Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Association meeting earlier tonight - fun as usual

Alright, I did say to several residents that I wouldn't post anything bad about the Association meeting tonight. To all who witnessed what happened, especially at the end with Tom, I'm sure you'd agree that it was quite an interesting event.

For now, if you're curious about juicy details (and you live here at Mignatti Golf Club Estates), feel free to give me a call and I'll be more than happy to provide them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Silence - This time it's a good thing!

After three days of driving nails into the subfloors for all the carpeted areas of the house (spread over the last month or so), Mignatti finally took care of our noisy floors. Let me just say that it's amazing! It's wonderful to be able to walk around and not hear a peep.

Anyway, Mike and Sergey, the two Mignatti warranty guys who did the work, were excellent. Not just this time though, every time they are sent to our house, they do a great job and really go above and beyond. They are truly a pleasure to work with.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Slow and steady...

But will we win the race? Actually, forget about winning, I'd be happy with simply crossing the finish line eventually.

Can you believe it has been over three months since my last update? Trust me, it was hard for me not to post anything here but a truce is a truce!

So anyway, here's the quick and dirty update: Mignatti has been working with us to address issues from our 90-day punch list. Not necessarily at the pace we'd like but at least we're moving forward. Of course, in a week or so, we will be submitting our one-year punch list. Let's just say that, at this rate, they will be working on our house for years to come!

I want to also take the opportunity to commend the fine work the independent home inspector we used last month. He found things that no normal humanoid even be aware of. If you need a home inspector, just ask and I'll supply you with his contact info.

P.S. Go Phillies!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not exactly a treaty but we'll take it for now

We received two letters today, one that addresses our major warranty concerns and another that highlights some of the things Mignatti wants to document about Golf Club Estates.

Before we go into those details, let me begin by stating that Mignatti has extended an olive branch and without hesitation (alright, a little hesitation from one of us), we agreed to meet them halfway. After all, the primary goal of this blog is to get our house fixed.

After several cordial meetings, I must say that we have heard the right things from Mignatti. It appears as though someone who works there actually had customer service training! Anyway, they claim that they will address many of our issues. That said, so far, it's been mostly promises and we still haven't seen a plan of action. A few minor things were addressed but there's still a good amount to go. I'm not implying that they won't get around to our pre-settlement and 90-day lists, but we're anxiously waiting for a plan.

So, back to the letters. The first letter is fair. If they actually follow through and fix the things stated in that letter, life will be good. Not great but definitely good. The second letter, however, does not make us feel as squishy inside. It states all the things Mignatti has done for the community but one paragraph in the end addresses this blog.

We don't necessarily agree with everything in that paragraph (sorry curious people, we've decided to hold off from posting the version we received for now). In fact, we're not even sure what they're asking. It doesn't ask us to remove the blog. In short, from our understanding, it simply documents that they spoke with us about it, which is true. Additionally, the "removal" of the blog was never even brought up during those aforementioned discussions.

There is also mention that "many" of the community residents asked Mignatti for involvement about this blog. As far as we're concerned, that's quite a spin. Prior to the blog going up, every single resident living here was on board with it and that's not an exaggeration. Many of them had similar problems and we all agreed to take action. It wasn't until the blog started making its way up the page rankings when one of the residents, who happens to be a friend of mine, expressed concern that potentially, this blog could turn away prospective buyers. I replied "THAT, of course is the whole point"! I appreciated his candor and suggested that he speak with Mignatti since the situation was in their hands. If they don't want to listen to us, then they'll have to listen to other residents. We just want our house fixed. So it was I who encouraged someone to "reach out" to Mignatti. If any other resident did the same without my knowledge, then they are no friend of mine. They clearly are selfish and I could care less if they ever cross paths with me. That said, I still receive many votes of support when I see my neighbors. Bottom line, don't give me rah-rah speech to my face if you're going to turn around and whisper the opposite to someone else when I turn around. Now, that's assuming that when Mignatti stated "many residents" that it was more than the one that I know of.

On the flip side, Mignatti claims to have no concern that this blog exists at all. That's contrary to how we've been treated by the named individuals in previous posts. I guess they feel that it does not cause them to lose any sales. Furthermore, obviously someone cares, especially with 100-200 hits per day.

Nonetheless, we have stated to Mignatti during our meetings that the blog is not going down just yet. However, we made it clear that if the house is getting fixed, then more and more good things will show up on this blog. Eventually, there will be nothing to write about at all -- so we hope. Maybe I'll even change the URL to something more neutral?!? Wow, I never thought I'd say that.

As a gesture of good faith, we will refrain from posting anything negative on this blog for now. Of course, that may mean we could go quite a while between posts! As a result, I expect the site to lose some traffic, which we're OK with. IMHO, this is a fair truce.

Again, this blog isn't going to go *poof* tomorrow. Mignatti folks, we know you're reading this, I promise you that if you do what you state you're going to do, this blog will slowly go away.

P.S. Please take care of my neighbors too!

Monday, July 14, 2008

My son turned one on Saturday -- what an exciting and noisy year for him!

As you may have read in my previous posts, a big reason why we agreed to work with some of these over-priced (and now we know that they are also under performing) vendors is because we had a newborn. Our thought was to greatly reduce the number of contractors in the house after we moved in.

Of course, that didn't quite work out. In fact, it was just the reverse. The incompetencies of these vendors, coupled with the other builder issues, caused visits and return visits to the house many times over to correct their own work. We agreed to overpay but the price was much more than we bargained for.

I'm certain that those of you who have children would agree, problems and inconveniences, no matter how insignificant they may seem, get magnified with a baby around. Every creak in the floor that could potentially wake him, every worker who showed up late after we worked around the nap schedule, every drafty window in his room that makes noise at night or adds a chill to his room, every protruding nail from the carpet or uneven tile that may cut him, every extra ounce of chemicals added to his bath and drinking water that may harm him, every...well, this can just keep going so I'll stop there.

The other residual effects, however, include spending way too much time dealing with this mess. When we look back at the countless hours spent checking, documenting, discussing, thinking, and worrying, we're bitter that it took valuable time away from our first year with our first child. We can never get that back.

Even the time that wasn't spent doing the aforementioned things have been just outright stressful. Moving is tough enough. Moving with a little one is quite a test. Moving with a little one and dealing with an unnecessary number of problems has been a nightmare, just as my blog site title states. The worst part is that nearly all of those problems could have been prevented with just a little bit of attention and some communication.

Today, eight months after we've moved in, we still have so many outstanding concerns. Some from the vendors and some from Mignatti. We really look forward to the day when this is all behind us. No one in their right mind would spend this much money and dedicate this much time and energy preparing to live in a house like this just to look for things to complain about. Trust me when I say that all we wanted was to live in this house happily ever after. We tried to overlook as much as we could but the mountain of issues just couldn't be ignored. Again, we expected some issues (this is our fourth new construction), but nothing even close to this monstrous list of failures.

For those of you who do not know, we're expecting another baby in a few months. We just hope that he/she will have more uninterrupted naps.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Gatekeeper has reconnected with the Key Master

Can you guess what movie those roles are from? As a management consultant and trainer, I actually use the term Gatekeeper all the time. A Gatekeeper is one who controls the flow of communication between stakeholders.

Anyway, Mignatti has recently reopened communication with us and they are starting to address some of our issues. They're not moving at the pace we'd like, but at least we're moving in the right direction rather than standing still like the water in the neighborhood basins (and my neighbor's backyard -- see this post). Mignatti even sent a third party electrical engineer over to take a look at all of our electrical problems; turns out we have a weak neutral -- whatever that means. That's the big thing that we'd want taken care of soon. It's been a few weeks already and we still haven't been provided with a plan to correct it. Again, at least the first step had taken place so I'm not complaining.

BTW, sing along with me:

If there's something strange,
In your neighborhood,
Who you gonna call?
...

That should be a dead giveaway as to what movie those roles are from.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Kay Lighting wins "Worst Vendor of the Year" Award!

Kay Lighting -- where do I begin. Of all the pre-approved vendors we were forced, I mean "teamed" to work with, Kay wins this award hands down. The voting members only consisted of me, my wife, and my son, whose almost one now by the way, but those are the opinions that matter. Here are a few reasons why they "won":

Pre-Settlement

  • They didn't want to deal with us on a weekend but decided to do us a big "favor".
  • During our first consultation, the assigned "consultant" complained that he didn't eat all day and took a break for lunch (not a big deal except we overheard him gripe about it to his co-workers). Plus, we had an appointment at 10:00 AM and he complained to others about two hours in. How about eating before we show up? Or don't assign someone to do whole house consultations who can't make it two hours with a customer.
  • He later stated that he could have sold much more by dealing with walk-ins than by dealing with us, even though we spent thousands of dollars with them.
  • Did I mention that their prices are beyond rip-off level? We decided to buy lighting through them to reduce the number of contractors in the home (we were expecting our first child) so we bit the bullet. It's not that they're selling superior products -- simply compare a model number of one their items to one you can find online. They will charge double and in some cases, four to five times more!
  • They charged us before we even approved the work order! They even said that they wouldn't do that but of course we received a bill shortly before we even made second visit to make our final decisions. This caused us with an incredible inconvenience since we had to do several adjustments to the charge account.
  • Lastly, our rep responded to our emails about two to three weeks after we sent them. After several of these, he stated that we should call instead but when we did, he was never there.
Post-Settlement

  • Several of our vanity lights were installed upside down. When we purchased them, we were very specific about which way to install them and he wrote each one down. Not sure who's fault it is but we decided against letting them correct this problem since it would require more drilling and patching.
  • Our island lights were installed two feet from where we marked them.
  • Lights for my gym weren't installed at all.
  • The light bulbs in our foyer chandelier were the incorrect size. Tough to explain but the bulbs were sticking out over the bowls. They have replaced these with short neck bulbs.
  • The family room ceiling fan makes a rattling noise on the highest setting. A Kay representative came to look at it and told Jamie that it's the chain and suggested that we could remove them ourselves. Bear in mind that the fan is about 20 feet from the floor. She also said that we should just use more air conditioning and leave it on medium. First of all, it's not the chain making the noise (I wasn't home during her visit). Sometimes there is noise when the chain is not moving and vice versa. One has nothing to do with the other. Besides the fact that I asked that the chains not be in there in the first place. Secondly, it's none of her business what setting I want to put my fan on. We were specifically told that the fans we chose will not make any noise.
  • The master bedroom ceiling fan makes a winding noise on the highest setting. The same rep told Jamie that she doesn't hear anything and that Jamie has oversensitive hearing. We've actually had that fan replaced several times. Obviously it's a problem with the quality of the fan (which is ridiculous for a $1000 fan).
  • A ceiling fan in one of the other bedrooms shakes uncontrollably when turned on at any setting.
  • The light fixture outside our garage blew out -- all three bulbs. We were told to replace the bulbs. Uhm, that doesn't solve the real problem does it? In the short-term, we have new bulbs and they work. I'm no electrician but all of them going out at once tells me that there's another issue.
So, it seems like they'll always replace bulbs (which is part of a one-year warranty that you have to remind them about) but won't do much else.

It's no surprise that many of my neighbors chose not to use Kay. They opted to stick with basic fixtures with the intention of replacing them on their own; and that's only because of Kay's 'through the roof' pricing, not due to Kay's poor customer service since they don't even know how bad they are at the time when they have to make the decision. Again, it's our fault for agreeing to pay the crazy prices for "convenience". As it turns out, it would have been much easier to have another vendor come in after the fact. We would have saved money and, more importantly, aggravation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll..."

If you've read my previous posts, you would have read about our window issues. Just in case you haven't, let me catch you up.

During the Winter, the windows throughout the entire house were letting an insane amount air in. Some were so bad that they made a whistling noise. Moreover, we were using tissue paper as our interim blinds and they crinkled on windy days. Not only is all that annoying but the issue also led to some crazy heating bills.

Mignatti had us contact the window vendor and after a quick check, we were informed that most of the windows are either installed incorrectly or are missing parts! That was in January.

They finally came back last weekend to replace and/or correct all the windows. If you haven't seen my house, there are about 80 windows. It took a gentleman from the window vendor and a gentleman from the window manufacturer several hours to do all the work. That night, I went to set the alarm and it gave me a bunch of protests. That pretty much meant that the windows folks screwed things up. After a short investigation on my part, they simply placed eight windows in the wrong spots (e.g. left side of a double window was placed on the right side instead). Not really sure how you can put windows in the wrong spots a few short minutes after you take them out. To their credit, they did come back within a several days to fix the problem.

Although we won't know for certain whether or not we will hear kazoo sounds until the weather changes, we feel better knowing that something was finally done about the issue.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vector Security - can I take a mulligan on you?

Our security vendor, Vector Security, was "assigned" to us when we were designing our home. The cost for installation was close to $3000 and I actually declined their pre-dry wall installation initially. After doing some additional research, I decided to go with Vector since I thought it would minimize the number of contractors in the house with a new baby (no other security vendor was permitted to do any work prior to dry wall).

BTW, for anyone who hasn't figured it out, all the "convenience" and "savings" from doing things before the walls are up aren't really passed on to the consumer. In fact, everyone benefits but you; you still pay the same as you would after the fact (and sometimes more!). For example, we could have bought Vector remotes after settlement for about 1/3 of the price that Mignatti charged us!

I should have went with my gut! Choosing Vector was a BIG mistake. I had used Brinks in my previous home and had zero problems. In a few short months, here's a short list of issues:
  • Did not provide contacts for several windows (about 4)
  • Did not provide 6 inch contacts for all windows (over 30)
  • Many contacts did not work due to paint on them
  • Siren did not work (the police showed up twice for false alarms already)
  • Touch pad display broke
For all I know, there are many other problems that we haven't "caught" yet. I thought they were experts in this stuff?!?

To date, Vector has come out to the house on many occasions and they fixed most of the issues. They actually claim accountability for their mistakes (but they blame Mignatti for paint on contacts and siren wire being cut).

This morning, they were supposed to come to the house at 8:30 to resolve a beeping issue. A rep left a message yesterday to reschedule. Keep in mind that Jamie and I both work but we try to accommodate most work requests since we want our house fixed. When Jamie called back this morning, the rep said that they have a scheduling conflict and they're not going to make it at 8:30. Jamie asked that they move the other person since we've had this appointment for over a month. The rep replied that it's too late and they're going to go to the other house at 8:30. She also added that she'll call us back when she knows when they'll get to us. We still haven't heard from them, over four hours later.

Do these people realize that we're not on call? How does this happen? No apology, no sympathy, no remorse. So I guess we'll just have to deal a cruddy alarm system until everything is finally fixed. I guess we should be grateful since if I had to pick one security thing to work, it's to dispatch the police and obviously, that's working!

I must add that the two gentlemen that we deal with face-to-face have been polite for the most part, even though they've been late from time to time. Competency, however, is another thing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Better late than never -- in a sick kind of way

Alright, I get home early from work yesterday just to check the mail (OK, not really for that reason) and the letter from Mignatti is in my mailbox. The letter is in reference to my 90-day punch list!

Keep in mind that yesterday was June 12, which is:
  • 219 days since our settlement
  • 129 days since our 90-day milestone
  • 99 days beyond the Mignatti guarantee of scheduling 90-day maintenance within 30 days
  • 44 days after we sent a certified letter
So how much time does Mignatti give us to respond to them in writing? TWO BUSINESS DAYS! Doesn't seem fair, does it?

Anyway, although the letter doesn't reference every single item that we documented (e.g. bathroom fans, sump pump, radon testing), it does have most of them. However, a good number of their responses to the items are bizarre, almost as if they live in an imaginary world. For example:

  • An issue that they are going to provide as a "courtesy" (i.e. chip in the tub that they caused while trying to reposition it)
  • Several 'not warrantable' items that conflict with previous emails from them (e.g. fireplace mantle, family room light switch)
  • Incorrect issues (e.g. addressing hardwood creaks when we specifically claimed the creaks are from subfloors in carpeted areas)
  • A problem that we never identified (e.g. inspect ... bedroom for correct amount of HVAC air flow???)
One good thing is that they will continue to inspect the electrical problem in the house. They don't exactly promise that they'll actually do anything and in fact, they don't even have the problem stated correctly but at least it's not on the 'not warrantable' section.

Well, Jamie and I spent hours putting our response in writing last night, just as they requested. Obviously we can't be late on this deliverable, otherwise, some of this stuff may never get done! Besides, there was no way I wanted to work on this during the weekend since this will be my first Father's Day and the last thing I want to think about are Mignatti-created headaches.