What I'm Seeing Now

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Is Pre-drilling Screw Holes On Doors Really That Important?

This is brand new construction - is pre-drilling screw holes on doors really that important?

Most of the doors in the house were like this.  They are cracked at the strike plate.

On the door of a double door, and on the side wall of the door framing, the wood was cracked at the strike plates.

Why?

Two reasons:

1.  No hole was pre-drilled to accommodate the screws.  Even a very small hole will prevent the wood from opening up and cracking.  Simple, but pre-drilling a hole is important.

2.  The screws have been over tightened.  Why?  Amateur work.

Some doors are like this, some worse.  And it is nearly every door in the house.

What will happen over time to this cracking?

Likely it will grow.  The door or the framing will become weaker.

And the strike plates become loose.

I happen to see loose strike plates all the time.  And this is why.

Yes, pre-drilling is an extra step. 
Yes, knowing how to tighten the screws properly takes extra care.
Yes, a person who doesn't do these things is less than professional.  Or ignorant.

Ignorant of what?  Basic carpentry techniques.

IF I WAS ASKED TO SAY WHAT I THINK IS THE SINGLE MOST-COMMON PROBLEM WITH NEW CONSTRUCTION I WOULD ANSWER IT WITH ONE SHORT PHRASE:

A LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM OR BASIC UNDERSTANDING.

People are paying a lot of money for a new house.  They are satisfying dreams.  They are looking forward to a future there where memories are established, children are raised, and life happens.  In some cases families have saved for years to make this purchase.

Sometimes what I find are not major things, but a multiplicity of problems that were created by someone who doesn't care, doesn't know, doesn't understand, or is following instructions.  What does this mean?

A LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM OR BASIC UNDERSTANDING.

On this particular house the buyers were there one rainy day to notice water dripping down from a light fixture.  Calling the supervisor he did not believe them.  Going upstairs to see why a small section of roof above this point had nails driven through shingles.  The nails were exposed and driven THROUGH the shingles!

What had happened was during a high wind storm the shingles had blown up and were loose.  So the "fix" was to hold them down more tightly, with nails.  What does this mean?

A LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM OR BASIC UNDERSTANDING.

During our inspection, because this small roof was visible and available, I took the screen off the window to stand on what I could see was a dimple in the roof.  It squished hugely.  Obviously it was rotten.  Just below this spongy, dangerously-weak spot was the light through which the water had been leaking.

Yes, the supervisor did eventually see the leaking and the nails through the shingles above.  He had those shingles replaced.  But nothing was done about what was obviously a soft area on the roof!  The "roofer"  nailed new shingles over what was obviously soft wood!!  The size of the soft area was about 1.5' x 2'. 

Why would any roofer do that?  I said it above -- because he "doesn't care, doesn't know, doesn't understand, or is following instructions."  What does this mean?

A LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM OR BASIC UNDERSTANDING.

Well, they will be fixing this now!  I also suggested that the insulation inside the ceiling that got wet be investigated and likely replaced.  The real repair is more than nailing on new shingles!!

My recommendation:  be aware!  Be smart!  Be in charge!  It's your house!  You are the boss!  And don't ever, ever, ever buy the weak and senseless line that "you don't need a home inspector.  The house has already had dozens of inspections."  That is a practiced, empty, myopic builder line intended to intimidate you.  Keep your antenna high.  And hire a home inspector.  Your Best Practice.

 

 

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


Comment balloon 47 commentsJay Markanich • April 21 2014 03:40AM

Comments

So Jay I take it you are trying to tell us something here.  If people are advertising themselves as professionals and do work like you are talking about they won't be professionals long.  Or for that matter in business.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

This is the trend that has gotten worse and worse over the years James.  Quality suffers.

And they ARE NOT professionals.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I totally agree - hiring a quality home inspector is the only way to truly know what you are (or are not) buying!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 4 years ago

Kat - these problems are incessant and aggravating.  Wait til you see the next one.

Hint:  Robinson Crusoe would be proud.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay,

This seems to be a trend with a lot of builders.

A LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM OR BASIC UNDERSTANDING.

Have a great day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 4 years ago

That is the trend Clint.  My sarcastic phrase is:  7-11 Construction.

If the shoe fits...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay - there are so many unprofessional things done by people who call themselves professionals.  Hiring a good home inspector is a must.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) over 4 years ago

Thanks Grant.  We be professional.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, it's amazing why builders don't take more pride in the homes they build. A home inspection is a must even for new construction.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 4 years ago

One thing I learned in wood and metal shop (that's back when kids were edjumakated) was to have pride in what I did Mike.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, poor workmanship can be a temporary disguise but it will cos the buyerr big dollars down the road. Nice catch

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 4 years ago

When we walked into the house the buyers showed me right away Ed.  They asked if it was a problem.  Ummm...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

You are correct.  It is important to pre-drill that is why I have two cordless drills when I am working  around the house.

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist (RE/MAX Properties) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay. It really would seem to be much less costly in the end to do the job right in the first place. Unfortunately "A LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM OR BASIC UNDERSTANDING" is job security and therefore OK when you're being paid by the hour.
Thanks for sharing a point well made.
Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) over 4 years ago

Jay...I used to be the type that thought the more tight a screw is, the better. The result? I over screwed every time literally undoing the screwing...good post

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 4 years ago

I guess I ways thought this was common sense! 

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago
Law of Physics most likely ignored in this case. or at least, they might have been expecting that all wood products are somewhat elastic or flexible; even PVC and rubber could crack when punctured in the right conditions.
Posted by Michael Ha Elmhurst, Woodside, Maspeth (Rego Park, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Corona, Middle Village) over 4 years ago

Law of Physics most likely ignored in this case. or at least, they might have been expecting that all wood products are somewhat elastic or flexible; even PVC and rubber could crack when punctured in the right conditions.

Posted by Michael Ha Elmhurst, Woodside, Maspeth (Rego Park, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Corona, Middle Village) over 4 years ago

If the people training the workers do not know how---neither will the workers.  Another interesting question is why would you not do it different after the first one split?  Critical thinking is missing on many levels today, and the construction work place is merely a mirror of this.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I have to think that its a sign of laziness, they assume the new home buyer will overlook this everytime.  Obviously like you mention, this is a sign of professionalism and if they skipped this step they probably skipped others as well. 

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 4 years ago

That kind of stuff drives me insane.  Screwing down outlet covers until they crack, too. Like they're screwing a lid over a can of plutonium or something.  Unskilled labor.

Posted by Chris Griffith, Bonita Springs Listing Agent (Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL) over 4 years ago

Oh gosh, how frustrating.  It was so avoidable.  Just proper planning and care needed. - Debbie

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 4 years ago

That's crazy on new constuction. I haven't seen that in the builders I work with in Oklahoma City but this is the reason I tell people who buy a new home, get an inspection. It may be new but it is man made.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 4 years ago

Time is money and people are not willing to pay for quality

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 4 years ago

Jay, thanks for pointing out some basic carpentry to the inexperienced! As you said, be smart!

Posted by Suzanne De Vita, Online Associate Editor (RISMedia) over 4 years ago

Speed, speed and more speed. A good painter can cover that crack right up! 

Drives me nuts when they install the strike plates before the weatherstripping and the door 'seals' tightly against the frame but won't latch once weatherstripping is added.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

When showing houses I see more lack of basic skills and understanding in houses that were recently foreclosed than in new construction.  It is less forgivable from those who are expected to be professional.

Posted by Dwight Puntigan, Dwight Puntigan (DRP Realty, LLC) over 4 years ago

Sounds like somebody would be crazy to buy a home in your area.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 4 years ago

I would be pretty annoyed if this is new construction. What is going to show up a year down the road?

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 4 years ago

Jay, ouch, these are some tough examples to read about. Unfortunately, when how fast we can do it replaces how good a job can I do--we have big problems!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

Skipping the basics will only lead to problems down the line. Do the job right the first time!

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 4 years ago
Jay great post, you are absolutely correct, most assembly apprentices as I won't call them carpenters is looking for the quickest way, some interior is piece meal. So the more they can bang out the more bucks they make, but with the quick flip around screw but / drill bit accessories for cordless. Old carpenters with hand drills and brace and bit would pre drill, same thing as taking another step with nails and putting a blunt tip to avoid splitting. Some need more education with an older craftsman which are fewer and fewer. I have built several large custom specs and the finish shows off the house, but a straight framed house helps too.
Posted by Rod Pierson, Northern California (Results Real Estate Inc) over 4 years ago

Jay - This is a very informative post and one which is very important.  You raise many valid points.

 

 FYI

My recommendation:  be aware!  Be smart!  Be in charge!

 

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 4 years ago

Jay, I agree with everyone else.  Skipping these basic steps will only lead to a weaker door down the future and that's not acceptable.  Be present during construction and make sure you get an inspection!

Posted by Jack O'Neal (Conway Real Estate) over 4 years ago
There may be some weird psychological aesthetics associated with that, but I get the frustration of it for absolutely certain. Love and light, Laura
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 4 years ago

Keith - that should cover it!

You are right about the first part Bruce.  I'm not sure I get the second part - that is EXACTLY the type of people we DON'T want in our homes, so the job security would have to be earned.

Richie - your change in mind came with an understanding brought by experience.

Gary - common sense, and good sense, lack for sure.

Like you say Michael, a lack of understanding!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Charlie - your first sentence accurately describes my beef with using 7-11 Construction on job sites.  Your second and third sentences accurately describe my beef with using 7-11 Construction on job sites.  To the right is a foot print that was made in wet poly when they finished the stairs (tomorrow's blog).  There is one in every stair.  He took his shoes off so it wouldn't be so visible.  There are left and right foot imprints.  There are shoe footprints in the sidewalk in front however!  These guys are good.

Morgan - see comment to Charlie above.  But this buyer and I have had many conversations since.  Today is their walk through with the builder and they have a long list of things as you describe.

Chris - you hit on another thing in this house!  Do you hear the ringing?  I will mail you the kupie doll.

Debbie - see photo above!

Joe - apparently you don't have the, um, problem there that we have here.  Would the word "overrun" make sense?

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I don't know Robert.  I am happy to pay for quality.  I have always bought our kids' bikes at the local small bike shops and not Costco or WalMart.  They are better bikes and put together right.  That extra quality does cost more though.  Tell me, why do Apple products, or Bose products, never go on sale?  And yet are sold out completely.

Suzanne - around here the smartest thing is to get a really cute home inspector.

Than - LAUGH!  The buyers said the cracks were more visible, but they painted them three times to make them disappear!

Dwight - and builders pass off the idea that inspections aren't needed.  This kind of crap work is unforgivable.

Richard - the house is the house.  Get a good home inspector and your bases are much better covered.  Pre-drywall and final inspections are essential.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Bill - 15 years ago I was saying that all these guys sweeping and cleaning up will soon be into the trades, and when that happens we are screwed.  Guess what...

Tom - see comment to Bill above, and the photo to Charlie above that.  This is horrendous.  I could put out a dozen blogs on this house alone.

You would think Suzanne.  But no.  No time now!  Maybe we can come back later and spend more time fixing it.

Rod - I have been on this soap box screaming and whining for years.  And things are getting worse.  7-11 Construction is my sarcastic phrase.

Thanks Joan.  But cutting to the chase doesn't solve the problem here!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jack - see my comment above to Charlie, and to Bill.  Things are getting worse.

Laura - the integrity of the doors is compromised, it isn't merely aesthetics.  But I will grant you - MY psychology is affected!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

If they don't take the time to do the LITTLE things right, makes me wonder about the big things!  You just can't fake a quality job.

Posted by Greg Large, A Tradition of Trust (ERA Real Solutions) over 4 years ago

I did wonder Greg, and there were lots of big things!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I've done enough projects to know that predrilling actually saves time!  You can always spot one that isn't, and know that they were using an automatic screwdriver until it started skipping and stripping the screw!

Posted by Shelley Rowton, ABR, RSPS - (512) 507-5779 MoveToRealty of Austin (Move To Realty) over 4 years ago

Jay - Thank you for sharing those tips. It's obvious that you care about your profession and your clients. 

Greg - I agree 1000% yes 1000%. I've seen a great deal of "little things" in new construction and in Flips that were not completed in a professional or caring manner. 

Posted by Jasmin Henderson over 4 years ago

Shelley - to me it's a no brainer.  But I was trained right.

Jasmin - I really do!  And Flippers don't like me...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I agree with you, price isnt everything, but unfortunately many people think that way... and dont get me started with the bikes, I worked my way through college working at a bike shop, there is a pretty big difference on the bikes and and even bigger difference on the truly professional assembly

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 4 years ago

Glad to hear that Robert!  I have always found the local bike shops to be knowledgeable, professional, and eager to please me.  And I have lifetime tune ups on bikes purchased.

But, yes, price matters, but professionalism matters more.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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