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Thread: Square, plumb and level

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    Default Square, plumb and level

    After a couple of years in the construction/renovation industry, it has become apparent to me that things not being square, plumb and level or even straight in a home isn't a big deal to numerous people. Our 62 year old home is actually quite remarkable in how square, plumb, level and straight it is but some if the shit I've seen in the past year is mind boggling.

    To start, I did some cabinet installs in a new concrete building on Edmonton Trail about 18 months ago and there are certain suites in that building where the floor sloped 1.5" over 10 feet. I could feel it standing on the floor and it resulted in the kitchen being installed twice because whomever built the bulkhead above the cabinets followed the floor mean the cabinets wouldn't fit at one end. They couldn't fix it with Gyp-Crete either because it would've meant a small step/transition within the suite which would've been difficult to explain to prospective buyers. So in the market these suites went and every time I drive by on Edmonton Trail I have to wonder if they've put a marble on their floor and watch it roll away from them.

    Fast forward to the last couple of months and I've been doing a lot of renovation jobs, had one job where I had a floor that dropped by 1.5" over 10 feet which I thought was bad (older home) but that was eclipsed by this week's reno job in Bridgeland. Probably an 80 year old home and in the kitchen it dropped 1.25" over 6 feet plus there were hills and valleys, the corner wasn't square but was made up for by a wall that curved back in although it swung out again which meant I had to do done funky shit for the last cabinet in the run.

    But the worst was yet to come and I hope I never see worse than this - a run of three vanity base cabinets starting from a corner, a 33" followed by an 18" and then another 33". In the first 33", the floor dropped 1.5" from the wall - ties, you're reading that correctly, 1.5" drop over 33".. But over the length of the run, it was only a 1&1/8" drop because there was a little valley in the middle. Never the less, my cabinets are square, plumb and level and only sitting 5/8" up at the far end after some cabinet modifications but the tile guy - well his job is going to be interesting with 1x2' tiles. He is actually thinking of Gyp-Creting everything that will be tiled although that would make for some nasty transitions between the existing hardwood and anything tiled - we're talking over 1.5" transitions. The electrician summed it up best today, a bulldozer would've been the best money spent on this house.

    Over the years, I've been in a variety of homes and have seen some really bad stuff but this vanity run tops them all. What of the rest of you, what horror stories can you share.
    Last edited by speedog; 12-04-2017 at 09:35 PM.
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    My Cousin is a cabinet maker, extremely talented, takes pride, specializes in big dollar jobs, and he ranted about this same thing not too long ago.

    Looks like "Good Enough" has become todays standard on everything from Cabinets to Customer Service


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
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    My Cousin is a cabinet maker, extremely talented, takes pride, specializes in big dollar jobs, and he ranted about this same thing not too long ago.

    Looks like "Good Enough" has become todays standard on everything from Cabinets to Customer Service
    Not for me, my cabinets are square, plumb level and straight - if they aren't, you just won't get doors and drawers to align correctly plus cabinets will be pulling away from each other and in the end, it's about pride in your work. But I'd say that's less the norm because I get sent out on service work far too often fixing up other people's installs whether it be laziness or sloppiness, deliberate or not. I don't get it.
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    But I just want to hear of other building horror stories.
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    Tell me about it. It's my job to deal with building structure. I've been told a few times to just figure it out when they happened to miss the structure entirely. It's like installing a cabinet to an invisible wall lol.

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    I installed the Sunterra in the Keynote building and the floor drops up to 2” in a 6ft radius around the inside support columns. Not sure if this is common in tall buildings but it made installing the display cases and walk-in boxes pretty miserable. Every job I do has issues similar to this, just the first example that came to mind.

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    I think it's more common in newer homes. I remember when I replaced the carpet with laminate flooring in my Marda Loop condo. Once I ripped out the carpet, it became apparent that they had a huge crack (or something) that was filled in with some kind of repair material, creating a hump that ran all the way across the unit and beyond. Main floor unit, so directly above the underground parkade, which was poured during winter. Man, what a pain in the ass to install and the hump was even more pronounced after the laminate was in. Put tile in the kitchen of the same unit, again obvious lack of square. Current house, even something basic like replacing a microwave hoodfan turns ugly and you see how there is a serious lack of square/level walls and cabinetry.

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    I think framers have the good enough mentality figuring drywall and taping can hide most of their inaccuracies. Not all of course but enough of them to make life difficult for all the finishers.
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    People work to the standard they are held to and paid for. Good enough is what's required, and it's what's provided.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    People work to the standard they are held to and paid for. Good enough is what's required, and it's what's provided.
    But not all are hourly workers, I'm piecework for the most part and I will still take my time to ensure a job is done right even if it means a hit on the bottom line. But I also know many piecework subs who don't give a damn and either end with charge backs or returning to a job to fix something at their own expense. I don't see charge backs and don't go back to jobs so I guess it's a trade off. I'm also not 30 something anymore and move a bit slower.

    Never the less, there just are people out there that don't give a damn whether piecework or hourly and this goes for builders/contractors as well although those that are shortcutting will eventually see things catch up with them. It's the buyers that need to become more assertive so this shit doesn't keep happening.
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    Try building oil refineries with b pressure pipe code with 45, 90 etc degree elbows and flanges and having to deal with them coming from overseas not square.

    That's what I have to deal with. Welding is one thing but having to reclaim stuff like that is such a pain in the ass, I wish people would just do it right the first time.

    But you are right. Having to work with numerous pipefitters that think it's good enough, is more apparent than ever.

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    Speedog, you started this thread saying how unusual your attitude towards quality is. I gave an explanation of why the average worker acts the way they do. I agree you are remarkable and unusual, and your motivation is different than the average worker.
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    Yup...

    Did one relatively uncommon door install. It was a big hangar door. European design and sourced. Checking the steel it was 3" out of plumb (6" total - both walls were out). Call manufacturer to ask how to deal with it. "Fix wall"

    Our standard ironworker contract is ¼" on 10' for level. That's a north american standard. Eu - it's not. Needs to be level square and plumb.

    Door runs about like you'd expect it to, as Ironworkers wouldn't fix it, superintendent wouldn't deal with it, so it has a twist as a result. Probably has cost them 10x the original price in repairs, all because the buildings out of wack.

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    Let's get back to shitty building stuff you've encountered, amazing stuff that just shouldn't be.

    edit: Thanks AndyL although I'm amazed that 1/4" over 10 feet is acceptable as level. Why is that?
    Last edited by speedog; 12-05-2017 at 08:19 PM.
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    Gen x amirite.
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedog View Post
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    edit: Thanks AndyL although I'm amazed that 1/4" over 10 feet is acceptable as level. Why is that?
    Unions

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    Quote Originally Posted by speedog View Post
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    Let's get back to shitty building stuff you've encountered, amazing stuff that just shouldn't be.

    edit: Thanks AndyL although I'm amazed that 1/4" over 10 feet is acceptable as level. Why is that?
    The house I am renting has so many bad examples of shoddy work it's insane.

    Then put tile a long the wall in the bathroom and at one end there is probably 1/4" of tile cement to fix gaps.

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    I'm going to have to start taking pictures because I see some absolutely ludicrous stuff that builders will let slide.
    Moran supreme

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    Quote Originally Posted by speedog View Post
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    that builders will let slide.
    Or willing to let go in the name of profits, because they know consumers wouldn't know the wiser. Happens in all skilled trades imo.

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