PLEASE READ IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING PURCHASING A TOLL BROTHERS HOME. THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS SENT TO TOLL BROTHERS ON OCTOBER 25, 2004. TO DATE, WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED A RESPONSE.
Toll Brothers Corporate
Dear Sir or Madam:
We are writing to inform you of our extreme outrage and disappointment with our Toll Brothers home. We picked our Novi, Michigan, lot and home based on the fact that we would be spending the majority of our lives here; we dreamed of retiring in this home. We dreamed of raising our family in this home. Instead, we missed countless hours of our children growing up.
It wasn’t until we heard the comments coming from your company’s tradesmen, that we fully realized our dream had slowly become a nightmare. As a result, we cannot recommend the purchase of a Toll Brothers home to anyone.
Your web site and brochure boast, “No other builder is as committed to quality as Toll Brothers.” Yet, our experience thus far with Toll Brother’s quality has been:
-Eight walls in our home are out of plumb by an inch and a half or more over 60 inches (Exhibits 2,3, 4 and 4A – only a few walls are represented here).
-Four door jams are off one-half an inch or more over 30 inches.
-Two ceilings are out of plumb by one-half inch or more over 30 inches (Exhibit 5 – one shown).
-Two cabinets are out of plumb by one-half an inch over 30 inches (Exhibit 6 – one shown).
-Destruction to upgraded flooring (Exhibit 7, 7A).
To date, we have had to endure the following observations from your team of workers:
-“This house is a pile of shit.”
-“…aside from burning [this house] down and starting over, nothing would make it right.”
-“[this house] must’ve gone up on Friday at 4:00 p.m.”
-“Your house is a lemon.”
-“I can’t believe you spent so much on this home and this is what you got.”
-“105th time is a charm.”
Now that the sting of Toll Brother’s deception has been made apparent to us, heartbreak and embarrassment are the feelings we are forced to live with. Below is an account of the exhaustive hardships we have had to accept as owners of a Toll Brother’s “luxury” home. See Exhibit 1 for a detailed accounting.
-More than 92 tradesmen were in an out of our home over the course of almost 3 years.
-Great Lakes Drywall worked over 90 hours in our home at irregular hours over the course of 6 -months. This was over and above normal repair of nail pops and seams which were addressed -in months prior.
-The same shower wall was put up and torn down 5 times (Exhibit 8).
-We went 86 days without a working Master Bathroom.
-Walls were moved and floors were cut back (Exhibit 9).
-6 bags (120 lbs.) of drywall compound were applied to our foyer wall in an attempt to make it plumb (Exhibit 10).
-No one was held accountable as finger pointing and excuses were all that Toll employees could muster.
-We missed countless hours of work to address these issues.
-We spent over 100 hours of time cleaning and removing debris from our own home.
-Pediatricians noted concern for our children’s well being and safety.
Prior to the above documentation, we encountered:
-Weeks without a porch,
-Weeks without a walkway and front door because it was not finished properly,
-The inability to walk upstairs as the pad and subfloor were torn off our bridge upstairs because not one joist hanger was tightened,
-Being forced to go from a 32” door to a 30” door upstairs because the supporting stud was so far off plumb it could not be shimmed.
-Irreversible destruction of the conservation easement behind our home as Toll instructed their digging crew to take the soil from our basement and the basement of our neighbor and dump it behind our lots. After meetings and proving that water was collecting on our lot, Kevin xxxxxx from Toll admitted to “something being missed”.
Through this process we were informed that when Toll “back charges” trades, they charge back double. So, if Toll needed to charge back Bullen Construction for a $5,000 repair, they would, in fact, charge $10,000. It is disheartening to think that Toll Brothers will benefit financially from our pain and suffering. We cannot believe that Toll Brothers will profit from a home where our four year old and one year old could not play or walk alone without encountering stray nails, saw blades, chemicals, and power equipment.
We should be compensated, not Toll Brothers. We respectfully request a refund which includes, but is not limited to, the amount charged back to Bullen representing Toll’s financial gain, a refund of framing costs (materials and labor) and compensation for cleaning.
We hold Toll Brothers accountable for all of the experiences cited in this letter starting with the most obvious: Our wood sat out for six weeks in the spring prior to our basement being dug. Our repeated requests for a tarp were ignored. In addition, major structural items that could have been addressed earlier on in the framing stages would have resulted in a lot less physical destruction and far less mental duress. We trusted that basic carpentry practices were being followed. We trusted that the project manager would have checked or reviewed the work of others. We trusted that some level of quality was reflected in the price of our home. That is why we purchased a Toll Brothers home. Being duped is humiliating.
Please contact us to discuss the above.
May 5, 2003:
John xxxxxx and Dale xxxxxx walked through our home. Dale informed us that “everyone has a level of responsibility”. He stated that “the framers, drywallers, tilers, trim carpenters and even Toll Brothers share in the responsibility”. He stated that “the various trades put bad work over bad work.” John then contacted Bullen construction. Eric from Bullen walked through our home and could not believe his eyes. He informed us that “the framing job was horrible” and he made it a point to tell me that his “crew did not frame our house” but that he “knew who did”.
May 12, 2003:
Eric and Lonnie from Bullen worked at our home for the better part of the day. They moved the base of our dining room wall over an inch and a half. Eric left and Lonnie continued to work in our shower stall. He tore down one wall and sawed back some two by fours (Exhibit 8). Lonnie then proceeded to:
-Place a measuring devise and saw blade down on cardboard, puncturing through our hardwood floor.
-Wipe his perspiration-covered face all over our towels.
-Track mortar throughout our house.
All of which was communicated to John and Dale.
May 15, 2003:
Lonnie secured a piece of green board up that cracked, jutted and waved. We requested Toll’s best drywaller (Kennedy from Great Lakes Drywall) to come out and assess the situation. He had nothing to screw into. He said he “could not fix it.” Kennedy could not shim the studs because everything was cut on a 45 degree angle. I then met with John again and requested that he please send the best carpenter from Bullen to fix the situation. John assured me that Bullen would send their best framer.
May 20, 2003:
Our shower stall was still not fixed. Lonnie spent several hours working on the wall. I checked and called Dale. Dale had Chris from Master Building, LLC come out and assess the situation. This led to “Matt,” who got “Dave” to address the problem. Dave told me in two seconds what was wrong with our shower stall and walls. He shook his head in disbelief as he walked through our home. He attempted to fix our wall. After Kennedy installed the green board it became apparent that the wall was still out of plumb in the corner 3/8 of an inch over 20 inches. After three attempts my shower wall was still not right. We requested a meeting with Steve xxxxxx.
May 21, 2003:
We met with Steve and walked him through our house. We heard over and over about how “wood warps” and that “studs can be off” and “nothing will be perfect”. We expected that walls could be off. This is why the Toll standard is 1/4 inch over 30 inches for a horizontal surface and 3/8 inch over 30 inches for a vertical surface. All of the areas noted above well exceed the standards. We informed Steve that we would just like to get things fixed so that we could start to move on with our lives and enjoy our home and family. He even admitted that we had been through a lot. We then requested that Steve come back with Toll’s best framer to tell us what was wrong with our shower.
May 22, 2003:
Steve brought Chris from Master Building, LLC into our home. They both stood in our bathroom and informed me that they could not tell us what was wrong with our bathroom unless they “tear it all out down to the studs.” At no point did they take one measurement. They came into our home to assess the situation without bringing a level, square or a measuring devise. I met with them for 45 minutes. I was again informed that “wood warps” and “studs can be off”. Chris suggested that it was “the tile guy who was off.” Steve arranged for the tile guy to come out. I had to leave work early on the same day to meet with Steve and the tile guy. It took the tile guy a matter of seconds to see that our walls were neither “square” nor “plumb.”
May 28, 2003:
I placed a phone call to see how we were going to proceed with fixing the situation. John indicated to me that he needed to speak with Steve. Nothing was scheduled. I personally contacted the finish carpenter because we needed him to tear out the linen closet and shim the wall. The powder room door was torn out and moved. Flooring was sawed back, and tools were again set on our hardwood floor. The drywaller spent a full day mudding and floating out walls. The trim carpenter also informed John that he was “billing double” what he “normally would” because he had to “move a wall” (Exhibit 9). We spent 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm cleaning the chunks of drywall, nails, trim, sawdust, mud etc. We barely saw our children that day and night.
May 30, 2003:
Kennedy came to assess the bathroom wall again. We still needed more shims. John removed two walls of tile. All the while my Mother and children are left to deal with these trades while we had to go to work.
At the same time we had been trying to address our flooring issues. We paid a substantial amount of money to upgrade our hardwood to maple. We witnessed no one taking care of our floor as our house was going up. In fact, it was trashed and destroyed (Exhibits 7, 7A). After closing, we had trades in our house doing repairs and tools were dropped and ladders were dragged. In addition, we were told by the same trades that were dinging our floor that our floor “should not squeak as much as it does.” We started marking areas where there were significant squeaks. Larry from Kramer flooring drove a small nail in between the floor boards and covered each hole with filler. He was there for three days repairing squeaks. We believe that he drove over 500 nails in our floor in attempting to repair over 500 squeaks and loose floor boards. It became apparent that our floor was not installed properly.
We received a phone call from Connie at AR Kramer Floors. She informed us that in similar floors there was a problem with the nailing pattern because the tongue was manufactured to short. She was sending someone out to assess the situation and mentioned possible replacement of the entire floor.
June 2, 2003:
I called the trim carpenter. Each time he said he was sending a guy over. No one showed until 3:30 p.m. Kennedy spent the entire day mudding and sanding. He informed me that my foyer wall had six bags (120 lbs.) of drywall compound on it (Exhibit 10 – after the first bag was applied). Again, my children had no where to walk. We then determined the mortar on the shower walls needed to come down. John spent the remainder of the afternoon removing mortar and plaster. We cleaned the house from 5:00 to 10:00.
June 3, 2003:
I called Dale and expressed to him that no one was taking ownership of this shower. I told him that we were down to studs and the shower walls should be shimmed out. This way the green board could be installed and the walls would be plumb and square. I told him that we were not upset that we had no running shower. We were upset because our children’s lives were severely disrupted by the trades coming in and out, with very little progress. I left the measuring devise, square and level for them to use. I showed them that the back wall is out of square by ½ inch. We left he house at 9:20, late for work, again. We were uneasy that our house was left wide open and unattended. The drywaller spent a full day installing green board and floating out walls and ceilings. We cleaned for three more hours that night. After we vacuumed and mopped the bathroom floor, we looked at the shower stall. The original wall still bowed in two areas. The plumbing was not perpendicular to the wall. The shower faucet and control valve needed to be reset.
June 4, 2003:
I placed a phone call to Dale. I asked Dale if he had a few moments to assess our shower situation. He informed me that he will be in meetings for the morning. The drywaller and trim carpenters arrived. John also showed up. I showed John our shower and he agreed that the plumbing needed to be addressed and the wall needed to be reworked. He stated that he did “not know what Dale would say.” Kennedy called Dale and provided his assessment. He also believed there was a plumbing issue and the green board needed to come down again. Dale says John could handle it and gave him the authority to call the framers and the plumber. The plumber did not call back. In the afternoon, I had Dave and Matt from Master Building, LLC, John, and Kennedy, in my Master Bathroom. Tempers flared and Dave and Matt blamed Kennedy for taking a shim out. Shim or no shim the shower was still not square. Due to the yelling and screaming, I took my son upstairs and waited. 45 minutes later they were still blaming one another. Kennedy left.
I told Dave and Matt that we had been through a great deal up to this point. I asked if they could help. They recommended reframing the wall. John agreed that the green board needed to come down for the plumber anyway. Dave and Matt left and I left John to take the green board down again.
I took my son to the pediatrician for a well visit. The questionnaire at the Doctor’s office asked if there were any stressful situations in the household. I checked the box “yes”. When the Doctor asked me about it I broke down in tears. I told her that my home was not safe for my children and I couldn’t attend to their needs.
Later at home, Dale informed me that a plumber and a framer would be there Friday morning. He would also have a Bruce representative there to address our flooring issues. On the way out, I showed Dale and Steve my cabinet in the laundry room where the cabinet is set against the back wall and the sink is set against the right wall. The result: a cockeyed sink to the tune of ½ inch over 20 inches. Dale said he would take care of it. I do not show him that I can place my hand behind my Master Bathroom mirror.
I asked him if he remembered that our wood sat out in the spring for six weeks without a tarp before our basement was dug. We called on a daily basis to get a tarp for our wood. We never got the tarp. He nodded and said “yes”, he remembered.
June 6, 2003:
Dale and Steve instructed Dave from Master Building, LLC on how to correct the wall. They agreed that the top section of the wall jutted out ½ inch. Dale told me that the plumber would be there soon after Dave finished. The green board would then be hung. I left for work and my Mother was left with the children and trades. The lower right hand corner was still not square. The green board jutted out due to the three layers of vinyl underneath. They relied on the tile guy to fix.
June 9, 2003:
Brian from Kramer walked across the floor and confirmed significant movement of the floor boards.
I contacted John to inquire if any trades were scheduled for that day. I asked Dale on Friday if he could send the finish carpenters on Monday. John said that he would get back to me. At noon on the same day, I called John to see if the finish carpenters were on their way. He asked if I had been home all morning, which I had been. He informed me that the finish carpenters were at our house and they thought we were not home. I told him that the garage door was open, the car was in the garage, the tile guy’s boots were at our front door and his truck was in front of our driveway. We missed out on having our nook, kitchen, dining room, foyer and powder room areas trimmed out. Kennedy stopped by at 7:00 pm to assess the shower situation yet again. We did not know when he would be coming back.
June 11, 2003:
The trim carpenters showed up and they spent four hours trimming out doors, baseboards and cabinet trim. I showed Jim one base board that is 5 ¼ high on the left and 4 3/4 on the left. The entire piece spanned 24 inches. He replaced the baseboard without hesitation but then proceeded to show me that the floor was not level. I spoke with Kennedy over the phone and he told me that he might have some time on Friday to tape and mud our shower stall. I asked him if anyone from Toll has contacted him to let him know that the tile guy was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Friday and that the shower needed to be taped and mudded before Friday morning. He stated that no one had contacted him or scheduled him.
June 12, 2003:
We left Kennedy the code to my garage. He worked for 5 hours in our house only because he had a cancellation. He worked on the shower and sanded the various walls and ceilings in our home. We came home from work and cleaned for three more hours.
June 13, 2003:
The tile guys showed up. I told them that Toll did not schedule the drywaller to tape and mud the shower. Kennedy came through for us, however, and now they could begin tiling. They needed to break down the curb and the pan. I tell them that I requested cardboard for three days. They radioed Dale for cardboard. An hour later we still did not have cardboard. They continued working. I placed a phone call directly to Toll for cardboard. 30 minutes later Bronson was at my door to tell me that he put cardboard in the garage. I asked him to lay it down. He said “no, the tile guy will lay it down”. I told him “no, he is tearing out the curb and covered in filth”. I asked him if he was going to make me put it down. He said “the tile guy will put it down” and walked away. I told the tile guy that the cardboard is in the garage and tile guy said that “Bronson should be putting it down”. So I had to haul sheets of cardboard into our own home, cut pieces with a knife, and lay it down while our children called and cried for me upstairs. I was late to work again. When returning from work, we cleaned our floors for two more hours.
June 16, 2003:
We asked Bruce from the tile company why the corner is out of square by ½ inch after the cement/mortar was installed. He said that he would try to fix. We called Dale and Dale and Steve stopped by the house. Bruce assured us that he could fix it. Bruce finished the tile work, leaving all of his tools and buckets set directly on the floor. He assured us that this would not damage the tile. No cardboard. We had to get on our hands and knees and scrub mortar, cement and grout off of the tile for another two hours. Our grout lines are still filthy.
June 17, 2003:
Kennedy spent more time floating out walls and sanding areas. We cleaned for two more hours.
June 18, 2003:
We called both Dale and John to express our desires to spend some time this summer with our children. Dale scheduled the plumber and the drywaller for the same day. We decided not to clean. We were exhausted.
June 19, 2003:
We cleaned for 3 hours.
June 22, 2003:
We cleaned the tile in the shower for two hours.
June 23, 2003:
We called John to see if the trim carpenters were scheduled. Golich Glass showed up to hang the door. They made an adjustment or two because the door was not straight on their first attempt. Metal shavings were embedded in a sloppy caulk job and of course, there was a mess left behind. The trim carpenters spent four hours trimming. I learned that they were charged back for ½ hour or $100 for leaving a mess in my basement the last time they were there. I had difficulty swallowing this information because I had done nothing but clean after everyone for the last six weeks. Toll is financially compensated and we are not? We cleaned again from 5:00 to 7:00. Kennedy showed up at 7:30 p.m., in the middle of our family dinner. I followed him through the house and he decided to take his shoes off at my Master Bedroom. He tracked dirt through our entire house and didn’t finish his work until 9:00 p.m. We cleaned.
June 24, 2003:
Kennedy continued working. We cleaned when we got home from work.
June 25, 2003:
Kramer Flooring removed six or seven floor boards to determine why the floor squeaked. Golich Glass sent the same crew to re-hang the door. I had to turn them away. Another installer was sent out after several phone calls. He re-hung the door. Holes previously drilled into the tile were now visible. He filled with caulk. Kennedy worked on walls and sanded various areas from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. We spent all day cleaning sawdust and metal shavings. We spent all night cleaning drywall dust.
June 26, 2003:
Kennedy sanded again. We cleaned again. We called John to see if he could schedule the tile guy to come back and install the sanitary tile and a trim carpenter to finish installing base boards. We told him that someone will be at the house all day and first thing on June 27, 2003. We do not hear back.
June 27, 2003:
I left Dale a message asking if we can get the trades in to finish their work. We do not hear back.
July 2, 2003:
Kennedy stopped by at 9:00 am to assess the master shower area again. He said that we “may or may not see him later”. He arrived around 7:00 pm to put a coat of mud on the ceilings and walls.
July 3, 2003:
Kennedy arrived around 9:00 am to put another coat of mud on the ceilings and walls.
July 9, 2003:
Kennedy arrived around 4:00 pm to put another coat of mud on the ceilings and walls. We cleaned.
July 11, 2003:
We called Dale and asked again if he could please schedule the trades to finish their work.
July 14, 2003:
Brian from the tile company and the trimmers finished their work. At 7:40 pm Kennedy showed up to put another coat of mud on the ceilings and walls. He told us that he may come back tomorrow or the next day to finish. He did not.
On July 15, 16 and 17 we filled holes, sanded and caulked trim and baseboard.
July 18, 2003:
Kennedy sanded. We cleaned.
July 27 through August 6 we sanded, mudded, primed and painted the bathroom.
September 18, 2003:
Dale, Dan from Kramer, the flooring distributor and the crew of original installers walked through our house. They again confirmed significant movement in the floor. The installers believed the hardwood was defective because they had been installing hardwood for 20 years. I asked that they please offer a resolution as soon as possible because we could move forward with painting or other improvements until the flooring issue was resolved. They informed me that we “will have an answer by noon.” While Dan from Kramer was still in our home, I again showed him the defect in the carpet that runs the length of the upstairs hall. He informed me that if it was a defect we should see it run in every room. I asked “what are the chances that we have a defective hardwood floor and defective carpet?” We moved from room to room and Dale and Dan continued to point out the defect. It ran approximately eight feet from the wall in almost every room.
September 19, 2003:
We left a message for Connie at AR Kramer and received no response.
September 22, 2003:
We were informed that we would have an answer regarding the hardwood by September 25, 2003.
September 26, 2003:
We were informed that we would have an answer by October 1, 2003.
October 2, 2003:
Various trades continued to square up cabinets, float out walls, shim etc. Dale was describing his recommendation for repairing a floor squeak and used the word “typically”. Kennedy replied that “the word typical and this house should not be used in the same sentence”.
October 3, 2003:
Connie asked if she could come out to view the floor. She also informed me that the carpet in our home would be replaced. They concluded to replace the hardwood.
October 22, 2003:
We showed Dale an area where the drywall severely bulged.
October 23, 2003:
A different drywaller scraped our walls.
October 24 and 27, 2003:
The drywaller mudded.
October 28, 2003:
It is determined that the cove molding should come down and the corner bead should be replaced because the drywaller was having difficulty fixing the area. I was late for work again.
October 29, 2003:
More drywall work took place.
October 30, 2003:
The drywallers sand. We were informed that “the problem is in the framing”. We primed.
October 31, 2003:
Jason from London Staircase installed the cove molding. The repair was still not satisfactory. Nothing else could be done. Tears welled up. I was late for work again.
November 6, 2003:
I showed Dale the base board in the great room that dipped ¾ inch over 60 inches. We concluded to wait until the hardwood floor came out to fix. I also showed him the two story wall in the Great Room that is severely out of plumb and bowed. Nothing can be done to fix. Dale stated that “the good news is that only people like me and you will notice that”. The trimmers showed up to install a new cabinet, skin a cabinet, remove shoe in preparation of the new hardwood and re-trim an area. Upon removing a piece of shoe that was running vertically between two doorways it became apparent that the door frame was not plumb approximately 1 inch from top to bottom. They recommended re-casing the whole doorway. We replied that we were not happy because we just paid a professional painter $3,000. They will now destroy everything we just paid for. There is no other solution. They had to re-case the entry to hide the wall that is out of plumb. The new kitchen cabinet arrived damaged. No one checked it before it showed up to our house. We didn’t know when that will be fixed either. After the shoe was removed, I picked up nails and swept up splintered pieces of wood. After the trades left I asked Josh the new service technician “whose responsibility is it to clean?” He replied “I think the trades.” I cleaned.
November 8, 2003:
The carpet was replaced.
November 13, 2003:
I waited for the trim carpenters to show. They did not. I called and Josh told me the materials were not ready. I asked him to please have it ready for the next day. Tom from Mulligan removed 22 bends in the ductwork and stated that the initial job was done in haste.
November 14, 2003:
Tom the trim carpenter brought two guys in and explained to them what they needed to do. They spent several hours re-casing the entryway. They left. The door frame was not level. It was off a ¼ inch from left to right. I left a message for Dale.
November 18, 2003:
We left two more messages for Dale.
November 20, 2003:
The trim carpenters re-trimmed the doorway to the dining room, reset four baseboards and installed the cabinet. AR Kramer ripped out the hardwood floor, sanded the entire subfloor and used a mallet to hammer down imperfections and protruding nails. All of our personal items (i.e. artwork, etc.) were placed downstairs to protect from the dust and dirt from sanding the subfloor. No one warned us that the mallet and hammering would cause our basement ceiling to spray dirt and wood particles. Glass bulbs in the basement shattered. The debris not only covered all of our personal items but covered all of our children’s toys. Our son had to spend the night elsewhere because we could not take the chance that he would fall on the splintered subfloor. We spent the whole night cleaning the basement.
November 21, 22 and 23, 2003
AR Kramer installed hardwood through Sunday evening. We did not see our children for three more days as it was not safe for them in their own home, still.
November 24, 2003:
Various trades were in an out of our house installing the dishwasher, and sinks, re-caulking, installing shoe etc.
February 12, 2004:
We learned that Toll Brothers was in the process of constructing condominiums behind our home. We were again sickened as we were told through the entire sales process and after, verbally and in writing, that Toll Brothers did not receive approval from the City to build condominiums behind our lot and that no one would ever be able to build behind us. We selected our lot and paid a hefty $70,500 premium based on this information.