Friday, August 13, 2010

Worst nightmare - House gets a "Defect" put on it

I almost don't want to write this blog. It's sickens me to have to put down on paper what this week has brought. 

But everyone who has written to me about to build a home, or are in the midst of building, I want you to know what's happened so you hear the sales spiels, read the testamonials posted on Builders websites,  as well as know the opposite end of the coin. 

"Hassle free building process". "Peace of mind". "Superior quality workmanship". I hope you all reading my blog get to experience these promises on Eden Brae's website

We are feeling like we have tossed a coin, and the tail end has suddenly battered us across the head. Just speechless and in shock.

To stay less emotional, it's easier for me to write an account in chronological order. I've also given myself a few days (five!) to calm down. 

To begin, you must know that so far, there's been no happy ending. We have had our Independent Inspector go through the house and classify it Failed Final Inspection. The paint throughout is Defective. Nothing can save it. It will have to be sanded back, undercoated, and 3 coats of paint started once again.

If you thought that hearing the words "your home" and "defective" together in one sentence is nightmarish.. You would be right because this whole house building process is such an emotional journey. Mainly because of the time, effort and love that goes into building something you'd want to come home to everyday.

After setting a couple dates early this month for Final Inspection and the Settlement (Key Handover) Meeting, these were rescheduled because of delays mentioned in my previous post.

We were assured from our Site Supervisor (SS), who emailed us saying that he would book Inspections only when he was " happy the house is finished on my part". 

Last week, he told us that he was booking Final Inspections (Tyrells and the Council) for Monday, 9th August. I had a phone call from our Customer Service Administrator (CSA) booking Settlement.

I called Howard, our Independent Inspector, from H&K Ryan to book him in for 11am Monday. If Eden Brae were happy for their inspectors to check the "completed" house, then we wanted someone truly on our side making sure all was as it should be.

So the weekend rolled around. We decided to drop in and have a quick look at the house to see what it looked like "completed". We were astounded that nothing much had been done in the past week. Everywhere we looked there were things that needed finishing and fixing.

Since we had our boys with us, Mr Coco and I decided to come back individually, and make a list of everything that we could find that was still unfinished.

By Sunday afternoon, we'd collated our list and it was almost 2 and a half pages long. Typed. In small font. I'm obviously not going to dump the list here for you to scroll past, but main points of concern were:

1] The paint work. Everywhere we looked, it looked terrible. Unfinished, marked, barely there, gluggy, wood surfaces were not sanded back so awful lumpy looking window frames everywhere, gigantic drip marks, and this, so scary that it made me laugh when I found it.. the painters had simply painted over masking tape in several places. I found putty that hadn't been painted. Holes in surfaces not filled in just painted over. 

The irony? We paid $2269 for "Taubmans Living Proof Silk 3 coat paint with Teflon throughout in lieu of standard 2 coat low sheen paint". This upgrade was pointed out several times to our SS in the last month.

Paint job examples from our house (courtesy H&K Ryan Final Inspection Report):

Above: Paint work in the Garage
Above: Paint missing from under and tops of doors

Above: Paint over duct tape

Above: Paint work so bad no description necessary

2] Front door handle was installed at a crazy angle with gashes in the paint exposing the bright green uncoat door colour. Paint all over the glass panels. The Bathroom vanity door handles were angled wrong too. But come on! Get the lovely, shiny new front door handle on right!

3] Holes and gashes in plaster in Garage (not one, 3!), in one of the Bedrooms, in the Bathroom, and Dining room.  

Above: One of the holes in the Garage and also notice scary wood offcuts used below support beam

4] Our Alfresco stacker doors were sitting on small timber offcuts just shoved in underneath

5] Cornice was still missing in the Alfresco and the Timber Cladding we paid extra for, STILL looked dismal and nothing remotely like the Display Home at The Ponds.

6] Tile that looked like it was superglued on as an afterthought in the Laundry. No grout at all.

All these issues we expected to have been picked up and fixed. We should not have to do the SS's job and make sure that the house was ready for Inspection.

Despite our extensive list, we decided to not cancel Howard's Inspection because we wanted a complete picture of what had to be done straight away. Then the SS would have a list he would be able to action and tick off. We emailed a copy of our list to Howard and to the SS on Sunday night.

Monday, 11am
I arrive on site and see Howard and the SS having a chat. Both seemed a little taken aback (maybe it was just me being a bit edgy) but I had a feeling they thought me and my list a bit odd.

I carry my list in, and see what looked like the issues in my list, highlighted by coloured tape stuck in places I'd detailed in my email. I also see that the SS must have turned up very early because the Alfresco cornices were done. Plastering to fix up some of the holes had been done. 

With no smile in sight from my SS, I approached him and made small talk before broaching the list. As soon as I mentioned it, he said he'd organised the right people to get it all fixed by Wednesday. Umm what? Wednesday? Did you get the right list?

Again, in my novice eyes, it was at least a week away, from being completed.

We go through some of the list at my insistence, but then he starts typing on his laptop avoiding my eyes and looking unimpressed. I ask to borrow the coloured tape to start marking more things I've spotted since I've been there.

Me and that green tape flew around the house at speed getting more and more scared at all the atrocious paint work on every surface. The more I looked, the more I could feel my heart racing.

Monday, 12:30pm
The house now began to look it had been attacked by the green tape. Add Howard's red stickers to the mix and it looked like a skin infection had surfaced on all the plaster, ceiling, doors and painted wood work.
Howard approached and said calmly he had to put a defect on the house. With a fraction of his red dots left from a new roll, he said there was no point. The whole dwelling had defective paint work.

He explained this doesn't happen often. Only a handful (I think he said three) of Eden Brae Homes had been failed at Final Inspection in all his years.

He has direct links to the owner and he would alert them. 

I won't say anymore about Monday because I was obviously distressed at this news. We were expecting keys in two days. The entire dwelling's paint had to be sanded back and repainted. That doesn't happen quickly.

Tuesday, 8am

I read through Howard's report. The level of distress gets worse. We see a picture of our roof insulation. Looks like they had run out of batts part way through the process, and decided that no more needed to be ordered.

I call our CSA and get the Construction Manager's email address. Then send a comprehensive email at 9:30am including 9 specific requests.

We expect a phone call from someone in Eden Brae that they're onto it.

Wednesday, 12pm
Nothing. Not one word in response from Eden Brae. We start to wonder whether they received the report from Howard and our email. 

I ring Howard and he says they've got it. Apparently there are wheels turning in the background. We wonder what happened to their customer service policy. Their policy includes "outstanding customer service" but again, it's just another empty promise we had to accept.

Wednesday, 3pm
I receive an email from the SS. He says he will contact us Friday if the house is finished to have inspection on Monday. WHAT? This is completely different to the time scale Howard advised. He said it should take a couple weeks for them to sort it all out. 

The SS thinks the entire property could be fixed in 2 and a half days. Hopefully, this proves to Eden Brae management that he is out of his depth.

He should have called to discuss with us how the situation was being handled. Instead, his email did not address most of the concerns and requests we had brought up.

At this point I was shaking with anger. I haven't felt this upset for many years. This was our home that FAILED FINAL INSPECTION. Eden Brae Homes seemed oblivious still to its own customer service policy.

Mr Coco tried to get in touch with the Construction Manager. Our CSA wouldn't put his through to his phone. She said she thought she had seen him but wasn't sure where he was right then.

He had to tell them he was going to start calling every 10 minutes until someone in charge would speak to him. 

They were stone walling us. Frustration reaches new peak.

Wednesday, around 5pm
Mr Coco finally receives phone call while driving home. It was the Construction Manager (CM). He tells him he doesn't believe Monday's Final Inspection was "the PCI Inspection". 

PCI means "Practical Completion Inspection" i.e. Final Inspection.

He wants written evidence that our SS said it was the PCI Inspection. WHAT!?! No wonder they were stone walling. But seriously, is that the best they could do? 

If the Monday, 11am appointment was not PCI. What exactly was it? Where in their construction process document does it show a stage for "Pointless random inspections right before Settlement".

The worst part of this phone call? The CM was rude enough to have the loud speaker on and have people (legal advisors? the SS?) all listening in. He did NOT tell Mr Coco that he had done this until he suddenly asked our CSA to clarify whether a Settlement Meeting had been booked. She piped up "it was only a tentative booking".

Wednesday, around 10pm
Mr Coco and I are so angry at the situation we hardly speak to each other. It was too much to deal with. That level of terrible service leaves you even more devastated.

We send an email asking why did the CSA call me to book a Settlement Meeting on Friday 6th August, at 3:01pm (on my mobile phone call log) for Tuesday 10th August, if PCI was not scheduled for Monday 9th August. From this fact alone, it was obvious exactly what our Monday 11am meeting was.

We re-stated our our famous nine requests and asked for an EMAIL response. No phone calls thank you. We need everything in writing from now on.

Saturday, 7am  
I finally sit in bed and write this blog while Mr Coco handles the boys' brekkie. 

We have received no response at all to our email. They seem to enjoy forgetting their own customer service policy.

Our nerves and emotions finally settled, we can look at this situation in a new light. Paint can be fixed. It's not a structural problem. But major lessons have been learned. If you are still reading (OMG you're still reading! Well thank goodness because you're going to be wiser when dealing with your Builder than us..) here is the main things to take note off:

1] Get everything in writing. If someone from the Builder's office calls you, ask them to confirm your discussion in writing.

2] Request that your house be cleaned before inspections. With all the dust and dirt around, many defects can be concealed.

3] Request that your house be cleaned before paint work begins. At the very least vacuumed. 

4] Use a torch and a mirror to inspect your property. There are too many corners and spots that do not receive direct sunlight so make sure you have the right tools to find out if they've cut corners.

After hearing from Howard that he's just inspected another EB property with a perfect paint job another lesson is learned.. your house finishes depend entirely on the skills of the tradesmen working in there. If you start noticing dodgy work, email a request to your Site Supervisor for an onsite meeting to discuss immediately.

Although, from our experience, you may not get an honest answer from them. They may try to bluff their way out of fixing the mess. Get your own Independent Inspector to play Bad Cop.

We are thoroughly in need of some time out of this fiasco. We're heading to Coogee for a 40th birthday celebration tonight and staying there for some long walks on the beach tomorrow.


  1. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am so, so angry for you after having read this post!!!

    You are sooo right - your build experience, good or bad, is solely dependent on the trades you have & your allocated SS. If you have great trades &'re in heaven.
    But unfortunately, EB are soooo big they just can't cut it!

    They have NO quality control - Tyrrell's..bah!!!
    EB have lost touch with their customers.
    EB believes its own spin.

    All I can say is........hang in've got no choice, though, have you ?

  2. Coco, I'm so disgusted and angry after reading what you all have been through!!! The photo evidence is shocking.. my jaw dropped just looking at the first photo, yet alone all of them!

    I'm so sorry you have to go through this.. :( Makes me sad to read your post too.

    Thank you for shedding the light on EB and tips on dealing with them. I've definitely had some difficulties with getting my SS to communicate to me so far but this is just bewildering.

    Enjoy your time out at Coogee and I hope that things next week go well.

  3. Your outrage is completely justified!! I hope they sort out this mess for you immediately. I think they seem to forget the vested emotional interest in the homes they are building for us and that we are spending a FORTUNE on. If it's any consolation at all, I have printed off your tips and will insist on them.

  4. Sounds like you did not have an overly good experience with EB. EB have definitely dodgeballed you in the final process and are trying to peddle as fast as possible. Although I must say that you sounds a bit hiterical on some points without too much cause. Unfortunately in the building industry there is no such thing as a "defective house" at PCI/ final inspection stage. They have the right to spend the next 14days puttering away to get it fixed and that is expected. But after 14days then you have all the right to be angry if items have not beed addressed.

    Also, I do not agree with the 'use a tourch and mirror" tactic because you are using 'critical light'. You wouldn't be on the shitter one day with a tourch light up the wall would you?

  5. My experience is not less shocking then this. I am in the process of writing up not just to tell you another story, but to give you some idea on what to look for when you are building.

    I will post the link of my blog here soon.

    "I barely survived building with Eden Brae, you may not"