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Carpentry 101 - Plumb, Level And Square

Let's speak frankly about Carpentry 101 - plumb, level and square.

Warning:   If you don't like disgusted sarcasm caused by regular experience do not read further.

I see things during pre-drywall inspections that are simply silly.  They are infantile.  They are amateur.  They reflect a lack of understanding.  They reflect an lack of care.

 

THEY REFLECT WHAT OUR COUNTRY

AND THE TRADES

ARE TURNING INTO.

 

Am I speaking too frankly now? 

To begin:  a few simple definitions.

PLUMB - vertical, absolutely straight up and down.

LEVEL - straight from side to side, with no incline.

SQUARE - quadrilateral, an edge with a 90 degree angle.

Without and understanding, or the use, of these very, most basic principles of carpentry, A PROPER HOUSE CANNOT BE BUILT!

Period.

Walking into the garage of a new home, an EXPENSIVE new home, I was greeted with this.

This is the side wall of the garage.  It is but one example of many walls in this house.

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WAS PLUMB, LEVEL OR SQUARE.  ENDS WERE IMPROPERLY CUT SO THEY DON'T MEET.  LIGHT CAN EVEN BE SEEN AT THE TOP OF THE FIRST STAGE OF THE WALL.  THE UPPER WALL, NOT PICTURED, IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME.

Unbelievably, the supervisor (would it be too sarcastic to write "supervisor?") wrote this on the wall to the right of this photo an arrow pointing toward the wall in the photo with the word "Level."            

What the supervisor intended to say, (giving him the benefit of the doubt) was "plumb."

Yes, I wonder if he knows the difference too.

At this point the only thing that is level here is the garage foundation wall under the sill plate at the bottom of this framed wall.  The rest cannot be made level at this point, short of tearing it out.

As to it's being plumb, the "carpenter's" (it is not  sarcastic to use the italics here) solution was to add a couple of vertical pieces here and there to provide a nailing surface for drywall. 

 

WE ALL KNOW DRYWALL COVERS

A MULTITUDE OF SINS.

 

Hey, those new vertical pieces of junk wood make it look plumb, right?  Then, to shore it all up and make it, um, stable, a few horizontal pieces of this and that.  Yepper, that'll work!  This sort of "carpentry" was everywhere in the house.

I ask you - what is a home inspector to say to his client about all this? 

How about - "It'll be covered up when they put drywall..."? 

Or - "I think in the end it will all work out..."? 

This is good - "Don't worry, your not plumb, not level, and not square house is what we get these days.  Bummer, huh..."?

My recommendation:  a home inspector has no juice here to effect any change.  This will be approved by the county, for sure.  Approving infantile work has been happening for a while, which has led to a further deterioration in the quality of work, and what is passed as "okay."  My big beef with the construction industry of the last 20 years is the absolutely progressive deterioration of professionalism in the trades.  My sarcastic term for it has been     7-11 Construction.

Well, the 7-11 Construction Crew is alive and well.

And we are told to live with it.

 

 

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 17 commentsJay Markanich • June 09 2016 03:05AM

Comments

Good morning Jay. That looks like some of the homes that I flip. It takes some serious work to get thing to be plumb and square.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 4 years ago

OR....No strong winds...and I think it will last until....geeeez....the builder

needs to watch his subs !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 4 years ago

Plumb and square - you should have seen some of the houes I sold that were far from it! Thanks for sharing Jay

Posted by Jennifer Mackay, Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582 (Counts Real Estate Group, Inc.) over 4 years ago

Yes, that work is sloppy.  If the foundation is right, nothing else will be.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay. Perfect example of why a pre-drywall inspection is critical in new construction. Once represented a builder who insisted upon it and encouraged the engagement of professional help! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 4 years ago

That is horrible, the faster they cover that up the better! I would have to have a talk with that "Supervisor" at least to let him know what I thought of that quality job.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 4 years ago

Joe - it takes some serious work to get things this OUT of plumb and square.

S&D - not long ago a bank of 6 townhouses, all in the framing stage, simply blew over.  Unbelievable.  When I say I am disgusted, I am disgusted.

Jennifer - and this one is FAR from it.  Remember the comic "The Far Side?"  Here we are!

Debbie - a different, um, crew did the foundation.

That is usually the plan, Fred.  Sometimes my clients are called the night before drywall goes up to be told by the builder they "forgot" to call them to have a pre-drywall inspection.  But don't worry.  The county did all their inspections.

 

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

Jay- is it too much to ask that the very basics are done?!  

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

Yes, Kathy, yes it is. 

The backbone of our country...

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

 

                      thank you Jay Markanich for my ah-ha moment. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

Uh-oh.  You mean dripping sarcasm is an awakening moment ... I mean, um, thanks Kathy!

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

Great post! I can see why Kathy chose it to be part of her weekly highlights!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 4 years ago

It made me think of my mom calling me to come over when the contractor put in her tub after having swept the floor into that space and leaving all that crap under the tub.  She asked him to remove it and he refused.  When I got through with him he removed it, used the shop vac to get it up and then put the tub back. I just don't know what the hell is wrong with people.  They know better. They just don't DO better.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 4 years ago

Jay Markanich - indeed quality of work is missing bigtime.

Everyone wants to 'eat' the fruits without planting the trees.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 4 years ago

Thank you Kristin.

Pathetic, Tammy.  Would he do that in his house?  Would his wife let him?  Would he do that in his mother's house?

That's a good way to put it, Praful.

 

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

I can only imagine your frustration at the deterioration of the building industry. Frightening what gets passed these days.

My daughter just built a home....things have had to be fixed, replaced and redone several times already.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 4 years ago

And also when subsequent trades come in after move in, Sharon.  A cable company came to install their stuff in one of my client's houses and they drilled and left holes in vinyl siding, torn down basement wall insulation and stood on the HVAC return and broke it.  What do you do with such an uncaring attitude?

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

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