Installing a Door
by Dan Derkum
I have many customers who are fascinated and in awe of what it takes to properly perform what seems like a “simple job.” Recently, a very nice family in Irvine where DAD’s is performing a full interior remodel suggested that I “put something out there” illustrating to folks how involved things really are. In fact, they made the comment “the more I learn about and watch what you do, the more I realize how little I really know.” They continued adding “watching How-to and DIY videos on the internet and TV does not even come close to allowing someone to gain an appreciation for what’s really involved in doing a proper and professional quality job – it’s hard work, time consuming, and you really need to know what you’re doing”.
I couldn’t have said it better myself! This family suggested that I tell the story about installing an interior door – everything; from removing the old door through painting and final clean-up. When they saw what was involved and the problems that can be encountered, they suggested I share this “simple” job with everyone else.
I figured I should start explaining from the beginning – tools and materials! I spent a weekend carefully documenting all the required tools and materials, including their cost, to properly and professional install an interior door.
Next, I performed a time and motion study installing 5 different pre-hung interior doors. Their sizes ranged from 28” to 32” wide. All were 80” high and installed into standard 2x4 openings with 1/2” drywall on both sides. I used the same door, door casing, hinges, and door knobs on each door. Therefore, everything was the same except some of the doors were 2” bigger.
I was even amazed at what I discovered. It takes almost $4,800 ($4,771.89 to be exact) in tools, $500 in materials and taxes, and almost 27 hours to properly and professionally install a door from the first time I drive to your house to meet with you and take measurements, through purchasing, installing, painting, and cleanup.
I wondered: how do these “fly-by-night” contractors and installers do a quality, professional job when they show up at your home in a beat-up truck with a handful of tools from the 18th century?
What about labor? I almost forgot, after buying the $4,800 in tools and $500 in materials, I haven’t been paid to install the door yet! On average, it works out to about $9.60 per hour. That’s $0.60 over the new California minimum wage. Still think the price to install that door is high?
I asked some people in a volunteer organization that I belong to if they had ever had an interior door replaced. Several said “yes” and paid $500 to $750 to install the door (they had to purchase the door, door case, all the hardware, lockset, and have it delivered to their home). They also had to get the door painted on their own and make any necessary carpet repairs. (Just for the record, DAD’s does everything. There are no hidden anything with DAD’s. We take full responsibility for every job and its turn key – “soup to nuts.” We purchase and install everything. When we're done, there’s nothing to do but enjoy the beautiful work!) So were they happy with the door installation? Everyone said “no.” They hired based on price and were not happy with the results. Would they hire the person back? Again, a resounding “no” was the answer. I took it one step further by asking if they were happy with the paint job. Here, the answer was a big loud “NO.”
There you have it. What it really takes to replace that old, worn out interior door in your home. It’s amazing what can be learned by carefully looking at all the factors involved in doing a project. I’ve been at this for over 35 years and I was surprised!
About the Author
Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD's Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor.