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Old 02-23-2012, 04:49 AM
 
Location: Northern NJ - relo to N. Tampa in April 2012
2 posts, read 13,790 times
Reputation: 13

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We are relo to Tampa area and our first criteria was excellent school. Next community with amenities & home built after 2005. After exhausting inventory in our price range decided to build, get what we want now and not deal with Reno aril Atkins.

We have narrowed our selection to either a Rutnburg or Westbay. We would be the first to build the larger floor plan in the new section of Fishhawk called Starling Estates. We are from Nj and are having a hard time discerning whether. What we have been told is accurate - I.e. Does the Arthur Rutenburg name carry some weight in terms of potential resale? Or is it just the fact that that they will customize during the build process? (Yes I already know that customize equals$$$s. - I am a Corp. Bus. Attu from NYC, blond, with blue eyes & and it is amazing how many people treat you automaticatically as an aiRhead! Jokes on them in the end though,)

Sorry for the digression, bottom line. Rutenburg vs. WestBay? Any real differences in potential future market value based on builder name, all else being somewhat equal?

Any known differences in quality build?

Thanks!
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:05 AM
 
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
693 posts, read 1,076,110 times
Reputation: 616
What did you decide to do?
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Northern NJ - relo to N. Tampa in April 2012
2 posts, read 13,790 times
Reputation: 13
Default We went with WestBay due to a "pre-permitted" house.

Would advise all to stay far away from Homes by Westbay, LLC. We have had nothing but trouble from practically Day 1.

The corporate headquarters moved three (3) times in the six months it took to build our house. When we closed on the house, six and 1/2 months after placing the initial 10% down - the house was still unfinished, shoddy workmanship, and horrendous response from the company.

STAY FAR AWAY FROM THESE BUILDERS. PICK ANY BUILDER OTHER THAN Homes by WESTBAY.

Their so called "Design Center" is rented space and is approximately 16" x 20" in size. You will not get straight answers to any questions, just alot of double talk. If you have never built your own house or even if you have and are not prepared to devote 100% of the time to reviewing every single detail, right down to whether there are light switches in places to turn on lights, ceiling fan fixtures etc. - then YOU REALLY NEED TO STAY AWAY.

Make sure you triple check every single document for accuracy - including if you have double sinks and want them undermounted because they will let slide things like have one "undermounted" and one regular mounted on the Design Sheet, or not including your selection for shower floor tile, then later come back and charge you even more for THEIR MISTAKE! Be prepared for the markup on any "design features" to cost 3 to 4 times the actual cost. If you want anything other than the STANDARD KITCHEN - DO NOT USE THEIR CABINETRY. THEY OVERCHARGE ON THE CABINETRY AND STILL GOT IT COMPLETELY WRONG. Despite signing off on a CAD diagram prepared by the Cabinet manufacturer - Timberlake, (i.e. cheap Lowes cabinets) Timberlake Cabinetry still have the nerve to state that they (Timberlake) Never would have agreed to the changes requested - BUT IT IS TIMBERLAKE's CAD DIAGRAM that was used for the signoff in the kitchen. AMAZING THAT BOTH COMPANIES CAN BE COMPLETE FLAKES, and think that they can get away with it.

We are still working with them to try and resolve issues. However, in the mean time I don't want any more unwary people to get caught in WestBay's Snares. Their CFO is the MOST UNPROFESSIONAL individual to walk this planet.

If you think you are going to have better luck b/c you are smarter, etc. Good Luck to you. We have one of the MOST EXPENSIVE HOMES that this company built. So when you go to buy your home and it is a less expensive one - do you really think they are going to treat YOU ANY BETTER???
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
693 posts, read 1,076,110 times
Reputation: 616
hmm, pretty disappointed as I found Westbay (via internet) to be the best builder. When I say best I am talking about the floorplands, location and type of subdivisions and prices. I also was having very good success talking via email to one of their representatives. Since I live in Europe at the moment its not possible for me to do these things in person. Thanks for your feedback, it will weigh heavy on our decisions, again, I am very disappointed as I was getting the warm fuzzies for building our home from Europe 6-7 months before we arrive so we can move seemlessly. Oh well ...
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Toledo, OH
1,725 posts, read 3,295,920 times
Reputation: 1276
Sorry to hear that this happened to you. I have been in these homes and they really are beautiful places.

I have a couple of questions if you don't mind:

1. Did you deal directly with the builder? These are things that you SHOULD NOT have to deal with. I know everyone bashes on Realtors, and some have earned this, but a Realtor really is working for YOU! You lay out what you are looking for to the Realtor and shop for one that would have done this work and fough the fights for YOU!

2. Is all of your issues documented? Have they been sent to the Builder? Did you have a firm move in date or a No Later Than Date? Did you sign off on everything before you moved in? I have heard stories regarding home builders that are slow to come and fix issues once you are moved in. Not Westbay, but others.

3. Did you live locally during the entire building process and work with the Sales Agent (the Agent that works for the Builder) to check on things during the build?

I hate seeing this, but am glad to see you post this. I honestly don't have bad things to say about Westbay in my personal dealings, but when you make a purchase that is this huge, I HOPE YOU HAD SOMEONE LOOKING OUT FOR YOU!

Having a Realtor or a Real Estate Agent that WORKS DIRECTLY FOR YOU IS IMPORTANT AND I honestly feel would have saved you a ton of headaches. That that Realtor get the headaches as he is holding the builder to the contract, timeline and exactly what you purchased!!!
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Not the end of the Earth, but I can see it from here
5,187 posts, read 5,842,738 times
Reputation: 6043
As a homeowner who has built their own home (a custom builder friend acted as our GC), built with custom builders *and* used a "tract" home builder (Morrison) I don't see your issues being any different from what most consumers experience with homebuilders such as Westbay or others.

No matter how you look at it, they make their profit margins on add-ons and change orders. As soon as you get off the "beaten path" with things, the prices go up. Granted, my experiences are a little dated, but as an example in the late 1990s Morrison charged $45 for a single cable TV drop. Think about the labor and materials for this and you can see where the profit comes from....

Builders make their standard profit margin based on fixed costs that they negotiate well in advance of you showing up. When they move out of that standardization of product, they make less money due to economies of scale, therefore, they charge far more for deviations from standard product.

You HAVE to be your own advocate when you build, no matter how good your representation is.

As a rule on every home we have built, even the one we built ourselves, a daily walk-through was absolute. Things will progress at a pace that will often cause your concerns to be passed over just because they can't return and address them.

Unless the GC has their own subs, and this is very unlikely, the guys who are doing the work are low bidders. Think about that. They often rarely pay attention to the plan documents, and when they do so, may not have the ones you redlined for not installing that medicine cabinet, for example.

When we were building with Morrison they had little carbonless forms to note any discrepancies. We used so many of these they finally gave us a box of them.

Here's just one example of literally hundreds from our build with Morrison (and I'm not picking on them, just using this as an example):

We specified that all drywall should be screwed, not nailed. This was in the plan and construction documents, verified by us on several occasions.

One Saturday morning, the drywall crew shows up. They had been at work hanging for about 45 minutes when we arrived. Amazing! Not a drywall screw to be seen. We immediately found the crew lead, whose command of English was marginal at best, and told him to immediately stop the crew. In a matter of about 20 minutes, someone with more authority showed up and wanted to know what the problem was. We showed them plan documents and explained the screws versus nails issue. He spoke to the crew lead, and in a matter of about five minutes the workers were all hard at it screw guns in hand, hanging away.

Now these guys couldn't care less how the drywall went up - they were just doing their job. That being said, had we not intervened, our drywall would have been nailed and not screwed as we specified.

I don't care how good a builder you have - you have to be actively involved with the build or have someone doing so on your behalf - on a daily basis! As for the upgrades, all, that's the nature of the beast. As soon as you move away from their standard spec, the prices will go up logarithmically. It's how they make money.

RM
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:40 PM
 
Location: North East
657 posts, read 654,963 times
Reputation: 243
Quote:
Originally Posted by MortonR View Post
As a homeowner who has built their own home (a custom builder friend acted as our GC), built with custom builders *and* used a "tract" home builder (Morrison) I don't see your issues being any different from what most consumers experience with homebuilders such as Westbay or others.

No matter how you look at it, they make their profit margins on add-ons and change orders. As soon as you get off the "beaten path" with things, the prices go up. Granted, my experiences are a little dated, but as an example in the late 1990s Morrison charged $45 for a single cable TV drop. Think about the labor and materials for this and you can see where the profit comes from....

Builders make their standard profit margin based on fixed costs that they negotiate well in advance of you showing up. When they move out of that standardization of product, they make less money due to economies of scale, therefore, they charge far more for deviations from standard product.

You HAVE to be your own advocate when you build, no matter how good your representation is.

As a rule on every home we have built, even the one we built ourselves, a daily walk-through was absolute. Things will progress at a pace that will often cause your concerns to be passed over just because they can't return and address them.

Unless the GC has their own subs, and this is very unlikely, the guys who are doing the work are low bidders. Think about that. They often rarely pay attention to the plan documents, and when they do so, may not have the ones you redlined for not installing that medicine cabinet, for example.

When we were building with Morrison they had little carbonless forms to note any discrepancies. We used so many of these they finally gave us a box of them.

Here's just one example of literally hundreds from our build with Morrison (and I'm not picking on them, just using this as an example):

We specified that all drywall should be screwed, not nailed. This was in the plan and construction documents, verified by us on several occasions.

One Saturday morning, the drywall crew shows up. They had been at work hanging for about 45 minutes when we arrived. Amazing! Not a drywall screw to be seen. We immediately found the crew lead, whose command of English was marginal at best, and told him to immediately stop the crew. In a matter of about 20 minutes, someone with more authority showed up and wanted to know what the problem was. We showed them plan documents and explained the screws versus nails issue. He spoke to the crew lead, and in a matter of about five minutes the workers were all hard at it screw guns in hand, hanging away.

Now these guys couldn't care less how the drywall went up - they were just doing their job. That being said, had we not intervened, our drywall would have been nailed and not screwed as we specified.

I don't care how good a builder you have - you have to be actively involved with the build or have someone doing so on your behalf - on a daily basis! As for the upgrades, all, that's the nature of the beast. As soon as you move away from their standard spec, the prices will go up logarithmically. It's how they make money.

RM
Awesome info. I may have to go through this soon and this really helps prepare. Greatly appreciated!

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Old 12-09-2012, 06:00 PM
 
Location: Not the end of the Earth, but I can see it from here
5,187 posts, read 5,842,738 times
Reputation: 6043
Quote:
Originally Posted by SarasotaBound1 View Post
Awesome info. I may have to go through this soon and this really helps prepare. Greatly appreciated!

Glad to be of assistance. Some other observations:

READ THE CONTRACT. Sure, it sounds simple, but you would be amazed at how many people take it for granted that the builder has your best interests in mind. Wrong. Their only concern is getting to the disbursement dates on the construction loan. Not only that, by reading and understanding the contract, you'll have a better idea when things aren't being done to spec.

Again, I'll go back to our Morrison experience:

We specified an underground propane tank along with all the related piping for gas appliances, a gas fireplace and spa heater. The was an addendum to the contraction documents done at the time of the contract, not something after the fact. There were additional costs related to this, all of which we knew and agreed upon.

Shortly after we moved in to the home, we received a bill from the propane supplier for the initial fill of the tank. On this bill was a charge for the tank lease. Hmm. We didn't lease a tank, we bought the tank - "Builder shall supply one 100 gallon propane tank, and related piping for.... = $xxx.xx"

We promptly contacted the propane supplier and advised them that we had documentation showing we paid for a tank. They informed us that the builder had them install a leased tank, which was the standard procedure. Not our problem - we have a contract that says we paid for a 100 gallon tank.

We went back to Morrison. Their response? "That's the way all of the tanks are done."

Sorry, folks, we have a contract that YOU signed stating you would supply a tank and the related piping for the price quoted - nothing about a lease there.

So Morrison had to buy out the tank lease.

This is a matter of contractual language that most buyers might never catch, and would end up costing them more in the long run, despite the fact that they paid for the tank the way the contract was written. We didn't do anything dishonest, nor were we asking for anything more than what the contract stated.

It's the details like this where you'll get screwed if you're not careful. I would add that Morrison changed their contract language shortly after this, as they should have. Someone wasn't paying attention.

Another example (I've got tons of them!):

We had a spa as a part of the pool, along with a gas fired spa heater. The heater and spa pump were outside the lanai, which would normally require one to go outside the lanai, turn the various valves to redirect the water flow in the spa from the pool, and turn on the spa heater and pump.

In the model home, there was an electrical box inside of the lanai with a switch that said, "Spa pump/heater".

Yup, you know where I'm going with this....

In the contract documents, the spa, pumps and heater were all described in detail, with the line, "as in model home".

When we did the final punch, we asked the Morrison rep where the switch was for the spa pump and heater. "Oh, you have to go outside and turn them on."

BZZZZT. Wrong.

A few days later, the electricians came to wire the switches for our spa pump and heater inside the lanai. When the Morrison rep came by to check on the work when completed, they brought us the box that had been on the wall in the model. It was empty - it was a dummy - it had never been functional. Our stipulation that they comply with the contract made them realize they had better remove it or make it functional. Lots cheaper to remove it.

RM
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:26 PM
 
Location: North East
657 posts, read 654,963 times
Reputation: 243
Quote:
Originally Posted by MortonR View Post
Glad to be of assistance. Some other observations:

READ THE CONTRACT. Sure, it sounds simple, but you would be amazed at how many people take it for granted that the builder has your best interests in mind. Wrong. Their only concern is getting to the disbursement dates on the construction loan. Not only that, by reading and understanding the contract, you'll have a better idea when things aren't being done to spec.

Again, I'll go back to our Morrison experience:

We specified an underground propane tank along with all the related piping for gas appliances, a gas fireplace and spa heater. The was an addendum to the contraction documents done at the time of the contract, not something after the fact. There were additional costs related to this, all of which we knew and agreed upon.

Shortly after we moved in to the home, we received a bill from the propane supplier for the initial fill of the tank. On this bill was a charge for the tank lease. Hmm. We didn't lease a tank, we bought the tank - "Builder shall supply one 100 gallon propane tank, and related piping for.... = $xxx.xx"

We promptly contacted the propane supplier and advised them that we had documentation showing we paid for a tank. They informed us that the builder had them install a leased tank, which was the standard procedure. Not our problem - we have a contract that says we paid for a 100 gallon tank.

We went back to Morrison. Their response? "That's the way all of the tanks are done."

Sorry, folks, we have a contract that YOU signed stating you would supply a tank and the related piping for the price quoted - nothing about a lease there.

So Morrison had to buy out the tank lease.

This is a matter of contractual language that most buyers might never catch, and would end up costing them more in the long run, despite the fact that they paid for the tank the way the contract was written. We didn't do anything dishonest, nor were we asking for anything more than what the contract stated.

It's the details like this where you'll get screwed if you're not careful. I would add that Morrison changed their contract language shortly after this, as they should have. Someone wasn't paying attention.

Another example (I've got tons of them!):

We had a spa as a part of the pool, along with a gas fired spa heater. The heater and spa pump were outside the lanai, which would normally require one to go outside the lanai, turn the various valves to redirect the water flow in the spa from the pool, and turn on the spa heater and pump.

In the model home, there was an electrical box inside of the lanai with a switch that said, "Spa pump/heater".

Yup, you know where I'm going with this....

In the contract documents, the spa, pumps and heater were all described in detail, with the line, "as in model home".

When we did the final punch, we asked the Morrison rep where the switch was for the spa pump and heater. "Oh, you have to go outside and turn them on."

BZZZZT. Wrong.

A few days later, the electricians came to wire the switches for our spa pump and heater inside the lanai. When the Morrison rep came by to check on the work when completed, they brought us the box that had been on the wall in the model. It was empty - it was a dummy - it had never been functional. Our stipulation that they comply with the contract made them realize they had better remove it or make it functional. Lots cheaper to remove it.

RM
Hahaha... great stuff, sounds like you got what you wanted on this home.

If you dont mind me asking, do you live in the Tampa bay area?
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:28 PM
 
Location: Not the end of the Earth, but I can see it from here
5,187 posts, read 5,842,738 times
Reputation: 6043
Quote:
Originally Posted by SarasotaBound1 View Post
Hahaha... great stuff, sounds like you got what you wanted on this home.

If you dont mind me asking, do you live in the Tampa bay area?
Yes, if you consider Valrico the Tampa Bay area. Most would.

And yes, we got exactly what we contracted for on that house. Sadly, it caused Morrison to change a number of their contract and construction practices as a result. However, we did not ask for nor did we expect anything above and beyond what was stated in the contract.

I want to emphasize that as I don't want to come across as being an unreasonable jerk. We merely held them to the letter of the contract, that's all.

RM
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