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New Home Construction Problems

Posted by Jeff on February 28th, 2003 02:43 PM

Sorry for such a lengthy post (and trust me it is very long)I'm not even sure if this is the proper forum for such a laundry list of concerns, but my wife and I have been having significant problems with a house we've been building that we were supposed to have closed on today and I could really use some good advice. If someone could find it in their heart to take the time to read this it would REALLY be appreciated. Two weeks ago we were leaving for a week long vacation and the builder asked us to stop by and do a mini-punch list before we left so they could go ahead and start taking care of any significant problems (this was a Saturday and no one was on site). It was the beginning day of what would turn out to be two solid weeks of heavy rain. What we found when we got there terrified and infuriated us. Water had soaked all the way through the entire 18' span of the outside wall (our chimney is on this wall) of our great room, it looked the worst for about two feet down from the ceiling but in some places ran all the way to the floor. The ceiling was soaked about a foot deep into the room and the drywall tape was buckled badly. Water was puddled all the way around the baseboard of the wall. Luckily our carpet hadn't been installed yet (key word is yet). I called the salesperson who in turn had the President of the construction company call me back. He was stumped as to what had happened and very apologetic but said he would check on it asap (it turned out to be the following Monday!) When he called, he told me that somehow the brick guys and the roofer didn't coordinate well and our chimney hadn't been flashed at all (keep in mind that the interior was completely finished at this point: walls and trim painted etc. 4 mos into construction) He said my wife and I had probably seen it at its worst but that he felt confident if they just let it dry out and cleaned it up (repaint, retape, putty) everything would be fine,he said unfortunately these things happen in construction, this explanation didn't sit well with us. This argument went on for several days as I spent the first three days of a Florida vacation on the phone trying to get info from every drywall, insulation, and construction expert I could find in the phone book to see if I was being taken for a ride. Everyone said the same thing; that the chimney definitely should have been flashed LONG ago, and that they couldn't say for sure without seeing the damage themselves but that it would probably be ok (fiberglass insulation should repel the water even if it got wet, drywall would be fine unless it stays continually wet, and if the trim was going to warp it would be obvious). I at least agreed to let the builder fix it his way while we were gone and he said if I wasn't pleased with it he would consider tearing the drywall down but that it would be "ridiculous" and "making a mountain out of a mole hill" (his words). When we got home we went immediately to the house (again on a Saturday) and the first door we went into (the utility room from the garage) we found a puddle of water in the floor from yet another leak. When we went into the great room we noticed that they weren't even done "patching" the wall yet, but they had installed our berber carpet. When I walked over to the wall to take a look I stepped on the carpet next to an outside door and water came up through the carpet! Called the Co. President again, once again furious, and although he was so stumped he was stuttering, he said he couldn't get anyone out there to look at it until Monday! When he called me this time he said he had met with the construction superintendent and the roofer on site, and that the utility room problem was indeed from another roof leak but that he had already fixed it and the water in the carpet was not from another roof leak, but because they hadn't properly installed the threshold under the door and that water had come in that way. When I asked what he intended to do about the carpet he said they would tear up that corner of the pad and replace it and just have the carpet cleaned. Since that time we have been agonizing over whether or not we should: accept his methods of "fixing" the problems, ask him to completely replace that wall (drywall, insulation, and trim), part of the ceiling, and carpet in that room, or to just walk away from a potential lemon. In our various visits since then we have seen what appears to be other fixable but shoddy mistakes(dings, cracks, chips, etc.) and other things that I wonder are even feasible to ask them to fix (very crooked capstone over our front door, water pipe from our kitchen sinks that runs through the middle of three kitchen cabinets) at this point I don't know what to do. Different family members and friends who have experience with new homes don't know what to say. This is our first house and I am trying not to be unreasonable about things I know nothing about, but this is also a huge investment and I don't want to give in to shoddy work just because we want our dream house so badly. I have already hired a third party inspector and have got him waiting until we make a decision. The last time I talked to the Company President to tell him that I would not be closing today because we still weren't sure what we were going to do his tone changed considerably. He started threatening to put the house back on the market and said I had one week to make up my mind. He said he had met his end of the contract and now I was just holding them up. To his credit, with the exception of the visible work that they are still doing to the wall, and a half dollar sized spot in the ceiling where the ceiling coating has come completely off and is slightly discolored, it doesn't look like it ever happened. We are still worried about the "unseen" problems that could be waiting on us and no one seems able to give me any definitive answers. Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide. Jeff

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