's right, with shims!

In this case the "carpenter" merely used the shims to fill the space beside the hinges so he could nail the door on "securely."

Immediately suspicious I went to the back door on the same level.

Well good gosh, good golly, gee oh gee me!  What did the bubble say?

It wasn't plumb either!

And not level.

My VERY, VERY sarcastic phrase for this sort of work is "7-11 Construction."

What do you want to bet the same crew from the 7-11 parking lot installed both doors?

They were both done exactly the same way.  I bet so.

They were foamed, so this group thinks these doors are installed.

The "carpenters" worked on this and saw how it looked when they were finished.  The house has been inspected every day by the building supervisor.  The house has been inspected by the County structural inspector and given its stamp of approval.

How come I can walk in and glance at the door and see this within seconds of entering the house? 

A door that is not level will never close properly and eventually will bend in its framing and seal out no air.  It will only be good for allowing the pet snake, and his friends, to enter and exit at will.

My recommendation:  this was not the only glaring problem with this house.  If you think for a minute, or less than a minute, that a home inspection is not needed on new construction, you need to reorder your thinking! Absolutely request one at the outset of the building process and make sure it is properly scheduled.  And I know that isn't perfect Spanish up there - don't you see my tongue jammed into my cheek?

 

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Don - the hinge side is for plumb, the exterior for securing screws.  They should know that!

Thanks Robert.  We would all think that's true, for sure!

Yes Tom, thanks.  And if you can't afford a home inspection, or think it's too much money, you might rethink the idea of owning a house!

Feb 20, 2013 11:59 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It has to be Roger!  Not much of that happened on this installation!  The door is 8 1/2' high and heavy, so for sure two guys installed it.

Feb 21, 2013 12:01 AM #27
Rainmaker
1,350,705
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

My opinion...you try and get your clients to move on to another home. You need to start out with as close to a perfect house as you can...it is all downhill from that point.

Feb 21, 2013 12:03 AM #28
Ambassador
2,729,214
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Interesting.

When we (inspector, buyer, agent) see doors and windows that are not fitting, opening and closing smoothly, I often think out of plum, fit, etc.  However, I also have questions about foundation and whether or not there is "movement" in a structure.  Mmmmm.

Feb 21, 2013 01:43 AM #29
Rainmaker
908,388
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

If the doors are this way, what else is wrong with the construction? I agree with Jeffrey Comment #28, it's all downhill. Find another home.

Feb 21, 2013 01:45 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jeffrey - this is a vrey expensive home already under contract, and I don't know what it says.  I am not involved on that end of things!

All relevant Lenn.  A foundation moving at the outset will continue, likely.

Pamela - there were a few things!  All noted by the home inspector!

Feb 21, 2013 01:54 AM #31
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay -- good eyes on this issue.  How they expect the door to work properly, when it isn't square to start is beyond most of us.

Feb 21, 2013 02:10 AM #32
Rainmaker
1,107,760
Paula McDonald
Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury - Granbury, TX
Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Yikes, I would be inclined to not purchase such a property.  That would indicate a lot of other potential problems. 

Feb 21, 2013 02:45 AM #33
Rainer
159,533
Glenn Freezman
Family Abstract, Inc. - Horsham, PA

Jay, you are one of the most informed bloggers at Active Rain, your knowledge every day astounds me!  Your interesting, entertaining and spot on.

Have a level day,

 

Glenn

Feb 21, 2013 05:29 AM #34
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I am not sure they understand that Steven!  Level?  Plumb?

There were Paula.  But I think all of them are resolvable.

Glenn - thanks, but not as funny as a certain stand-up comic I saw recently.  I should tell him I'm doing a senior too, but "she" (you know who) wouldn't appreciate that moniker.  I am related to her by marriage.

Feb 21, 2013 06:12 AM #35
Rainmaker
995,319
John G. Johnston
John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC - Westcliffe, CO
An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO

Jay  We should get CE credits for reading your blogs.  Thanks for all you insight...and education.

Feb 21, 2013 08:45 AM #36
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I agree John.  See what you can get!

Oh, and thanks very much, those are very kind words.

Feb 21, 2013 09:02 AM #37
Rainmaker
2,197,805
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

When I'm a buyer, I love to see doors that don't close well, when I become a seller of that property, they work perfectly.

Feb 21, 2013 09:05 AM #38
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You're getting a discount because of that Joe!  This is a new house!

By the way, this crew could use your help!

Feb 21, 2013 09:07 AM #39
Rainmaker
206,345
Chuck Mixon
The Keyes Company - Cutler Bay, FL
Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR

Funny how many calls I get as a locksmith to fix things like this. Only to advice the customer that problem is not the lock but the door. I sometime have a very hard time explaining that to the customer, they have it in there head that the lock is the problem because it sticking. We can do some minor work but we are not carpenters and should not pretend to be one.

Feb 21, 2013 12:25 PM #40
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Chuck - not plumb, not level, not flush - it's the lock's fault!  Over time, for sure, those strikers and plates won't line up!

Feb 21, 2013 05:39 PM #41
Rainmaker
694,609
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Jay,

As long as the door work's for the buyer and getting into and out of the home.

I'm sure the builder said "So what's the problem". They think that what they do is the right way no matter what. I find the builders don't like to have us inspectors around at all. They don't like being criticized for any thing. Level or not, the builder will say it works.

Some times all we have is to shake our heads and throw our hands up in frustration.

Have a great day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Feb 22, 2013 11:01 PM #42
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I hear you Clint.  In this case, I don't know if pointing this out is a criticism or an instructional lesson for the installers.  But something needs to change, for sure!

Feb 23, 2013 07:39 AM #43
Rainmaker
683,580
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

I like plums, they are yum, yum, yummy.

The foam was obviously the new glue type, should make squaring the door lots of fun. 

Feb 23, 2013 10:00 PM #44
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

If they are using the foam to square the door, as you know Jim, they have already screwed it up.  They certainly didn't use the shims for that!

Feb 23, 2013 10:07 PM #45
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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