How "off" were your rooms from the sizes provided by architect?

June 7, 2015

So we just did a walkthrough with family of the house now that the second floor is on.. I thought something was "off" while in some of the rooms and decided to pull out the handy measuring tape and I don't know if I should be fuming or if its normal.. So this is what we found.. The architect specified room openings and used measurements to include drywall.. For example he added 4inches for walls even though actual measurements are 3.5 for 2x4 framing on interior walls.. Anyway.. I found that many of the rooms were minimum 3 inches smaller then they were supposed to be.. It appears that they placed the walls in the wrong spot as some rooms gained inches.. So for example we have our master bedroom, master bathroom, and walkin closet run across the back of the house.. The master bedroom was supposed to be 18ft wide but they made it 18'4" which resulted in the master bathroom going from 9'4" to 9'.. We also lost 3inches in the walkin closet due to the offset walls of masterbath.. Another example is the master bedroom from front to back.. Our spare bedrooms were off as well.. One was supposed to be 12x13 but actual measurements are 12x12"9.. Add in dry wall and now it will be 12'7".. I am planning on bringing this up to the builder but at this point they already started on the roof and not sure what can be done.. I feel like we are at the point of either live with it or have them start dismantling and doing it over.. The big problem is that it looks like it even effects the first floor as they enlarged the staircase opening by 5 inches.. It was supposed to be 3'8" but they made it 4'1".. I am assuming this is not normal but never dealt with building a new house.. So please, if this is something that is normal then I will deal with it, but something tells me that these types of things are supposed to be exact, hence why architectural drawings are needed..

Comments (59)

  • njbuilding143

    The problem is not that ordered cabinets will not fit.. The issue is that a wall is completely off and misaligned with an identical wall that its the same room.. The wall that is now misaligned in kitchen will leave standard depth cabinets sticking out into doorway, and also counter depth refrigerator sticking out about 8 inches into the doorway.. Even the doorway opening it self is wrong.. The issue with the cabinets was that we had planned for a cabinet in the masterbathroom.. There was only 1 place it would work.. Now that they misaligned the wall the cabinet will not fit without dramatically shrinking the width space of the toilet.. It is not the fact that the cabinet was ordered, it's the fact that they continue building without letting you know that "hey this room is going to come out short and we arent going to fit this.. Perhaps they should bring that up as they are going along to perhaps work together on a new solution..

    Here is a picture of our kitchen wall.. They incorrectly measured the one wall by 3 inches which is what offset the entire wall to being 3.5 inches too short near the opening to the hallway.. No only does this effect things like cabinets with standard depth of 24inches, but now that the wall is short by 3.5 inches it does not line up with the same wall on the opposite side of dining room which is visibly noticeable.. I am sorry, but this is unacceptable.. I can understand that things don't go exact and you may be off by an inch or so, or something needs to be field evaluated.. But this is not something that is acceptable.. And personally I don't know how you are "off" by half a foot in two directions when it comes to the master bedroom.. That is something that should not have gone unnoticed until a homeowner comes over with a tape measure.. It should have been addressed immediately while framing that area..

  • millworkman

    Only one way to find out now and that is to address it with the GC. Since it is already framed and by now maybe even sheathed expect some pushback but in the end it will be up to you to decide how hard you want to battle the issues.

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  • renovator8

    You're complaining that three bedrooms were off +2", -1" and -2" from the design drawings? Those are well within normal tolerances for home building and that is the opinion of an architect with a reputation for enforcing contract documents. The reason this topic doesn't come up is that owners have little reason to measure rooms and compare them with the drawings. How could an inch or two possibly make a difference in a 12 foot bedroom?

    Part of the cause might have been that the dimensions were to the face of studs and if that was 4" there would be a half inch discrepancy at each wall but that is a trivial issue. You would have to be using a laser device to discover such discrepancies in the framing. The old saying that farmers don't have fraction marks on their tapes is not entirely a joke.

    I don't understand the cabinet issues; it should not be difficult for a cabinet maker to adjust to a small discrepancy after field measuring. I assume you didn't wait until the paint and trim was done to measure so if a wall is misaligned it should be easy to move it or fur it out.

    I make frequent field observation visits to the projects I design so an owner would not be likely to be aware of routine corrections; the contractor and I try not to involve the owner in correctable errors. I suspect your architect was not involved with the construction phase which means this responsibility should have been shared between you and the GC and that should have been done before wiring and drywall was installed. When the drywall is being taped you should leave your tape at home.

    I suspect you have an ongoing feud with the builder and, if so, it would be inappropriate to try to pull the members here into it.

  • amberm145

    Interior walls should be moveable without too much issue if you're just into framing now. If there are walls and doorways in the wrong place, have them moved.

    My issue was that my 11' room was next to my other 11" room. Moving a wall over wasn't going to make both rooms 12'. But there were a couple of places that we had walls moved over if we didn't like them. It's just exterior walls and some interior load bearing walls that can't be moved without digging out the foundation and basically starting over.

  • njbuilding143

    Renovator - I am not saying that I "care" about the spare bedrooms being off by an inch or so.. The fact is that if they built it according to the plans the measurements would have been exact.. The 4inches left on drawings for interior walls was done so on purpose and accounted for in the overall length and width of house.. this was so that .5 inch discrepancy would have been left so that once drywall was installed the measurements on the plans would match the real life measurements.. The problem is they did not adjust for that which resulted in all the rooms being shifted over slightly which resulted in 1 room gaining all the "discrepancies" when it should have been evened out through all the rooms so that the plans would match the finished dimensions.. But again that is the LEAST of my concerns.. It was just a point being made.. The wall that needs to be shifted in kitchen has floor joists resting on top so I am not sure how easily it will be moved.. They run parallel on top of the wall and the pantry bump out is perpendicular with joists resting on it.. But regardless, to say that making a doorway 1 inch smaller then its supposed to be and a wall that will hold a refrigerator and standard depth cabinets 3-4 inches too short is unacceptable.. So basically I am supposed to live with cabinets sticking out past my doorway because the framers couldn't follow a simple floorplan?? What if we had a swinging door in the spot? It would not open or close.. And then there is the issue with the master bathroom.. Again, if the plans were messed up I could understand and we can work something out.. But to frame the entire second floor and move on to the roof when you have a half foot discrepancy in two directions I would think it would be time to say "hold up, let me figure this out and talk to the homeowner". .Not "I am just going to keep framing and pretend its not there".. 1-2 inches is not a problem.. But when you are 5 inches off and then another inch or so for drywall, you run into a lot of fitment issues and things need to be addressed.. Maybe someone ran a wall off the mark and it needs to be fixed.. The problem is that the master bedroom wall is a major load bearing wall.. So to continue on with the project with advising the homeowner who is funding the project of hte problem is irresponsible.. And if this was overlooked it makes things even worse.. When it comes to building things you measure multiple times to ensure correct fitment.. And once done you verify those measurements.. Somebody messed up and someone will be held accountable.. And perhaps is unrealistic expectations, but if the wall is that far off and interferes dramatically with all other plans then I do not think it would be unrealistic to demand that it be fixed, regardless of what would need to be taken down..

  • amberm145

    That wall doesn't need to be "moved" in order to be "fixed". They can reframe the door to make it wider and over a few inches. Then add on at the end. The load bearing issue comes in if there were a beam right on top of that wall and you wanted to move it over rather than making it longer. It sounds like the architect put the dimensions on for your information, and nobody told the framers they needed to add for finished dimensions.

  • njbuilding143

    I have addressed things with the builder and they are responding today to review the issues.. But you brought this post from a "trying to see what others have gone through" to a "well it doesnt matter if they are 6 inches off here, or the cabinet wall is too shallow".. I can't fatham that that is normal building.. An inch? yes.. I could see that.. But building is about measuring, measuring again, and measuring a third time before cutting anything.. And then once installed a final measurement is done.. If they had done this which would be responsible building then they would have learned quickly on that their measurements were consistently falling short of what its on the blueprints and could have addressed.. Instead they just built and built and now that the house is up I guess we can throw our hands up in the air and give it an "oh well".. Again 1 inch or maybe 2 inches.. Ok.. But 6 inches off the mark? Door openings in the wrong place and incorrect size? Window openings in the wrong location? Wall placement in wrong location? That doesn't sound like normal building practices... Maybe a builder/investor who is just building a house to sell.. But when you are working with a client who is funding the project as their home, well I would expect a little more..

  • mary8153

    Is this a good argument that all architects should show measurements to the center-line of the walls? Ive read that framers like it when the face measurements are given but this sounds like a nightmare. If your cabinets and counter size refrigerator stick out past the wall that is a real problem and needs to be addressed. You can't custom size a refrigerator that easily.

    Maybe I'm not getting it but I don't understand the following:
    you say "The fact is that if they built it according to the plans the
    measurements would have been exact..
    The 4inches left on drawings for
    interior walls was done so on purpose and accounted for in the overall
    length and width of house.. this was so that .5 inch discrepancy would
    have been left so that once drywall was installed the measurements on
    the plans would match the real life measurements.. "

    A rough 2x4 wall is 3.5" and a finished 2x4 wall is 4.5". The drywall (2 sides) adds 1" not 1/2". It seem that your architect is partially to blame for using a nominal 4". You could never build that house to the exact measurements given in the drawings since a 4" wall doesn't exist. The drywall doesn't correct the ".5" discrepancy."

    I would call the architect immediately and explain your concerns to him and get his opinion. He should be able to act as a consultant and help you get the dimensions to work out in the key areas you have mentioned.

  • njbuilding143

    Mary - The architect allowed for an additional 1/2 inch per wall of space.. This was simply so that at most there would be a 1/2 discrepancy for drywall.. He basically only added in half the drywall with the idea that the rooms would be 1/2 inch off the given measurements.. The problem was that the framers did not pay attention to this and measure everything to ensure that it matched.. They just put a wall up where it said a wall should be and then measured from that point (and were still off) and continued across the house.. Then when they get to the last room all those 1/2 inches that were added in for all the walls were just given to the last room.. Instead of measuring everything once the basic floor plan was laid out.. To me this is bad building practice.. If the plan were followed the measurements, at the very least, should be correct without the drywall.. The fact is that they are all off.. Again its an inch now and then another inch with drywall.. Not a huge deal.. I can easily live with this in the spare bedrooms even though it was the framers who IMPROPERLY measured.. But the bigger concerns are the kitchen walls and master bedrooms walls which are 4-6+ inches off the mark.. That is a major concern.. Also the master bedroom was purposely moved over due to head clearance while on the stairs.. So if this wall is correctly placed we could have an issue with our staircase.. So these few inches can cause major problems.. And while it's not as important, we had the staircase set up so that the railing would be visible and extend into the walkway as we saw in a custom home.. IF the stairs are incorrectly placed and need to be moved we could possibly lose this key feature.. I think this is all boiling down to just a bad builder.. How anyone building a house for another person can not be on top of these things is beyond me..

    Amberm - I think the problem is that I see them looking at plans.. So I know they have copies.. But for some reason it is just not being done the way it supposed to.. and I do understand that things may vary in the field and adjustments need to be made.. But again, when you are building for a client, these things should be addressed as they occur.. I think one of the biggest concerns is that I am the one that is finding all these mistakes and not the builder, framers, etc.. And then the other concern is that I told the builder about the problem, but he has not shown up to the site to review and has allowed the framers to continue on to the roof.. So now they are out there, pretty much finished with the roof and we may have to take down a load bearing wall supporting the roof and also move several window locations.. I doubt the framers are going to be happy if it turns out the roof needs to be taken down to shift that wall over if thats was it required.. But I guess that's on the builder at this point.. I made him aware of it so the ball is in his court..

  • njbuilding143

    Again... Being 6 inches off the mark is not reasonable.. I don't care who you are.. If you went and asked for a window treatment that was 4ft x 6ft but got handed a 3x5 would it just be "oh well thats how it came out"? No.. You would demand your 4x6.. Those rooms with 1-2 inches.. I can understand being a little off.. But 6 inches is a little extreme.. You must not have any clue what you are doing to come out 6 inches off the mark.. And not chalk line is going to be anywhere close to where it should be with being 6 inches off the mark..

  • houses14

    My builder caught this morning master bedroom wall is 11" off the plan…Windows supposed to be up by tomorrow. But now frame guys need to move its wall and adjust trusses vault ceiling, window, and moving the whole master bath……that could take up to one more week :(

  • njbuilding143

    I feel your pain Houses14.. I guess I am not the only one.. But just sucks that my builder allowed the roof to be put up knowing that a load bearing wall was not in correct spot.. Not sure how much of the roof needs to come down to fix..

  • rwiegand

    As far as I can tell the walls on our house are all within 1/4" of the drawings-- the plaster thickness being the major variable. We used panelized construction, they transferred the architect's drawing to CAD then everything was cut by a computer-driven milling machine and assembled on flat, square, dry tables. The precision was astonishing.

  • geoffrey_b

    Has anyone looked at the actual drawings given to the GC? Are the dimensions to the center line? Or to the face of the stud? Either way, the room shouldn't be more than a studs width off. To me, it looks like they measured the first wall, then measured from that wall, and the last room was than bigger or smaller - depending from which face of the stud they measured from. Not very hard to do center to center. Just measure to the center, and add 1 3/4" and snap a line.

    As far as needed adjustments for mechanical's - this is why you have an architect - so this is all figured out before starting construction.

    Just for the heck of it, I measured my 1950 custom built home with plastered walls - the dining room from finished wall to finished wall is exactly 14'. The hall is exactly 3' wide. Seemed like they knew what they were doing.

  • amberm145

    My comment about not looking at plans is because my garage is currently going up. DH noticed just by eye it looked too tall. Sure enough, it is 6" too tall, and it's enough that the city isn't going to accept it. The plans call for 8'6" walls. We got studs for 9' walls because the supplier didn't have 8'6" studs. The framer used the full piece, and now our garage is 6" too tall. And the framer wanted us to cover his extra labour for his not reading the plans.

  • geoffrey_b

    @amberm145 - I can explain all this. The GC is a hack. He's not doing his job. He needs to check on details, or he needs a guy to regularly visit the job site and check on things. Instead he just collects his fee, and let's the subs (who don't seen to be very caring / detail oriented) do what they want. There's lots of good trade guys, and there's also a lot of trade guys who have an excuse for everything. Don't buy the line: the framers don't have time to..... yeah - the 'tap room' opens at 3:30 they seem to get there on time.

    I would make him deliver the product that's specified on your drawings. Don't let him deviated from the drawings without written permission - that's the legal leg you have to stand on. I'd simply say - READ THE SPEC. He'll know what you mean.

  • amberm145

    geoffrey, I AM the GC. We noticed it immediately, pointed it out and wanted it fixed. This guy lives 3 doors down. He doesn't even wait for the tap room to open before he goes for beer. But it's going to be fixed. One way or another.

  • geoffrey_b

    @Renovator8: The drawings she posted are not the working drawings. They are more design drawings. However it's clear from those drawings that the wall width is listed as 4" inside the home, and 6" outside, the architect took the wall width into consideration. There's no reason why the rooms should be off 3" / 4"

  • geoffrey_b

    I'm confused - there's two different OP's??

  • geoffrey_b

    amberm145 - I have you confused with the original OP - nj gal.

    So you say they built your foundation too small?

  • renovator8


    The drawings posted are the working drawings; they show all partition locations and even the joist framing. I've done this kind of drawing for a very long time so I know it is a bit unusual to show "nominal" stud dimensions of 4" and 6" instead of actual dimensions of 3 1/2" and 5 1/2" but that would not confuse the framers. They would snap the guidelines and put the interior plates down within the slightly wider lines and flush with the edge of the floor platform. The intended dimension of the finished MBR would be increased by 3/4" and then reduced by 1" when the drywall was installed for a total discrepancy of 1/4" so there is nothing negligent about the drawings or the dimensioning conventions, it's just a bit unusual. I think its an attempt to combine a drawing for the owner with one for the contractor - a common drafting dilemma.

    Actually the cause of the master bedroom getting 5" larger has already been explained by the OP ("they enlarged the staircase opening by 5 inches"). I think it was done to move the upstairs hall railing & balusters away from the stair and you can see on the drawing that it was a good idea.

    The other bedrooms are off by one to two inches if the OP's measurements are correct which the OP admits is not a "big deal" and I agree.

  • amberm145

    Sorry to confuse you, geoffry. I was just illustrating how sometimes the framers don't read the drawings at all.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    In my experience, I am sure the builder will make whatever corrections the owner wishes, as long as the owner pays for the necessary time and materials. If the owner isn't willing to pay for what s/he thinks important, it's not likely than anything will be changed short of a court order. It's really about that simple, given the circumstances as we understand them from this thread.

  • dekeoboe

    the 24" wall in the kitchen needs to be 27", for your cabinets to look and function right. This means that they may have to shrink your pantry and move the door. This is what I was going to say. It is not a difficult fix.

    I agree that you should have been told about the change to the location of the stairs and I think that is where most of the problems started. Also, The architect allowed for an additional 1/2 inch per wall of space.. This was simply so that at most there would be a 1/2 discrepancy for drywall.. He basically only added in half the drywall with the idea that the rooms would be 1/2 inch off the given measurements. Do you think perhaps your architect's use of an unconventional method of drawing contributed to the mistake?

    As for your question of whether anyone else ran into a similar problem, we did. Ours is a precast concrete house, so all the window and door openings are laid out when they pour the concrete for the panels. The construction of a precast concrete house is a bit different than a stick built house. All the outside walls were put in place and the then the inside construction was started. After the flooring between the walk-out basement and the main floor was done they went on to the load bearing beams for the roof and we discovered one of the concrete panels was made incorrectly and where the beam was suppose to go was right through an exterior doorway. The size of three rooms changed by more than a foot, windows were no longer centered, things didn't look the way they were planned to look. To fix it to be as planned would have required so much deconstruction and taken forever. So we live with it. It is not the end of the world. My family room did grow, and I like the bigger size and I don't really even notice that the dining room window is not centered.

  • geoffrey_b

    @virgil: "In my experience, I am sure the builder will make whatever corrections the owner wishes, as long as the owner pays for the necessary time and materials. If the owner isn't willing to pay for what s/he thinks important, it's not likely than anything will be changed short of a court order."

    I'm amazed, you don't build to spec? Isn't the spec a legal biding document? If not, what is? Your crew makes mistake after mistake, and the oowner just eats it?

  • geoffrey_b

    @dekoeboe: "Do you think perhaps your architect's use of an unconventional method of drawing contributed to the mistake?"

    How do you know it was 'unconventional'? Most use industry standard software. We haven't seen the actual 'blue prints' that were given to the carpenters.

    Many, many, assumptions, with little or no data.

  • geoffrey_b

    bry911 - Have you ever praticed law? Gotten paid for it? Know what a contract is? Know what a specification is?

    What's the BS about resaonable care? You seem to imply that it's always within the realm of the builder.

    With laser measuring equipment one can easily build a foundation to within 1". Same for walls, and other placements. This is a formal design, to industry specs - not something written on a napkin. Someone is resposible for either the incorrect drawing, or the wrong execution. Stop trying to blame the customer.

  • renovator8

    I was trying to help until the OP mentioned the stud width for the 4th time and the MBR wall shift escalated from 4" to 5" to "half a foot" and it put me over the edge.

    The drawings posted are clearly the contract documents. A CAD software dimension tool simply records what has been drawn on the screen and that was 4" and 6" walls which represent the nominal rather than the actual width of the studs which is definitely unconventional but its not a mistake and its not important. Bringing an irrelevant detail up repeatedly distracts from the important issues and weakens the OP's case.

    The OP needs to choose the most important walls to be changed (e.g., the kitchen pantry wall, etc) and then fight the battle vigorously but with the contractor instead of with us.

    As for who will pay, that cannot be predicted. As with most out of court disputes, it will be a negotiation. Don't go into a negotiation expecting to get everything you want but make your demands realistic and clear and know for what you are willing to settle.

  • cpartist

    Good advice Reno.

  • bry911

    Geoffrey - No I have not practiced law or been paid as a lawyer. I attended after I was a professor because I got free classes, simply because I wanted the knowledge. I can only assume that you somehow are implying that experience is a big difference. Which is a safe implication other than the fact that a simple civil court matter would be chucked down to the newest associate and honestly probably the paralegal. Assuming they even took the case.

    I didn't imply it was always within the realm of the builder. In fact, that is the opposite of reality. It is actually in the hands of the consumers as a whole, if consumers are willing to accept tolerances within a few inches from the industry as a whole then the industry standard is set to within a few inches. I never claimed or knew that it was acceptable before a post from someone in the industry who noted it was. This isn't something foreign to most engineers, you must realize that if you have specific non-standard tolerances to a design then those must be specified in the plans, and the bids would be priced accordingly.

    It sucks that the OP didn't know this. Had he known this, he may well have built strict tolerances into the contract, but that is neither here nor there. I could give sympathy to him, and empathize with him, but enough people were doing that. I tried to give a financial perspective to this. Some things that have a real effect you can get changed but I don't think fighting for everything is going to get you anything.

  • njbuilding143

    Just to give an update on this... Apparently the "project manager" has agreed to come down to the site to review the measurements and evaluate tomorrow.. He was supposed to come today but decided not to address the issue and allowed work to continue.. I mentioned each section that was wrong as the two master bedroom walls, stairway, and kitchen wall.. I also noted that every single room is off by 1-2inches due to lack of reading plans, but stressed the walls that were of major concern.. Based on his response of "we just need to move a few walls" I can tell that he has no idea the extent of what happened nor do I believe he belongs in this field.... I took a stroll through the house again and found that there is physically no way to fix the staircase.. That time has come and gone.. The floor joists for the second floor above the garage are all resting on the wall by staircase that is 5 inches off and do not have any room for the wall to be pushed back.. It is also a supporting wall for the main beam of the house.. So in essence I lost 5 inches on each floor of living space that will be put towards an oversized stair case that we did not want.. Do I think this is acceptable? Absolutely not.. Would I let them take down all the framing and start from scratch? Absolutely.. Do I expect them to offer that? No.. Do I expect them to provide some type of upgrade or reimbursement for this mistake? Absolutely.. As for the kitchen wall?? Well that wall is 100% going to be taken down and fixed.. How? The answer is simple.. I don't care.. That is a main wall.. To leave it shorter than the opposite wall in the room is obvious to the naked eye.. On top of that it is a main cabinet wall w/ appliances.. It can absolutely not work as is.. So the entire wall needs to be replaced.. Now up to the master bedroom wall that runs front to back.. This wall could have been a lot easier to fix if they would have come to the site this morning as they told me they would.. Instead they allowed the framer to continue framing the entire roof and now the roof is tied into the wall that is a mistake.. To me.. That is 100% unacceptable.. I tell you about a mistake like that and you continue having workers move on with the framing.. With that in mind I am going to fight for that wall.. Do I care if they have to take down the roof?? Absolutely not.. I told them about the problem prior to the roof going up and so if it needs to come down then so be it.. That problem is now on them...

    Also, just a little tid bit on the staircase.. The plans called for a 3'8" opening in the stairs.. This was already larger then a standard stair case.. The opening is now 4'1".. Then on the second level there is an additional 3.5 inches where a stud wall is which is where the railing will be coming out from.. So basically after drywall We will have a finished opening of 4ft plus 3.5" for balusters.. Oh and on the bottom level the wall opens to extend the stairs out 3.5 inches.. So the bottom 5 steps or so will be 4'4" wide.. That is ridiculous for a smaller sized house.. And again, this space was all taken away from actual living area..

    Needless to say that after writing everything above I will be calling a lawyer that deals with these types of things to see what our options are and to see what legal action can be taken.. This will be pending what offer the builder makes.. But short of fixing all the mistakes or discounting this house a large amount I don't see it being rectified.. I won't just sit by and be taken advantage of.. After finding an abundance of other mistakes not mentioned in this post I feel that I have reached my maximum for mistakes.. I might have been understanding if these mistakes would have been found and brought to my attention.. But the fact that I am the one finding them is frightening.. Of all the workers on scene, the homeowner who is supposed to paying to sit back and relax while the house is being built to spec is the one locating each and every one of the mistakes.. UNACCEPTABLE!!!

    On a side note, I did not mean to start any kind of "war" on here with anyone.. I am indeed frustrated, but when you are paying the amount that we are to have a custom built home, you tend to expect a satisfactory result.. Perhaps in some parts of the country these types of mistakes are taken as normal and acceptable, but around here you expect to get the quality work when you pay a premium price.. I could have built this house for 110-120 a square foot for builder grade materials and ok work.. But when you are paying 165+ per square foot you are expecting higher quality workmanship..

  • bry911

    Good luck, let us know how it goes.

    My advice is to get your architect and your bank involved before the attorney. Construction attorneys are out there but it is a fairly specialized practice, your architect will probably be able to point you to a good attorney, and you need to make sure your bank stops his draws. If he just ignores your stoppage request and keeps working, he could end up getting paid for a lot more work that you really don't want.

  • PRO

    For $165+ sq/ft?. To be honest I expect walls to be within 1/2" tolerance. The bottom wall on the plan of the master BR connecting to the stair case looks like load bearing. Is there a basement? Shifting walls by one inch is very annoying. By 4-5" no big deal at all. Just frame another wall 4" away and add support at the bottom .

    I normally like to see the note spelling it out: "DIMENSIONS SHOWN ARE FROM FACE OF STUD WALL TO FACE OF STUD WALL"

  • renovator8

    I'm trying to convince a current client that he can build a house for $300/s.f. and he doesn't believe me.

    You didn't say if the architect works for you or the contractor or if he/she is still involved with the project at this stage and that matters.

    If the architect works directly for you, then you must be careful to not blame the contractor for the architect's mistakes since the builder can legitimately hold you responsible for your consultant's mistakes and you might have to pursue a conflict resolution with both parties separately and they can blame each other.

    But I suspect the architect works for the builder because if he/she worked for you, you would have already met with him/her and the architect would be helping you to make a case for correction of the work if not pursuing it without you. If that issue hasn't been sorted out, you need to do it before you meet with the contractor.

    Also get to the bottom of the stair modification before the meeting. You mentioned earlier that a code issue might have been involved and you don't want that to be thrown back at you in the meeting. I see joist sizes and span directions on the drawings. That's a short-cut in lieu of a framing plan that might have caused some coordination problems with beams at the stair,

    Here is my uninformed guess at what happened based on the partial plans and OP comments:

    I believe there is a center beam supporting the second floor and it runs parallel to the stair along its open side. You would think that beam would be on the center line of the house (16-10 each side) but the second floor plan dimensions show it to be 4" off that centerline toward the bathrooms (16-6 on the bath side and 17-2 on the other side). If the contractor put the beam in the center of the house, the open side of the stair opening would be 4" farther from the bathroom wall than designed and that would cause a 4" shift in all walls parallel to the stair unless the opening was furred out 4" to make it smaller. If that error was not caught during the layout, all of the walls would be moved as the OP has described. I can't account for the shift of the master bath wall at the tub but I wouldn't be surprised if the tub drain location had something to do with it.

    My interest in this matter is that after more than 40 years of representing building owners through disputes, negotiations and a few lawsuits, it troubles me to see a homeowner approaching a construction issue without professional representation and with little apparent awareness of the potential pitfalls and dead ends that can result from anger and hyperbole. Those who see this as blaming the consumer are repeating the mistake I see on this forum almost every day: thinking of the homeowner as purchasing a house instead of managing their half of a construction contract.

    Anyway, you have toned down some of the earlier rhetoric but you should take it down another notch and condense it quite a bit. Don't mention 1 or 2 inch discrepancies or what size a stair should be. These are red herrings the contractor could exploit in order to draw attention from the important issues. Find 3 issues and concisely explain what needs to be done to correct them and find out which side the architect is on and use it to your advantage if you can.

    Read the owner-contractor contract carefully and take note of any mention of corrections to the work or review and identification of conflicts in contract documents.

    I learned the hard way that creating an adversarial atmosphere might work with a salesman but not so much with a professional builder. You are playing a game he knows well although he may even act act like he doesn't understand what he is doing. I have always started a tough meeting by acknowledging that we both want the same thing: a good job. You might then explain how reaching that goal will involve making a few corrections without pointing a finger or raising your voice (all caps on a forum is considered yelling, if you didn't know - quotes excepted). You can always get mad later if you think it will help. But it is usually better to leave a meeting mad than start that way.

    Don't mention that you have talked to a lawyer or, if asked, don't reveal the lawyer's name. You might find yourself paying for your half of an expensive legal letter writing contest.

    So, prepare a concise outline, don't talk up or down to the other side, remember what your role is, and try to have fun.

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    Where is your archtect in all of this? Have you had a conversation with him about using a nonstandard dimension in his drawings to seemingly inflate the interior room space unrealistically? A full wall assembly is NOT 4''! From drywall to drywall, it's 4 1/2", and room dimensions are for framing are usually done from center line of the stud to the center line of the stud, unless it's a wet wall that contains plumbing, and those are 6 1/2". Then you just subtract 2 1/4" or 3 1/4" for the actual vs. the nominal.

    Where has the architect been during construction? Did you not pay for full service from him so that he would consult during the build?

    Having said that, you do have some unrealistic expectations about construction. Load bearing walls are the boss, and have to be placed where they provide proper support for the floors and roof assemblies. Sometimes, when plans are being altered all over the place, someone doesn't re-engineer a different location of the support to go along with ''just'' adding 3' to that room's width, etc. When you're deling with an altered plan rather than an original one, lot's of things can happen. If you are designing a home with a certain dea of ''minimum'' anything, then you are already cutting things too close. But, you definately need an owner's representative on site to assist with your build.

  • renovator8

    The reason for the 4" shift is intriguing but unless it was caused by the actions of the owner or the owner's consultant or beyond anyone's control, it is not relevant to the effort to fix the problem.

    If the OP brings up a trivial issue like the architect's dimensioning convention or 1/2 inch discrepancies, it could quite possibly derail the negotiation and nothing would be settled. And it would not be in the owner's interests if the architect was working for owner.

    Centerline dimensioning of wood studs would have to be covered to face of stud dimensions in the field so that convention can cause trouble too.

  • geoffrey_b

    @renovator8: I agree with you that one should keep the discussion civil, and not adversarial.

    Now everything is 'backwards' - talk of reading contracts, talk of going to a lawyer, talk about prints - everything that should have been done up front is now past tense.

    This seems to be a situation of the OP where 'you don't know, what you don't know'. To enter into a contract for $500,000 one should have legal advice - who is knowledgeable about this type of contract - and perhaps request amendments or additional verbiage to clarify ambiguous areas. I'm sure the GC has had the contract that he uses, vetted by his lawyer, the buyer should have done the same.

    After the OP gets this straightened out, she should hire a rep, to insure the rest of the construction is done properly. I would not trust the project manager.

  • PRO

    As a guy who was a framer for a significant chunk of his career, I'm coming down fully on the side of the OP, if, IF the discrepancy is between the blueprints and reality. If it was between an earlier schematic sketch, then all bets are off. But for the framer to deviate from the print by multiple inches, there must be a reason; sloppiness, don't give a darn, or a legitimate conflict that was not caught until it went up. In the latter case, this would be caust to stop and explain to the OP why these changes were demanded by circumstance, but never try to slip one by...
    4" error really sounds like they snapped a line and put the wall on the wrong side.
    The bathroom partition looks like it would be no problem at all to set right, only that bathroom portion of the wall has to be moved, the part at the stairwell can be padded out. The other problems are pretty much fubar.
    You build to the print, or have a darned good reason why you failed to. It could well be that the problem started at the foundation.

  • bry911

    So this seems like an appropriate time (if not an appropriate place) to ask about our plans. In our plans only the exterior and plumbing walls are dimensioned in the plans. All the other lines are drawn to the left side or back side of the wall only, and measurements to the next wall are taken from that line. This made reading the room size annoying as hell, but I am starting to see the value as now every wall is placed on the same side of the line. Is this the standard, or just some regional thing? And is it right?

  • rwiegand

    Hmm-- $165/sq ft. I'm currently building a garage--unfinished inside, no insulation, no plumbing, no electrical, T1-11 for siding and it's costing me $80/sf. Our ~1000 sf house addition ran about $380/sf with all DIY interior finish work (trim, HW floors, painting, kitchen cabs). I'd be pretty happy to put up with walls off by a few inches to save a couple hundred thousand dollars. Not an option around here though it seems.

    It seems to me on any construction project someone needs to watch what is going on-- either an architect or project manager, or the owner. I am on site every day with a set of plans, tape measure, digital camera, and level for my projects, if I weren't comfortable doing that myself I'd surely hire someone with the appropriate skills to do it for me. To err, for whatever reason is human-- and "trust but verify" a good antidote. Even with a great GC on the project stuff is going to happen and a second set of independent eyes is invaluable. (The number of stupid mistakes I've made in my own work is testament to value of having my DW look and ask "are you sure you really wanted to do it that way?". )

  • njbuilding143

    Just got done with the meeting with Project Manager and Framer.. As suspected the Project Manager did not understand what walls I was speaking about as he was only mentioning the kitchen wall.. I then began to mention all of the other areas noting that some were extremely minor while others, like the kitchen, stairs, and master bedroom walls, were a bit more important.. At this point both of their faces dropped and the plans came out.. They both began checking and measuring and in the end the Framer owned up that he misread the plans which offset everything else.. So they began scrambling around checking the walls and double checking.. According to them everything is fixable with the exception of two walls.. So here is a list of the modifications that will be made:

    1. The master bedroom wall that butts up against the stairs and master bathroom can only be shifted where the bathroom is.. The part by the stairs will have to be furred out to make it even with the part from the bathroom wall..
    2. Closet wall that adjoins the master bathroom will be pulled out accordingly.
    3. Stair case will be re-framed to the correct specs. This will require moving beams in the basement. This also requires a wall on the first floor to be moved that holds up the floorjoists for second floor over the garage. To move this wall they will be sistering the floor joists of the second floor to extend them to the new wall.
    4. All bedrooms on second floor will be pulled out into the hallway as per plan.
    5. Master bedroom wall that adjoins the hallway will be moved in 5 inches to align with new staircase.
    6. Kitchen wall will be re-framed according to plan.
    7. Side entry door will be re-framed to adjust opening.
    8. Master bedroom window will be re-framed to adjust for wall movement.
    9. Master bedroom door opening will be re-framed to adjust for wall movement.
    10. Second floor hallway window will be re-framed to adjust for all movement.
    11. Parallam that runs between first and second floor above dining room will be moved to be even with wall that's to be moved with staircase.

    I think that pretty much covers all the changes.. Honestly, I don't know how this is all getting fixed.. Main beams are being moved that have framed walls sitting on top of them.. I just don't see how this can be structurally sound after its done and how it won't effect everything above.. I mean floor boards are nailed under the framing of second floor perimeter walls and they are moving beams below that are nailed and glued to them.. I have the mentality that once you open something up it is never the same as when you started.. Things loosen up, shift, etc.. I guess we will see what happens.. At least they took responsibility for their mistakes and owned up to it.. Let's just see how the adjustments turn out.. I just pray that they are not making changes that shouldn't be touched, although I can't see them alter something that would effect the structural integrity of the house or result in a poor quality result....

    These are not the complete plans, but just to give you an idea of the work that is being changed..

  • cpartist

    "To err, for whatever reason is human-- and "trust but verify" a good antidote. Even with a great GC on the project stuff is going to happen and a second set of independent eyes is invaluable."

    Or as my builder said to me, "I promise you we are going to make some mistakes. It's inevitable because we're human. But I also promise you we'll get them fixed." I'm hoping he's true to his word.

  • cpartist

    Glad to see they owned up to it and are willing to fix it. It might be a good idea to put it in writing in an email as to what you agreed to. this way you have it all in writing.

  • gwlake

    I am so glad to know someone took responsibility. I know this has been troublesome. However what a relief to know people believe in "I made a mistake and take ownership of it".

  • njbuilding143

    Well that changed quick... After the meeting with builder and framer and them agreeing to change everything I was still a little uneasy that it was so simple to just shift all these load bearing walls and main beams of the house.. As was most people I spoke to.. Even if it was only 5 inches... So I decided to respectfully request that we just run the alterations by my architect so that he could sign off on them.. I called the architect this morning to inform him of what is going on and to set up a meeting.. Even he was a skeptical on the phone about moving all these things around.. Well, needless to say that I saw the framers on site today picking up all their equipment.. Not sure if they have been fired by the builder or if they are expecting some kind of lengthy process or perhaps they were just cleaning out things no longer needed.. Just seemed a little coincidental.. Builder called and requested that they and the framer be present during the meeting.. I guess we will see how this goes.. Meeting in 1.5 hours.. Will update on how it goes..

  • loonlakelaborcamp

    Updated 2 hours ago -- must be in the meeting now. I REALLY want to know how this one turns out! Best of luck.......

  • njbuilding143

    Sorry it took so long.. But finally got a break from work to update this post.. Anyway, I met with the architect and immediately we jumped right into what has been going on.. Before we knew it we were already 30 minutes into the meeting and the builder and framer had still not shown up.. We made contact with them and apparently they were too busy to be at the meeting.. With that we continued our meeting and based on what the architect has seen he seems to say that everything looks repairable and not the worst he has seen done.. He said he is going to review further to see exactly how some of the walls ended up where they are, but for the most part he said there doesn't look to be any reason that we should be able to get the house back to where it was supposed to be.. The only wall he mentioned as being a no go was the wall in the master bedroom that is up against the bathroom.. He suggested the same method the builder did for this wall which is to build out the area by the stairs and then bump out the bathroom section.. He seems to think that the rest of the areas should be good to go... For the first floor stair wall that is 5 inches off, he says the floor joists of the second floor will not need to be sister joisted.. He said that they will just cut new floor joists and replace the sections over the mudroom.. He said this will actually provide a more stable floor system and decrease the amount for "bounce".. The only thing that I need to discuss with the builder is his plans for ensuring that the new, moved, etc floor joists are properly nailed and glued to the floor boards... I still dont get how exactly they will be doing this but whatever.. But in the end any and all repairs needed will be made at builders/framers expense..

  • weedyacres

    I too am glad to see professionals owning up to their mistakes and fixing them. We hear too many stories here of the opposite; it's great to see what seems to be leading towards a happy ending.

  • millworkman

    Is the builder on board with this all being o his dime, even though he was not at the meeting?

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