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Old 06-12-2007, 01:42 AM   #1
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My fiance and I are having a house built. It is a production home, but offers custom options. So every other day or so, I go over and check on the house. Each time I go I am more depressed by the workmanship. I keep getting told that a) the house is not subject to my approval or inspection and that b) they are using standard practices. So.., here goes...

Is it ok to use bowed studs?
Is it ok that the roof pitch is inconsistant from left to right on an 8 foot section. It drops about 2 inches and creates a valley where it intersects another roof
Is it ok to be able to see outside light through the walls? (house has not yet been sheetrocked)
Is it ok to chop 80% through a stud to run a drain pipe through it?
Is it ok to patch 30 or 40 nail holes in Hardi Plank with caulk?
Is it ok that door arches are not level?
That windows are not level?
Windows are shimmed with hardiplank or cardboard or scraps of drip rail or anything they happen to pick up?
I think these people are doing a poor job but if I walk, I lose $15,000 in ernest money. I feel trapped. They keep telling me that what they are doing passes inspection but it still looks bad. Advice? By the way, all legal disputes must be settled through an arbitration company that THEY choose. I purchased based on a model but my house is being built different than the model.

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Old 06-12-2007, 06:35 AM   #2
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Is it ok to use bowed studs?.
Generally: no. Any good builder will cull through his framing lumber stock. Poor quality studs should be either cut down and used as cripple studs, blocking, etc. Minor bowing that does not project outward, bat rather to the side within a wall is tolerable to an extent. Again, I say MINOR.
The worst banana studs (that would obviously Bow-OUT, or BOW-in a wall) should just plain not be used at all. (Most reputable lumber supply companies will cater to a builder's needs and pick up bad studs/lumber and exchange it for good stock. They want to keep their business)
ALSO: Please realize that as lumber dries out on a frame over the course of several weeks, some framing members will bow beyond what they looked like - when they were installed. (in other words, they may not have looked bowed or been significantly bowed when they were ''cut and nailed into place'')

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Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
Is it ok that the roof pitch is inconsistant from left to right on an 8 foot section. It drops about 2 inches and creates a valley where it intersects another roof.
Sounds like it's not right, but I couldn't necesssarily tell you without seeing the architect's plans and seeing the actual build, etc.

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Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
Is it ok to be able to see outside light through the walls? (house has not yet been sheetrocked).
Yes, there may be additional exterior areas that will be finished off later. Tho, prior to the actual insulating and sheetrocking start, the structure should be deamed "weather-tight" from the elements.

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Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
Is it ok to chop 80% through a stud to run a drain pipe through it?.
As long as it is not a load bearing structural framing member. (Example: some interior walls are non-shear or non load bearing, they are just partition walls) The framing inspection would not be passed if it were a structural member cut that way. The codes are VERY strict about this, and it is one of the key points that building inspectors look for when performing a framing inspection. They will fail an entire framing inspection if ''one'' structural member has been compromised.

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Is it ok to patch 30 or 40 nail holes in Hardi Plank with caulk?.
Caulking nail holes on hardiplank siding is a manufacturer acceptable practice (see page 3):

http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/hardiplankinstall.pdf

Main site:
http://www.jameshardie.com/homeowner...stallation.php

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Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
Is it ok that door arches are not level?.
Do you mean level?...or do you mean Plum?
Arched Door entries should always be plum.
They should be level (top header) to an extent. I can guaranty that if you visited 100 homes with multiple arched openings, you would find a at least one (or more) entry per home, slightly "off level" in the top header area.
Now when I say slightly off-level, I mean "in the bubble", but not perfectly centered in the bubble. Realize that this is construction & building. People often make the mistake of thinking that every construction that has been done is PERFECT...when it is not. This is even the case in million dollar homes. If you were to take a level and tape measure and go around to various beautiful; commercial buildings and high-end homes.....You are going to be very surprised at what you find in some of the areas. Again, this is Construction, it is not built by computers, it's built by humans. There are minor tolerances on certain areas that are just plain allowable because it may not be obviously detected by the human eye and it may not affect important factors like doors opening and closing properly, cabinets not fitting, etc... (example - Go into a nice house with a 6' straight edge, place it along various walls. See how many are perfectly planed and straight without slight humps)

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Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
.....windows are not level?
Windows are shimmed with hardiplank or cardboard or scraps of drip rail or anything they happen to pick up?.
That is common practice. That is what shims are made are for. In this case, they made there own shims. Perfectly acceptable.

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Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
I think these people are doing a poor job but if I walk, I lose $15,000 in ernest money. I feel trapped. They keep telling me that what they are doing passes inspection but it still looks bad. Advice? .
Advice? Ok, you asked for it: How many houses have you built that puts you in the mind set that you are an expert in this field?

You are creating ''non-tolerance'' issues that do not exist in the building industry. I understand your concerns, some may have genuine merit. But, be carefull. You sound like you are getting to be a major pain in the neck on the job sight. Some of your points are good points to question, some of them would make me turn away and roll me eyes .... (be careful, if you are out and doing these ''inspections'' and questioning workers who take pride in their work, the result won't be better work, it will be the reverse - see my last point on the approach for this *)

(BTW - Side point: You aren't an engineer in another field by any chance are you?)

This is what can happen when a client gets too involved in with certain facets of a build:
This is an example that I posted on here before.
We did a beautiful custom designed addition for an "Engineer" client. He questioned alot of things, and re-questioned them again.
It was ok, because he acknowledged that we was being a ''pain in the neck'', and he was genuinly a nice guy and respected our end of the business.
Then he got involved in three areas of building/construction decisions. We ended up just letting him, and told him that he was now responsible for those areas. He had decided that he had wanted some things done a certain way. Why? Because he had experience in the building field? .... no....because, he just ''felt'' that it should be done ''this way'' or ''that way'', and to him... it made more sense.
Long story short, He messed up all three areas, and he ended up asking us to fix things. We ended up ripping things out and redoing work - that cost him more time and more money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerovette View Post
By the way, all legal disputes must be settled through an arbitration company that THEY choose. I purchased based on a model but my house is being built different than the model.
Take this up with a lawyer familiar with similar issues.

* Lastly: I hope that your tactic has not been to repeatedly show up at the build site and question and delay the workers. We do not allow this on our jobs, it is in our contracts.
Rather, I hope that you have made notes of your concerns and then made an appointment with the Person or Company Rep, that you have your contract with, to meet at the job site and review the matters in question. I would suggest these concerns be put in writing in the form of a formal professional business letter with each point listed and with your request for written replies to each point. This will protect you, as well as the builder.

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Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 06-13-2007 at 06:42 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:30 PM   #3
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Sounds like someone struck a nerve (I understand why). The problem is many times home buyers have a million questions and issues. Often in these million issues their are one or two that may be valid. However the contractor can not possibly wade through the million to address the one or two.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:28 PM   #4
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Get answers for your questions now. You're making the biggest investment of your life. My parents are going on TWO YEARS having their MODULAR HOME finished. Make sure you are 100% satisfied with the craftsmanship.

These companies want to get in and get out so they make a profit. Even have 7,8 and 9 homes being built at the same time. So a 1 on 1 relationship is out the door.

In my parents case, the builder has lost thousands on this job. And rightly deserves it. Get the job done RIGHT the FIRST TIME.

Also, you could hire a home inspector to come take a look at things.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:47 PM   #5
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I appreciate the extensive feedback. I added some notes. It should be known up frontI am NEVER at the job site when workers are there. They ahve a job to do and I stay out of their way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
Generally, no, any good builder will cull through his framing lumber stock. Poor quality studs should be either cut down and used as cripple studs, blocking, etc. Minor bowing that does not project outward, bat rather to the side within a wall is tolerable to an extent. Again, I say MINOR.
The worst banana studs (that would obviously Bow-OUT, or BOW-in a wall) should just plain not be used at all. (Most reputable lumber supply companies will cater to a builder's needs and pick up bad studs/lumber and exchange it for good stock. They want to keep their business)
ALSO: Please realize that as lumber dries out on a frame over the course of several weeks, some framing members will bow beyond what they looked like - when they were installed. (in other words, they may not have looked bowed or been significantly bowed when they were ''cut and nailed into place'')



Sounds like it's not right, but I couldn't necesssarily tell you without seeing the architect's plans and seeing the actual build, etc.

The bowed studs are not protruding from the wall, they are left and right bows. They are bowed enough thatthe insulation installer has stuffed insulation in to the actual bow between it and the door jam. I received a call from the builder telling me he was ready to sheetrock and when I checked out a few walls, they did wave in and out by as much as two inches. They agreed to change those studs, but left all the side to side bows as is. No big deal, I just need to be aware when I hang a picture or a shelf. BTW, this included outside/supporting walls. We are out in the county and building codes don't apply. That is why I am checking the quality. Once it is covered with sheetrock, I have no ability to see if it has been repaired.



Yes.



As long as it is not a load bearing structural framing member. (Example: some interior walls are non-shear or non load bearing, they are jsut partition walls) The framing inspection would not be passed if it were a structural member cut that way. The codes are VERY strict about this, and it is one of the key points that building inpsectors look for when performing a framing inspection. They will fail an entire framing inspection if ''one'' structural member has been compromised.

It was a load bearing wall.



Caulking nail holes on hardiplank siding is a manufacturer acceptable practice (see page 3):

http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/hardiplankinstall.pdf

Main site:
http://www.jameshardie.com/homeowner...stallation.php



Do you mean level?...or do you mean Plum?
Arched Door entries should always be plum.
They should be level (top header) to an extent. I can guaranty that if you visited 100 homes with multiple arched openings, you would find a at least one (or more) entry per home, slightly "off level" in the top header area.
Now when I say slightly off-level, I mean "in the bubble", but not perfectly centered in the bubble. Realize that this is construction & building. People often make the mistake of thinking that every construction that has been done is PERFECT...when it is not. This is even the case in million dollar homes. If you were to take a level and tape measure and go around to various beautiful; commercial buildings and high-end homes.....You are going to be very surprised at what you find in some of the areas. Again, this is Construction, it is not built by computers, it's built by humans. There are minor tolerances on certain areas that are just plain allowable because it may not be obviously detected by the human eye and it may not affect important factors like doors opening and closing properly, cabinets not fitting, etc... (example - Go into a nice house with a 6' straight edge, place it along various walls. See how many are perfectly planed and straight without slight humps)
Imagine standing with your back against one side of an arch and looking to the opposit side. Where the top meets the edge, the arch is high on one side. (hard to visualize)


That is common practice. That is what shims are made are for. In this case, they made there own shims. Perfectly acceptable.



Advice? Ok, you asked for it: How many houses have you built that puts you in the mind set that you are an expert in this field?

Yeah, the builder made this same case. My counter was that I don't need to know a stud from a joist to know that they should be cut with a saw as opposed to jumped on and broken in half and then nailed in place (yes, that has been done in the house)

You are creating ''non-tolerance'' issues that do not exist in the building industry. I understand your concerns, some may have genuine merit. But, be carefull. You sound like you are getting to be a major pain in the neck on the job sight. Some of your points are good points to question, some of them would make me turn away and roll me eyes .... (be careful, if you are out and doing these ''inspections'' and questioning workers who take pride in their work, the result won't be better work, it will be the reverse - see my last point on the approach for this *)

Having practically rebuilt my home over the last 20 years I have beenin it, I have seen the ills of poor workmanship. When it came time to build this home, I did not choose based on price. I chose this builder because it was repeated to me, and stated on their web site that they have SUPERIOR WORKMANSHIP. I feel I paid a premium for the home and I see know better workmanship than a same sized home that is CONSIDERABLY less money. As the price per square foot goes up, so does the expectation as a buyer. I don't think that is unreasonable.

(BTW - Side point: You aren't an engineer in another field by any chance are you?)

No I am not, but I have done MAJOR remodeling over the course of 20 years on my home as well as friend's homes. I strive to do it right the first time instead of doing it wrong several times.

This is what can happen when a client gets too involved in with certain facets of a build:
This is an example that I posted on here before.
We did a beautiful custom designed addition for an "Engineer" client. He questioned alot of things, and re-questioned them again.
It was ok, because he acknowledged that we was being a ''pain in the neck'', and he was genuinly a nice guy and respected our end of the business.
Then he got involved in three areas of building/construction decisions. We ended up just letting him, and told him that he was now responsible for those areas. He had decided that he had wanted some things done a certain way. Why? Because he had experience in the building field? .... no....because, he just ''felt'' that it should be done ''this way'' or ''that way'', and to him... it made more sense.
Long story short, He messed up all three areas, and he ended up asking us to fix things. We ended up ripping things out and redoing work - that cost him more time and more money.

Trust me, I don't WANT to be involved. I want to sit and drink a frosty beer and have the call me when the house is done. Unfortunately, I learned early on that they are trying to put lipstick on a pig. The framing is the "bones" of the house and errors there become cumulative.


Take this up with a lawyer familiar with similar issues.

* Lastly: I hope that your tactic has not been to repeatedly show up at the build site and question and delay the workers. We do not allow this on our jobs, it is in our contracts.
Rather, I hope that you have made notes of your concerns and then made an appointment with the Person or Company Rep, that you have your contract with, to meet at the job site and review the matters in question. I would suggest these concerns be put in writing in the from of a formal professional business letter with each point listed and with your request for written replies to each point. This will protect you, as well as the builder.

I have made notes, taken pictures, made appointments with the sales agent as well as the construction Supervisor. They validate the concerns, they say they wil repair them, then the crew goes out and makes things worse. The TRUE issue here is that the Supervisor sits in his air conditioned trailer and does not watch what his guys are doing. They tossed this house up from a grassy field to a fully framed and roofed home in 3-4 weeks and have spent the last 2 months repairing all of the things they did wrong.

Last edited by Aerovette; 06-12-2007 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:57 PM   #6
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Sounds like someone struck a nerve (I understand why). The problem is many times home buyers have a million questions and issues. Often in these million issues their are one or two that may be valid. However the contractor can not possibly wade through the million to address the one or two.
This whole mess started out by just asking what the process was. I did not want to point fingers or make waves prematurely. It was then explained to me that the crew builds like a bat out of hell, then the Supervisor comes through and checks their work. Then when it all meets his approval, he notifies me that sheetrocking will begin and we do a wak through to make sure low voltage systems and "customs" are done to my request. It was at that time that I began to question the readiness for sheetrock. The Supervisor bgan making excuses and tap dancing issues and I held firm. He went through the house and spray painted all over it with notes about the items needing attention. I went away and he called back telling me they were now ready for sheetrock again. He and I AGAIN walked the house and 2/3rds of the initial findings were untouched. The other third were actuall made worse. So nce again, he painted MORE notes and I waited. Once again, they called me out and NOTHING was different. he confessed that he had not actually been to the house to see what they had done but was TOLD it was complete. That is how I ended up here asking if it is ME or do I just have a crappy builder?
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:00 PM   #7
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Get answers for your questions now. You're making the biggest investment of your life. My parents are going on TWO YEARS having their MODULAR HOME finished. Make sure you are 100% satisfied with the craftsmanship.

These companies want to get in and get out so they make a profit. Even have 7,8 and 9 homes being built at the same time. So a 1 on 1 relationship is out the door.

In my parents case, the builder has lost thousands on this job. And rightly deserves it. Get the job done RIGHT the FIRST TIME.

Also, you could hire a home inspector to come take a look at things.

What can I expect an inspector to cost? At this point the house is framed, plumbing installed, electrical roughed out and low voltage roughed out. It is also roofed and that is one of my big concerns.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:17 PM   #8
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They all vary. Maybe around $4-600. Call your borough clerk or building department and ask for a reputable inspector. Now is the time before the sheetrock goes up.

Take tons of photos, too. Clear ones!

Also, document your conversations with the builder. You MAY never need all this information, but in the event you do.......you will be much better off.

Last edited by Jeekinz; 06-12-2007 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:39 PM   #9
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Aerovette -

You will pay more than that for a good inspector unless you are looking at a quick one-shot scenario.

Frankly, for someone that has done MAJOR remodeling over a 20 year period, your questions seem very naive and not worth bring up unless you specialize in "peel and stick" tile. - 20 years by itself means nothing.

Remember, the advice you are getting was requested by you and is given by those who are freely giving their opinions based on experience.

If you think you know better, why don't you spend some time trying to help others.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:52 PM   #10
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To pass code, does not nescessarily mean it has to look good. You could hae gaps in the miters, unsanded joint compound, etc., and it will still pass code. This is where an inspector would come in. A good one will have a special talent to spot even the smallest flaw.

Good luck, and don't get burned.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:01 PM   #11
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Aerovette -

You will pay more than that for a good inspector unless you are looking at a quick one-shot scenario.

Frankly, for someone that has done MAJOR remodeling over a 20 year period, your questions seem very naive and not worth bring up unless you specialize in "peel and stick" tile. - 20 years by itself means nothing.

Remember, the advice you are getting was requested by you and is given by those who are freely giving their opinions based on experience.

If you think you know better, why don't you spend some time trying to help others.
I'm not sure what prompted your attack unless perhaps you are a shoddy builder. I think my questions and comments were not out of line at all. I can manage my way around power tools and have torn out walls and suported them with beams, floated walls, repaired plumbing, etc. Not that I need to defend myself, but it does not make me an expert in what is acceptable in the industry. I am the one regulating the work I do and I am my own toughest critic and inspector. I make sure it is done BETTER than most clowns working out of the back of their truck. If someone here needed me to swing a hammer, I would absolutely help. If someone had a question about what to watch for when some poor roofer wants to fix your house for half price, I could tell them. I am NOT however, an inspector. I never claimed to know BETTER, but I do know straight from crooked. So thanks for the tip on Inspector pricing and go "peel and stick"...

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Old 06-12-2007, 03:03 PM   #12
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To pass code, does not nescessarily mean it has to look good. You could hae gaps in the miters, unsanded joint compound, etc., and it will still pass code. This is where an inspector would come in. A good one will have a special talent to spot even the smallest flaw.

Good luck, and don't get burned.
There-in lies my issue. The contract I signed says that the builder has upheld his end of the contract once the home is "complete and has passed all required inspections". Do inspections actually address aesthetics? This is something I am not familiar with. I agree that something can be structuraly sound and look like crap. That is my fear just as much as the structural part is.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:27 PM   #13
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Who owns the house/property as it sits, you or the builder? What warranty comes with the house? If you're saving alot of money, you may want to let them finish, to pass code, and correct the small mistakes afterwards.

Remember, YOU are purchasing HIS services. YOU are the consumer. If the builder doesn't meet your expectations, seek legal advice. If he's smart, he'll fix those errors and move on.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:32 PM   #14
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There-in lies my issue. The contract I signed says that the builder has upheld his end of the contract once the home is "complete and has passed all required inspections". Do inspections actually address aesthetics? This is something I am not familiar with. I agree that something can be structuraly sound and look like crap. That is my fear just as much as the structural part is.
Nope is the answer. Building inspectors do not care if your room is square. Is that level don't matter. Is that arch straight that does not matter either. What they look at is Load bearing walls, headers, will the roof leak (not does it look good). That is the way it is. It is up to you to research the builders work.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:44 PM   #15
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Who owns the house/property as it sits, you or the builder? What warranty comes with the house? If you're saving alot of money, you may want to let them finish, to pass code, and correct the small mistakes afterwards.

Remember, YOU are purchasing HIS services. YOU are the consumer. If the builder doesn't meet your expectations, seek legal advice. If he's smart, he'll fix those errors and move on.

Technically, we have not closed so the builder owns the home. I am NOT saving money. That was one of my points. An equally sized home in the area is actually cheaper in most cases but I chose this builder because of all of the assurances that they are better than the others. Top 20 in the state, top 5 for Energy Star in the state. They advertise SUPERIOR QUALITY, but it seems no different than the quality I have seen in cheaper homes. Yes, I am the customer but the uniqueness of home buying is the contract. It basically OBLIGATES me to purchase or forfeit big bucks. In any other transaction, customer satisfaction is the driving force, In home building it is all about the contract. So my only option, since I cannot afford to back out, is to delicately push them to do it to my satisfaction, or have them get tired of my complaints and let me out of the contract in which case I would get my money back. We are not at either point yet. I have been assertive without being demanding or making threats, and they in turn have chosen to ignore some important issues. (Important to ME). They tell me this or that is "in tolerance" but when I ask to SEE the tolerances they are speaking of, they don't have any to show.

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