When your home builder does poor quality work on your new home, what can you do? Building a home is a marathon; one exhausting slog filled with delays, unexpected costs and contentious builders. It is a 24/7 immersive experience; both buyer and agent must be hands on and involved at every step. It is a one hundred percent guarantee that things will go wrong during the build, the industry itself admits there are major problems with new home construction. Therefore, ALWAYS USE AN AGENT EXPERIENCED WITH NEW CONSTRUCTION. If you don’t you will be blissfully ignorant of the process. Blissful ignorance is not good when building a home.
When Your Home Builder Does Poor Quality Work, Document EVERYTHING
Subcontractors build the home, the builder wrangles them. Those contractors tend to be in short supply; the experienced crews command $XX and the builder wants to pay $XX – 50%. Unskilled, poorly skilled labor is a KNOWN major problem in the industry; it’s a major problem in the Atlanta area. When, not if, problems are noted, relay concerns to the site agent and copy the individual running the build. Be on site regularly from when the dirt is first pushed through the final walkthrough; take photos of everything. When issues are noted, email everyone and explain the concern. We consistently find shoddy workmanship, improper materials, design mistakes and things you cannot make up. Document everything and keep it readily available.
When Your Home Builder Does Poor Quality Work, You’ll Hear about “Standards”
If what we’ve heard from builders over the years wasn’t blatant insulting BS, it would be hysterical. No matter the issue, there is a “standard” it complies with. That standard always seems to fit the builder’s position. The brick transition above and the haphazard appearance of the brick courses are acceptable. Plant a bush to hide the transition, back fill will hide those courses – the builder did just that. Unlevel dormer? Close enough to standard and not noticed as it’s on the side and out of eye line. Out of center shower drain, once the tile is in you’ll never see it. Builders favor three go to lines: “it’s per manufacture standard”; “it’s per NAHB standard” and “it’s passed code inspection”. We regularly call BS because we pull manufacture standards, we have the current NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guidelines and we work with inspectors that know local, CABO and all of the codes builders must comply with. That’s why you hire an experienced agent, to call BS. Builders at least listen when agents are involved; word of mouth can spread good and bad experiences. Builders depend on agents – unrepresented buyers? Eh, not so much.
When Your Home Builder Does Poor Quality Work, Do You Have to Close?
There’s a balance between holding the builder to legitimate standards and not being unrealistic; homes are not built in a laboratory. When you review the contract with your buyer’s agent (see a theme?) it will be evident that everything favors the builder. This is by design; once you sign you are locked up and expected to close. You must be consistent with complaints and give the builder a chance to correct them – see “standards”. If that doesn’t work, consider delaying closing until you are satisfied. That’s a red line and it will cause them to get their backs up; be ready to go down that road. Fall back upon your file, write very clear, concise memorandums and include everyone – from sales to senior management. Delayed closings get attention from senior management. If you’re really sideways, as a last resort seek termination. We’ve done that once over 30+ years – and won.
The key to successfully navigating a new build is the same one that President Reagan used with the Soviets; “Trust, but verify”. Hope for, plan for and expect a great experience building a home. Hope however, is not a strategy. Align yourself with a buyer’s agent skilled with new construction, become extremely organized and immerse yourself in the process. It will take work and time but the payoff will be a home that you watched rise from the ground up and one that you’ll have confidence in. As always, we’re a call, text or email away. Let us know how we can help –