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Posted by Mary in PA on 11/1/2010

A few weeks back, two of the three overhead doors were delivered and installed. These were the two 9’x9’ doors on the lean-to shed. The other door, a 12x12 high-lift overhead, had been delayed by the door company until after the rebar was covered by the slab. The door company assured me that I needn’t be on-site for this installation. But I got there early to remove the tarp we had set up over the 12’x12’ opening to help keep the slow curing slab wet. I had the tarp all stowed and was watering the slab (yet again!) when the installers arrived.

When they first pulled up and saw the gleaming slab in the morning sun they feared it was a completely fresh pour… until they saw me standing on it. The more experienced of the two installers realized that with a slow cure effort underway, and only three days old, that using their hydraulic lift would be risking damage to the slab. Kudos to him for thinking of this and being willing to work from ladders instead!

I showed them the drawings John had discussed with the door salesman several weeks before when he visited the site. He had specifically discussed the high-lift design and how the door, when raised, should be a maximum of four inches below the bottom trusses. This was to allow room for the future bridge crane. Unfortunately, the installer let me know that four inches was “impossible”; try more like thirteen inches. Thirteen! That was not happy news… at all.

I tried to contact John at work to discuss this, since he was much more familiar with the crane than me, but he was unavailable. I hadn’t been expecting any problems with this install and didn’t have my paperwork with me as I usually do. My bad on that! Then I noticed the 800 number on the installer’s truck and called the door company. What luck; the salesman that we had dealt with happened to answer. I explained who and where I was, and he remembered us and the door order. Then I explained the problem with the clearance. Throughout the conversation he kept repeating that he had agreed only to “keep the door as high as possible” while I reminded him that four inches had specifically been discussed and agreed upon. Several minutes of non-productive discussion passed when the installer indicated he wanted to speak with the salesman. Then talked for several minutes and then installer approached me and said he thought he might be able to work something out. He spent a few minutes thinking, measuring, and phoning the company and finally declared, “I have a plan”. Great!

He planned to install the door’s counterbalance and springs above the not-yet-installed ceiling – actually above the bottom of the trusses. This would allow the rails to then meet the maximum-four-inch spec. John and I would have to build out a box around the assembly when we did the ceiling – but I was sure that was a tradeoff John would be OK with. It would take longer than a typical install, require some custom on-site changes to the parts, and possibly access to some of the spare lumber we had on hand. I volunteered to get any additional lumber or hardware that might be needed and also set up some makeshift workbenches, so they could keep the myriad parts and tools off the wet floor.

In the end, we now have three nice doors. The two on the lean-to shed are decent quality, insulated with no windows. The 12’x12’ high lift is well insulated and has nice windows and a chain hoist. It is a good quality door, but came with a price tag to match. The positive turn in events after such a bumpy start was partly due to my making a bit of stink about it, and largely due to the experience, skill and desire of the installers to go the extra mile. Looking back, I’m so glad I was on site, as it would have been a very bad day indeed to show up and see this expensive door installed far too low to be usable. It’s a good lesson that even if you think something is a no-sweat issue, as an owner-builder, you really need to be on-site as much as possible to resolve issues and avoid even bigger problems.


I climbed to the top of the ladder to remove the tarp - pretty good for a total fear-of-heights person like me.
Counter balance and springs above future ceiling, rails 4" below trusses.
All doors in, yippee.

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