Doublespeak, Lies & Banging

All appears well and fine from the outside of Aspen-216.DeNova Homes excels in the art of doublespeak, when it comes to the ongoing problems at Aspen-216, Emerson Ranch in Oakley evidenced by a visit from their Warranty Manager and Director of Operations last Thursday. This appointment, followed a condescending email response from their Executive Vice President, Lori Sanson, in which I voiced my disappointment, frustration and anger with this home since we closed escrow on March 17. This meeting was to revisit a list of open items on our punch list, the most notorious being a bathtub surround and new issues DeNova Homes continues to deny are problems and up to their standard of “quality and integrity.”

There was no formal introduction of who this “boss” was, not that it made any difference appearing annoyed to even be at our house, deal these problems. We started in the kitchen, with cabinets having misaligned corners, dings, damage and trim pieces colored with a black felt pen instead of replaced. After a visit from Barbosa Cabinets, we have a pile of cabinet pieces in our kitchen, but nothing had been fixed with the exception of a cabinet door and alignment problems. Barbosa did make mention of the “lack of quality” and “poor installation” to my wife during their initial visit.

IMG_1525A bigger concern for us was the upgraded tile back splash, which appears to have been installed too fast, possibly incorrectly with some slippage occurring during the setting of the tile. Grout lines vary in size with no real consistency giving a wavy effect around the kitchen walls. There are lines of grout discolored in and around the sink, as well as cracked tiles. DeNova Homes and no issue with either the tile or grout. Some doublespeak by the Warranty Manager guaranteed to get the tile people to examine the tile and grout. Honestly, I expect no fix to occur on this $5200 upgraded back splash.

Discussion transitioned to the granite counter top; the seams, sharp edges and overall a poor finishing. This was an item that had been mentioned previously, as it had sliced my wife’s forearm open when we first moved in. The edges of granite are rough and poorly cut with two noticeable seams. In our previous house, we paid for new counter tops during our kitchen remodel and had a single seam that could barely be seen, cut at a 45 degree angle on our U-shaped counter, as well as a single piece around the sink basin. Not with DeNova Homes, possibly due to time and cost, our corner seam is set at a 90 degree angle with an unsightly seam directly in line with the faucet. Again, this from a company who has “a commitment to quality and integrity” and boasts “attention to detail.” This could not be further from the truth.

From the kitchen my wife discussed about the unfinished work that previously occurred, in which wall and baseboard trim or doors were sanded, but never repainted. This stemming from a very poor quality paint job through out the entire house; doors to trim, walls to ceilings. Coats of paint so thin, you could see through the paint and even areas that weren’t painted at all. I had never seen so many runs in paint, I guess that’s “quality and integrity” at it’s finest. No effort made at the time of painting to fix the initial problem, my 10 year old could have painted the trim more professionally!

outdoor_outletOutside it was a dirty, chipped concrete patio that was NEVER cleaned prior to moving in, with stucco and overspray, an unsightly mess. The outdoor kitchen ledge, which houses the gas grill isn’t level and the cutout and finish on the granite are poor, worse than the kitchen. In an attempt to cite DeNova Homes on a code violation I involved the City of Oakley in an electrical issue, which saw the use of a 3 outlet adapter used in a two outlet receptacle because of the BBQ, warmer and mini fridge. Three electrical items, only two outlets. Shocked to see their “standard” I felt it was a hazard and showed the city inspector. They said they would contact DeNova Homes. No idea if ours will be corrected or if they continue with the same “quality” practice in the houses now under construction.

Upstairs to the main event, the master bathroom tub surround. I stand by my comment, the master bathroom exemplifies the entire home. Even though their Executive Vice President, Lori Sanson disagrees, “hope you understand that does not speak to the overall quality of the home.” Yes, it does! You resolve this problem when it was initially reported, which was BEFORE escrow closed and I am not “banging DeNova on social media” as Brock Rose, Director of Operations implied. Since this problem continues to exist appearing DeNova Homes believes there is nothing wrong with the “standard” install I have very few avenues to warn other potential buyers of the lack of quality in DeNova Homes. May even require the services of Michael Finney of 7 On Your Side.

bathtub_03Everyone who has seen this tub surround agrees. The quality and craftsmanship is unacceptable, no one has sided with DeNova Homes on the bathtub surround. The install is poor. The quality is poor. The craftsmanship is non-existant! You can talk about “all homes are constructed with thousands of natural and manufactured materials by human hands,” but we am not looking for perfect. Never have been. We are after acceptable and the bathtub surround is NOT acceptable and doesn’t meet expectations. Place the blame on me, since I should have stopped the sale or not closed escrow until this problem was addressed. Yet we were assured time and time again through the construction process the problem would be take care of before we moved in, by the salesperson and construction superintendent. Surprisingly, it wasn’t.

bathtub_04The discussion with the Warranty Manager and Brock Rose, Director of Operations ended in the master bathroom. His demeanor, like that of Lori Sanson in her email response was arrogant and condescending. As my wife continued to call the quality of the master bathroom “shit” time after time, Mr. Rose spoke up, which included comments about how she was “banging DeNova on social media.” I quickly corrected him that going to social media was solely my responsibility. This followed by the insinuation I was “lying” as other new DeNova homeowners at Emerson Ranch were happy with their DeNova built home, except us. That could not be further from the truth. I’ve spoke to four homeowners next door and across the street who aren’t pleased with DeNova Homes.  This includes a family I met last Saturday, just moving in and the exterior paint scheme was not what they were sold. Continue to boast about “commitment to quality and integrity…attention to detail…values” in your mission statement. We have not experienced it, neither have some of our neighbors.

google_dontbuydenovaAfter these comments were made, I was done wasting time with these DeNova Homes representatives. As per our warrant agreement I will continue to file service requests for items requiring attention for the first (hopefully our last) year of ownership. However I will not deal with the unprofessional, arrogant, condescending people of DeNova Homes. I will leave my wife to schedule and confirm the appointments. It’s unfortunate, but many of these continuing issues could have been avoided, along with the #dontbuydenova and stance I have taken against this developer. There needs to be some level of quality expected when you purchase a new home. We were never looking for perfect, but we didn’t even get acceptable. For the rest of the story you can search The 6th Floor for ‘DeNova Homes‘ as the story begins on August 1, 2016. There are 76 images that have been made public on my Facebook page to warn potential buyers.

Commitment to Health

pd_comparisonThis October will represent 5 years since I have taken control of my health thanks in part to Dr. John McDougall and Julie-Marie Christensen of Protective Diet. It’s amazing and powerful to see the foods we eat and their effect on our health. While I don’t want to measure my success solely in terms of weight loss, there were many benefits that went along with losing 44 pounds in 10 months. Many ailments and problems I had seemingly disappeared as a result to my commitment to health, results of my blood tests revealed my high cholesterol had decreased by 134 points! Looking in the mirror I saw a new, slimmer, healthier person looking back. It was a great feeling! Here’s a quick video, look for me at the 5:21 mark.

Along with these benefits, I took up running, to help supplement the weight training I had started. With a renewed vigor I started participated in Tough Mudder with co-workers, which tested my mental and physical abilities. I wanted to push  and learn what limits my body could endure, so I signed up for my first half marathon, which I finished in 1:58, followed by my first 50k (31.7 miles) a year later in 8:53. If that wasn’t enough I have run three 50 mile races the past 2 years, posting a PR earlier this year of 13:40! The results were proof to me that without taking control of my health none of this would have been possible.

It’s amazing to hear Julie speak about her passion that is Protective Diet, she inspires many she touches with her (and Jerry’s) positive message about health and the foods we eat. Reading and hearing testimonies from other ‘PD lifers’ should be proof that what Julie teaches works. While I was never skeptical, I was impressed with how I further cleaned up a diet that already had removed meats, dairy and oils. Seeing the many vibrant and smiling individuals on the Protective Diet Living page only helped to reinforce her message and my life changing decision.

Somewhere during my journey, over the past 4 years I hit a bump, which turned into a slide and suddenly I found myself out of control, falling back on poor decisions and bad habits. Through it all I stuck to the basics that got me here; no meat, dairy and oil while following a starch based diet as Dr. John McDougall promotes. Yet the gains I had achieved were slowly fading into the past. I attempted to remain positive, knowing that if I achieved these improvements before I could do it again! A list could be draw up, excuses made but honestly, what good would it serve? None, I lapsed and now it’s time to refocus and get my health back on track.

Today was ‘Day 1’ and I am sure MANY Protective Diet Living subscribers know what I am talking about. As the saying goes, “tomorrow is a new day…” That is what today was, a new day, one in which I watch Lesson #97 on Protective Diet to get me pointed in the right direction and take control of my health, so I can look and feel like I did a short time ago.

At no point do I feel as if I failed myself or others when it comes to this lifestyle, as I was able to stick to the basic principles, but Julie is able to take that change to the next level. That is where I want to return to. Being able to confidently say I love what I eat and how I feel. No one should ever feel as if they “can’t do this” or “won’t have success.” I know both of these statements will not hold me back as I have bigger plans in the future.

With so much going on in life, free time hasn’t been abundant, but the time I had could have been spent more wisely with regards to running, an activity I thoroughly enjoy. Earlier this year I had plans to add two more ultra marathons to my list. The first, Pioneer Spirit 50, a 50 mile race from Cool to Folsom with a portion of the trail familiar thanks in part to running the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, twice. This was supposed to be a training run in August, for the Folsom Lake Ultra Trail 110k, a a 68.35 mile race around Folsom Reservoir. Both races are more difficult and challenging, mentally and physically. Right now I am not at my best health, but both these races are on my calendar for 2017.

If that’s not enough running, I plan on attempting my first 100 mile race in March next year at the Razorback Endurance. This will be the first time at this distance with a 36 hour cutoff and relatively no vertical component on the 2-mile loop. This is truly the biggest challenge I want to attempt, even if it’s only one time. In order to be successful I need to be mentally and physically prepared for this challenge.

The 21 meal menu is complete, ingredients purchased as I look forward to the next few weeks using the Guide to Optimal Health as a reference to regain my health, fitness and feel better about myself. Lots of support from many individuals who are following the same lifestyle, so I am not going at this alone. If I can master this, ANYONE can! Time to eat…

Here’s a quick video, look for me at the 5:21 mark.

Complementary Carpet Cleaning

On June 17 I made the decision to email Dave Sanson, President of DeNova Homes, the developer behind the “lemon” we purchased in the new Emerson Ranch site, out in Oakley. To this point, we have been unhappy with the lack of attention to the DeNova Homes problems that have plagued ous since BEFORE we closed escrow. We kept hearing, “we will take care of it” or “the house isn’t done yet” or the best one, “it’s just aesthetics.” Funny, but nearly 120 days later, the house STILL isn’t fixed to an acceptable level, makes me wish we would have delayed the purchase if we knew we were going to experience so many post-purchase problems.. Consider it a hard lesson, learned.

While at the car wash last week I pulled up my email and was surprised to see a response from Lori Sanson, Executive Vice President of DeNova Homes. The letter read:

Dear Mr. Toumi and Ms. Davis,

Your email below was forwarded to me yesterday and I do wish to apologize for the delay in response as Dave had been out of town.

First, I want you to know how much we appreciate you taking the time to send your email.  You are absolutely correct that our mission includes a commitment to quality and integrity, and customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to us.  We work very hard to insure that our homeowners receive all pertinent information, that questions are answered and realistic expectations set before they go into contract and throughout the escrow period.

I have reviewed your file and do know that at the time of your purchase there were two different temporary sales people assisting Kelly; they would not and should not have answered detailed questions but certainly should have referred your questions to Kelly rather than just saying “I don’t know”.   Our brochure clearly states window coverings are an optional feature and the fact that sealing of grout is something a homeowner would do after move in is discussed in design center paperwork so these certainly are questions with readily available answers.  We apologize if you did not get these answers quickly from our staff.

I had a meeting today with our operations and warranty team and understand that your initial requests have been completed, but we have not been able to confirm scheduling with you to address your most recent concerns.  Please do understand, all homes are constructed with thousands of natural and manufactured materials by human hands, and therefore it is impossible for any home to be “perfect”, but I assure you we are here to take care of warranted items that may come up within your home.  Our team will be reaching out again and looks forward to scheduling with you as soon as you are available so that the items on your most current warranty request can be reviewed.

Finally, I would like to apologize if anyone on our team actually made the statement about not buying a custom home as that is not messaging we would ever endorse.  We treat every home we build, custom, production or otherwise, with the same attention and quality control.  I understand you are not pleased with some of the manufactured materials selected in your home, such as the master bath surround, but hope you understand that does not speak to the overall quality of the home.  We sincerely regret that your experience to date has not been positive and hope we can work together to find you happy and enjoying your home. I understand you are still in the process of getting settled, but once you are, we would be pleased to provide you with a complimentary carpet cleaning which Kevin stated you inquired about.  Again, thank you for taking the time to reach out.

Lori Sanson
Executive Vice President
DeNova Homes, Inc.

My wife didn’t want to hear the response, as it was further upset and disappoint her further. If DeNova believe a “complementary carpet cleaning” is going to suffice, in an attempt to remedy the situation, they are strongly mistaken. We don’t need or require a carpet cleaning, as that won’t fix discolored carpet from a DeNova employee attempting to remove paint. It’s been like that since the first service request in May! That was just one of some 63 issues we have recorded and reported in less than 120 days.

While we weren’t looking for “perfect” in a new home, we had expectations that were not met by DeNova Homes during the sale. I believe many homeowners in our position would feel the same and expect many of the problems to be resolved. Yet it doesn’t appear DeNova is really committed to the customer the way we continue to circle back on existing issue.

bathtub_02I continue to point to our master bathtub as a representation of the entire house, to which she I am told, “I understand you are not pleased with some of the manufactured materials selected in your home, such as the master bath surround, but hope you understand that does not speak to the overall quality of the home.” Since it was our decision not to upgrade the engineered stone, we must accept the fact DeNova wont’ replace it, but what I am not happy with it the lack of quality and workmanship, which even to the untrained eye looks like shit! I don’t believe she has seen images of just how poor the bathtub walls look. This image was taken on February 6, a month before we were to close on Aspen-216. We were told it would be addressed before the sale was final.

bathtub_03My initial complaint was not seeing a model with “standard” options. Now I know why, people wouldn’t buy if they didn’t see a home with $200,000 in upgrades. The bathroom is a prime example, if I would have seen just how bad the master bathroom looked with engineered stone, I would have overpaid for tile. That didn’t happen. To repair the chip in the bathtub wall, it appears the chip was cut and sanded but based on the image, its still very poor work. Not sure, but I don’t think I would be the only one complaining about the quality of the work. The repair is unacceptable! The cuts aren’t even straight, not to mention an unsightly seam! I understand, “it is impossible for any home to be perfect” but this doesn’t come close to meeting our expectations.

bathtub_04To make matters worse the walls no longer match up, as the side wall with the chip is now shorter than and this was an acceptable fix? My point has been unchanged since before the close of escrow, there is no quality in the workmanship for the bathtub. I am not looking for “perfect” but something that resembles the quality she speaks of in her email. As for integrity, I believe her response is based on my emails, not the images I have sent in the past, but it’s hard to believe anyone; homeowner or developer would consider this acceptable work.

At this point nothing has been resolved, the last service request date we had was June 29, but DeNova Homes was a no-show. Yet it’s probably my responsibility to get back to them. At this point, I am sure they will continue to drag this dog and pony show out, I will get bored and forget about the problems in our new home. Not happening, next up a You Tube video showing all the problems in our home, which will be sent with an email to 7 On Your Side.