DeNova: Second Service Request

lincolnlogsIt’s been a challenging 11 days as a new homeowner since closing escrow with HomeStreet Bank, funny but funding has been easy. Dealing with the developer, DeNova Homes hasn’t been up to our expectations. The process started in January when considered if it was time to buy, coming off a foreclosure was rough but financially we were in a good position. A few weeks of looking through the MLS and visiting a few homes with our realtor, John Canning of Canning Dream Homes, we found Aspen by DeNova Homes, a new planned community in Oakley.

Impressed by what we initially saw, my wife and I discussed our options and decided to put a deposit down on a new home. This was exciting for both of us, but we quickly shifted that deposit to a larger model in order to have a larger backyard. The honeymoon with DeNova Homes ended before we even closed escrow. Every few days, we would stop by, talk to Kelly and Wendy and walk our home to see the progress being made. We kept hearing, “well the house isn’t done, so those problems won’t be there when you do your pre-inspection before closing. Uh huh, sure.

About a week before closing, I posted about a do over with DeNova Homes, as there were many problems still existing that would potentially delay our closing. On our inspection walk with the warranty manager, my wife blue taped MANY items in nearly every area of the home, you would think he was paint the interior blue with all sorts of problems, much of which were finishing items. Lots of paint issue, attention to detail, dirty, razor blades, nails and screws in the house, garage and yard, which posed a safety hazard. Frustration had set in.

The warranty manager had his crew come out and attempt to fix the plethora of issues my wife had tagged. Many of those blue pieces of tape were removed, some of the issues resolved, but many of our main concerns were never addressed. Major items, such as the paint, the master bathroom tub and newel post were noted on a signed form from the warranty manager as things that would be fixed. This before we even closed! To date, none of it has been resolved. After discussion with our realtor and the understanding from the developer our concerns would be addressed, we closed escrow.

In hindsight, we should of held onto our money and delayed the closing and forced DeNova Homes to resolve the outstanding problems. Unfortunately, our hands were tied with the rental company, as I had given a 30 day notice and a final day we would vacate their home.

Our current complaint list stands at 57 items, much of which are cosmetic, but does include some major items, all of which hasn’t been addressed. Yesterday a second service request was sent:

DeNova Homes,
While there has been no resolution to any of the 37 previous items in our initial service request sent 3/21/16, detailer, Carlos did stop by last Wednesday and my wife provided him a laundry list of items of outstanding items in our new DeNova Home. I believe the only issue that was partially resolved was the picking up of debris (listed 006 in my first email) from the front and backyard. We were told Carlos would return with a crew near the end of our 30 day warranty to resolve paint issues, which has me worried many of these items could fall by the wayside. We continue to see or hear no further action on the remaining items listed.
Since my first e-mail we have added 16 more items to our expanding list of unacceptable items. We have remote controls for light/fan in our great room and master bedroom that do not work. The fan does not spin, the light does not work, hasn’t since we moved in. The GFI outlet and lighting in the downstairs bathroom tripped numerous times on my wife with only a hair dryer going. I believe it’s wired incorrectly if the light is tripping. The latest issue, a leaking GE dishwasher. Every time we load and start the washer, we get a pool of water just beneath and under the dishwasher. Our concern now is the potential for black mold and real potential issues! As of last night we have unfortunately discontinued the use of our GE dishwasher until repairs are made or dishwasher is replaced.
There is still concern over the condition of the scratched touch control pad and dent from someone attempting to remove the plastic, protective coating. Not to mention the cabinets continued to rub from continued opening and closing. We are beginning to feel we own a DeNova lemon and not happy with our decision to purchase. Hopefully problems will be resolved or we will escalate our concerns.
As for the additional service items we are requesting, they are as follow (see attached zip file):
038. Upstairs bathroom door hits towel rack before door stopper
039. Medicine cabinet shelf dirty and dented
040. Medicine cabinet cracked, dented and dirty
041. Towel bar master bathroom has paint on it
042. Bathroom with another painted hole
043. Newel post damage, was never repaired to new condition (Carlos supposedly fixing this sometime)
044. Wall damage on the stairwell
045. More missing paint on the stairwell
046. Many light switch face plates covered with paint from the walls
047. Paint on the carpet, common through entire house
048. Bug smashed near the top of the ceiling in the entry way, was there when we moved in
049. Front door lock/handle white overspray, brown paint on it
050. Front door with a very poor paint job, notice streaks in door
051. Front door windows, lacking any quality control
052. More dangerous debris in control, most of which removed before we had our child or animals injured
053. Hanging kitchen light dented, still not replaced
 054. Fan/light in the living room doesn’t work
055. Fan/light master bedroom doesn’t work
056. GE dishwasher leaking water at the base of unit
057. GFI outlet possibly wired incorrectly, as light and outlet trip with hair dryer was in use.
There are no images for items 54, 55, 56 and 57. The list continues to grow and even with Carlos and a crew coming back (no date I am aware of), owning this home is really beginning to feel like it was a mistake closing escrow before our problems were addressed because it appears as if the home was rushed in order to get us in and get our money. I understand sub contractors are at fault, but the reputation of DeNova Homes continues to plummet.. Maybe this is an “isolated” case but we can’t be the only new owners who have experienced this lack of quality in their new home. Hopefully there will be some resolution to all the issues we continue to face before the 30 day warranty period.
As of Monday morning we have not received any response from DeNova Homes. As per their earlier communication, our service requests were being forwarded to the warranty manager. We have 20 days until the 30 day warranty window closes, hopefully we see a positive response real soon.

DeNova: Service Request

tomhanksIt’s been just over a week we have owned our home and the disappointment and frustration continue. There have been many supporting our stance on social media, but some have questioned why we went through with the close of escrow if noted problems were not addressed. Arguments can be made on both sides, but I went on a recommendation and we decided to get into our new home and use DeNova Home’s service request to rectify our outstanding issues.

Earlier this week I sent an email to DeNova Homes to address outstanding issues with our new Aspen home. It read:

DeNova Homes,

Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe the feelings we have towards to craftsmanship and finishing on our new Aspen home. Not only did we have one, but two inspections with Kevin, which seems to only have scratched the surface of the problems we have encountered the first 7 days in our new home. Much of the blue tape place was removed after our walk through, but the problems remained, with my wife finding balled up blue tape in cabinets and doors after we moved in.
As I mentioned in my previous e-mail and noted mentioned to Kelly and Wendy, prior to closing, the e-stone in the master bathroom is unacceptable! I understand we had the opportunity to over pay for tile in this area, unfortunately when we were dealing with the sales office, we never saw a standard bathroom in any of the models before we made our decision to buy. If we knew the e-stone would overhang the actual bathtub, not be cut straight and have poor caulking, rest assured I would have spent money to have tile put in. One of the e-stone walls had a chip in it during our first walk through, which was noted during the inspection with Kevin. The following walk through it appeared as if the enter wall was cut and shortened to remove that chip and now it does not match the other two walls.
It also appears as the house was never cleaned before we took ownership, if it was, then my 10 year could have done a better job cleaning the house. Dirt, dust, sawdust and many nails, screws and razor blades have been found in MANY parts of the yard and home.
The following is the first list of items we have seen in just 7 days in our new DeNova Homes. Hopefully they are all corrected to our satisfaction, because right now I am having buyer’s remorse having spent nearly $500,000 on a new home. Attached is a zip file detailing each item listed below by number.
Attached to this email was a list of 37 items we noted as “outstanding” many of which were issues BEFORE we closed and were promised they would be fixed based on inspection worksheet signed by the warranty manager. To highlight these items I sent them 37 images to go along with each problem. The response to our service request was a bit disheartening:

Good Afternoon Steven,

We are currently reviewing your recent email as well as the attached pictures. I will get back to you once I’ve had a chance to discuss these issues with my management team.

In the meantime, I would like to schedule my detailer Carlos for this Wednesday between the hours of 7:30 and 3:30 to complete all paint touch ups as well as multiple miscellaneous items.

Please let me know if he will have access.

As mentioned in my previous post, Carlos arrived early on last Wednesday. Escorted by my wife, they walked the home and pointed out items we feel should have been caught, if not corrected before close of escrow on March 17. Gone was the blue tape, replaced by green tape to denote areas that need attention. Needless to say there was quite a few pieces scattered through the house. Carlos agreed the paint was unacceptable, many walls, doors and trim either lacking a second coat of paint, but many runs and drips, as if the paint subcontractor didn’t care. Chances are they didn’t, guess I need to remember that.

Unfortunately due to the fact we had moved in a few days prior, Carlos couldn’t successfully accomplish the repair. He spoke to the warranty manager and explained the shortcomings and problems that existed. It was agreed he would come back with a crew to repair the outstanding issues before the 30 day period is over.

There has still been no further discussion on our master bathtub of the newel post at the top of the stairs. I am guessing DeNova Homes will try to slide it through as “standard” and “acceptable”, yet I feel they are making no headway if these major items continue to go unaddressed. I will give Carlos a chance to clean up a majority of the issues we reported last week. My wife will be the determining factor if the work is done to her satisfaction. Yet, if items on our list continue to fall by the wayside as we draw closer to our 30 day warranty, we will be forced to escalate our problems.

Closing Time

It’s official…actually it’s been official for a week this past Monday. We finally closed escrow on a new home built by DeNova Homes out of Concord, CA. What started out as wonderful buying experience has turned into a new home nightmare, as much of the finishing work lacked detail, care and craftsmanship. Some I have spoke with have referred to it as “punch list material.” As mentioned in the prior update, we had two pre-purchase inspections with the warranty manager, which honestly didn’t yield the results we were anticipating, but decided to close escrow, as we were running up against getting out of our rental.

mone_pit_holeWhile DeNova Homes hasn’t sunk to the level of KB Homes (yet), I am prepared to speak of them in the same breath, especially after the purchase of our first “money pit” in 2004, which had me feeling helpless, much like Walter Fielding stuck in the floor, from the 1986 movie, The Money Pit. Unfortunately I am not singing the Name Game to pass the time. After I sent scathing e-mail in response to their “welcome e-mail” we have a laundry list of items that need attention. Currently my wife and I are very disappointed when we should be elated to be in a new home.

All the blue tape set by my wife during our initial walk through, the ongoing discussions with the sales representatives, the construction superintendent didn’t yield the results we had anticipated. After our move in, my wife was finding pieces of blue tape, balled up in drawers, on the floor that once represented a flaw in the finishing. I need to step back for a moment and remind myself, this is NOT a custom house and I am not paying a premier price. If I were quality and craftsmanship would be much higher and the builder I hired would have take care and time. These developments are constructed quickly with the bottom line to sell and start making money on them.

The more we settled in, the more flaw came to the forefront of our new purchase. This before we had ANY furniture in the house. Movers did not ding the marks we identified and sent to DeNova Homes for “discussion” over by their management team. What really gets me is, the fact we can’t be the first of four families to run into this problem. Maybe we were so enamored with the purchase of a house we loved that we went a bit too fast in the buying process and should have taken a step back and forced DeNova’s hand in correctly outstanding problems.

Thankfully we have a document signed by the warranty manager that identifies two major and many minor problems through out the house. As of Wednesday, we met Carlos, dispatched by DeNova Homes to repair our problems. Unfortunately, when he arrived at our house on Wednesday, there was very little work he could accomplish for a few reasons. First, we had just completed our move and had not open and stored all our belongings, so many of the areas in question were not accessible. Second, the amount of flaws my wife showed Carlos had him call his boss for further discussion. The decision was made and Carlos was going to return before the 30 day warranty period with a crew to repair our home.

We have kept in touch with our realtor, John Canning of Canning Dreams Homes, who has gone above and beyond our expectations and continues to stand by our side as we force the issues with a houseful of problems. My wife called a sales director earlier this, as well as taking to social media in order to get something done. Needless to say the Twitter responses were of a canned variety, “Per Our Conversation, someone will be at your home tomorrow &Thursday to resolve your concerns. See you tomorrow!” Not surprising, really. After the tweets by my wife, I sent our first service request to DeNova that included 48 images of flaws, along with text about each, none of which we find acceptable in a new home, some are very glaring problems. Will they be repaired? Don’t know, time will tell.

Second Time’s a Charm

In a manner of speaking, the second walk through of our new DeNova Homes, should have been finished to this level of quality. If it were, chances are there would have been few complaints on our part and no phone calls to directors and people above those we have had to deal with. That still does not take away from the fact the master bathroom is unacceptable. The level of craftsmanship is no better than poor I would like to think that anyone who didn’t upgrade their master bathroom to tile would stick to their guns like we have in hopes of resolving this problem.

As we did a few days ago, we met Kevin, the Warranty Manager at our new home at Emerson Ranch, in Oakley. As an aside, I still won’t recommend anyone to purchase a home from this at this point until I see them follow through with our home, which might possible change my opinion of them. But currently, they really don’t rank much higher than KB Homes and the snafu we have had with broken pipes in the last two homes we have owned in Oakley.

With Kevin in tow, we began walking the home again, it was amazing to see many of the original issues dealt with. You could tell new paint had been laid, as we walked up our “upgraded” front door was being painted. I really only had two issues, both of which I considered major in nature and I knew neither had been taken care of correctly. The only way the master bathroom becomes satisfactory is to tile the walls, anything less, at this point is unacceptable.

The newel post at the top of the stairs had been worked on again, but the post is still not straight some more bondo and another coat of paint. Maybe, as our realtor said a few days ago, if we would have see it we would have been okay with it. But knowing what it looked like originally and the work they have done, a new post is the only way I will be happy with the banister. Maybe that makes me an asshole for not giving in on these two items alone, but with the price we are spending and the quality of the house, things need to be up to a standard before the house is presented to us, the buyer. It wasn’t, so we got out the fine toothed comb and went through the remainder of the house nothing every little discrepancy. Why not?

While there were still many imperfections, mostly in the paint my wife was more pleased today than she was two days ago. Still Kevin was madly taking notes of items to pass along that required attention. The list was nowhere near as long, but still some items were left outstanding that my wife and I agreed upon needed attention. When you start throwing around not closing and withholding funds, along with phone calls to the higher level people at DeNova shit started to get done. But did it ever need to come to this?

I am very thankful we retained a realtor through this entire process, with John Canning of Canning Dream Homes, I am not sure we would have been as tenacious as he was. He wanted to make things right and in my opinion has gone above an beyond as our realtor to get us what we want and more importantly to see us happy in our new “dream home.” We had a good realtor when we purchased our first home, but this time around I believe we have gained a friend based solely on John’s dedication to make things right.

As the walk through continued my wife pointed out areas that were still unacceptable, meaning someone pulled the blue paint tape and never fix that item, as there were quite a few of those. I am thankful I took pictures of all the tape, as I was walking room to room, mobile phone in hand comparing the picture to the home. While I won’t say I was 100% pleased, the finishing was an improvement. If and when we close, there will still be walls to touch up with paint or even window sills that went unpainted, believe it or not. How this gets past quality control is beyond me.

There is still a considerable amount of work to be done IF we plan on closing escrow on Friday and picking up keys to our new home. Even after that, we will still have 90 days to report items that don’t meet our standards and we will be dealing with Kevin again to make it right. With any luck we will be moved in by the middle of next week and will start tagging items on that warranty list.

DeNova Do Over

IMG_0901Is there such thing as a “do over” when it comes to new home buying? Right about now, I wish there was. Unfortunately, we are at a point in the negotiations, where we would end up surrendering all of our deposit as it is “non-refundable.” We knew this going in but little did we know we would face such a challenge when it comes to the finishing touch on our new home.

Built by DeNova Homes out of Concord, I was highly impressed initially with the homes they offered. That’s the problem when you walk the model homes, you are struck by the quality and “upgrades”, which come at a premium price. You don’t get to see a bare bones home with little to no upgrades and that is where the problems began.

Kelly and Wendy have been very pleasant to work with through the process to date. There have a been a few items that we were told our house would come with, only to find out that wasn’t included. Still, we were able to call them, ask questions and see our home through the later stages of construction. We entered into negotiations and the home was complete minus the flooring and counter tops, so we had already past many of the inspections we have signed off on.

IMG_0880Looking back, the design center visit was a fiasco! We were allotted an amount of money by the developers to purchase this home, some of which would go towards closing costs and the remainder to be used on those “upgrades” that made the model homes look, something special. We spent the money accordingly on tile flooring downstairs, leaving just the Great Room as the only carpeted area. The carpet through out the house was upgrade, as the standard carpet looked and felt very cheap. What impressed me while walking the models was the full back splash in the kitchen, this is something I wanted, but could have purchased and had it install after we bought the house for a fraction of the cost. The remainder of the money went towards window treatments on all but 3 windows.

When it was all said and done, we felt good about our selections and went a few thousand over what we were allowed to spend, this came directly out of our (well my wife’s pocket). That left us with the bathrooms being finished in something called “engineered stone” or “e-stone.” Engineered stone is a composite material made of crushed stone bound together by an adhesive, (most commonly polymer resin, with some newer versions using cement mix).

IMG_0734That is where the problem began, touring the models all of the master bathroom used upgrade tiles in the tub area. We never got to see a “standard”, as DeNova Homes call it, bathroom. Let me say I was in shock when I saw the lack of craftsmanship. I doubt anyone would accept the quality of work the developer was trying to pass on. The cuts were uneven, seams in highly visible areas and the e-stone hung out over the tub by at least a quarter of an inch. On all account UNACCEPTABLE! How did this pass quality control?

This was communicated early on and has been the top of the list to be repaired. When my wife marked a chip in the e-stone during our walk through last week, we were curious as to how the chip would be removed. The developers end up cutting off the bottom of the overhanging e-stone, so now it does not match the other two walls in the tub area. Again, unacceptable! In fact it was made worse.

IMG_0861The newel post at the top of the stairwell was hit and cracked, not completely off but it was another area of concern before we walked through. The construction superintendent said we would never know it was there. His would could be no further from the truth, as we were looking for the repair and it’s terrible! It appears they filled the area, sanded it and repainted it. The post line isn’t even straight now.

IMG_0878I can go on and on when it comes to small items, many my wife pointed out to the warranty manager during our walk though. Many answers we continued to get from the warranty manager usually included the word “aesthetics.” Using blue painters tape my wife pointed out flaw after flaw in every room and hallway. Needless to say the newel post and the bathroom were major flaws, marked but not much was said by the warranty manager.

IMG_0834The finishing coat of paint had runs on the walls, door frames and baseboard, that is if it had a finishing coat. It appeared as if some of the trim work had only a single coat of paint or in a few cases no paint at all! Walls with very thin coat of paint, missing paint and fish eyes in the paint caused more blue tape to be stuck. How this house passed any sort of quality control inspection is beyond me. It’s been very frustrating dealing with the developer and not getting anywhere. To no one’s surprise you can walk the models and all these “aesthetics” were not an issue.

Now that we are a day from the close of escrow it will be curious to see what direction the developer takes. Right now I intended on having the escrow company withhold the transfer of the money unless our problems are fixed. There’s no way around not accomplishing the work. The developer has been made aware of this as well, so the ball is in their court, we will see if they want to play.