Attn: Mr. "X"
Tampa, FL ________
Esteemed Mr. "X"
For many families as well as for ours, a house represents the culmination of a dream and the beginning of a new life with new challenges to experience. In its own right, a well-constructed house is a work of art that lasts many years; a silent but loyal witness, indeed, of many milestones from generation to generation. Specially for a couple as ourselves, first-time owners soon expecting a baby, this should be a period of joy and happiness filled with illusions and creative ideas. However, our creativity has been sidetracked with significant concerns that our house is turning out to be far from a cozy and convenient place to live in and that we will not enjoy what we worked so hard to save for. Let us explain with this letter.
One of us works in an architectural firm, and the other one works as an electrician. We enjoy our respective jobs in this field, and, therefore, have acquired a fair amount of knowledge that we thought would allow us to enjoy witnessing the contruction of our own home. Unfortunately, it has rather been a torture to look at the progress of our house, as we spot mistake after mistake continuously being made by "company name." As if the poor craftmanship quality was not enough to make us squirm, the service and personal treatment has been disappointing at best.
Several comments and concerns have caught our attention which we have diligently pointed out to Project Manager Mr. "Y" hoping to save him the trouble of re-doing work, save the project inevitable delays, and save us unnecesary anguish. Mr. "Y"'s appalling answers, ill comments and lack of communication have been disconcerting. But no allegation should be considered or investigated without a proper explanation. So we have listed our concerns below, and whenever possible, included the different responses and reactions from Mr. "Y" since probably then you will clearly understand our point of view.
Concern #1: Rebar Misplacement and Resulting Slab Crack
When the project started and the rebar for the concrete slab was placed, we noticed that the front left corner of the garage had the rebar too close to the edge of the slab. Even though we mentioned it, according to Mr. "Y", the slab was poured on May 27th, and the rebar was never fixed. By the time the concrete masonry units were in place, approximately four days later, the whole corner of the slab was cracking and coming out.
On June 5th , we pointed the situation out to the project manager again and he stated that it was normal. We then explained to him that all materials do expand and contract. The fact that a slab contains two different materials that work together to help in that process means that there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration:
· The rebars need to be at least 1 1/2" from edge of slab vertically and 3" horizontally. Since that rebar was going up into the block walls, it needed to be 3" from the edge of the slab. If that parameter is not met, the expansion and contraction of the concrete and rebar will cause the slab to crack and, eventually, come off. Because the slab is at the foundation, it will affect the foundation properties as well.
· The cmu wall at the bay window was not align with the slab making the cmu wall protrude three to four inches off of the slab.
Mr. Sams, with Architectural Services and Engineering, is still waiting for a response from your structural engineering team addressing how this two issues were solved.
Concern #2: Window Sills Incorrect Size &
Concern #3: Missing "s-bolt" in Garage Masonry Opening
The window sills in the living room and the dining room were 3" smaller than the masonry opening. This three inches were covered with mortar. We also brought up this concern to the project manager's attention and explained that water penetration into the wall is a serious complication that will happen under those conditions. Mortar is a permeable material that will allow water penetration when used over a horizontal surface. This issue was later resolved by the project manager with correctly-sized sills.
However, we also pointed out a problem with the garage masonry opening. Looking at the opening from the inside towards the outside, it is evident that at the left upper side of the opening an "s-bolt" is missing. That remains the case to this day.
Concern #4: Weathered, Mold-ridden Wood Trusses
Following the above mentioned were the wood trusses which where delivered at the site on June 16th. On June 20th, after the trusses were in place, we went to the site only to discover that they had a considerable amount of mold on them. We were quite surprised about this because our contract states we paid for "good workmanship material" which in layman's terms means new, workable material. Applied to this particular situation, this term implies that the wood should not have been weathered and that it should not have contained mold, given that, again, we paid for material that is not affected in any way.
We also noticed that the plates's nails were already corroding. This type of damage does not happen in five days, which would indicate that the materials, in all probability, arrived damaged. At this point, we notified "company name" in writing of our concerns about the mold compromising the structural integrity of the wood trusses.
On June 25th, Mr. "Y" left a voice mail notifying us of the existence of mold on the trusses which we already knew about. He proceeded to inform us that "company name" contracts a mold specialist company that will treat the wood and provide an official letter regarding the treatment performed. We found out later on that "company name" did not hire the mold specialists; Instead, another individual came out to the site to treat the mold.
On June 27th, we told Mr. "Y" verbally that "company name" could test for and verify the type of mold in the wood trusses, and that we were interested in finding out if it was toxic mold.
In regards to the incident of the mold specialist swap, we wrote a letter on June 28th and faxed it to the vice president who called us up on June 2nd. He explained that based on the suggestion of a mold specialist, the wood was going to be sanded and that personnel from "company name" was going to apply a solution that contains bleach. The truss company engineers would then inspect the wood.
We voiced our concerned that bleach or ammonia should not be utilized on metal since it promotes corrotion, and asked Mr. "Y" to provide a document at the end of the treatment either from "company name" Or from the truss company assuring us that the warranty was still on. Additonally, the document would include information on who treated the mold, when the mold was treated, how the mold was treated, and who inspected/verified/certified the job was done correctly. We have since asked in countless occassions for this document and have not received it to this day. Apparently no one --- not even "company name" --- is willing to stand by its own work regarding the mold.
Various Other Concerns:
On June 28th, we felt compelled to call the sellers and report the following new mistakes:
· Wall Switches were in the wrong places ( in the middle of the walls)
· A garden tub was installed instead of the jetted tub we had selected and paid for
· The window in the first floor going into to the master bedroom was missing
· The Pre-wiring of the security system was not yet in place.
The sellers told us they would relay the message to Mr. "Y"
Mr. "Y" called home yelling to us over the phone regarding the above items. When we asked him why he was yelling, he told us that "his son had wacked his daughter with a stick on the head." We felt this was a poor excuse for his attitude towards us given that his son's behavior has nothing to do with our house, nonetheless, rather than mentioning it, we continued the discussion about the house.
Concern #5: Incorrectly Located Wall Switches
Mr. "Y" said that the switch should be next to the handle of the door opposite to the swinging motion of the door. We let him know that, based on what he had just said, the switches in the house, were, indeed, in the wrong place. The following week, he re-located the switches on the second floor to follow the construction standard.
Concern #6: Incorrect Tub Installation &
Concern #7: Tub Warranty, and Plumbing Inspection Issues
Regarding the tub mix-up, On July 16th, Mr. "Y" told us that when the personnel was going to drill holes on the garden tub and place the jets manually.
We reminded Mr. "Y" that the tub was already set in concrete, and that since the framing is around the tub, it could no longer be accessed to work on it. We also reminded Mr. "Y" that if something is done to the tub other than the installation instructions or guidelines from the "JACUSSI" company that makes them, "company name" would be voiding the warranty from "JACUSSI" and would consecuently be assumming all responsibility for the proper functionality of the tub. Mr. "Y" then said that he called the plumber, and that the plumber had admitted to having selected the wrong tub.
Moreover, on July 3rd, the garden tub had a plumbing inspection. This public information can be accessed through the Hillsborough County web site with a special permit number he provided. We called him up on July 17th, before the jetted tub's arrival, to voice our concern that the new tub was not going to go through a plumbing inspection. Regardless of our phone call, the replacement of the garden tub took place sometime between July 21rst and July 25th. Mr. "Y" has not informed us whether the newly-installed, jetted tub will eventually have its own plumbing inspection.
Concern #8: Missing 1rst floor Master Bedroom Window &
Concern #9: Missing Security System Pre-Wiring
Items that we paid for are still missing and no progress or information has been provided to us about them.
Concern #9: Framing Walk-through Failure
On July 31rst, Mr. "Y" attempted to give us a framing walk-through. As we pointed out more mistakes, he became angry, claimed harrassment on our part, and walked out without finishing the walk-through. His flagrant, unprofessional attitude and unwillingness to listen made the meeting inevitably unproductive. Moreover, as a result, we both lost money in work hours. We are both professionals with people counting on our every day work, and with meetings and deadlines of our own that needed to be postponed in order to both attend this particular walk-through. Needless to say, we were appalled.
Concern #10: Rusted Plates &
Concern #11: Re-location of First Floor Switch
Prior to Mr. "Y" walking out on us, we were able to point out to him that there was rust on the plates. We also pointed out that one of the switches, in the entrance on the foyer, was located not following standard practices (refer to item #5). To this statement, he said that "the blueprints are like that," and proceeded to briefly show us a part of the rolled up blueprints. Despite how quickly he put away the blueprints, we noticed that the switch in the blueprint was aligned witht he opposite corner wall of the garage entrace, which is not standard practice either. The exception would be if that switch was for the living room; however, he indicated that the switch was for the foyer area. At this time, the switch is in the middle of the wall preventing any future decoration in that wall.
Mr. "Y" mentioned that this was not a custom home. We, in turn, mentioned that exactly for that reason we expected standard practices to be followed. We also mentioned that prior to deciding on a construction company for our house, we had checked with the reputable Better Business Bureau on the record of "company name."
Mr. "Y" mentioned that any company can pay BBB to clear up its records. We were appalled by this comment and refuse to believe that such a reputable organization could be bought out.
Unfortunately, this is as far as the walk-through went before Mr. "Y" threatened us with buying the house back from us as he proceeded to walk out on us.
Concern #12: Cracked Window Glass
Concern #13: Incorrect Kitchen 'Can Light' Installation
We stayed to look around some more and noticed these last two problems that we could not point out to Mr. "Y": The glass of the window at the dormer, in one of the rooms in the second floor is broken.
Additionally, in the kitchen, the 'can light' between the top cabinetry that is in the wall dividing the kitchen from the living room is too close to the wall. The light is not only decentralized but it is 'washing' or lighting up the wall rather than lighting up the countertop.
Mr. "X", never did we think in our wildest dreams that the building of our house would be such a horrible and frustrating experience. It is a sad situation as we have seen that the contract we agreed to has not been followed by "company name."
We leave you with these throughts and hope that you put yourself in our shoes and do the right thing.
Julio A. Matos-Oriol
10901 Brighton Bay Blvd., NE Apt. 3111 • St. Peterdsburg, FL • 33716
Phone: 813.453.9284 • Fax: 813.251.1994
cc: Better Business Bureau of West Florida, Clearwater, FL