******* Homes Inc. changed items in the contract without authorization and without notice. We were mislead and deceived.
We engaged ******* Homes Inc to build a home for us in Englewood Florida and signed contract on 8/5/2013. Received a call mid Oct. from **** *******. Gopher tortoise on property. He could handle at little or no cost to us. Gave verbal ok based on what he said. 11/11/2013 received e-mail bill from ******* for $700.00 No explaination
i.e number of hours, materials,labor etc. We responded to the e-mail that we would be in Englewood on 12/01/13 and wante to discuss this issue and get cost specifics. **** ******* would never agree to meet with us (my wife and I). Finally his brother *** ******* met with us. He refused to discuss the tortoise issue with us. He said we were getting such a great deal. If we did not pay the $700 immediately he was calling the framers of our house and have All work stopped. All of our "draws" had been paid in cash. We were verbally threatened and intimidated. He walked out of the room to make the call. We were not permitted to present facts or to discuss, such as: 1.) In the 8/05/2013 contract on page 1-article 3.1 "Contracr shall also obtain all governmental permits necessary for the work to be compled for this project." 2.) Page 8 of the contract states "There is no additional fees due to environmental issues." 3.) We contacted ******* ****** from the Florida Species Conservation Planning Section. She issued the tortoise permit on 11/05/2013. 4.) We also contacted ***** ******* the Charlotte County Environmental Specialist. She received a e-mail from **** ******* on 11/13/2013 that no tortoise was found or seen. He set out a pan of water and excavated a 12 inch hole. He stated the burrow had been destroyed. This work was done on 11/08/2013. 5.) We did not have a written contract for **** ******* to provide the work. 6.) We were never able to discuss or were we given any facts as to hours, material or any other costs of the $700 or why it was not covered under the contract siged on 8/05/2013. One 1/16/2014 we did pay the bill because we were harassed and verbally threatened. We did not want work to stop on our home. We noted this on our check and payment in writing to ******* Homes.
In the 8/05/2013 contract on page 8 it states that we were to receive a $1200 credit for ceiling fans. It was understood that $300 of the $1200 were the installation costs. We were to provide the fans and had $900 to spend. At the same 1/15/2014 meeting mentioned above with *** ******* we were informed that the fans were a "gift" and he was changing the amount. He didn't care what the contract said. It was a gift. If w did not accept $600 instead of the $900 ALL work on our home would be stopped immediately. April 3,2014 we returned to Englewood and handed *** ******* a written summary of these issues. We requested he reply to us within 30 days. There has been no response.
We feek as senior citizens we were misled, deceived, intimidated and lied to. The ******** owe us $1000. We will not elaborate all the other difficulties and misleading information given to us by this contractor such as his statement by Master Plaster sent to us, paint issues, not being able to enter our home before the final walk through causing us to sleep on the floor of the lanai on April 3, 2014. Cancer and all.
We want the $700 for a the toroise issue and the $300 for the reduction in the fan allowance.
This response is in reply to the notification that we have received from your organization which was originated from the Customer, Mr. ***** *******. ******* Homes Inc. is surprised by this notice, because we believed that we had the stated issues completely resolved during the five month build time of their custom home. In fact, their complaint was not filed until after they fully accepted their new home with outstanding reviews.
Our timeline and description of the correspondence for the gopher tortoise removal is attached below.
The Customers, Mr. and Mrs. *******, were in complete awareness of the gopher tortoise issue found on their property, which originally arose during the environmental review completed by the Charlotte County Zoning Department around the beginning of November, 2013.
In reference to the fees for the gopher tortoise removal, ******* Homes Inc. completed the necessary task "in house" as State certified to handle gopher tortoises (with a State permit) at about one fourth of the cost of hiring an environmental engineer to complete the same task, and the customer was informed of this huge cost savings.
**** ******* had several verbal conversations with the Customers about the environmental issues on their lot on the phone (beginning in the month of November, 2013). There were also times when the customer would casually stop into the construction office and **** would be out in the field, supervising the current projects that ******* Homes Inc. has under construction. On two different occasions that the Customers did stop into the construction office, I had specific and in depth conversations with the customers concerning the environmental issues of their lot, and how they were handled. During this second personal meeting (on or about 1/15/14) with myself, (the licensed Contractor of ******* Homes Inc.), the customer declared that they were not going to pay for the gopher tortoise Florida State environmental process; after the review had already been completed, and upon their verbal approval to proceed (in November, 2013). As of this meeting on 1/15/14, the home was already fully under construction. During this meeting, I explained that our written contractual policy was that all change orders must be paid in full before the construction would be able to continue. There were never any detrimental statements made by any members of our company with two ear-witnesses, (the office manager and the bookkeeper) to these conversations. The Customers agreed that they did want to continue employing us to build their home, and Mr. ******* signed our change order for the gopher tortoise issue and wrote the overdue payment in full.
In reference to the fully executed ******* Homes Inc. Construction Contract fully executed on 8/5/13, concerning "Article 3.1", fully and completely refers to the necessary building construction fees to complete the home, with applicable construction fees fully assigned on page 7 of our contract. There were no fees included, or intended to be included, for any environmental fees in the price of the home. Environmental fees are simply not included. To clarify this with two more references in the Construction Contract (fully executed on 8/5/14 by the Buyer and the Contractor), "Article 11.2" clearly states that the Buyer is responsible for any special assessments that may be charged by a town, county or state agency on their property, and "Article 11.3" also fully discloses that all necessary lot preparation fees, and governmental fees are the responsibility of the buyer, and any unexpected costs will be paid by the buyer in full.
In reference to the statement concerning the (6) ceiling fans that ******* Homes Inc. would provide to the customers at no charge, as per the Construction Contract (fully executed on 8/5/14) page 8; these ceiling fans were a promotional gift to the customer and accepted as intended by the customer. Then, as a change by the customer, they asked for a credit for the complete fan package. (I am unclear where the customer arrived at the total fan dollar amount breakdown figures that were stated in his letter above.) I did explain, at the same meeting (on or about 1/15/14) that the fan package was given to them at no charge under our original contractual agreement. But when the customer insisted on a full credit in return, I told the customers (in person) that we cannot give them a full refund for the fans, and install them also. Their decision was that they still wanted ******* Homes Inc. to install the ceiling fans, only, and that the customer would provide the ceiling fans. So I fully and completely explained to them that there were fees included in the provided package for the labor and installation materials to install the fans and an overhead and profit dollar amount added to the fan package, and that we could not give them a full refund. So, after negotiations, we agreed, in writing ("Change Order # 5 fully executed on 1/16/14) for a customer credit of $600.00 that was signed by the customer. Then, once again, we renegotiated, in writing (Change Order # 6, executed on 2/6/14), to install customer provide light kits on the customer supplied ceiling fans. This would also result in an additional cost to ******* Homes Inc. for the electrician to further install the light kits, with no additional charge to the customer. There was never any verbal or written conversation for the work to stop on the customer's home because of this negotiation (there would be no grounds because the end result was a credit to the customer).
Concerning the final statement on the above letter from the Customer, our company ******* Homes Inc., prides ourselves with building a quality home and our outstanding reputation, and how we strive to exceed our customer's expectations. As good customer relations, ******* Homes Inc. has given the Customers a credit of approximately $2,000.00 for additional work that had been completed on their home, that they feel they did not owe.
Late in the evening of (or about) April 3, 2014 the Customers, Mr. and Mrs. *******, arrived unannounced, at their new home. We had a scheduled walk-through planned for the next morning. As per our Construction Contract (fully executed on 8/5/14) specified and explained in "Article 17; 17.1, 17.2, & 17.3) we can not allow the customer to "occupy" the new home premises until after the final "closing" has been completed by the Contractor and the Buyers. We had no way of knowing when the customer would arrive, and if we did know that they may arrive a day early, we simply would have moved our closing date ahead one day to accommodate them.
We strive to completely and fully satisfy our customers, and being voted "The Best of Englewood" for the past four years straight by the general public, helps to assure us that we are achieving our Company goals.
This information will outline the conversation between the Customer and ******* Homes Inc. regarding the procedure of the gopher tortoise removal from the Customer's lot. These conversations were discussed via phone. The Customer had asked to meet **** ******* at the Construction Office and explained to the Customer the details of the procedure over the phone.
Points of the telephone conversation for the environmental issue are as follows:
The County Zoning Dept. found a gopher tortoise burrow on the Customer's home site (the beginning of Nov. 2013).
An outside environmental agency may charge up to $3,000.00 to perform the task of the tortoise removal.
******* Homes Inc. holds a State certificate to move gopher tortoises or determine if the burrow has been abandoned.
If the tortoise needs to be moved a state permit will applied for.
******* Homes Inc. fees to move tortoises will be determined upon the amount of time to apply for a State permit, and the time and resources it takes to follow the proper procedures to catch the tortoise or excavate the burrow.
The State has very specific procedures for the relocation options of the tortoise therefore an exact cost cannot be determined at the starting time.
If excavation is the procedure, a containment area will need to be set up and water will need to be provided for the tortoise.
The conversation with the Customer ended with the agreement that ******* Homes Inc. would start the process to apply for the State environmental permit.
Upon applying to the State of Florida for the permit to move the tortoise, the Customer was contacted several times for personal information that was required for necessary State permit.
A final fee of $700.00 to determine that the tortoise burrow was abandoned was charged to the Customer and broken down as follows:
-State of Florida environmental permit fee of $200.00.
-Purchase and install 100' of silt screen for the containment area at $1.00 per lineal ft.
-8 man hours at $50.00 per hour (clerical & field work)
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
We are totally disappointed with ******* Homes response.
1.) **** ******* spoke to us only once in late October, 2013 about the tortoise issue.
2.) He refused to meet with us or contact us anytime in the 4 months we stayed in Englewood.
3.) The contract clearly states there will be no further environmental pricing.
4.) We were promised $1200 of ceiling fans - $900 for the fans - $300 for installation. There is no mention in the contract that this was a promotional gift.
We always paid our draws on our home on time and in some cases before they were due. On the January 15, 2014 meeting with *** ******* we were threatened, harassed, and intimidated as consumers and senior citizens about the tortoise and fan issue. We were not permitted to present facts or information at this meeting. We were bluntly told by *** ******* if we did not agree and comply immediately he would stop all work on our home. He got up and threatened to call the framer. He gave us 5 minutes to decide.
******* Homes has exceeded our expectations on misleading us and disappointment. We are sorry that we chose ******* Homes.
Final Business Response
This response was provided verbally to BBB:
In regard to the customer's rebuttal that the contract says there is no further environmental pricing. The customer is misunderstanding the contract clause that states "there is no additional pricing for any fees due to environmental issues." That is written to mean that the fees spelled out in the contract do not include any additional fees that may be required due to environmental issues. The contract clauses cited in my previous response explain that ******* Homes is not responsible for fees related to environmental issues. We cover all permitting fees related to construction and building but we are not responsible for things beyond that, such as removing turtles from the property.
The customer came to us to build on the property they already owned. This was not property owned by ******* Homes and therefore the costs associated with removing the existing tortoises from the land before building must be passed on to the homeowner. We thought there was an agreement on this issue, the customer signed the additional work order and we finished to build according to our contract.
In reference to the ceiling fans, the $1200 credit on the contract was a promotion gift the customer accepted when they signed the contract. After construction began, the consumer indicated that they did not want the white ceiling fans that would be installed through this promotion and they wanted to purchase their own upgraded fans. We agreed to give a $600 credit and provide the labor to install their fans. The customer signed a change order for this credit as well. We will send a copy of the change order to the BBB.