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.

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.

Respectfully,
Lori Sanson
Executive Vice President
DeNova Homes, Inc.
www.denovahomes.com

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.

Commitment to Quality and Integrity

qaJust because you haven’t see the #denovahomes or #dontbuydenova, let that not lull you into believing all is well and good at DeNova Homes Emerson Ranch out in Oakley. We are still very frustrated and disappointed with DeNova and their “commitment to quality and integrity” as their mission statement claims, falsely. Every day seems to bring another new problem, albeit some minor, but a problem is a problem and needs to addressed. So my thinking goes, DeNova seems to believe otherwise. We have had DeNova workers and contractors shuffling in and out to repair or replace items on our punch list, a list that has decreased in size, but still has outstanding issues, yet unresolved.

To date, now 90 days since closing on our new home I have sent 5 service requests, totaling 89 unacceptable items that we feel need to be addressed. These are all items that fall under “quality control,” which seems there was a lack of between final construction and our purchase of them home. The question now becomes, what do we, as new homeowners do? I have spoke to a few other owners on our street, some who have similar issues and a difficult time getting a hold of the warranty manager to take care of them. I have also received feedback on this site from others who feel the way we do. It seems there is underlying theme when it comes to “quality and integrity,” neither of which DeNova Homes seems to have.

I have taken it upon myself to compose an e-mail to Dave Sanson, owner of DeNova Homes to see what, if any, response we will get. Maybe I am overstepping a few individuals on the management team, but 60 days has expired since our purchase and maybe, sometime in the near future we might actually get to enjoy our home. All we want to see happen is have our problems resolved, at no cost to us. Nearly everything on our punch list are items that should never have made that list if our home were built with “quality and integrity.”

Aside from using #denovahomes and #dontbuydenova on anything I post on social media, I just want to warn other potential homeowners of just what we have gone through. Maybe we are the minority. Maybe the house is just a damn lemon. Regardless, bringing attention to potential issues could possible save another potential buyer to think twice before committing to DeNova Homes. Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to the CEO of DeNova Homes.

Mr. Sanson,
 
Your mission reads, “respected builder” and “commitment to quality and integrity” but it took less than 30 days after purchasing our DeNova home to regret our decision, as we have been faced with disappointment, frustration and anger since since closing on Aspen-216, March 17, located in Oakley. City Manager and college friend, Bryan Montgomery provided your email and suggested I contact you regarding our DeNova Homes buying experience.
 
Initially I was highly impressed when my wife told me she was considering a new home located at Emerson Ranch, the thought never crossed my mind to purchase new. The sales people were warm, welcoming and friendly, allowing us to view the models and answer all our questions. Viewing the models excited us with the prospect of getting in to an all new development during the early phase. We decided to write a $5000 check to hold an unfinished model. That’s where the excitement ended.
 
Problems began prior to the sale, after DeNova Homes got our commitment to buy and deposit check, as the sales people were not completely clear on what was included with the purchase, from window treatments to sealed grout. One of the sales people even said, “I’ve only been here 2 weeks, I don’t know the answer to that.” Some questions went unanswered, others were referred to the construction superintendent who’s response was, “don’t worry about it.” We were continuously reminded, as we walked through the different stages of construction that the home was not complete yet. Unfortunately, when it was completed the finishing was nothing short of unacceptable!
 
As of June 16, I have sent 5 service requests, my wife and I dealing with Warranty Manager, Kevin Maloney, who hasn’t been the most responsive individual when it comes to resolving our problems in a timely fashion. The first 4 service requests sent to DeNova listed 63 items! It was nearly 6 weeks later until a DeNova representative and crew arrived to work on our list. Nearly all the items on our list were finishing work, but what made it worse was the lack of quality in the craftsmanship in our new home. One needs to look no further than our master bathroom tub, as it represents the lack of quality through out the entire house. It became obvious the “quality and integrity” was not what we purchased. We were even told by DeNova, “you did not purchase a custom home.” Talk about demoralizing and frustrating when you spend $484,500 only to realize your problems aren’t going to be resolved.
 
I wish I could say I look forward to coming home after a day of work, but honestly the only thing I look forward to, is when we see a ‘SOLD’ sign in the front of this house. I guess we set our expectations too high and to this point they have not been met. We love Oakley, but don’t love the problems, frustration and disappointment we continue to face with DeNova Homes. Never again will I set foot in a DeNova Homes property or consider purchasing another new home. After our experience, I have nothing positive to say about what we have gone through and will let others know not to consider DeNova Homes, as they care about making the sale and not making a happy homeowner.
Please feel free to contact me regarding our problems and experience.
 
 
Stephen Toumi & Christal Davis
Homeowners, Aspen-216

 

I have no expectations at this point, I just want to vent my disappointment, frustration and anger and thankfully, this being America I can do that, even if it’s to the CEO of the company. Time will tell if we get a reply, to this letter or our 5th service request we submitted. Just remember, if you are considering purchasing a DeNova Homes property, please heed the #dontbuydenova and consider looking elsewhere.

#dontbuydenova: The Saga Continues

dontbuydenovaDeNova Homes followed through as scheduled, we had a three man crew at our home April 26 and 27 to start working on our punch list (catch up on the continuing sage, here). Many items on the list were paint related, but the overall finishing was very poor quality, appearing to be a rush job by some low bid contractor. Rumor has it that contractor was no longer painting homes in the Apsen development.

Now a month later and we have yet to see or hear back from Kevin, the warranty manager or DeNovaHomes on the rest of our list. This doesn’t come as a surprise, neighbors have similar complaints when I speak to them. Yes, I understand there are other developments, hopefully other owners who are as pissed off as we are when it comes to their new home. What we have seen appeared to a step in the right direction, not enough to give DeNova Homes kudos for making us happy to have purchased one of their homes.

While not the typical way to get things done, my wife has been texting Kevin regarding ongoing issues since last month. The next warranty date on the schedule is the 90 day warranty. While the remaining items on my list will be carried over, I don’t expect much movement from DeNova to resolve any of them. Some of the current list items addressed, such as paint on the carpet remain, worse we now have discolored spots from someone attempting to clean the carpet. *shakes head*

I don’t fear what I visually see, poor finishing, poor paint, hinges and door hardware with paint over them, a used front door repainted to match our home. It’s what I can’t see that worries me. So far we have ran into two ceiling fans that were wired incorrectly and installed improperly. Had the fans been wired correctly, the probability of the fans falling from the ceiling were high, so said an electrician who properly installed and wired the units nearly a month after we moved in. The other electrical issue was an outlet wired backwards in the closet, which housed the smart panel.

This past Friday, I walked outside to grab a craft beer from the Coyote 21″ outdoor refrigerator. Upon opening the unit, warm water pooled on the bottom and all the beer was warm, the fridge had stopped working. Frustrated, I swore up a storm at not having cold beer, but more so because this is just another problem we now must face. The temporary solution, as I wait for an answer from DeNova, which I highly doubt will come Tuesday, was to move the beer into a ice filled cooler.

mini_fridgeUpon closer inspection, after moving the fridge out from under the counter, the installation looked sketchy at best. What appeared out of place was an orange 3-outlet adapter plugged into the outlet. This was how I found the refrigerator powered, connected to this adapter.

Out of curiosity, I consulted the owner’s manual and went through the installation and troubleshooting guide.  Reading through the installation two items stood out under ‘WARNING’: “The refrigerator should not be located next to ovens, grills or other sources of high heat. The refrigerator must be installed with all electrical, water and drain connections in accordance with state and local codes. A standard electrical supply (115 V AC only, 60 Hz), properly grounded in accordance with the National Electrical Code and local codes and ordinances is required.”

While I am not an electrician, I consulted a respected friend who is and asked him, “Is this to code?” His response wasn’t surprising, “No. That wire should not be ran in the same hole as that pipe, the Romex is unprotected below 7 feet, this should have a box in the wall with sheet rock. Otherwise the installation should have been done in MC (metal clad cable) but still the wire needs it’s own hole.” This just emphasizes that fact that I fear living in the home because of what I cannot see.

I continued on and started troubleshooting. Just as the image illustrates, I found the unit still plugged in, so I ruled that out. I confirmed the BBQ lit using the electric starter, as both are plugged into the same outlet. I reset the circuit breaker, tripping out both breakers labelled ‘kitchen’ but to no avail, the refrigerator remained off. Finally, I did confirm the temperature control was set not set to the ‘OFF’ position.

Since there has been absolutely no movement on behalf of DeNova, I am ready to escalate our ongoing problems. The City of Oakley will be contacted on Tuesday regarding the possibility of a code violation by DeNova. After speaking to a high school friend of mine, who just happens to be an attorney, he will be receiving a copy of the purchase contract to see what legal avenues we could potentially pursue. I have started writing up a rough draft to Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side to see if the media would like to see get a piece of the action and expose DeNova for the poor quality control. Finally an e-mail to the owner of DeNova Homes, not that I expect any response or reaction, but more to prove DeNova fails when it comes to their “commitment to quality and integrity.”

Put Up or Shut Up

This is the week my wife and I have been waiting on since prior to closing escrow our new DeNova home. If you have following along, things haven’t gone well after writing our deposit checks and selecting our upgrades at their design center. Our initial walk through with the warranty manager was less than acceptable, which required a second walk through a week later, the result was still less than satisfactory. Many items on our punch list were not addressed or corrected and still more required repairs.

What we should have done suspended closing escrow and forced the hand of DeNova, but we were in a bind because of our move out date at the home we were renting. Begrudgingly, we signed the closing documents after talking it over with our realtor. We had a copy of the initial walk through signed by the warranty manager, which would allow some leverage to get something done.

Since closing I have sent 4 emails (read #1, read #2) requesting service, detailing all the current issues with accompanying images to show the flaws, unsatisfactory work and problems we want addressed. Their detailer did stop by however after a walk through with my wife, he felt the job was too big and would require a crew to fix the list of issues.

I feel everything I have wrote about DeNova is fair, even going as far to hashtag #denovahomes and #dontbuydenova. Some might consider me boarding crazy, but as of today, 38 days later only 2 out of 63 items have been addressed. Not sure how ANY company sees that as good customer service. Their canned responses on Twitter, their seemingly “don’t care” attitude speaks volumes. However, I am willing to give them one more chance to make right, which comes this week as the outstanding issues will be addressed.

Since that time my wife and I have spoke to some of neighbor, who, like us have recently moved in. Javier, across the street has some of the same issues we face, to date nothing has been accomplished by the warranty manager. In fact, he hasn’t been very easy to get a hold of, so the story goes. Next to us, Nate, met him last month and talked to him again on Sunday, inquiring about their walk through.

Like us and Javier, he hasn’t been impressed with DeNova Homes to date. The walk through yielded quite a bit of blue tape and some of the similar problems, such as fans and switches not working. He went as far to call DeNova and speak to some female manager, who drove out in her uber expensive Mercedes, but obviously didn’t know the details to his loan or closing information. It seems this is becoming a standard and poor practice as witnessed now by three separate families living within earshot of each other.

As I am reminded by my realtor, I must give DeNova a chance to fix the problems and have remained rather quiet. Still we continue to see more problems. There is some question as to the proper appliances in our kitchen. The range seems to be an updated piece, but the microwave and dishwasher are entry level pieces. This was brought forward by the warranty manager to my wife. None of the tile on the floors or our kitchen back splash were sealed. Huh? $5200 back splash and they can’t seal the grout? Did we not spend enough on it? Or like our list of discrepancies, it was missed.

To be honest I am not sure what it will take, to make me a happy homeowner. As of now, we haven’t enjoyed our home, it’s been a scene out of The Money Pit, with every day a nice item for our list. DeNova’s website talks about “quality and integrity” and even CEO, Dave Sanson is committed “to providing complete customer satisfaction.” Guess he hasn’t read my response on the DeNova Welcome Survey. Needless to say, it was not positive, nor was there anything I saw that represented “quality” or “integrity” and as a customer I am not satisfied…yet.

We are not asking for compensation or the moon. We are simply asking to fix our home, as it should have been prior to moving in. A punch list with 63 items tells me their quality control sucks! Nate echoed this sentiment to me as well during his walk through. We are well aware, as we were told by a DeNova representative, “you didn’t purchase a custom home.” Hopefully something positives comes out of this debacle by Friday. Not sure what a crazed homeowner will do when pushed to his limits.