Dave and Kirsten, in my mind, throw a pretty decent Christmas party. The spread was very impressive; we all marveled at the impeccably decorated tree, some new faces, some young, some old. (Never mind that the Ravens collapsed again against that team from Pittsburgh.) And I will be honest; Dave did not really request this article. I am not really “on the job,” but I am taking it upon myself rather to give him some thoughts on a situation he will eventually address.

I am not quite sure how long he has been in this house, but it has to be going on four, five, or six years. And in my opinion, he has done a fantastic job of managing his home. He has made all the right home improvement decisions: finished basement, expanded pool deck and patio, upgraded floor coverings, trim, and paint. These things add comfort and value. All feats made more marvelous by the fact that he has four children.

The Situation – Two Opposite Doors Swinging Together

roadblock a set of doors installed opposing each other

Dave and his family live in an “Executive Line” home. All major production builders (as opposed to “custom builders), it seems, build in this line. And like most in recent years, the interior greets you with a two-story foyer. The foyer, with a large “living room” and study spilling off, eventually funnels into a hallway that directs you to a kitchen with a breakfast nook and an ample sunken family room. In my opinion, and most would agree, a very good floor plan.

Dave is not the original owner of this house. Sure, he sometimes thinks about blowing out the kitchen, but he has pretty much accomplished all of what he had “needed” to do with this house. His major improvements aside, he now has some time to turn his thoughts to smaller things.

As things are, and in this hallway, he has a situation. And I have to admit, I had always noticed the awkwardness of it, but I guess I just never dedicated any real thought to it. You see, in his front hallway, the one noted above, you will also find his powder room and the entry to his basement. The problem: their doors. Each 32″ wide (that’s 2-8 in builder’s speak), exactly opposing each other. Both swinging outward. And in their fully opened positions, they create a virtual road block if opened simultaneously. (Maybe Dave would be so kind as to send a pic to help me illustrate.)

Needless to say, whether entertaining or not (remember four kids), both of these doors get lots of action.

Doors come in the Builder’s the Trim Load

The trim load is a big day in the building process. And with most builders, this is the day when all interior trim, including the interior doors, is delivered. Usually coming off a flat-bed or 18-wheeler, it represents the beginning of the end. As you can imagine, it marks the point exactly when “finishing” can begin.

The first installed from this load are the interior doors. In the case of Dave’s house, and with any production builder, a trim carpenter and crew have been hired to install them. Before these guys go to work, however, the builder “stages,” prepping for their installation.

The Superintendent is responsible for Door Layout

foyer with custom paint and trim in a Executive Line home

I will try not to digress too much here. I mean, out of all the jobs I can think of, a position as a superintendent with a production builder has got to be one of the most stressful jobs in the world. There are not many positions you can find (barring maybe the president of the United States) where the job is — to control, in so many cases, the totally uncontrollable.

In this case, and if my guess on who built Dave’s house is correct, the superintendent there was spread across several communities working on several different job sites. This is mainly why I don’t blame him (or her). One of the superintendent’s primary duties is to ensure before, during, and after the installation of things that the builder’s and/or architect’s (with final approval from the homeowner) vision is executed.

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With interiors doors, and while the task of layout was probably delegated, it is the superintendent’s duty to ensure that they go in “per plan.” Unfortunately, it appears, these did not.

I am now about 95% sure these doors were mixed up. The powder room door meant for the basement, and vice versa. And until right now, it seems that everyone has missed it. If executed as planned, the door on the powder room should have swung inward. Further, I am going to assume that the basement door should have opened away from the main entrance of the house, orienting towards the kitchen.

So what?

I am sure that when Dave brought it up, in passing, at the end of the party on Sunday, he certainly didn’t think that I would put this much thought into it. But oh well, I guess that is how I am. And I’d like to give him some input on how to address it. Here are my thoughts on a possible door layout fix.

Now, the first idea – we can move one of the openings? A couple of quick taps on the drywall around the openings, and really more like the chest beating of the male gorilla, we spout, “Load bearing” — “Load bearing.” While modifying load bearing walls really isn’t that big of a deal, common sense, in this case, will prevail.

And based on what Dave told me next, he does have another idea. To him, and not to criticize, he presents it, though, as his only option.

I am here to expound on the contrary. In fact, the number of options I could present here in this case would be way more than you would be willing to read.

Ok, jb. So what’s your idea to Fix this Door Layout Issue?

Well, I am going to start with the most unlikely (based on Dave’s perceived “home plan”) and lay out a few for him. These are the ones that pop quickly to mind:

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1. What about a “pocketless” door for the powder room? Like a pocket door without the pocket. Hung on a track inside the bathroom, it would slide over the opening when occupied.

He does have limited wall space in the bathroom, and not enough maybe to conceal the total width of the door. I am ruling this out. He would possibly have to shrink the opening, disturbing custom paint and custom trim work. And while the cost of the hardware isn’t prohibitive, he would probably have to buy a new door “slab.”

2. What about a mini-French? Paired, hinged doors swinging inward, the phrase being borrowed from Dave’s new brother-in-law.

I have never shopped for French doors this small. And I feel that if you could find them, they would carry a steep price tag. Considering the cost of the door unit and needed modifications to the frame — probably out.

3. Why not just make it right? Switch the basement door and the powder room door, frame and all.

While minimal cost in material, probably more work then he needs to commit to.

4. Why not just flip the hinge of the door to make it swing inward? This is the option Dave is leaning toward.

While obviously the least invasive, the abandoned mortises in the existing frame leave a problem (or is that a solution?) that may not be desirable for house of this age.

Still on the table.

5. Why not replace the door, frame and all? Buy a matching door unit and replace it so the door swings inward.

This is the option for Dave that I like the best. While there will be some “surgery” involved with removing the existing door. It can be done, and as long as he has retained the paint used in the vicinity, the door should be able to be matched at a cost that won’t put a hurting on him.

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Now, in almost all cases I would recommend using an experienced handyman to execute this fix. But being how I am all about imparting information, I’d like to write at least one of these procedures for you. I feel that my loyal readers (lol) would be interested. So Dave, please advise.

While you may not decide to tackle yourself, you may. And in having the information associated with it, you’ll know exactly what to expect going in.


Part 2 of this article is here >> Flipping the Hinges and the Lockset on a Pre-Hung Door. Further, we frequently write about doors here. Check out our Doors category to see more.

>> More Moxie (Related Links):

Builders – Production vs. Custom: http://ezinearticles.com/?Choosing-the-Right-Home-Builder-For-Your-New-Home&id=1535155