Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our builder (Norfolk Homes) continues to lie & our build continues....

We left off the last post around Feb 14th.  Well it took another month before Norfolk was able to get  our pre-construction meeting scheduled.  I have friends who knew Norfolk's previouis GC who built their home and was over our neighborhood and we came to find out he just quit out of the blue.  So between getting plans revised and Norfolk just stalling we were finally able to get our pre-construction meeting scheduled for March 14th at 10am.  We attended along with our agent, new GC (it was his 1st day on the job), Norfolk's agent and Mr. Datillo (Norfolk's Area VP).  This would normally be a 30min meeting at best but I tried to be prepared for every little detail so our meeting turned into about a 1hr and half ordeal and I felt pretty confident I did get most of my issues addressed.  We were very concerened at the meeting because we were told by their designer Linda Totok that we could add our final selections (as long as they weren't structual) at the pre-con meeting.  We wanted to add a gas line to the stove, a gas line to the garage for a tankless water heater at a later date and a refrigerator wall cabinet.  Mr. Datillo(Area VP) admitted to us that Linda was incorrect in that information that she gave us and that today at the meeting everything was suppose to be finalized and could not be changed.  He apologized but did state he should be able to spec this in for us as the gas line was already being ran into the house and attic for ac unit and gas fireplace.  He also stated that all items had alread been ordered but did offer to allow me to buy the refrigerator cabinet from their supplier at wholesale.  Of course not the answer we were looking for but we were ok with the fact they did try to attemp to rectify this matter.  We could understand adding the refrigerator cabinet later as this was something that could be easily done.  The gas line on the other hand was a totally diffrent issue.  If we were building on a crawlspace I wouldn't have had any complaints because the gas line could have been easily added afterwards through the crawlspace.  Since we were building on a concrete slab it would be impossible to add the gas line with out tearing up drywall and being very expensive.  After going thru the floor plans and selections there were still still structual issues that were incorrect on the drawing that Norfolk did not add and were clearly explained on our selections sheet.  Mr. Datillo explained he would get these corrected.

Now the funny thing if you just noticed what took place was Mr. Datillo just stated earlier in the meeting that everything at the pre-con meeting was suppose to be final but the funny thing is there were still errors on Norfolk's part that he could go back and correct.  If this was the case, then everything DID NOT have to be final at the pre-con meeting and he had the authority to change them, if he wanted to!

We then went and walked the lot and addressed the issues of the trees on the lot and the hole that was there as well.  Mr. Datillo did state that an engineer would be coming out to look at the lot and was they were recommended on how to fill the hole and it was completed, we would get a copy of the letter and it would go on file with the city as well.

We finally got a response back about the gas line and we were told that one gas line could be added but instead of it being spec'd in as told at the pre-con meeting, Norfolk was going to charge us $500 for a gas line that was normally $175 and Mr. Datillo stated he would spec in for free.  We did not have a problem with paying for a gas line and would have wrote a check for it but to be gauged just because Norfolk could was not acceptable.  Below is a reponse back to us being charged an astronomical price for a gas line:

Dear Mr. Kevin Datillo,

Hello, hope your day is going well.  The reason we are writing is in response to the feedback that was given to us.  We are very disappointed in the fact that you will not allow the gas lines to be added to our plan.  As I stated previously at the pre-construction meeting, Linda Totok is the one who is at fault in the situation because she, unknowingly to us, gave us misinformation.  We were clearly told that we could add these at the pre-construction meeting and we don’t understand why we are being penalized for one of Norfolk representative’s mistake.  We explained this to you clearly at the pre-construction meeting and you understood that this was not our fault.  You stated to us, along with the other at the meeting, that Linda was incorrect with her information she gave and that you would be able to spec the gas lines in for us.  Since this is what we were told, this is obviously what we are expecting.  We did listen to your rebuttal why Norfolk doesn’t like to add things at pre-construction meeting but it still doesn’t change the fact we were told incorrectly and we should not bear the consequences for this.  Unfortunately we are not privy to your company’s policies and guidelines, nor should we be, and can only hope that your representatives would advise us correctly.  We are not asking for anymore more nor anything less.  We are not expecting the gas lines to be free and have no problem with paying for them.   

Mr. Kevin Martin did state that because purchasing had already occurred that he couldn’t promise the refrigerator cabinet could be added and we completely understood.  In turn, Mr. Martin did in fact offer to allow us to order the cabinet thru Norfolk’s purchasing department at cost which we could install later on.  Although we would like to have the refrigerator cabinet included in the initial build, we do understand if it can’t be added but do appreciate the gesture in Mr. Martin attempting to rectify the error caused by the misinformation given.  Now it is apparent that we did not order a gas stove or a gas water heater but this doesn’t have any bearing in whether we can get the gas lines or not.  We are wanting to add them now so that we have the option in the future of using electric or gas.   If we were building on a crawl space I would completely understand not adding the lines because they could be added at a later date which I would not have a problem with.  Unfortunately we are building on a concrete slab and adding gas lines later would not be economically feasible or logical in tearing up a slab when it can be done before hand as we were told. 

In conclusion, Mr. Datillo we would hope that you would reconsider your decision.  At this point, which we hope its not the case, we feel like Linda told us anything just to get our selections complete and move us along.  We would hope that you did not do the exact same thing at the pre-construction meeting just so we would sign our paperwork to get construction started knowing that you had no intentions of adding the gas lines for us.  Just as Mr. Martin attempted to rectify the situation for something that wasn’t our fault, we hope you will do the same.  If you don’t have the authority to do this, could you forward my letter to Mr. Martin for reconsideration.  Thank you for your time.

Thank you,

Mr. Datillo has bascially lied to us and we felt had no intention of adding the gas line.  We were still unhappy with his response so I attempted to go up the ladder to the CEO of Norfolk and that letter is below:

April 17th,

Good morning Mr. Martin,

Hope your day is going well.  The reason we are writing is in response to Mr. Datillo's conclusion on adding a gas line to our house.   We were specifically told by Linda Totok that we could add items at the pre-construction meeting and that is what we intended to do.  We wanted to add a gas line the garage and the refrigerator wall cabinet.  We did receive your response that we could purchase the refrigerator wall cabinet thru the purchasing department at cost and we greatly appreciate the gesture.  We are aware you were not at our pre-construction meeting but to bring you up to speed I specifically explained to Mr. Datillo that we received incorrect information from Linda Totok reguarding the deadline for adding upgrades.  Present at the pre-construction meeting was our agent Andrea, Norfolk's new GC, Kevin Datillo, I and my wife.  As I explained the situation to Mr. Datillo, everyone there specifically heard him state that Linda was incorrect in the information she gave us but that the changes that were made that day would be the final plan and that he would spec the gas line in for us.   We left the meeting, as I'm sure everyone else did as well, with the impression that the gas line would be spec in because that is what Mr. Datillo stated to everyone.  Now, approx 4 weeks later, Mr. Datillo's comes back with a response that he can add the gas line and that there is an upcharge of $500 for trying to add this item late.  The only reason it was not added earlier was because of incorrect information given to us.  Mr. Datillo assured us he would take care of this and now he wants to go back on his word that the gas line would be spec in and now is attempting to charge us a late charge for an error by an employee of Norfolk.  We are sorry but this is unacceptable and completely unfair to us.  We hope that you would see things from our point of view and that the correct thing will be done.

Thank you,

Here is response from Norfolk below:

Thank you for your email. We are anxious to satisfy our customers and allow as much flexibility as we can manage while delivering on our commitments, avoiding most errors. We are currently building approximately 50 homes at a time. With the amount of personalization we allow our customers, we must require selections are made and complete at clearly agreed points in the process, one item follows the other. In order to communicate information to our trades, suppliers and field personnel, in time to build, cutoff dates are absolute. Changes after distribution or delays affect smooth flow of production, the rate of errors, and cost due to these errors not to mention time lost. I do not expect for you to care about the costs, delays, or errors, you concern should be a good value and a finished home as agreed, but in order for us to do what we promise, (we don't promise no errors, but as few as possible), the process is vital.  We do not allow changes at the pre construction meeting. The Plans,specification, and budgets are fully distributed to all involved in building and supplying by that time. In hundreds of homes built in Nashville this is, thankfully, the first time this particular misunderstanding has been presented to me. I checked with Linda and she was very clear that we do not allow changes at this stage. Our Purchase agreement, and two separate checklist you sign and initial at the time of purchase and beyond, reinforce the obligation to meet the timeframefor selections, so we all agree on the process.  Kevin Dattilo has offered a unique opportunity at a reasonable cost and I will allow him to decide what he can manage in his division ofNorfolk Homes. I am determined to build your home well, but he knows what he can manage and what it cost to recreate the paperwork, completion and communication for this exception. It would be unfair to you and unfair of me to create issues in performance for you and others by forcing late custom changes. I hope this makes our process easy to understand, thanks again for choosing us to build your home.

Best regards;

Kevin Martin
Norfolk Homes

Reasonalbe cost? really? almost 300% increase is reasonable?  So basically in a nutshell I summed up this letter to say that Norfolk is building approx 50 homes or so at a time.  I understand Linda may have given you some misinformation but we already have your deposit and your signature so unfortunately even though you were lied to, there is nothing we are going to do about it.  Again, thank you for choosing us to build your home.

Red Flat #3 would should have walked away from the deal!!

At this point we are very upset that we were LIED to by Mr. Datillo at the pre-con meeting and honestly feel he had NO intentions on adding the gas lines as he said he would do, especially when everyone was there and heard  him state that he would.  To make it even worse, we attempt to go to the CEO who basically agrees with the actions of his V.P.  Even though the CEO didn't make the decision, he backed the decision in which we were lied about and we hold him just as responsible as well!  From our experience Norfolk Homes just seems to be a company about deception.  We have encountered some good people along the way but for the most part we  have been nothing but lied to and mislead and Norfolk doesn't seem to have a problem with this at all.  I have made it my goal, my mission to warn as many people as I can of the terrible experience that we have encountered with Norfolk thru all forms of media possible.  I can't understand how a company can continue to do business through deceit and just flat out lies, I honestly just don't understand!!!!!!!!!!!