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Old 08-30-2016, 09:13 PM
26 posts, read 23,316 times
Reputation: 15


If you read my other posts about our house - it's a new house. We've lived here 9 or so months and it's custom-built at a cost over $500K. We don't believe a number of things were done well throughout the house but need to come to a point where we tell the builder they need to fix or replace the issues or we just drop it. The thing is, the builder has gone through and "fixed" the issues we have been noticing only to have the problems get bigger and worse.

The answer to the issues tends to be caulk and then more caulk. If you could please review the photos and let me know your thoughts, I'd appreciate it.
Attached Thumbnails
Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-6.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-8.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-9.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-10.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-img_0079.jpg  

Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-img_0213.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-b.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-c.jpg   Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-d.jpg  

Bookcase & Fireplace - does this look ok?-e.jpg  
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:36 PM
4,670 posts, read 2,280,838 times
Reputation: 6155
It's awful. Shoddy work. Get it done right just like your other cabinetry problems.
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:38 PM
2,855 posts, read 3,377,270 times
Reputation: 4567
I know all homes settle but this finished works looks sloppy..I be upset!
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:49 PM
26 posts, read 23,316 times
Reputation: 15
The contractor does not want to fix the issues. It takes them weeks before they come back to our house and then they try to add more paint and/or caulk to everything. A lot of blame has been put on us for not getting our own home inspector or structural engineer during the construction process or not getting a lawyer to review the contract as well as not seeing all of this in our walkthroughs but seriously these issues didn't start to really rear their ugly head until we were a few months into living at the house.

At that point we had already sold our house, moved in with the wife's parents, moved to a sublet because they were driving us crazy (house was supposed to be well done before sublet ended), moved back in with the inlaws and then finally to the house. I guess we should have known better. But I don't think we have the ability to take the builder to court because of how tight the contract is.
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Old 08-30-2016, 11:51 PM
Location: Johns Creek, GA
12,466 posts, read 48,386,368 times
Reputation: 14027
Originally Posted by Richard78 View Post
But I don't think we have the ability to take the builder to court because of how tight the contract is.

A lot of the things you said, or were told hold a lot of merit...

But your quote above said it all. It's not about how "tight" a contract is, it's about the fact that when you signed that contract you agreed to the terms of the contract- today most builders use "binding arbitration" (I'm sure it's one of your exhibits); so there will never be a courtroom.
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Old 08-31-2016, 07:52 AM
5,885 posts, read 6,643,616 times
Reputation: 15156
Two Things:

"Caulk" is NOT a building material!

NEVER bring back the original contractor a third time. Give him one shot to make it right, then move on. Forget abut court. Find a reputable contractor, have him do work up to your expectations, and move on. In the end you will save yourself a HUGE amount of aggravation. The original builder screwed it up to begin with. It demonstrates the "quality" of his work. Why would you bring him back to fix something that he found acceptable to begin with.

Get it done by another contractor. Move on. Maintain your mental health. The original contractor is NEVER going to give you satisfaction.
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Old 08-31-2016, 03:46 PM
Location: Denver CO
20,812 posts, read 11,535,391 times
Reputation: 31410
This isn't comforting but now I'm feeling better about my own new construction house because while it has flaws that bug me, not nearly anything that bad.

I agree with the idea of getting a different contractor and just fixing it to you satisfaction. Yes, it's more money to fix something that should have been covered in the not inconsiderable sum you already paid to build the house. But would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Right is trying to make the builder fix it, happy is just getting it done and moving on with your life enjoying your new home.

That's on the presumption that these are cosmetic issues only and not something structural. In that case, lawyer up. Even with an arbitration clause, that doesn't mean you don't need a lawyer to fight for your interests during an arbitration process which can still include a negotiated settlement, as happens in the vast majority cases even when they are filed in court.
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:16 AM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,677 posts, read 53,752,052 times
Reputation: 29873
I agree with others that this looks like it needs to be a tear-out and re-do by a different contractor. My manufactured home has far better finish than what you are showing. You didn't get what you paid for.
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Old 09-01-2016, 02:48 PM
Location: D.C.
2,199 posts, read 1,820,841 times
Reputation: 3458
I bought my first (and last) new-construction home in 2011. Built by a national developer (DR....something something). I had problems. This is what I learned to get it resolved. The KEY is to be within 12 months of when the house was issued it's certificate of occupancy from the county.

We had leveling problems with our floors. We had the gaps like you're showing everywhere. Our hardwoods were gapping out to the point where I could put two nickels together and insert them. We had this, we had that. I was loosing my freakin' mind, and what was supposed to be a great period of achievement for me personally, was turning into a blood-boiling experience. I would call the builder. They'd come out at 90 days and fix some thing (basically finish up the punch-list). It'd be ok for a few weeks, then I'd notice something else. Got to the point were they kept saying "we'll fix it all at the 1 year mark". As more homes were being delivered in the neighborhood, others too were having quality problems. The builder got to the point were they stopped saying they'll come back at the 90 day, 6 month and final 12 month periods to fix "settling issues". They just started saying 12 month mark only. I figured out why....

Our yard (.28 acre) was the worst problem. Ours, and about 25 others in the neighborhood that had been delivered prior to ours (we were all 1st phase deliveries). We had lumps, bumps, dips, and dying grass everywhere. Real "ankle breakers" for the little kids. We had a playground out front that was the same way. I kept telling the builder to fix it, and kept getting the "sending a guy out tomorrow" but would never show. After about 2 months of me loosing my mind over this, I was talking to an associate of mine who finances residential developments such as mine. Told him my issues and didn't know how to fight it. Said was thinking about getting a lawyer involved. What he said changed it all....

He advised me to skip the lawyer, and call the county. Go after the bonds the builder had to put up as an insurance policy to the county to make sure if the builder walked off the job, the county had money to finish it out (or close it out) to a point of the site not being a public hazard the general public. Bonds are required as a part of receiving zoning and building permits. There are bonds issued to the Department of Transportation for the roads in the neighborhood (big bonds), bonds issued for infrastructure (sewage, runoff, etc.), bonds for sidewalks, public spaces, etc... AND, bonds posted for each and every single home and townhome constructed that typically are required for the first 12 months after certificate of occupancy has been issued by the county on the home. After 12 months, they can be retired or at least significantly reduced.

I did this. I called the county, had them come out to the neighborhood and we walked my yard and about 5 others. Then we walked the play ground. I asked the county guy "how did you give this a clean bill of health when you signed off on the certificates of occupancy?" I pointed out that if any of these kids get hurt by this, the county itself would be called into question for essentially saying this was acceptable to them for public access. THAT question fixed it all...

Not only was my yard fixed, but so were every single yard in the development, with three getting entirely new yards from scratch. The playground was scraped down, 6 massive dump trucks of fresh topsoil delivered, and completely redone with new sod. Not only did all of that happen, but all of the sudden I had guys crawling all over my house fixing this and fixing that. It all got fixed.

What happened? Well, the county told the builder that until these yards and all public spaces are corrected and "perfect", the county would not be entertaining anymore of their requests to either retire the posted bonds on a per-unit basis, but also would not be reducing any of them too, which included the big daddy posted to the department of transportation. We're talking a few million dollars here. Builders issue "letters of credit" from a financial institution to support these bonds. The financial institutions charge huge annual fees for these letters of credit, in addition to requiring those letters of credit be back-stopped by either locked-up cash, or some other type of collateral. Letters of credit typically only last for 12 months, then either are retired or renewed. If the county won't let the builder off bond, then he has no choice but to renew for another 12 months, which means tied-up collateral and huge fees paid for the renewal process.

When a builder is pushing you off to the "one year" mark to fix stuff, and they're being very nice and polite about it, feeling sympathy for you, yada yada yada.... all they're really doing is hoping they get to that 12 month period without having to invest another dime into the home, and hope you don't realize what's really going on. Once they get that bond back for your home, they have 0% skin in the game for your sense of satisfaction. None, nada, couldn't care less if you're dead or alive. Reputation risk you say? They couldn't care less, because they can just say "you were an exception". If the reputation risk gets so bad in the community - they just file b/k under that name (usually and LLC) and pop back up with a completely different name. They know how to shake it off.

BUT, they can't shake off the bond requirement. Put the pressure on the county to come take a look. Ask them if they think this is ok by their standards? As about the maintenance bond on your house. Chances are the county is annoyed by this builder anyway (most usually are by residential home builders). Counties hold the cards via the bonds. Home builders only trying to build to impress you with their model units / sales center, that's where you start and you stop. Who they're really trying to build to impress is the county - enough to let them build something, sell it to the county public, and then get their bond money back free and clear, and do it again in the future without having to post higher bonds to get their building permits again. 110% of the time, a builder will budget for the bond - but they NEVER budget for the bond to actually be called by the county due to poor craftsmanship. Why? Because builders don't think home owners know about the bonds. Call a lawyer? Why? The lawyer is going to do exactly what I've said here, and charge you $400/hour to do so. Getting a lawyer involved, just brings in another cost element that you really don't need, unless if you're going after the county itself (and there isn't a lawyer in the land that wouldn't drop their pants to sue a county for big money). Counties know that too! Which is why my original question to my county guy resulted in everything getting fixed faster than a fart in the wind.

The second phase of our neighborhood - you can bet the yards were done right. Why ours was so bad? When they dug out the basements, they put the debris to the sides of the hole (our yard). When it came time to install the sod, they basically used a bobcat to scoop the debris field and place it where the playground was ultimately going to be. They did not use the "rock hog" machine to go over what the bobcat left behind to make sure the large rocks (football to baseball size) were removed too. So, when they laid the sod, they did so on top of the rocks. As the site settled due to rain and time, the dirt settled but the rocks surfaced. When the sun hit the grass, it heated up the rocks underneath the sod and baked the grass from underneath.

If you could see the neighborhood today, you would be impressed. It probably has the best lawns in the entire area. Thick, green and healthy.

Call the county!! Better yet, tell the builder you're going to call the county! See how they react. Don't be scammed by "sympathy" gestures from the builder. Only sympathy you need, is for a proper fix!

PS: I paid $585k for that house, and sold it 4 years later for $650k. Could've gotten $15k more, but my timing was bad to sell (fall) and missed the spring/summer craze.

Last edited by NC211; 09-01-2016 at 03:02 PM..
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Old 09-01-2016, 06:01 PM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,677 posts, read 53,752,052 times
Reputation: 29873
NC211, I love your post. When a system is set up so that there is accountability, and then the method for invoking that is hidden, thieves flourish. You just balanced a whole lot of scales.
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