We are doing a custom build home in a subdivision and we were very
excited to be able to design the layout. The builders are at the point
now where tile is going on the floors and with the tile on the floor we
are able to see that the proportions in the open kitchen/dining/living
room are not correct. We didn't notice this before because the open
plan made it difficult to judge distances and sizes of the different
areas but with the tile down it is easy to see where the kitchen ends
and other rooms begin.
The french doors that define the edge of the living room should have
started one foot away from the edge of the kitchen tile, but the doors
actually start three feet away from the tile. This effectively makes
the living room 2 feet narrower. It may seem like a small deal but as
our house is very small and economically designed around our existing
furniture we didn't have two feet to spare. As a result our living room
furniture will need to overlap the doors by almost two feet, and our
small dining table will have to be out of alignment with the doors and
look like it is starting to encroach on the kitchen. Our fireplace is
also closer to the door now (originally we had planned it to be
centered in the wall - that should have been our first clue but the
builder said the fireplace had to be moved a bit because of the
basement windows and we didn't realize the off-center appearance was
also being affected by the door).
I am sure this happened by accident because the builder has been good
to work with overall and quite reliable, but that doesn't explain why
we were the ones to discover the mistake so late in the game. I am very
upset about our careful planning being thrown off, but I am trying to
decide if it is worth making a fuss at this late stage. Do I have the
right to demand that they fix it, or are they not obliged to fix a
two-foot mistake? The siding on the exterior is completed and they just
finished mudding and priming the walls this week. Moving the door two
feet would mean moving wiring and light switches, redoing some of the
siding and fixing the wall. We are scheduled to close in 6-ish weeks
and I don't know how long it will take to fix the door. Are they
obliged to pay for it or can they come back at me and tell me I am
throwing them off budget and off schedule with a late-stage change? If
they refuse to fix it do I have the right to ask for some kind of
compensation? If nothing else I would like them to cover the cost of
new (and unfortunately smaller) living room furniture.
If anyone has any ideas on how to handle this situation please let me
know. I am looking for advice. Should I just count my blessings that
this is the worst of the problems we've encountered so far? Or will the
misproportioned layout affect resale? That doesn't even count the fact
that I will be aggravated every time I sit on the couch or eat at the
dining room table for the next X number of years...
You left out some key points. Who is the General Contractor on the project?
Was the framing done by a sub-contractor? Did the plans specify the exact
location and size of the doors?
For the most part, the General is responsible for following the plans. If
he/she approved the framing, then it's his/her problem.
You should try to settle this ASAP. It would seem much easier and cheaper
to fix it now, rather than waiting. Forget about the furniture idea.
As the other poster said, some additional details as to who was in
charge of the design/oversight would shed a little more light but in
your post you stated you were unable to visualize the space during
framing and missed the problem. This leads me to believe you were in
charge of the design hence overseeing it. You also noted that a change
had to be made to the layout (which I assume was approved by you)
regarding the fireplace. One thing that isnt quite clear is did the
relocation of the fireplace alone throw the floor plan off or did the
door get framed in a different location as a result of the fireplace
move? Was the relocation of the door inevitable due to the fireplace
being moved? etc.
I am not sure if you were working with a designer/architecht on the
project or doing it yourself. This sounds like it would fall under the
designer/architecht's responsibilities as it doesnt sound like the
builder made any actual mistakes. The builder simply had to move the
fireplace (and possibly the door) and the impact of that move was missed
by the designer/architect (you?).
Of course if the builder misread the plans and this can be clearly shown
you have some recourse but even if you were working jointly with the
builder trying to achieve your vision for the space it pretty much falls
on the designers shoulders.
If you were working together on the space, and as you say they have been
good to work with so far, I would think they would gladly work something
out with you that is mutually acceptable but that is of course speculation.
You have to look at who was in charge of the design and its oversight
throughout the project. Things happen during construction that impact
the original design. Being able to catch and adapt to those changes is
the job of the designer. The builder can only inform the
designer/homeowner that a change is required. The solution is in the
hands of the designer and homeowner.
What does your blueprint say? Are the dimensions wrong or not?
Were these dimensions you needed noted on the prints or just
something you hoped would happen? Were the prints dimensioned
with feet and inch call-outs or were you working to scale?
All blueprint dimensions are subject to very slight modification
unless noted on print as critical. Two feet is not slight. The
fireplace location was probably locked in when the basement walls
Only you can decide if the design can be saved at this point. You
and the builder will have to decide who would stand the costs of
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I've seen contractors *willfully* build things incorrectly because it was
easier/cheaper for them, thinking they would pocket the difference on a
fixed price contract. Happens all the time.
It depends on the contract.
The siding on the exterior is completed and they just
Without know anything more than you've disclosed, I would say this is a BIG
DEAL, and I would have it fixed. If it was a 'fixed price' contract, I would
have the contractor pay for it, but he'll be looking to spread the blame. If
you have an architect doing field review, he/she should have noticed that
big an error, but even if they didn't it's not their responsibility to
measure the construction to confirm it matches the drawings.
If you are paying money for this building, you should get what you asked
for, not whatever the builder managed to do.
How can you think the contractor should pay for it when the OP doesnt
even state that it was the contractors mistake? The OP stated that a
fireplace had to be moved because of some basement windows. Was the
french door also impacted by the fireplace? The fireplace move was
obviously approved by someone. If the overall impact to the floorplan
was missed that is the responsibility of the designer/architect to catch
and deal with.
It may well be the contractors problem if he/she misread the plans but
that has not been stated even remotely.
That depends. And if by moving the fireplace there was an unacceptable
impact to the floorplan they would have come up with a workaround and
revised the plans with the builder and homeowner.
You should get what you pay for, and if you are doing your own design,
you have to accept what you design and subsequently the mistakes you
make in that design. The OP has not even stated that this was infact a
builder error or not. I may well be wrong but its clear there were some
issues with design from the get go in that the fireplace had to be moved.
The OP states "We are doing a custom build home in a subdivision and we
were very excited to be able to design the layout".
This sounds to me like the OP _is_ the designer/architect which means it
is their responsibility to deal with any needed changes throughout
construction and have the ability to foresee any and all impact said
change will have to the total project. It sounds like they may not have
foreseen a critical problem.
The subject line is voided by:
"we were very excited to be able to design the layout"
It doesnt say , we were excited to be able to work together with the
builder on the layout, or the builder worked with us on the layout to
accommodate our existing furniture. It says _we were able to design the
From the OP:
"Our fireplace is also closer to the door now (originally we had planned
it to be centered in the wall - that should have been our first clue but
the builder said the fireplace had to be moved a bit because of the
basement windows and we didn't realize the off-center appearance was
also being affected by the door)."
Again, the subject line is voided by: "we were very excited to be able
to design the layout". Layouts change for other than obvious reasons
throughout construction. If it is not the builder/contractors design it
is not their responsibility to forsee problems with furniture not
fitting into a space as a result of a needed change.
It is their responsibility to bring to the attention of the
designer/architect that the drawn floorplan is not possible due to XYZ.
It is then the designer/architects responsibility to adjust the desing
to either accommodate what is possible or what is wanted. Unless the
builder/contractor accidentally or intentionally deviated from the
desigin (in which case we wouldnt be having this conversation as it
would be crystal clear on paper) the builder may not be at fault.
The subject line says "plans". This is a stretch but what defines the
plans? Were these dimensions (due to the furniture) put on the prints?
Were they off the cuf? No one knows. The only thing that is known is
that the OP was, at least in some part, responsible for the floor plan.
The simple fact is, if the plans say one thing and the construction says
another its simple. Other than that it may or maynot be a contractor
issue or it may be a shared responsibility. If it were as simple as a
builder framing a door in a completely different location than that
shown in the plans I doubt we would be hearing about it here.
Not if the 'design' was done before the drawings were issued, and the bid
In my experience, there are very few builders who know anything about
design, and many have contempt for what designers do. Hell, so do I. Still,
they generally focus on nuts and bolts issues, try to simplify construction
processes above all, and will fail to appreciate the things that designers
try to put into their work. Not all, of them, but most of the residential
You may be right, but it doesn't say that exactly. Like most NG posters, the
OP has painted a very fuzzy picture.
Should have or would have? You'd have to be there to say the latter.
You're making a lot of assumptions...like there *is* an architect/designer,
or that the OP could make anything crystal clear.
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