DIY & ‘Almost Standard’; A Disaster Waiting To Happen

Man during a DIY work
3 Feb, 2020, 3:53 AM

Accounts from a Nerdy Tradesman

call a qualified tradieIn my many years as a tradie, I’ve had to make a lot of customisations to standard sized objects to see everything come together in proper working order.

Many building materials and parts come in a standard set of sizes. You’d be amazed at how perfectly some of these things actually fit together! But then occasionally a ‘special house’ will come along and make life more ‘interesting’.

This phenomenon is not just limited to older houses, but is also found in many new builds. It can be caused by a wide variety of reasons, some of which include:

  • The home being built on soft ground. Occasionally the earth underneath a house will move, sending cracks throughout all the beautifully finished plaster walls, or make a once level door frames no longer level.
  • Dodgy builders. We’ve all heard a horror story or two about them! We’ve encountered a few homes done by big reputable builders that have completely ‘forgotten’ to waterproof their bathrooms prior to tiling them. Often builders of this caliber are rushing to get a high volume of houses finished quickly, and push their trades to finish jobs quickly. This can result in things not fitting as perfectly as they should.

One popular building material that we’ve found frequently needs some pre installation love are doors. Sometimes the door jam is not set to the appropriate size as per door size standards, and an off the shelf door might be just slightly wrong. For your own reference, the most common sizes are as follows:

  1. 520mm
  2. 620mm
  3. 720mm
  4. 770mm
  5. 820mm
  6. 870mm

door hangingYou are also able to find larger standard door sizes, but these cover many of the basics.

But back to my story. A few recent doors I’ve worked on just won’t fit correctly into the existing door frames. The carpenters installing may have had a communication breakdown with the builders, or just did not get given a specific door size, so just built it with “whatever” in mind. In these cases the doors need an on-site cut down a single side (and occasionally along the bottom of the door) before being prepared, finished and hung in order to make it fit perfectly.

“So, this disaster you were talking about?” I hear you say…

It may not be publicized often enough, but quite often and (usually around public holidays) a notable number of hubbies are admitted to hospitals with cheap Ozito tool war wounds from attempting mini projects around their house. What might have been a quick $170 job from a qualified tradesman (if done 6 months earlier) has now turned into a super ritzy hospital visit… Plus a great big punch in the family jewels to the DIY’ers confidence.

So next time you want to hang a new front door properly without figuring it out on the spot, keep these important things in mind:

  • How good are the tools you’re using? Bear in mind that the cheapie power tools in the back section of Bunnings are usually not designed for anything more than a few cuts a year before reaching the end of their lifespan.
  • If you need to cut anything, how sharp are the blades you have? Old blades take longer to cut and often leave an undesirable texture on the working surface.
  • How much experience have you had previously? Higher quality materials usually need a more experienced hand to finish them.
  • Have you got all your safety gear? Sure, you are unlikely to damage your hearing with a small motored power tool in a single day, however, your eyes may not be so lucky if they cop a piece of flying metal.
  • Lastly, do you have a good hospital cover?

If after reading all that you’re still feeling confident and good to go, by all means do your home-project, and the best of luck to you! If not, feel free to leave the safety risks in our experienced hands.

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