Pulte New Home Nightmare

Our Pulte built home is less than 3 years old—AND—it has cracked and separated exterior brick/mortar, cracked drywall and floor tiles, doors and windows that are out of square (one window is jammed), diagonal cracks in drywall above door and window frames, caulk separating from baseboards, doors, windows, soffit, and siding; and numerous cracks in the foundation.




I know there are many struggling homeowners with problems that are eerily similar to ours (search online for ‘Pulte Reviews and Complaints’).  However, realizing that other new Pulte homes are falling apart at the seams does not make me feel any better.  In fact, knowing that there are others in the same situation makes me even sadder. 

With blind faith, we trusted Pulte would build us a good house and that was a big mistake! Since I am not sure how to explain how tired and distressed I am right now, without explaining some of what I have already been through — I will go back to the beginning of this nightmare and start there:
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PULTE NEW HOME NIGHTMARE
March 2016—we finalized our purchase of a new Pulte home in a 55+ Del Webb community. We thought that a newly built house would not have as many problems as an older home, but we were wrong. The quality of the construction is terrible.

Since I moved into this house a few months before my husband did, I ended up dealing with a long list of issues by myself. Major stress! The first time it rained, the roof began leaking into the front bedroom and the garage. I was upset. It took a few weeks of arguing with Pulte before they sent a roofer out to investigate.

While the roofer was inspecting the valley near the right side of the front arch, he noticed a small metal square sitting on the corner of the flashing. He said, “What is this thing doing here?”
When he lifted the square “thing” up, I could see a big gap in the flashing there (I did not have a ladder, but I did have a camera with zoom lens). Since I wanted to take a few photos, the roofer left the metal square lying on the shingles next to the flashing for a few minutes. Here are 2 of my photos of the flashing on both sides of the front arch:

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On March 21, 2016–our home inspector did note that the flashing in these areas was ‘suspect’ in his final inspection report (he also included a photo). He said that these areas should be inspected by a roofer to ensure that the flashing/counter flashing had been installed properly. We gave the report to the Pulte field manager. Three days later, right before we closed on the house, we were assured that all repairs had been made. However, when the roofer lifted the ‘small metal square’ off the corner of the flashing on June 16, 2016, I could see that the original gap was still there. The small metal square the roofer removed was not in the home inspector’s photo (below).
Roof Inspection

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Sigh. For the next hour, I stood on the ground below and watched as the roofer repeatedly tried to close the gaps. In frustration, he complained that it was impossible to make flashing fit correctly around such uneven brickwork. See how the bricks are hanging out beyond the edge of the flashing? What a mess!
Flashing doesn't fit with brickThe roofer kept taking the flashing apart and trying again, but the gap in the flashing reappeared every time he attempted to make it align with the brick. He finally gave up. He said that the bricks in this area needed to be removed and redone correctly by whoever had done the brick and mortar, because dealing with sloppy brickwork is NOT the responsibility of a roofer!
Flashing_3
Because of the bricks, I could see that this was not going to be a quick or easy fix. In spite of hours of work, all that the roofer had been able to do was make the flashing gaps a little smaller. (How he got tar up onto the soffit above, I am not sure).
tarAs I stood there staring up at the nightmare on my roof, I felt totally overwhelmed. The situation had not gotten any better. There was a possibility of more rain in a few days, and I could easily see that the roof was going to leak again. I was extremely concerned about additional rainwater falling into the house. On top of everything else, I am allergic to mold.

About a week later, after a pallet of brick was delivered to my house, Pulte sent out a few of their people to start working on the bricks around the front arch. Soon after they arrived, the workers began pulling bricks out and tossing them from the roof to the ground.
Removing brick A rectangular sheet of particle board was placed over the center of the cement below, but there were also bricks falling down onto the sides where there was no protection at all. I asked them to stop for a few minutes, so I could bring out some broken-down cardboard boxes to cover the rest of the cement.  I didn’t need a damaged walkway.
Throwing bricks from aboveAt some point during all of this, Zone 3 of the in-ground sprinkler system started to leak underneath the sod on the right side of my yard. This was the 3rd time that a section of the sprinkler system had malfunctioned, but at least a sprinkler leak in the ground is not as frightening as a leaking roof. I turned the water off.
Leaking sprinklerWatching the front of the roof being torn apart and looking at the swamp in my yard, I felt like I was sinking. Adding insult to injury, my front door looked like it had been damaged before it was painted. Why did the builder install a door in this condition on a new house?Front door on new home=========
QUESTION:
WHY, after seeing such a lack of quality and craftmanship, did we buy this house?

ANSWER:
In order to have a new house built, a non-refundable percentage of the final purchase price (‘earnest’ money) has to be paid in advance. After that point, if the prospective buyer decides not to buy the house even for very legitimate reasons, the builder does not have to return the earnest money.
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In regards to the front door, I did notify Pulte of the problem and they sent out a painter with a brush and a small can of mahogany gel stain. However, the mahogany gel stain was so thick that the painter had difficulty trying to spread it evenly on the door. Hard to believe, but the appearance of the door was a little worse by the time the painter left.

I couldn’t take it anymore. In my eyes, the Pulte door began to look like the entrance to homeowner hell.  So I drove down to the local Lowe’s Home Improvement store and bought a front door that didn’t look battered and abused. I paid Lowe’s to install it for me and then I painted the trim. Immediately, the front entry looked much better. Thank you Lowe’s!

A few days after I had the front door replaced,  the French doors at the opening of the office room caught my eye. Oh no! What now?! For some reason, the doors no longer lined up vertically or horizontally with each other. How could this be? The doors were even when we did the final walk-through with the home inspector only 2  1/2 months ago!  I had no clue why they had suddenly shifted so dramatically, until I looked up and saw the strange alignment of the strike plates above the French doors.
Top of French door frame

French doors out of lineI called the Pulte customer service rep (the same one who was handling the roof) and asked him to send someone out to look at the French doors. To make a long story short — I found out that the wall on one side of the French doors was not even with the wall on the other side. Because of this, the frame was installed with a ‘twist.’ Then someone must have repositioned the strike plates above the 2 doors in an attempt to align them (instead of moving a wall). After that, the stress of the uneven walls on the twisted frame quickly started to warp and crack the doors. I think it’s a good thing that this hidden defect revealed itself so quickly, because the builder only has a 1 year warranty on doors.

After new French doors (with frame) were delivered, the wall on the left was moved in a little and the frame with both doors easily fell into place. The carpenter had to take off a baseboard, move the wall, put the baseboard back on again, repair the drywall, and then repaint. It would have been easier and less expensive (and less stressful on the homeowner) if all of this had simply been done right while the house was being built.

There was another smaller door upstairs in the furnace/air conditioning room by the attic, and it would not close because it was hanging on a slant. I guess no one had the time to do this door right either. All that it needed was wider and longer screws.  Unbelievable! By this time, I was very annoyed with this Pulte built home. I was tired of dealing with numerous construction issues, big and small, day after day after day. Frustration! Here is a short video that I made while trying to close this little misaligned door. It is easy to hear the growing anger in my voice!
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On June 24, 2016–The repair of the roof flashing and the brick/mortar in the surrounding areas was finally completed. It looked good to me.  I was relieved! The gaps in the flashing were gone, and rain didn’t leak into the house from that area anymore.  Flashing repairedBUT THEN–
OH NO!
11 months later (on May 23, 2017), I looked up and saw that the brickwork Pulte had redone on the left side of the arch was already falling apart. Look at it!
May 25, 2017 disintegrating brickworkGod help the homeowner! When will this nightmare end? Brick/mortar repairs should last longer than 11 months! Unfortunately, the house was 14 months old when this happened. Brick and mortar only have a one year warranty, regardless of any previous repairs.

There was a thunderstorm with strong winds predicted for the weekend, so there was no time to spend arguing with Pulte over faulty workmanship. Once again, my major concern was the possibility of water intrusion, so I quickly found an experienced local brick mason (Everardo Torres) through Home Advisor–and we paid for the repair ourselves. The brickwork that Everardo did was perfect.

In August 2016, 5 months after we purchased this house, the first signs of foundation movement began to appear on the left side of the house. Sigh. Harbingers of things to come.

By the beginning of December 2018, almost 2 1/2 years later, an expanded view of the same area in the photo above looks like this:

The day that I looked up and saw the separated soffit and wood above, I was surprised and horrified. The wood corner at the end of the brick wall had actually opened up and dropped down!  When did this happen? 

I couldn’t reach this area with a 6 foot ladder, so a neighbor kindly came over (with a taller ladder) and put duct tape over the gap to keep rainwater from leaking inside.  A week later, I hired a local painting company (E&V) to caulk and paint the entire 2nd story loft siding and soffit area. E&V did a great job but, if the foundation keeps moving, I don’t know how long the caulk will hold.

On December 3, 2018 — I hired a home inspector to come out and specifically check the roof support system in the attic. Considering the separated areas on the exterior of the house, I was concerned that interior roof trusses might be pulling apart too. Sure enough. The inspector found and photographed a broken roof truss. We notified Pulte, but it has not been repaired yet.

We hired a structural engineer to do a baseline foundation elevation survey during the first year that we lived here. Since then, we have paid him to return two more times–so we know exactly what is happening to this foundation and how the differential movement is affecting the house.

I don’t know how much more I can take. Each time I hear another loud pop, I cringe. How bad is this going to get? Day after day, month after month — worrying about what is going to fall apart next has left me physically, mentally, and soul tired. The emotional toll has been great.

People often say that homeownership is the epitome of the great “American Dream.” I think NOT. In retrospect, we would have been better off if we had purchased some land and a tent, instead of spending a lifetime of hard-earned savings on this disintegrating Pulte house.
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Update: In February 2019, our structural engineer sent us a “2nd Follow-Up Assessment” report, which included specific instructions (in bold) regarding the damaged roof truss that the home inspector found on December 3, 2018. We gave a copy of this new engineering report to Pulte and the truss was finally repaired in March 2019.  Because of this, I have removed the broken truss from the problems/defects listed in the first paragraph of this blog. Unfortunately, ALL of the other problems/defects on the list remain unresolved

About Mary Strong-Spaid

You can find me any time wandering around in my own mind gathering thoughts.
Image | This entry was posted in American Dream, Del Webb, Photo Essay, photography, Pulte Homes, PulteGroup and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Pulte New Home Nightmare

  1. Please let us spread the news. This is not a fair game. And this is no way to treat people’s lifetime investment. Will you be willing to add this to the reviews online?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have thought of that many times, but I don’t have any control of content on the ‘review and complaint’ websites. On my own website, I know that what I write can only be changed by me.
      My advice to others would be–if you really want to have a new house built–do your homework first! A home is the biggest investment most people make in their lives. Do an in-depth study. Check out the builder online. Read through what other people have to say about their experiences. In a subdivision where a particular builder has already built homes, go and ask several of the homeowners if they like their new houses. Ask if the builder is easy or difficult to work with.
      I would never have a house built ever again. We were required to put down a large non-refundable down payment and then trust that the builder would do a good job building the home. In retrospect, I think it is better to find an older house that you like (one that you can see and touch), have an inspector thoroughly check it out, and then buy it basically knowing what you are getting.
      For me, the emotional toll and the stress of all of this has been great.
      I was not kidding when I said that I wish I would have bought some land and a tent instead.

      Like

  2. Timothy Price says:

    What a mess. So sorry you have to put up with getting such poor construction.

    Like

  3. katelon says:

    Wow, so sorry this is happening to you and so many others. Construction certainly isn’t like it used to be. I’m presently staying in an apt. and can hear the guy next door urinating, dropping things in his shower, listen to the people upstairs do laundry from 5 in the morning to after 11:30 at night, hear people sounding like they are dropping onto the floor or smashing into the walls. Places used to be built with more insulation, more forethought and pride.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment!
      I agree with you 100%, Katelon. It seems that people used to take a lot more pride in their work. I have recently read through articles online about the homebuilding industry, and it appears that the success of builders is currently being judged by how many homes they can build and sell in a given amount of time.
      I am so sorry to hear that your apartment wasn’t built with more insulation. At least you can move somewhere else if it gets too annoying? Sounds like all the noise you are hearing through your apartment walls would make an interesting short story!

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  4. Barb says:

    Aww Mary so sorry to hear about this, is Pulte a national builder or one that is just located in Texas? My sister and her husband just moved into a new 55 plus neighborhood and hopefully their builder did much better. I am wondering if they just don’t care and we’re hoping that things didn’t start happening until one year later. The new repair on the roof line should never have happened so soon, it looks as if the mortar was not mixed properly. Call the local news media and show them what is happening talk to your home owners association and get them involved, I am so sorry you have to go through this, you deserve to relax in your retirement not go through H#LL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She might be lucky.
      There is one in Virginia not far from where I lived. If I had to do it again, I would buy a pre-existing home and then have it checked out by a very experienced home inspector. If you buy a house “sight unseen”, you don’t know what you are going to get. Just like you, the brick mason that I hired also said the mortar that cracked on the arch appeared to have been mixed incorrectly. You must have learned about how mortar should look from Edwin?

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      • Barb says:

        I did learn a lot from Edwin but that crack just reminded me of my pottery when it doesn’t dry properly. I really hope you have a better New Year and get this resolved.

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  5. Sending you a smile and much sympathy! What a nightmare for you. I hope there is some kind of resolution in sight.
    Alison

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  6. Sorry to hear you are going through this. We started our married life with a 1959 home and then built a home in 2004/2005 and now own a 1980’s home. I will take a quality built fixer upper any day. Wishing you the best.

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  7. So sorry to come over to read your post on the appalling workmanship on your new home build. How on earth did this building pass its inspection, that is if this company has inspectors to sign off new building work.. Here in the UK we have strict building codes which have to come up to spec and be signed off at different points within a build.. And New homes usually have longer on structural faults. Most builder warranties cover material and workmanship on a new home for one to two years, with coverage that lasts as long as 10 years on major structural elements. There’s much to be wary of these days in the world of new-home warranties as you no doubt have found out..
    What a nightmare..
    Many thanks for your recent visit.. I hope 2019 is a better year for you..
    Blessings Sue

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    • Thanks for the comment, Sue!
      You are absolutely right. There is much to be wary about in the world of new-home warranties.
      The warranties might look good in the beginning, but they usually contain a few pages of ‘exclusions’ that unscrupulous builders can attempt to use to deny warranty repairs.
      And Texas is the first place that we have ever lived, where builders try to blame homeowners for cracks in their new foundations.
      My husband is retired military.
      Over the years years, we moved around a lot and lived in many states.
      This new house was supposed to be our retirement home, but it is falling apart at the seams.
      Beyond sad

      Like

  8. A nightmare, indeed. Here’s a smile: 🙂

    Like

  9. Harbans says:

    While purchasing a new home, we should look all the aspects; material used for construction, site plan, surroundings, hygiene and sanitation etc. Thanks sharing your write-up . Informative indeed ma’am.

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  10. Graham Brown says:

    Sending hugs and good wishes from Orkney, what a dreadful experience for you Mary.

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    • Thanks so much, Graham.
      On your website (on the ‘About Me’ page) — it says you are an Englishman living in Orkney.
      I thought Orkney must be in England? So I just looked Orkney up on the internet–to get an idea of what it looks like there.
      Wow! I was totally and completely wrong! Orkney is in Scotland, not England. I just learned something new — which is a good thing. 🙂
      I pray that 2019 is a great year for everyone–everywhere!

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  11. Mags says:

    Oh, my Goodness sweet Mary I am so sorry…that is all terrible. I hope this all will get worked out for your good. Prayers for a year filled with all wonderful things for you in 2019. Hugs

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  12. mhhomes says:

    That is incredibly sad! I’m so sorry you have to deal with all of the issues (and more) after having your “Dream Home” built. You should be sitting in your new home and enjoying it not stressing about it. As a Realtor I try to get all my buyers to get a home inspection to try and avoid situations like this.

    I hope it gets all worked out and you can start enjoying your home!

    Matt – REinvestWise.com

    Like

    • We had hoped to retire quietly and enjoy our new home.
      Sigh.
      We did have a home inspector, and he did notice and take a picture of the flashing on the roof.
      We should have sent the home inspector back up there to reinspect (it would have saved me a lot of stress).
      I would like to think that somehow everything is going to work out, and that one day I can write about a happy ending.
      But I don’t even know if there is a way to repair a tilting/twisting foundation–which is what we have now.
      So, here I am–watching things pulling apart, cracking, breaking, etc.—and it makes me feel like I am falling apart too.

      Like

  13. jbcamera says:

    What a nightmare. So sorry you are going through this, and hope you can get it resolved. There is just no excuse for such shoddy workmanship! Good luck.

    Like

  14. daeja's view says:

    This is so upsetting to read. It seems like something AARP might help you to go after them by highlighting this situation (they do that, you might try contacting them since it’s an over-55 community and that’s their thing. Really, this is material for 60-Minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What an absolute nightmare Mary. Owning a new home is meant to be such a joy but instead you have been nothing but miserable. Wishing you strength to get through this ordeal and get everything repaired and as it should be xx

    Like

  16. hanibal guerra says:

    Mary: We went through the same problems with our slab here in your subdivision and finally got PULTE to fix 2 cracks in our floor from one side of the house to the other side. They filled them with epoxy but wouldn’t give me a guarantee on repairs. There have been numerous problems with our house and it’s construction.I have had to complain over and over and have heard all their excuses. My house doesn’t have your problems, nevertheless, these problems should not exist had construction been done right. However, there are dozens of homes here with broken slabs and too many problems to mention. You with think that buying a quarter of a million dollar home would give you peace of mind. Not so here.

    Like

    • Everything you say is true. I certainly have found no peace of mind here. We just wanted to quietly retire–relax and enjoy life. We had a new house built, simply because we thought it would not have as many problems as an older home.
      Wrong answer! Big mistake!
      IF I had known how bad the construction of this house was going to be, we would not have paid extra for an additional 2nd story loft (just because I wanted some extra room for my music). All I did was increase the size and cost of this nightmare. I should have just thrown my music away.

      Like

  17. dawn says:

    on our very first home we had to take the builder to state court (Lansing MI) & he got his license taken away. I’m sure he simply opened business under a different name. And Pulte is much bigger!

    Like

  18. what a nightmare! hope things are better now.

    Like

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