Interior Trim Carpentry – Jobsite Assessment and Preview

I have previously posted concerning the necessity of assessing components when pricing and planning interior carpentry jobs. Jobsite assessments are just as necessary.

Jobsite assessment influences pricing, logistical planning, and schedules.

If planning an assessment visit, bring your tape measure, the blueprints, and a level.

Scout accessibility, available workspace, storage possibilities and the workmanship of prior trades. This exercise affects the profitability of any job.

Take notes and pictures. Share this info with your crew leader,

Jobsite Assessment – A Quick Story

I agreed to trim a small office condominium project a couple of decades ago. The contractor called with news that the material had been delivered. I visited the job the following day. The material was not there but the drywall crew was there spraying the ceiling. I called the contractor with a status report.

A few nights later he called, again telling me the trim had been delivered. The next day I again visited the job. No trim had been delivered, Again, I delivered the job status to the contractor.

Because this job was not ready, I had a hole in my schedule. So, I took on another trim job for a different contractor.

The contractor called later that night to assure me the trim had been delivered. He assured me he had seen the material in the building. He got angry when I told him I had taken on other work. I told him maybe I’d be able to split my crew.

The next visit was the same as the last. I called the contractor and told him that someone must have stolen all his trim and doors. He said he’d look into it then call me.

A few days passed and I got a guarantee call that the material was on site. Hence, I did another assessment. The material was on site. Every stick of molding and every interior door was piled into one unit.

This is an extreme example of jobsite assessment advisability. However, I never mobilized equipment or manpower, other than myself, until the job was ready.

Jobsite Assessment – Accessibility

Is the driveway complete? If not, will the driveway be complete before your crew arrives to begin work? In addition, will rain or snow prevent decent access to the job? Ask for the driveway schedule.

Is there parking? Will there be sufficient parking for your crew? Is there sufficient parking if other trades schedule their work for the same day or days? Also,  will parking be assigned or is parking first come first serve?

Maybe the temporary power is in a convenient location. Maybe it is not. Therefore, check location as well as the type and number of outlets. Finally, check the entire service for power.

Determine material delivery locations.

Ask about cleanup and waste disposal.

Are there adequate toilet facilities?

Jobsite Assessment – Building Layout and Condition

Bring working drawings if available.  Compare plans to actual construction and ask about changes.

Plan saw station locations and positions for other equipment.  Determine the material storage location while the job is underway. Delivery and storage locations might be different.

Count rooms, exterior doors, interior door openings, measure trim quantities per type per room. If already delivered, inventory the trim material. Document any shortages then email the resulting list to the project manager or material supplier. Email is the best choice. Email documents the shortages in writing and by date. Copy all involved. This list provides a handy future inventory reference for the job.

Jobsite Assessment – Other Trades

General contractors sequence subcontractor schedules based on their availability, the availability of other trades, the availability of related materials and weather.  They adjust sequence by the expected completion of work by trades positioned earlier in the schedule. Any delay by any trade may also affect the schedule and sequence of others.

Expect the framing and sheetrock (or other wall finishes) to be complete and correct. Document that which is not.

If the interior trim contractor is also installing cabinets, mantels, stairways and/or other specialty finishes, then the trim sub will create his own sequence. If not, the schedules and sequence of this work, as a result, may influence expected production. Maybe, the schedules and sequences of other trades create additional mobilizations.

Jobsite Assessment – Framing

Perform framing assessments before insulation and sheetrock. If you do not trust the quality of a framers work, check it. If you trust the framer, skip this step. Still, you might get some surprises.

Check exterior doors for plumb, square and level. Then, open and close the doors. Do they operate smoothly? Also, if locksets are in place, do they latch and unlatch correctly?

In addition, apply the same checks for windows.

Check interior door rough openings against the blueprints. Manufacturers supply vertical and horizontal, rough opening dimensions for doors, windows and the like. These dimensions allow room for the product installation. The vertical rough opening also may allow for flooring clearances and return air without the necessity of altering the component. In addition, rough opening dimensions assume plumb, square and level framing and component installation.

Manufacturers often allow only an additional one-half inch beyond the overall component dimension. The required clearance shrinks or disappears depending on the trueness of the opening.

Walls out of plumb transfer their lack of plumbness to doors within them. As a result, doors may slam or swing open depending on the face of the door.

Check the alignment of the bottom plate. These plates must align with each other and the bottom of the rough opening.

If stair installation is within your contract, check stair framing for the building code rise and run. Stringers sometimes require special cuts to properly allow for flooring at the top and bottom of the stairs. Check this and for minimum head clearances. Stringers framed against walls require a framed space for wall finishes and skirt boards.

Jobsite Assessment – Drywall

Is the drywall installation complete and correct? Does drywall need sanding? If so, best case the drywall sub will be back and maybe be in your way. At worst, they will damage some of your work while sanding, creating trim rework.

Drywall should be properly nailed along the bottom of the studs and bottom plate. Baseboard problems occur as a result of unnailed drywall.

Has drywall been trimmed properly around doors, windows, and rough openings? If not, then, door and molding installation cannot proceed correctly with this material encroaching on the intended placements.

Drywall scrap and mud spills require cleanup.

Jobsite Assessment – Mechanicals

Observe placement of mechanical components. Electrical boxes, light boxes, vents, pipes might be incorrectly placed. These layout mistakes, potentially, impact trim component placement.

Jobsite Assessment – Specialty Carpentry

Are stairs, cabinets, mantels, paneling, etc. included in the trim contract. A completed molding installation requires the completion of these specialties. Therefore, contracting all of these items gives better control of contract completion.

If these items are not in place pre-trim, then determine their schedule, adjusting yours accordingly.

Jobsite Assessment – Painters

Priming walls pre-trim creates extra time locating studs.

You do not want to share a jobsite with an interior paint crew.

Jobsite Assessment – Resolution of Deficiencies

Document all discovered problems, mistakes and deficiencies then email the list to the team.

Because some general contractors deal with such matters promptly and others do not,  schedule follow-up emails or, maybe, phone calls.

Visit other jobs being built by the contractor. Usually, job conditions are similar from job to job for any one contractor.

Remember this accumulated knowledge and include your expectations in present or future proposals.

Be prepared for the general contractor to ask that you fix these deficiencies. Consider the costs to do so and be prepared with pricing.

The use of jobsite assessments properly will positively affect your bottom line.


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