The first thing that needs to be built in any project is the footing, the foundation of the building. For this, the trenches need to be dug out and after that the concrete placed in the trenches according to the structural plans. One thing the homeowners need to understand is that the structure is the basis for the entire house, so any changes on the foundation will most definitely affect the entire project.

What a contractor should NOT do…

To give you an example, in one of my projects, from day one, the contractor started to change things – things like the thickness of the footings and stem walls, the concrete mix strength from 3,000 psi to 2,000 psi and even the elevation of the garage slab.

The result? A catastrophe!

I had designed a garage with two risers down from the main house as requested by the owner. However, the contractor decided to pour the slab lower than it was shown on my plans. Just like that, because he felt like it. So, when they built the floor-framing of the main house, they realized the difference in elevation was five risers down from the house (almost a metre) instead of two risers (36 cm) like I had specified. So, at the end of the day a stair had to be added to go down onto the garage level!

A stair is a stair no matter what and it needs to have a railing and a landing to comply with the code. Anything less than 46 cm difference between floor levels does not require any of that. But a metre is a big drop, so you have to protect people from falling. The design of the garage did not include a stair, only two risers and one tread (28 cm deep x 1 metre wide), so the addition of the 4 extra risers turned the garage access into a stair which created problems for the garage. The stair that ended up being built took 119 cm off the garage instead of 28 as I had planned. So my clients who owned big cars, an SUV and a van, lost one parking spot inside their 2-car garage, all because the contractor made changes without consulting with anybody.

This contractor went as far as changing a structural detail when he was building the 1st floor cavity. He even showed up at the structural engineer’s office one Monday morning to ask the engineer “to change the detail on his plans to show what he had built” because the inspector did not want to approve the floor the way he had built it. Needless to say, he got kicked out of the structural engineer’s office, pronto!

Unbelievable… but that is what happens when homeowners enable their contractors to have free reign over the way things should be done. Not all contractors have an attitude problem, but some do… and homeowners need to understand that they need to be on top of things. No matter what happens, the plans need to be followed exactly. Not only that, you should have someone over-seeing the construction to make sure the plans are being followed.

Hire someone if you do not know about construction. Perhaps the designer who prepared the plans. Or someone who can keep you informed of any discrepancies.

About The Author

If you are thinking about remodelling your house, visit my website: http://www.homedesign-4u.com

EB Cordova

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