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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to get unbiased feedback on a project that was recently completed (by a hired general contractor). He replaced 1 single door and a set of double doors on adjacent bedrooms. I have my opinions, but to start I'll let the photos speak for themselves. I'd love to hear your honest opinions about the quality of work.

My photos are too big to upload here, but you can view them here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/110311...authkey=Gv1sRgCIDrjOWe9KKXzAE&feat=directlink

Thanks!
 

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I'm not a carpenter, and I didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn last night, but wow it sure looks like a mess to me. A few look like they aren't hung level at all.

P.S. - Nice toes btw.
 

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:eek: I hate to say it, but I agree with the other posters ..... it is substandard and sloppy work.

The hugh gap under the door is meant for NEW construction, so the door jambs could rest on the subfloor and the gap under the door is filled with hardwood/tile/carpet/etc. On your remodel, the carpenter SHOULD HAVE cut off the bottom of the door jambs to make the gap under the door equal with the other doors in the house.

IF the double door is higher/taller than your single door, you can fix it by pulling out the double door, cutting the door jambs at the bottom and resetting the doors back into the opening.
 

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I notice the floors are unlevel. When you open the doors, how much clearance do you have under them.
Usually, you put a saddle under the doors to make sure you can open them all the way. The 5/8" gives you clearance incase the the floors are off.
With the double doors, I would have put a regular door lock on the primary door.
 
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Did he supply the doors or did you? Are the jambs higher than standard? Was he to special order doors for any height above standard? Was he to level the crooked floors as well? It's easy to beat up the installer, but we don't know what his instructions were or what he agreed to provide. There are limitations when the customer wants to reuse existing jambs and specs out the hardware themselves. I don't like the surface bolt install. Did he provide the hardware or was he told what to use. Surface bolts on both doors into the casing would not be my choice for a french door application. Personally, before I make a judgement, I want more information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
First of all, thank you all for the feedback. I was in tears when I got home to see the finished product. When I questioned the guy he essentially told me my standards were just too high, that the threshold is the problem, not the door clearance, and that it's "common" to have an inch of space under a door. I was beginning to think I was crazy, but feedback seems to support my disappointment.

Here are the details:
We had Home Depot come and take a look and give us an estimate. I loved the guy that came out but the quote ended up being close to $2,000 because the doors were "custom sized" and their supplier charges $100 per cut to get them down to that size. (The doors are actually just a hair shy of the standard 30' x 6'6" and 4'x6'6" so it would only need to be shaved down a fraction of an inch on each door slab). Anyway, they told me the frames and trim looked fine so I only needed door slabs. We got a referral from a friend of ours and told him we needed to replace the door slabs and he came to do the estimate, took the measurements and quoted us at about 1/2 the price.

I will take responsibility for the fact that it was my live-in boyfriend that dealt with the guy (I was not able to take off work to be there during the install) so my communications with him were only over email and not in person. But, my boyfriend and I communicated every step of the way and I did put it in writing in an email for the guy to see what I wanted:

- Replace the door slabs, frame and trim are fine
- Solid pine with bronze hinges (all new to replace the hollow doors with brass hardware)
- Make sure double doors are such that the right side will be the active door and the left panel will lock into place and anchor the right one.
- Privacy strip in the back of the double doors to block out light

The guy had the doors delivered a few days early and they turned out to be prehung, not door slabs. Should have been the first red flag, but I trusted the guy.

During the installation (my bf was home with him), he removed the double doors from the frame and cut 1.25" off the bottom. I spoke with him on the phone after seeing the result and he said "the threshold was installed to a point where it was difficult to get an accurate measurement as to where the door would lie" ... so you made a mistake?

Also on installation day he told my bf to go to Home Depot and pick out the door knobs. I was on the phone with him at the time and sent him some pictures and told him to make sure to get the active door knob for the right panel and a dummy for the left. He hung up, and the contractor told him that they both had to be dummy door knobs, that he couldn't drill a hole into the inactive door for the active knob to lock into place. That kind of set up only existed on "expensive French doors" and that he could try to "jerry-rig" something but that it wouldn't look good. My bf took him at his word and he put 2 sets of dummy knobs on.

Lastly, I guess when I said I wanted the doors to "lock into place" he took that to mean "install deadbolts on the backside of the doors" which personally I think looks awful and I never would have approved it. (Again, I know I should have been there and I could have prevented that).

And yes to some of the previous posters, my floors do slope so the single door isn't installed crooked, it's actually the floors that slope down. Would have been fantastic if he had shaped the doors to compensate for that, but I never asked him to do so, so I can't complain.

Now, the clearance under the doors is as follows:
- 3/8" on the hinge side of the single door
- 1/2" on the knob side of the single door (due to floor slope)
- 1" visible from the hallway under the double doors
- 1.5" visible from inside the bedroom under the dooble doors
There is a drop off from our hardwood floor to the carpet which is about a 1/2" but I was told you should always measure door clearance from the PULL side of the door, which for us is inside the bedroom.

So the guy initially said he'd come back and reattach a piece of the door to the bottom to minimize that 1-1.5" gap. I've waited patiently for 6 weeks now and finally sent him an email asking him to give us a firm date that he can commit to coming back and that I was growing increasingly frustrated and that I was not pleased to begin with. He really let me have it in a series of emails and informed me he would not be coming back.

I bought a t-shape astragal to install (probably have to shave down the doors another fraction of an inch) on the inactive panel and hook up an active knob on the right side. My only issue is, how do I fix the gap under the door? I'm not skilled enough to mess around with the frame. Can I add a piece to the bottom? Or do I have to shell out more money to another professional?

Thanks again for everyone's help. It's refreshing to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks it looks awful.
 

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I agree with Ron, the floors look to be unlevel. The double doors can be fixed with a "T" strip and if you don't like the surface mount latches edge mount can be installed at the top and bottom. A good trim carpenter can still come in and straighten all that out. It just looks like the carpenter didn't have enough experience to fix all the things that went wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Did he supply the doors or did you? Are the jambs higher than standard? Was he to special order doors for any height above standard? Was he to level the crooked floors as well? It's easy to beat up the installer, but we don't know what his instructions were or what he agreed to provide. There are limitations when the customer wants to reuse existing jambs and specs out the hardware themselves. I don't like the surface bolt install. Did he provide the hardware or was he told what to use. Surface bolts on both doors into the casing would not be my choice for a french door application. Personally, before I make a judgement, I want more information.

Sorry, I missed a few of your questions...

-He supplied the doors, I picked them out (I didn't measure, I just looked at the pictures and said "I like this one")
-As far as I know everything is pretty much standard size. Again, the actuall door panels were "custom" meaning 29.5" x 78" and each panel of the double doors was 23.75" x 78"
-He was not asked to touch the floors. I didn't even ask him to compensate for the slope when cutting the doors (although that would have been a good idea had I thought of it)
-He provided all of the hardware. All I specified was bronze, not brass.
-I agree with your opinion on the surface bolts. Had I been there or had I known that was the plan they would not have been installed.

Essentially I put a lot of trust in this guy. I did specify a few important things (in my post below), but I have no expertise in the realm of door installs so I trusted the everything would turn out "normal." If he had asked me about jams and frames I wouldn't have had the answers so I let him do what his "professional" gut told him to do. Therefore I've tried to be somewhat understanding of a few aspects (the "crooked" look of the double door which isn't his fault, the surface bolts, etc), but I am still just so hung up on the large gap under the door. I just don't see how anyone could think that would be acceptable.
 

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thats a mess, that wasnt a carpenter. there are things that a carpenter does because of experience and he did none. I would want my money back or everything done correctly. that wasnt done by a carpenter
 

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Is he licensed, bonded, insured? If there is a bond, contact the bonding company. You got an estimate that was 1/2 of home cheapo, you got 1/2 of home cheapo quality.

I am always surprised when the owners is surprised the cheap guy does crap work. Bad signals when hiring a contractor, in no particular order
1. No license, insurance, bond
2. More than 10% of difference in estimates from other contractors
3. Material is not what was specified
4. Does not show up on time, does not call when delayed
5. Unable/unwilling to supply references of other work completed
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Is he licensed, bonded, insured? If there is a bond, contact the bonding company. You got an estimate that was 1/2 of home cheapo, you got 1/2 of home cheapo quality.

I am always surprised when the owners is surprised the cheap guy does crap work. Bad signals when hiring a contractor, in no particular order
1. No license, insurance, bond
2. More than 10% of difference in estimates from other contractors
3. Material is not what was specified
4. Does not show up on time, does not call when delayed
5. Unable/unwilling to supply references of other work completed

Not totally disagreeing with you, but just to clarify: The Home Depot estimate was $1800 ( I rounded to $2000 for argument's sake). Home Depot told me specifically that $600 of that was the cost for Brosco (door manufacturer) to cut the doors down to size. They charged $100 per cut. So it was $100 to cut a 1/2 inch off the width off of EACH of the 3 door panels and then another $100 per cut to cut 1/4 inch off of the legth/heigh of each of the 3 panels. My cousin who is an amazing GC (unfortunately lives 3 hours away) quoted me within $100 of what the guy we hired charged. The guy we hired was $1000 for installing the 2 sets of doors. His fee on top of the cost of doors was $300. That's not exactly the cheap end is it? More than $50 per hour?

We didn't hire him to cut costs, we hired him because he was referred to us and we saw the work he did in our friend's kitchen and a custom shelving unit. So we hired him based off of his references. I didn't do a license verification so for all I know maybe he was a fraud... is that something that I should do moving forward? A background/license screen? (That's an honest question, no sarcasm). I've only been a homeowner for 3 years so this is still a learning process for me.
 

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I would check license information to see if a contractor had one, was "borrowing" one or otherwise pulling something off. The State maintains a complaints database too. I don't know how I feel about Angie's List and know of one person who got massacred for no reason there but that an ex wanted to get her.

You were diligent in checking references but maybe should have seen the work if you did not. As I understand it this referral came from a friend. Put's that person in an awkward position hugh?

I was not totally clear that the contractor was no sent your way along with others off some HD list though? I know people are hungry but I would be skeptical of contractors subbing out door hanging projects for a box store.

Let's hope there is enough insurance or some other way to get all this fixed for you.
 

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Thank you for giving us more detail on the chain of events. In light of what you've said, I would be baffled by this guys lack of skill when it comes to hanging doors. Especially since it appears to be decidedly different than the quality that you saw at a friends house. He should have been able to scribe the doors tighter to the floor and even matched the slope UP TO A POINT. That would have made the crooked floor much less noticable. An overlapping astragal should have posed no problem and an active privacy set with matching dummy trim should have been a no brainer, especially on a bedroom door opening. Edge mounted auto flush bolts on the idle door would have been more practical and would have worked well with the privacy set. If a guy represents himself as a professional, you shouldn't have double check about fit and finish. He should also have thoroughly reviewed the expected hardware operation before the start in case he needed to special order anything due to the finish requirement.
 

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I don't understand this shortened door issue with Home Depot. Why would any carpenter need someone else to cut down a door(for a $100.00 per door)?
You didn't order a "custom sized" door, you just cut down a standard door. Any idiot with a saw can cut a door down. Not your idiot, but most.
Solutions.
Put an interior saddle under the door.
or
Replace the doors and have them installed correctly.
While you're at it, specify all the components and make sure you and the carpenter are on the same page. Your lack of research and specifics are partly to blame for the hardware issue.
Did you pay him in full for this before you saw the end result?
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I can't tell you all how much I appreciate the responses/advice!

Lesson learned: there's no such thing as too much research when it comes to picking out a contractor. I'll definitely be checking licenses moving forward and will take a more active role in defining the specs. If I'm installing a door I'll make sure to see examples of his/her experience with door installs -- not trust that if he does nice work in kitchens and building cabinets that his skills can transfer to doors as well.

I will definitely look into door saddles and consult with some reputable (and fully licensed!) trim carpenters in the area. Sounds like there is still hope for me and maybe I'll have some "After" photos to share here soon.

Thank you all again!
 

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For starters the fact that the floor is not level is irrelevant. As stated earlier I am a trim carpenter and in 15 years I've hung thousands of doors and here's a little secret. If you hang a door that is level in an opening that is not the net effect is a crooked looking door. When i hang doors, although i do use a level (mostly before i start installing the door to see what i'm up against) the most trusted tool is my tape measure. Of course the doors have to be functional but when it comes to finish carpentry appearance is just as important because ... well... people see it. An experienced carpenter knows different ways to "cheat" to deal with openings such as these so not only are the doors functional but also look "level" even when they are not. Level to the level is not always the same as level to the eye. It is absolutely the caprenters fault for agreeing to take payment for a job he clearly didn't know how to do. ( A little bit of knowledge is far more dangerous than none at all. ) The average homeowner does not know all the ins and outs about hanging a door, if they did they wouldnt need to hire us. You cant expect the homeowner to point out to the "pro" how to do his job.
Dummy knobs are for closet doors. The correct way to do double swing doors is:
- decide which will be the stationary door ( usually the one that opens up to block the switch)
- install a regular passage knob on this door with the exclusion of the backset
- install a locking mechanism to the top of this door ( a surface bolt is common but you dont use a beaver to cut your hole and there should be a striker plate to put over it.
- on the side of the stationary door where the plate for the backset would normally go you chisel out the lead edge of the door and attach a striker plate much like you would on the jamb of a single door.
-the swing door gets the same doorknob treatment as a single door would.
- to the back of the stationary door you attach the astragal to block light and act as a stop for the swing door.

So essentially your "stationary" door when locked into place becomes the jamb for your swing door.... oh and i hate to add to your misery but technically.... those dummy levers ... ? they are upside down... just to add fuel to the fire for you.

Unfortunately in order to trully correct the problem as previously stated by others... the doors need to come out and be re hung correctly ... by someone who is obviously more qualified than the last guy. Picking a general contractor is a rough go. Although there are many good ones, There is a reason why in new home construction they have specialized trades... ie. the guy who frames your house is not the guy who trims it. You're familliar with the phrase jack of all trades, master of none ? I would recommend looking for a trim carpenter and not a gc. And by all means get 6 or 7 quotes ... but never take the guy who is 500 dollars cheaper than everyone else... there is usually a reason he comes so cheap.
 
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