There are many types of home builder complaints, some serious and others somewhat trivial. We can learn from the mistakes and the complaints of others. It does seem that some companies have more complaints against them than others so it pays to find out who racks up the most complaints. It’s also a good idea to read home builder complaints from all over the world in order to find out what to look for when you inspect your construction site.
The important thing about complaints is resolution. Many homeowners are shocked when their complaints are ignored, and even more shocked that the contract they carelessly signed without reading contained an arbitration clause. An arbitration contract forfeits their right to sue and states that all complaints will be settled by an arbitrator. Most people find arbitration a useless exercise, as the home builder never attends to repairing their home. Often this arbitrator never even suggests that they should, because he is in some way affiliated with the builder.
It is therefore important to establish that your homebuilder is honest and trustworthy. A good reputation for honest business practices is worth a lot more than any fancy upgrade package or a slightly lower estimate of costs. Avoid flash in the pan home building companies. Employ well established local builders who value their reputation and take pride in their work.
It seems that 55 percent of all complaints involve cosmetic problems, which usually involve paint, wallpaper application, chipped tile and other surface problems. While it would be awfully annoying to pay for professional painters, only to find out you’d have been better off to save the money and do it yourself, these sorts of problems are not devastating. Walls can be repainted easily enough, and other surface blemishes can be repaired or lived with.
A rising percentage of complaints involve various promised community features, which never seem to get built. One notable example was a community built around a small man made lake, which had not been created yet when the homes were sold. You can imagine the dissatisfaction in the community when this muddy hole, adjoining everyone’s backyard, was never filled with water. There have been many cases recently in which developers failed to provide the promised lake, golf course, playground or park.
In these cases it was usually the harsh economic downturn that caused amenities not to be built. This in turn lowered property values in the community. This led to owner dissatisfaction on two levels, both from not enjoying their lakefront home or playground and their home loosing value.
Complaints about quality tend to lead to a general dissatisfaction with the home. Thin carpets, cheap shoddy cabinetry, and poorly constructed doors and windows are among the types of quality complaints which are often reported on the internet. One woman complained that everything in her home felt like a nonfunctioning replica, or cheap child’s toy rather than a real home. This almost surreal description illustrates that her feeling of disillusionment was overwhelming and all inclusive. It was not that there was one thing wrong. It was that everything was wrong in an unsettling way.
The most devastating type of complaint is when the home is structurally unsound. There are several common causes for structural unsoundness in new homes. One is an underground spring which pops up seasonally under the home. Another is ground instability caused by mistakes in cut and fill procedures, sink holes, or erosion. Third are cases in which homes were actually built with major construction flaws. Shoddy builders build homes with insufficient wall studs, forget to attach plumbing drain lines, or can’t seem to master the use of a level well enough to create a level floor. One horror story involved a home built entirely of two by two inch lumber, while another reported a central supporting wall containing no studs at all. A third story involved a second story oversized bathtub that drained directly into the ceiling of the room below. There was no drainpipe at all.
These sorts of complaints could have been prevented if homeowners had visited the construction site and educated themselves on construction techniques. They could have also been prevented if they had thoroughly investigated their builders, instead of being lured in by low prices. Home builder complaints tend to recur over and over in some builders, so it is logical to hire builders who have good reputations to build your home.