Post # 1
Well Hive, I come to you a broken woman. We’ve been in the process of building a home for the past five months, and it has been one problem after another after another with this builder. Hubs and I are at the end of our rope. The builder’s apathy to the problems we have is driving us nuts. Theoretically we are supposed to close in less than two weeks, but we just don’t see how it is possible. Here’s a run down of the situation:
2 story home – 2275 sq ft – $165k; Specialty loan program through the government that requires no down payment to help stimulate growth in rural areas. Approved strictly for this house; cannot transfer loan to different property and the loan program has officially ended. Loved the idea of a brand new home that we wouldn’t have to renovate. It is in our hometown so location is great.
We started the building process in January; mid – February work on the house grinds to a halt. It took two weeks to get a response from the construction manager as to what the hold up was. This is the first time they were building this floorplan (it is brand new) so they have discovered that the furnace does not fit in the attic like it was supposed to. 2 more weeks go by with no solution. Finally have a sit down with them about lack of communication and how unhappy we are because they were wanting to change various aspects of the house which we found unacceptable. The meeting went badly…I left in tears. The next day they come up with a magic solution that won’t completely change the floor plan and keeps it in the attic. We were relieved, but were still very upset with how they handled the entire situation.
Dry wall finally goes up the second week of April, but we continue to have a laundry list of things that aren’t quite right: holes in the siding; broken electrical box; a large amount of standing water along the foundation of the back porch; etc. Some of these things were addressed right away, others were pushed aside as something trivial by the construction manager and are still not fixed.
Yesterday we went out to take a look and they had put in the countertops. I decided I did not want a backsplash, so I was shocked to see that the laminate countertop did not end with a previously agreed upon 3 inch lip around the wall – it went up the entire wall space between the upper and lower cabinets. I officially have walls of countertop material in my kitchen and it is hideous. This, along with the mis-matched cabinets we found in the master bathroom, caused us to go to the sales office. Instead of trying to make us happy, the salesperson simply told us no, all of the houses have that backsplash so too bad we can’t change it. We can make the cabinets match for an extra fee. We left angry.
So, hive, what do I do? Do I just suck it up and deal with a less-than-fantastic house with horrible people I will have to deal with should we need to fix anything with our warranty, or do we sacrifice this deal and wait another 2 or 3 years to save up enough for a realistic down payment? Turning down this house also means waiting to get a dog and to have kids, which really depresses me. If we do not close we only lose $900, which we’ve already paid. We won’t have any extra fees. I’m not in love with this house by any stretch, but I’m in love with the idea of finally being settled in our home town and starting the family that is starting to become a more frequent topic of conversation.
Post # 3
Honestly….you cannot have EVERYTHING you love in a first home. It always helps me think “yes i can live with it” because we are in our first home. For the square footage you have, 165K is an amazing deal (in my opinion). A home that large in st louis costs 240K. Trust me, I’m paying the mortgage on it, lol. BUT there are PLENTY of things I want to change in our home. No, it isn’t perfect. There are things I do not love. In fact, there are things I hate. Small kitchen, ugly linoleum, etc. Oh my gosh, we had PURPLE periwinkle walls. I’ve been there almost 2 years now and we STILL have things we haven’t updated. It’s just kinda how it is. You can’t have it all at once…and it kinda makes your home a project. I sort of like that, watching it progress through the years.
But, the fact that they deviated from what you’d agreed upon, though, that is something I WOULD make them fix now. Yes they are a pain to deal with–what construction unit isn’t?! My dad built his own home and he always said it was a HUGE task staying on top of those people. My dream someday is to build our own home, but it may not happen in this super metro city–it’s not like there are empty lots around. And you SHOULD get what you want. But i also remember mydad compromised on some things–is it worth bringing up? What is it in the big scheme of things? that kind of stuff.
Now, some of those things sound to me like in-construction messes. Standing water makes me nervous though. Can you talk to your realtor (is it a realtor?) and say “we will not close until our issues are addressed? Because you do that when you buy a home off the market. I had a HUGE list of 15+ items I wanted fixed before I’d buy the home. I wanted all the windows argon sealed, i wanted the concrete fixed, i wanted a bunch of things done. And because she wanted to sell the home, she fixed it. THEN i closed. I don’t see why you can’t do that now.
So…i can completely relate. There are things I’m not in lov ewith about the honme. We have some things to fix. Yes, it will take time. BUT, we are a family in the meantime. And we can work on these things while having a family. I thnk id’ rather have some items that need to be fixed than hold off on a house for a few more years, providing the house is still built solidly AND there aren’t any major factors that could make it hard to sell down the road. Already, i know the small storage space in the kitchen will be a deterrant to selling our home. So we are looking at ways to make it seem like it’s not a problem. Because anything that is a detterant, a possible buyer will negotiate for a lower price. I got a lower price on the home (Ok we got 30K off…) because there were problems with it like filthy carpets (need to be replaced) and lots of fixturing that needs to be replaced (helluva lotta work). And wallpaper (needs to be removed). But I can live with it, slowly chipping away at it. Maybe you can negotiate some price reduction with the sales person. If anything, you need to move up into talking to someone who is a manager. Someone with some power, and tell them that you’ll walk if XYZ aren’t done because you feel like business isn’t being conducted right. There’s a way to swing this and get your way.
Ok long novel over =]
Post # 4
It seems very odd that they would agree to do something a specific way & then not do it. I understand if there’s a specific floorplan they have to follow, but they told you they would do one thing & then didn’t do that. Do you have a friend in construction that could meet with them with you & put his foot down on your behalf?
I would talk with a manager & let them know what’s going on. If you can meet with them in person, that’s better. If you continue forward with this house, I would get EVERYTHING you want done to the house to be in writing & signed by them. I would also be sure they fixed everything that has issues before you close on the house. Are you confident the builders made a secure, solid house? If they cut corners, you can have issues in the future…
The water on the back porch concerns me too. Did they fix that? Did they tell you what it was from?
Post # 5
I’d plug through, I’d still want the house. Remember how fortunate you are to have such a great opportunity! Ok, they’ve been treating you terribly, you haven’t gotten everything you wanted, but you’ll have a house! And a place to raise a child and a dog, I’d take it!
Post # 6
I’m surprised that everyone is siding with going forward – all of our friends and family (even the granite guy at Lowe’s) have told us to run away! We are working directly with the builder, so we do not have a realtor to be an advocate. I didn’t realize you could have a realtor help with this kind of home purchase until after we were in contract. We’ve already had one run in with a manager regarding the furnace, and he was the one who made me cry because of how unhelpful and rude he was. At this point the countertop/backsplash issue is a big pile of what appears to be miscommunication, as the design center told us we would have the three inch lip instead of the backsplash, but the salesperson and builder are saying they never do that. I don’t have anything to really back me up except for what the design center said, and I don’t think it has much weight.
The water is what concerns everyone the most. We have asked about it repeatedly, and the only response we got was that it had rained that weekend. Um, it rained, but not five full puddles worth (as in, I could put my foot down and the water would be above my ankle easily). The rest of the yard was bone dry. They’ve leveled off the yard and filled in the areas where water had been with more sand, but the ground is still soggy around those areas.
I think we are going to do the walk through next week, but I don’t have a positive outlook at all. I was clinging to the cosmetics of the house to make up for the fact that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted in the first place, so now that the cosmetic aspect is a turn off I don’t know that I want the house. I am ashamed to show people the house because it is not something I’m proud of at all. I understand you can’t get everything you want in your first home, but we planned on staying in this home for at least 15+ years, and I had already compromised on alot. How far should I really go?
Post # 7
I don’t think most of these things will be a problem as long as they fix it before they finish the home and you move it. Honestly, that is a great deal for the space, our old house was less than that sq ft wise and cost more! As long as you can afford the home payments on this home, I say go for it. Most people don’t stay in homes more than 3 years or so, so if you really hate it, you can move on and find another home then.
Rereading your response, maybe you should walk away since you are planning on staying in the home for the long run. That way you can save up the money that would be going toward a house and have a good downpayment and possibly a lower mortgage in the future.
Post # 8
It’s tough – it sounds like a great deal in theory, but if the contractor is neglecting things you asked for and deemed important it makes me wonder what else he is ‘sweeping under the rug’. As an architect I’ve honestly never seen a laminate backsplash go to the underside of the cabinets….ever. The whole situation would make me very nervous; I’ve worked with good contractors, and I’ve worked with not so good contractors. Unfortunately, the projects with not-so-good contractors always have problems down the road that usually turn into huge headaches. No house is going to be perfect, but since it’s new construction you should have had the chance to make it what you wanted – it just seems weird.
Post # 9
I say go for it… it sounds like a great deal, and other than the water, as though most of the issues have been more of a cosmetic nature than a physical one. If you would have to out your future plans of having a dog and a baby on hold, for a few years especially becuase of cosmetics of the house, you may become more resentful and upset over that than if you just went ahead with the house. i agree that you need to put this all in writing… I’m not sure if you have a lawyer for the official closing of the house, but they can help you draft up a letter with your concerns, and then have the builder sign it, guaranteeing that the repairs will be made. Covers yourself in the future if they aren’t done, and you have any difficulties because of it. Around the water issue, definitely get something in writing that it will not be an issue, so then you have some legal backing if the water becomes an issue in the future. We are building a new home right now, and have been told by the builder, and confirmed with my uncle (who builds homes) that sometimes there will be water for a few months around the foundation, but will dry up as the house settles. If the water is getting into the house… that’s another story. GET IT IN WRITING!!!
Post # 10
Just to give everyone context, these are two pictures of the backsplash followed by a picture of what we thought it would look like – the lip with the bare wall.
[attachment=942570,116358] [attachment=942570,116359] [attachment=942570,116360]
Post # 11
I think that if you go forward, you first need to bring a lawyer into it. i’d sit down with a lawyer who knows about stuff like this (one has to exist somewhere!), tell him/her what’s-what and see what they say. It may come down to you simply using a lawyer to lean on the company to get what you want. Especially if they’re leaving you with standing water patches in your yard! That could get into the house and rot it! Bad bad bad! If you can’t afford a lawyer, then frankly, I’d walk away. Save your money. Sure $165,000 is a great deal for a new home that big, but if the construction is shoddy and you end up having to dump the property or dump More work into it, that $165 could easily become $300,000+. Not good! Also- I agree with you, that backsplash is Fugly! What a way to ruin a kitchen!
Post # 12
My biggest concern with the backsplash is that it doesn’t go all the way up in the stove area! If you do go through with this, I would bring a lawyer into it, or try calling one of the local consumer reporters on the news…. I’m from Houston and have seen and know a lot of “custom home” or “builders” and this seems ridiculous.
Where is your Fiance when dealing with the builder? Sadly, you’ve probably already shown “weakness” and now they are really walking all over you. I think you need representation to stand up for your interests.
In Houston, you DONT wan’t flooding or standing water! Really… the kind of storms you get… no way! I didn’t vote, because I wanted to say “other: Fight to the end before just “giving up.” If getting a “ball breaker” to deal with the contractors doesn’t work, than walk away…. but don’t just give in to them or give up!
What area of Houston is this? Feel free to PM me, but I’d love to know the area and builder giving you issues.
The good news, is that $165k can get you a ton of house in Houston! If this does fall through, you can even get a ton of house for less than 165k…. have you considered getting a FHA on a house in the low 100s? Many of the FHA loans (especially on a house that “cheap”) don’t require too substantial of a down payment…
Post # 13
@KLP – I’ve been the one mostly dealing with the company. DH has always gone to meetings and that sort of thing, but he keeps his feelings about everything very close to the vest and has a tendency to not allow people to know what he is thinking. I’ve tried to get him to be more vocal, but he keeps wanting to “see what they do”. I know he’s as angry as I am, I just wish he’d express it a bit more!
We’re building in the Northeast part of Houston, near Baytown / Crosby / Atascocita. Home prices in Houston are pretty phenomenal, so I know we could probably find something else that is comparable to the size if we have to wait. I think we could definitely do the FHA loan if we save for another six months or so, as we are right under the down payment requirement for this size home for now. We qualified for the USDA loan program, which was designed for people like us wanting to build a home in a “rural” area, so we decided to go ahead with it instead of the FHA. This loan also does not have the monthly mortgage insurance payment that FHA does, so it actually helped to lower our monthly payment amount. It would definitely suck to have to lose the loan opportunity, but I don’t want to keep a house just because of that.
I talked to the construction manager yesterday afternoon, and it was ugly. I tried to suggest a few things regarding the backsplash that could make both parties sorta happy, and he said “Well, it sounds like you should just close on the house and I can give you the name of a friend who can come in and take the backsplash down for you for a small amount of money”. I was LIVID and basically tore him a new one. I let him know that I was thisclose to not closing on the home because we’ve had so many problems, I didn’t trust that they built the best house they could, and I was paying a whole lot of money for him to just tell me to suck it up and deal with their mistakes. He suddenly backtracked a bit and said he would try to get to the bottom of the miscommunication and we could work something out. I guess we will see what happens today…
Post # 14
I read your post yesterday & thought you should just close, but after reading today’s posts, I voted to walk. But only if they don’t really try to work with you. They sound like they’re gonna try something. If they say “there’s nothing we can do…” than walk!
It looks like the construction manager is now realizing he can’t just walk over you. I wouldn’t work with someone who 1st says “we can’t change things” to “if you pay someone, they can do that” to when you threaten to walk “ohh ok I’ll help you now!”. Sadly, there are people who are like this. Good builders would want to make you happy. What’s the point of building a home if you can’t choose things??
I would make an outline of every single thing you want done/changed to the house, or say you won’t close. Make sure they address everything. Bring a friend who will help stand up for you if they’re not taking you seriously.
I would also have them completely resolve the standing water issue. It can cause rotting & other things that could really hurt your home. I’d have them sign something saying they fixed this, so IF that standing water hurt your house, they would be responsible for any damage caused by that. I’m not sure if you can do that, but I’d vote to try that.
They also should give you a warranty, that if something breaks or doesn’t work or something, THEY pay to fix it, not you. I would also photograph the things they didn’t do a good job at, & also take pics of the standing water spots. Then keep those pics somewhere safe that shows the kind of job they did.
Post # 15
To me the backsplash isn’t a huge deal. I do agree it’s ugly and I wonder why it doesn’t go all the way up above the stove, but it’s something that can be easily changed down the road. However, you’re going to have to deal with these people for years and the underlying communication issues would make me have second thoughts. I settled for many things when buying an older house, but believe you should get what you want (within your budget) when buying new.
Post # 16
I understand the backsplash is something I could change down the road, but I literally walked in and hated it immediately. I was told there wouldn’t be a backsplash and I’d have a bare wall, so it was a huge shock. I feel like for the money I’m paying, I should get a product I like. As I told the construction manager yesterday, if I had wanted to do immediate renovation I would have purchased a pre-existing home and made changes that way. In my eyes, I shouldn’t have to already be forking out a lot of money to make it a house I like. If I were to have walked in to this house as a potential home buyer, I would have automatically said no.
We’re still fighting about the water. Currently, the ground is just consistently soggy since they leveled out the yard, so no standing water is visible, but it is still strangely wet with no real explanation.