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I recently hired a framing crew to frame a new house. After it was done, I commissioned an independent review. The reviewer described some of the work as "shoddy," and pointed out a lot of gaps, particularly between king and jack studs and the plates. I took photos and added his notes to a few studs he pointed out. He also pointed out that the roof beams weren't birdstoothed, as the plans directed, but were instead set onto the headers and strapped to scrap lumber. In one place, the beams are strapped to a split 2x4.

Would it be appropriate to ask the framers to fix some of this work? I don't work in construction, but even as someone outside of the industry I'm looking at this and it just doesn't look good.

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Edit: Here is an album showing many additional photos: https://imgur.com/a/WRBO1is

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    Thoughful of you to get someone to look at the work. Especially check if agreement says "meeting standard XXX". If so then straightforward to deal with them. – Polypipe Wrangler Mar 7 at 1:55
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    I don't work in construction, and on my continent houses are built rather differently --- but I am appalled at the quality your photos show. You deserve to get that re-done at no cost (besides time and grief...) – KlaymenDK Mar 7 at 6:12
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    I'm not an expert in woodwork but my grandpa was, he was a carpenter. And I think he would have definitely killed himself before delivering such a work at any time to anyone. That's just embarrassing that you got this for your money. Get your money back! The wood may be fine, but the work was not. Every time I read such posts, no matter if it's about woodwork or another field like electrics, I'm happy to live in Germany. Obviously there are big differences in the understanding of the term "quality" at craftsmen of different countries... – Tobias Knauss Mar 7 at 14:38
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    "shoddy" is a kind description for this quality of work. – Wayne Werner Mar 7 at 16:33
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    That's a lot of shoddy work. I would like to note that the glulam header and beam should not be notched unless the engineering indicated so. In other words, the framer shouldn't be the one deciding how that connection is made. – Dustin Wyatt Mar 8 at 16:21

10 Answers 10

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I always wonder “what else is wrong” when there are so many obvious errors.

You’ve noted the obvious problems, but you’ve probably missed some major items that are not so obvious:

  1. In Picture #1 you’ve noted the gap issue, but missed the “double spliced sole plate”. (Splices are to be a minimum of 4’ apart, unless at intersection of a wall.)

  2. In Picture #1 it’s difficult to see, but the subfloor is not nailed properly. (Nailing should be a maximum of 12” apart in the field and 6”” apart at the edges.)

  3. In Picture #2 a twist strap is not an acceptable connector when it’s improperly nailed into a piece of blocking. (The length of the nails need to be long enough to penetrate into the beam...going through the piece of blocking reduces it too much.)

  4. In Picture #2 I don’t understand your comment about the “pocket”, but if the beam requires two trimmers then it needs a connector too. (That whole assembly is questionable.)

  5. In Picture #3 the gaps you circled are acceptable , but I doubt TV he double top plate is nailed together properly. It requires 16d nails at 8” on center (at a minimum) and I see no nails poking through the lower plate. 16d nails are long enough that they’ll show through the lower plate. If it isn’t nailed properly it does not meet code in your area (Alaska) and could fail under any seismic load.

  6. In Picture #4 the framing to too “wonky” to be acceptable, including the gap you indicate at the top of the double jack studs. If the contractor argues that there are other jack studs next to them “so it doesn’t matter”. Let them know that the load is transferred to the foundation at the double jacks...not at random locations.

  7. In Picture #5 the trimmer (jack studs) is not acceptable. It does not provide adequate bearing for that size beam. In addition the 3/4” plywood studs are not acceptable (actually they could produce structural calculations to prove me wrong, but I doubt it would be acceptable in your location for seismic activity.) Also, you’d need to glue the sheathing to the studs and I doubt there’s adequate nailing ...12” on center in field and 6” on center along edges.

I’d love to see more pictures to determine if floor sheathing in Picture #5 is adequate, roof sheathing is nailed properly, etc. Usually bad framing extends to anchor bolts, anchor bolt washers, holddowns, etc.

I agree with Greg Hill and “upvoted” his answer that you must get these things fixed before you proceed or you’ll be paying the cost to replace anything installed later.

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    @Alaskahouse I’d hire an architect or structural engineer (not civil engineer) with residential experience and have him prepare a report itemizing the errors AND RECOMMENDATIONS to fix everything. I testify in such legal suits and it’s going to be long and expensive. Make sure you have pictures and written notice (by certified mail) to contractor regarding problems. Give them a date to fix everything and then file a suit if it’s not COMPLETED by then. – Lee Sam Mar 7 at 2:55
  • Superb answer, plus1 – Solar Mike Mar 7 at 6:00
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    I'm really grateful for the responses and advice. Here is an album of photos I took today, showing additional areas of concern. The things I noticed in particular are gaps between bottom plates and framing members, broken and cracked wood, nails that appear to have been shot incorrectly, and that the joists on the main floor don't sit on the wall below (many of them have a gap of ~1/3 inch). imgur.com/a/WRBO1is – Alaska house Mar 8 at 8:22
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It's probably a good time to review the contract you entered with the framers. Does it allow you to withhold payment until defects are resolved? Does it stipulate how claimed defects are to be resolved? Do what the contract requires of you to ensure that you don't end up in breach too.

There appears to be a pattern of careless work and failure to abide the requirements of the project documents. It's going to be ugly to fix, but if you want to have it fixed, now is the time. If you allow construction to proceed then any work done by other trades which has to be re-done on account of the framing defects may be at your cost, not that of the framers.

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Yes, that is shoddy work! Did you pay for shoddy work or did you pay for quality work?

But things like this turn into squeaks, cracks, wobbles, etc. over time. So yes, if this was MY project I would get them back in to do it properly!

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    Very shoddy. This is what causes cracks in drywall walls and ceilings that we always hear about on this site. + – JACK Mar 6 at 22:30
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Horrible work.

I don't think "I commissioned an independent review" will hold any weight with the contractor, unless the contract allowed for that. The contractor might dispute the qualifications of your reviewer. Instead, I would contact the local city planning office (who gave you the planning permission), and ask them for an inspection. If they say that rework is needed before they'll pass the framing, then rework is needed.

You need to be looking very closely at what standards are written into the contract, and you may end up needing an attorney on this. If you spotted these shortcuts (literally, in some cases), then what else have they done which you have missed?

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Structural engineer and former carpenter and contractor here.

Check your plan general notes for your code and other criteria to which your contractor's quality of work must meet. Discuss with your building official, or a local structural engineer for advice and direction.

From what I see in your pictures after a very quick precursory review, it appears that some of these items do not meet code and do need to be addressed (for examples: inadequately installed uplift straps; excessive gaps). Re the gaps, in the best case, there will likely be settlement of structure until full contact which will result in aesthetic issues.

Yes, I suggest pursuing this and now, before you close up and before you pay your contractor

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    Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here. – Daniel Griscom Mar 7 at 18:49
  • done, thank you – Ack Mar 7 at 18:59
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Yes, and I'd question your town inspector as to whether or not that would pass. You're looking at loads of problems down the way.

Birdsmouth cuts are a PITA but after you do them a few hundred times they're easier. No excuse. And every single one of those 2x4s that aren't framed solid are going to move in time, causing cracks, settling, squeaks, and problems. Get it fixed before you drywall.

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Licensed and insured contractor, been building homes for the last decade or so. That beam in the last Pic is sitting on lvl studs, not plywood. They're much stronger than regular 2x material and that strap is kinda hiding the end of the top plate but technically all it needs is 3/4" bearing to be structurally sound. That gap in pantry king stud, while ugly, won't affect anything cause load transfer on trimmer is still solid. To someone responding above, this definitely is 2x6 framing. The master bedroom window picture with the gaps - that top plate is at an angle and they didn't bother to cut that bevel on the cripples, so it's touching on one corner but a big gap on the other. The things I'd be most concerned about have already been mentioned, that bottom plate in the first picture should not be that short... It's literally begging for problems later. Also the beam strapping. That split wood with a couple nails in it that the strap is teco nailed to its absolute garbage and holding nothing. The rest of it, while it looks like garbage and I'd never leave work like that in a house I build, probably won't cause significant issues... Last thing I'd worry about are the problems you didn't see and don't have pictured here. The inspector should definitely catch all these problems and call the framers out on them and make them fix this before anything further can be done. That's how it's supposed to work. Break ground - inspection, lay pipes and such - inspection, build forms for foundation and tie rebar - inspection, pour foundation - inspection, build pony walls (if applicable) - inspection, framing - sheer inspection, finish framing - full framing inspection, insulation - inspection... There should be inspections literally every step of the way to ensure that this kind of garbage doesn't fly. Inspectors are usually cool with problems and will provide a simple way to fix the problems. Hopefully you don't have too many issues getting them to fix the problems.

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    Welcome, and thanks for your answer. Please hit the edit button up there and format your response a bit. As it stands, a wall of text is very difficult to read and get useful info out of. – FreeMan Mar 9 at 14:53
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Any gap under the king stud or anywhere in framing is a result of the framer doing crappy work, because everything in framing has to be on the line and flush and tight. If it's not then the house will shrink and creak, and drywall will crack.

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    Nice edit Daniel. – JACK Mar 8 at 21:14
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At the minimum all gaps need to be filled underneath With a piece of lath or piece of plywood as long as its solid underneath the entire width and langth of the beam or king stud or cripple its sitting on . it will pass structural if those are filled and prevent sagging in the future hurrrican strap should have been nailed to a 2ft piece of 2x10 and 2x10 nailed minimum 18 3" nails Door Jack's are not a big deal but you could add one beside it and nail them to existing once So its solid.

Last picture is beam sitting on plywood studs it looks like need a better picture to see what that beam is attached to and what that beam is supporting

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What is the issue here? In my area, most of that is not how we frame things (code wise) But - I can tell you for a fact that that none of those gaps shown are compromising the strength of the structure, anyone who frames and builds everyday knows that.

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here. – Daniel Griscom Mar 8 at 21:37

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