Issues wtih Norfolk Homes
I must start off saying that I thought I was very diligent in researching Norfolk homes and the model we chose. Norfolk builds in several differnt communities in Tennesse and the surrounding area so I have actually seen from begining to end the build of 14 Camden model homes. I can surfice to say that I do know this particular model inside and out and exactly how they build them so when it came to build our house, I knew exactly what to look for. Now some of my complaints are big and some are small but I am the kinda person that wants what I paid for, nothing more, nothing less. Some of the issues we have run into I would just expect for a builder to pay attention to and don't see why as homebuyer I have to check behind just to make sure things are done correctly to their plans! I don't expecting nothing more, nor anything less, just do things the right way the first time. Seems logical but unfortunately it hasn't been during our build! Hopefully some of things will help others to know what to look for and hopefully others won't go through some of the drama we have gone through. Its kinda difficult as if building a house is something that most of us don't do daily, "You don't know what you don't know!"
Issue #1. - We have a BIG issue with the grinder pump that was put into our lot with no notice from the builder at all! We have weekly updates every Wednesday and at some point the City informed Norfolk homes that a grinder pump would be needed on the lot since the septic sat lower than the sewer on the lot. When I first saw the grinder pump I immediately asked the GC what it was since I have no knowledge or am not familiar with them at all? He explained the situation to me and then I asked if it had to be located in the front yard right beside the front door? His response to me was that it had to be put in the front yard and there was no way around this. I then asked could it be moved? His response was that it could not be moved without being damaged.
At this point I called the Cith and spoke with the Director of Water and Sewer. I asked several questions and his reply to me was that Norfolk homes was incorrect! The grinder pump can be placed anywhere on the lot. We would have rather for it to at least be moved to the side yard and not right in view of the front door. I was then curious whether it could be moved and the Director stated to me that the grinder pump could be moved without being damaged It woud have to be dug down deep enough around the cement on the bottom which the pump sits in and then it could be moved.
At this point I contacted Norfolk and advised of my conversation I had with the Director of Water and Sewer. We are the only lot in the subdivision that has a grinder pump in our front yard. The Director also advised us that this could have been avoided if Norfolk would have built the house up an additional 15 inches. We feel that this is very unfair to us to have this put into our front yard without any notice. We did our part by going through the weekly updates and was never informed of this by the builder. We feel that this is no fault of our an that the grinder pump should be moved. So far they have not responded back to us. Knowing Norfolk and if their past actions are any indication of what to expect, they are going to try and wait us out or lie about the whole situation.
Issue #2 - The framing for the ceiling in the master bath was done after the house was already framed and honestly it looks horrible. It seems to me it definitely was not framed by the same guys who framed the house. There was not enough lumber on site and you can see where they ripped their own 2x4's out of gluelams, etc. and they are not even at all. I brought this to the GC's attention back in May who assured me this would be ok. Well once drywall was put up it was not ok and you can see with your eye the ceiling sloping. They have tried several times to fix this by cutting pieces of drywall out and repatching but in our opinion it ALL needs to be taken down, reframed and drywall added again. This is just flat out 'SHADY' craftmanship! It seems that if the builder sees this they would correct it immediately but Norfolk and the GC have tried time and time again to patch this up without correcting it the right way.
Isuse #3- I have gone over our plans, the Camden model, so many times its not even funny and I somewhat consider myself an expert on our model! :) When we first signed our contract back in July 2011 the current agent then, Amy, gave us copies of our floor plans. I later on received some other copies of our floor plan from the company designer, Linda Totok, a upgrade pricelist sheet from Karen Cassada, as well as a copy of our plans before the final revisions were made. Interesting thing at the pre-construction meeting was that the V.P., Kevin Dattillo, did not want to give me a copy of the plans (which I already had) and wanted them to stay on file at the office. I really didn't understand this as this will be OUR house but I didn't make a fuss about it and low and behold the final plans got emailed to us mistakingly by the home office to confirm they were correct. It would make so much more sense for Norfolk to send us the plans to review BEFORE the pre-con meeting so that any corrections could be made. If this were the case everything should be correct at the pre-con meeting and this would have saved us an additonal 2 to 3 weeks of downtown waiting for our plans to be redrawn.
Issue #4. - I must say that my builder is a liar! My wife and I attended the pre-construction meeting 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.
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! Still not happy at the fact we were lied to about the gas lines we contacted the CEO, Kevin Martin, to try and get this issued resolved. Mr. Kevin Martin was no help at all and basically stated that he would allow Mr. Kevin Datillo, V.P., to run his development as he saw fit. 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 attempted 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. For them it seems to be "Business as usual!" This was just over the top and did it for me that 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!
Issue #5. - Our builder lied to us several times by making offers and then taking offers back that was made. Norfolk homes has no integrity at all. see link below for more information:
Issue #6 - Our lot was an engineered lot due to a hole on the lot which needed to be engineer filled. Norfolk was not helpful in this issue at all as we went back and forth and this delayed our build as well. It ended up with me having to call the Director of Codes for the city and the Mayor just to get some clarification on how the hole would be filled. We just wanted to make sure an engineer would come out and survey the lot with the hole undisturbed and then give instructions on how it should be filled. After Norfolk filled the hole we wanted the engineer to come back to ensure the hole was filled correctly and to have a letter on file with the city as well. This delay could have easily been avoided but for some reason Norfolk did not want to put in writing the simple guidelines they would take to fix the hole. We didn't feel this was to much to ask but it intially got resolved with Chris Jeter, sales manager, emailing over a generic form stating the steps that would be taken. Norfolk felt I was being difficult but I think anyone who is making a large purchase would want to insure that there family is safe, they are not buying a house on a sink hole and ensure that the proper inspections were done. I felt much better once we got the paperwork and the city involved because I overheard the previous GC saying how back in the day they would just rinse out some concrete trucks in the hole and pour dirt over it...really???
Issue #7 - When we first signed our contract one of the reasons we went with Norfolk homes is because they were an Energy Star Rated Builder (you can see it is still advertised on their website) http://norfolk-nashville.com/ The energy star ceritification will consist of a blower door test. When I asked Norfolk when the test would be done there first reponse was that they were no longer an energy start partner but built to energy star specs. If this is the case then why is Norfolk advertising they are an energy start builder if they can not get the certification. I went back to read over our contract and it does state that our home will be energy start certified and this is what is in our contract. Some of the building practices by the subs makes me really wonder if our house will even pass the blower test. A lot of the cut of drywall from light fixtures to plugs on the exterior were not we felt sealed correctly. When I asked the GC would these be sealed? He advised me that Norfolk does not seal these opening and gave me the option of sealing them myself(what? I'm the home buyer and I have to do the sealing? What kind of sense does this make?
I started sealing them myself but didn't have enough time to finsih so I gess I will complete this project once we move in. This is yet another example of poor craftsmanship and on attention to detail and when bringing this to Norfolk's attention, it seems to be not a problem at all and business as usual.
Issue #8. - When engineered wall was put up and the house prepped for the slab to be poured the workers left alot of lumber around the hole which alot of it I did pick up myself. Alof of the stakes were broken into the ground and some of the wood left which I have asked the GC several times to remove as these will be a breeding ground for termites. Unfortunately these were not gotten up as I was told they would be and instead just filled over with dirt. I will pay attention to this later on down the road.
Issue #9 - The floor plans state that I would have an open staircase. When house was intially framed, it was done with an open staircase but they came back in and I could see where they were trying to close the staircase. This honestly is just being cheap by the builder, Norfolk Homes, in my opinion because they didn't want to pay for stained endcaps. Well after debating this with GC they are going to go by the floor plans and do an open staircase.
Issue #10. - Norfolk homes did not put in plugs per our floor plan in the garage. I mentioned this to our GC on several occassions who would only reply they were not on his plan. I felt this was absolutely crazy as the 2 car garage had plugs in it so why would the 3rd car garage not? We added on a garage not an outhouse so we definitely felt plugs should be included as well as the garage pre-wired for garage door opener. After speaking with Norfolk's on-site agent who went up the ladder for me, Norfolk decided they would put plugs and pre-wire for the garage opener.
Our concerns during our building process is if we are paying a company to build a house, should you really have to stay on them everyday to ensure they are building your house correctly. We felt Norfolk was just like alot of other builders who cut every corner possible in order to make a profit which honestly doesn't make any sense to me. Your house is your reputation and word of mouth is the best advertising out there. Why cut corners? We just feel that our builder has no integrity and is just in it to do as least as possible and move on to the next house! I personally would nevery build another house with Norfolk Homes nor would I recommend that anyone else do as well. This is the primary reason for m blog is to give other insight when they begin to build and to also warn homeowners as well as agents to stay as far away as possible from Norfolk Homes. (see Part 2)
****I will update blog with the result of our complains to Norfolk Homes****