Start a Business
Fixing Damaged Doors

(Last updated: April 26, 2010)

This page shows how to start a business fixing damaged doors, doorjambs, and locks. These are wooden doors. They could be either exterior or interior doors.

Use this information together with the Business Plan for Simple Services page.

You are assumed to have the skills and equipment needed to perform this service. You may have performed this or similar types of activities in the past. Thus, you may have learned the skills and accumulated most of the required equipment from those prior tasks.

The methods and procedures described on this page can be used to help satisfy your needs, and the needs of likely customers.

Here are the topics:

Introduction to idea
Estimated startup costs
Putting idea to work
Main procedures

Other useful information

The Vital Guidelines for Novices page helps beginners who want to start a business. These guidelines provide focused advice and useful insights.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to start a business be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer

Introduction to idea

This topic provides an overview of the business idea so you can decide if it suits you.

Basic idea

Owners or tenants pay you to replace damaged wooden doors, doorjambs, and locks. These items typically are damaged when an angry spouse or boyfriend, a burglar, or the police kick a door in.

With the hard times we are having, people will be getting more frustrated and burglars will be getting bolder. Thus, the demand for this type of service should remain strong indefinitely.

Getting these jobs usually is just a question of making yourself known to potential customers, being qualified to do the work, and quoting the right price for the job.

This activity is performed by the job. Once one job is finished you will have to find another job. However, if you do a good job for a large property owner, you may be called back when other units need these services.

This is an indoors and outdoors activity that can be performed year round (roads and weather permitting).

Suitability of idea

This idea is best suited for people who are physically fit and enjoy working with their hands.

Skills and equipment required

Primary skills -- You must have handyman skills and be able to repair or replace damaged wooden doors and/or doorjambs, and replace their locks.

Other skills -- You must have driving skills and a valid driver's license.

Equipment owned -- This business idea assumes that you own the following equipment:

Pickup truck or van -- You will use this vehicle to travel to job locations and haul any equipment, materials, supplies, and protective gear needed to perform the work.

Job equipment -- Typical items needed: assorted paint brushes; broom and dust pan; chisel set; claw hammer; drill bit set; electric or battery operated cutoff saw (7-1/4 inch blade); electric or battery operated drills (heavy-duty, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch); electric or battery operated reciprocating saw (with blades for cutting metal); electrical extension cords; framing square; hand screw driver set; hole saws (1-5/8 inch, 2 inch, and 2-1/8 inch); lock installation kit; nail sets and center punch combination; pliers; portable work light; pry bar; screw bit set; spade drill bits (7/8 inch and 1 inch); spirit levels (2 foot and 6 foot); step ladder; tape measure; utility knife; water container (for drinking); wood rasp or coarse file.

Protective gear -- Typical items needed: goggles and work gloves.

Other items -- You need to own or purchase other items, such as office equipment and job supplies. These items are listed under the startup costs on the next topic.

Also, you will need to purchase the materials needed for each job. The customer will repay you for these materials when you finish the job.

Typical materials needed: assorted nails (casing or finish, and framing); door; door trim; doorjamb material; extra-long strike plate; lockset and/or deadbolt lock; paint, or sealer and stain (for doors, doorjambs, and trim); wood screws; and wood shims.

Profitability of idea

In order to show a profit, you will have to sell enough of your services to cover the startup costs, job costs, and operating expenses. The more income you collect over a certain time period the larger your profits. Therefore, you want to have substantial sales, along with low costs and expenses.

The fees you charge pay for your services and equipment, and your ability to perform the work in a professional manner. You might charge an hourly rate for your services, or a lump sum for a particular job. Your fee also should include the retail cost of any materials used and any miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses you have, such as dump fees.

How much should you charge for your services? This depends on how well off the customer is and how anxious both you and the customer are to make a deal. The economic conditions of the local area might also influence these negotiations.

See the Setting the Sales Price page in another section for more detailed information.

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Estimated startup costs

This topic discusses the estimated startup costs for this business idea. Startup costs are what you need to pay in order to be ready to begin business operations. The amount of these costs also helps you decide if the idea suits you.

List of items in startup costs

Note: I am only showing one month for certain expenses. You should be able to get your first job or two in a month. Then these items become operating expenses, not startup costs.

The assumed startup costs for this business idea, using a frugal style of business operations, consist of the following items:

Advertising and promotion (1 month) -- Small classified advertisements in a local newspaper and/or the newsletter of the local property owners association.

Business insurance (1 month) -- Business liability insurance. (Talk to a local insurance agent to see if you need this coverage.)

Governmental requirements -- Local fees and business license. (Note: You might also be subject to state and federal deposits and registration fees, but these will vary. So I have not included them in these startup costs.)

Job supplies -- Typical items needed: sturdy cardboard boxes.

Office equipment -- Business telephone; desk accessories (stapler, paper clips, pen and pencils, etc.); and listing adding machine.

Office supplies -- Check blanks for business checking account, file folders or large manila envelopes (for filing papers), lined writing tablets, pads of accounting journals and ledger, and pads of standard job bid forms.

Other operating expenses (1 month) -- Business telephone expense.

Reference book -- Bookkeeping for Dummies (Paperback) available from Amazon.com or other online bookstores. (Note: The "for Dummies" series of books are easy to read manuals for normal people, not dummies.)

Dollar amount of startup costs

Here are the dollar amounts for a frugal business operation:

 

Estimated Startup Costs

  Advertising and promotion (1 month) $ 75
  Business insurance (1 month)   50
  Governmental requirements (local fees and business license)   50
  Job supplies   15
  Office equipment   120
  Office supplies   100
  Other operating expenses (1 month)   50
  Reference book   15
     
       Total estimated startup costs $ 475

Note: See the Planning costs and expenses subtopic in the Business Plan on another page for ways to reduce these startup costs.

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Putting idea to work

This topic satisfies the Starting business operations subtopic in the Business Plan page.

Preparing for business operations

Completing the startup requirements -- This is the last step needed just before you start business operations. See the Listing the startup requirements subtopic in the Business Plan for the items remaining to be completed.

As a minimum, you should have discussed the business idea with your family, set up your business entity, and satisfied all governmental and insurance requirements.

Local information needed -- You need the location of local dumpsites, fees charged for dumping, restrictions on materials allowed to be dumped, and rules for hauling trash.

Operating the business

Soliciting customers -- Place classified advertisements in your local newspaper and/or the newsletter of the local property owners association. Use a simple, honest description of your services. Once you become well known in the community, you should benefit from word of mouth advertising from satisfied customers.

For additional ideas on soliciting customers, see the Sales Methods page in another section.

Getting jobs -- Hopefully, some of the people who read your advertisements will inquire about your services. During this initial telephone conversation, you should determine if you are willing and able to provide the desired services. If so, you may want to discuss the tentative cost of the job. However, in most cases you probably want to inspect the damaged door before quoting a price.

I recommend that you meet with customers in their homes or offices, or at the job site. Your neighbors may object to having a stream of strangers arriving at your home. Also, meeting with customers in your home may violate the zoning rules in your town or city.

See the preceding Profitability of idea subtopic for my thoughts about setting your fee.

Job procedures

Preliminary job activities -- After greeting the customer at the job site, you can inspect the damages to the door. Then you can confer with the customer about the options available. These options are whether to install a pre-hung door, repair or replace the door and/or doorjamb, and replace the locks. The customer probably will be concerned about the cost and installation time related to these options.

The customer may be in a hurry and want you to work on a weekend or at night to get the door repaired or replaced. In addition, you may be asked to paint or stain the door, doorjamb, and door trim to make them attractive and weatherproof.

You can use your job bid forms to estimate the costs of various options. This bid should include the fees for any extra services to be performed, such as working on weekends or at night, any needed painting or staining, and hauling away any trash. The cost of materials can be estimated, subject to actual retail cost. The bid probably should include a completion date, subject to availability of materials. If the customer agrees to one of your bids, you both can sign the bid form.

If doing the work later on, you need to set the time and date, and arrange for access to the property. You also may want the customer to pay you for part or all of the estimated costs of materials before starting the job.

Main job activities -- See the following Main procedures topic.

Final job activities -- Inspect the premises to verify you have finished all required tasks. Remove all your equipment and supplies. Gather up all the trash you have accumulated.

Collect your agreed upon fee from the customer. Haul the trash away, if part of your agreed upon services.

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Main procedures

This topic is discussed under the following subtopics:

Installing a pre-hung door
Repairing a damaged door
Replacing a damaged door
Repairing a damaged doorjamb
Replacing a damaged doorjamb
Installing a lockset and/or deadbolt
Helpful hints

It can be dangerous for occupants to have an entry door that cannot be properly closed and locked. They probably would be in a hurry to get this situation resolved. So you should only take on simple jobs until you have the skills and self-confidence needed to do a more complicated job under a deadline.


Installing a pre-hung door

A pre-hung door consists of a complete doorjamb and its attached door. This pre-hung door may also include a standard lockset and possibly a deadbolt lock. Or it may have the holes cut out for these locks. It also may include a threshold and door sweep.

Before purchasing a pre-hung door, remove the trim around the existing doorjamb. Then you can verify that the doorframe opening is properly aligned vertically and horizontally, and has sufficient clearance. If serious corrections have to be made when installing the new doorjamb, then it may be easier to use separate pieces rather than a pre-hung door.

Reading the subtopics on replacing a damaged doorjamb and replacing a damaged door may be helpful before installing a pre-hung door.

Before installing the pre-hung door, remove the damaged door and doorjamb. Then pull the pins from the hinges of the pre-hung door to remove the door. Install the new doorjamb and perform any required adjustments. The two sides of the doorjamb should be vertical, the top should be level, and the opening should allow clearance for the door to shut.

To hang the door back on the new doorjamb push the halves of the top door hinge together and partially insert the pin. Then push the remaining door hinges together and fully insert all pins. Install the locks if not already done. See the installing a lockset and/or deadbolt subtopic.

Replace the door trim. Perform any final painting or staining needed, if part of your agreed upon services.

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Repairing a damaged door

If only the recessed panels of a door are damaged, they can be replaced or covered over. If the main framework of a door is damaged then the door usually has to be replaced.

For the most attractive appearance, replace the damaged panel with a matching panel prepared by a woodwork shop. A less expensive replacement would be a flat panel cut from matching wood. The least expensive replacement would be a flat panel cut from any inexpensive material. But this last choice normally would be used only when it will be painted, not stained. The replacement panel should be painted or stained to match the finish of the existing door panels.

A door panel is normally held in place by trim around the outside edges of the panel on both sides of the door. Carefully remove this trim from one side of the door. Then remove the damaged panel and insert the replacement panel. (You may want to paint or stain the replacement panel before inserting it into the door.) Reattach the trim around the replacement panel.

Perform any final painting or staining needed, if part of your agreed upon services.

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Replacing a damaged door

If the door is too damaged to be repaired, you need to confer with the customer about the type of door to use for a replacement. If the desired type of door is not available locally, the customer may decide to use whatever is available.

When determining the height for the door you should consider any new or existing threshold and door sweep to be attached at the bottom of the door. This door sweep should bear against the threshold when the door is closed. The final door height should allow for any required adjustment up or down when attaching the door sweep.

In some cases, the replacement door will have to be cut to the proper height and/or width. This cutting can be done at a woodwork shop. However, if you are careful and use a fine-tooth saw blade, you may able to do the cutting yourself.

If the existing doorjamb and hinges will be retained, remove the hinges from the doorjamb. Use the hinges on the existing door as a guide for the location of the hinges on the replacement door. You will need to cut out areas on the replacement door to allow the hinges to be recessed into its edge. The setback for these hinges should allow the door to close neatly against the doorstop on the doorjamb. After chiseling out the location for the hinges, place a hinge and its location on the door and drill out pilot holes for the screws.

To hang the door, prop it up and reattach its hinges to the doorjamb. If the door does not close properly, you may have to shift the location of the hinges on the doorjamb. This usually requires you to plug the existing screw holes and drill pilot holes for the new location of the screws.

After the door has been properly hung, install the locks if not already done. See the installing a lockset and/or deadbolt subtopic.

Perform any final painting or staining needed, if part of your agreed upon services.

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Repairing a damaged doorjamb

If the damaged doorjamb is still firmly attached to the doorframe, it can be repaired with an extra-long strike plate. This extra-long plate extends for almost the entire length of one side of the doorjamb. You use screws long enough to go through the doorjamb into the 2x4 stud behind it. You also should put one long screw through each hinge. Now the door probably cannot be kicked in. An example of this special strike plate is the StrikeMaster II manufactured by Safe Homes International.

Besides installing this extra-long strike plate, the customer may also want you to install a "high security" lockset and/or deadbolt lock. (A deadbolt lock provides more protection that using only a lockset.) However, remind the customer that even the best lockset and/or deadbolt lock cannot always prevent a determined burglar from entering the home.

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Replacing a damaged doorjamb

The damage to a doorjamb normally occurs on the side piece where the strike plate for the door latch was attached. This side piece can be removed and replaced with new doorjamb material. In some cases both sides of the doorjamb have been severely damaged. Then you will have to remove the entire doorjamb, or at least both of the damaged side pieces.

To remove doorjamb pieces, first pry off the inside and outside trim that butts against the affected pieces. Then remove the nails or screws that attach these pieces to the doorframe. It may be necessary to use a hacksaw blade or reciprocating saw to cut through the nails or screws.

Any replacement material for a doorjamb may have to be cut to the proper width and/or length. Use a fine-tooth saw blade to cut through the material. Align the replacement piece with any existing doorjamb pieces. Use wood shims to align the replacement pieces properly and to provide clearance for the door to shut properly.

The sides of the doorjamb and its attached door should be perfectly vertical (plumb) and the top should be level. If the doorway floor is not level, then you may have to cut one side of the doorjamb shorter than the other side. Alternatively, you may have to shim up one side of the doorjamb.

Use casing or finish nails to attach the doorjamb piece, through the shims, to the doorframe. Cut off the portion of any shims that stick out beyond the outside edges of the doorjamb material. Replace the inside and outside trim.

Perform any final painting or staining needed, if part of your agreed upon services.

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Installing a lockset and/or deadbolt

You will need to confer with the customer about the cost and type of lockset and/or deadbolt to be installed. The customer may also want a surfaced mounted lock on the inside of the door as extra protection.

A deadbolt lock or "high security" lockset will provide more resistance to being forced open than a standard lockset. However, you need to warn the customer that a determined intruder may still be able break into the home.

The two halves of locksets and deadbolts are placed in a door through holes cut into the face of the door. Then both halves of the locks are clamped onto the door using screws tightened from the interior side of the door. One end of the latch assembly is inserted into the door through a hole cut into the door edge. The assembly end engages the door opening and closing mechanism. The latch itself goes into a strike plate and hole cut into the doorjamb.

Follow the directions of the lock manufacturer when installing a new lock. A lock installation kit or jig makes easy work of positioning and boring holes in doors for locksets and deadbolt locks.

When installing new locksets or deadbolts in an existing door, use locks with the same hole size and backset as the previous locks.

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Helpful hints

Put on goggles before doing any drilling or sawing.

Put on work gloves before handling any pieces of wood. (Splinters are dangerous and painful.)

Before cutting any expensive (or hard to replace) piece of wood to the proper size:

1. Use a tape measure to determine how much to cut off.
2. Write down this measurement.
3. Measure again to verify what you wrote down.
4. Measure the wood and mark where to cut off.
5. Verify that mark against your written measurement.
6. Then, and only then, cut the wood.

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