October 20, 2008


Jeni and I have moved over 10 times in our 14 years together. That being the case, it probably wouldn't surprise you that we are living in our 6th home. Our first two were in a new neighborhood behind the High School in Spanish Fork, Utah. The third was a new tract home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the fourth a home in American Fork, Utah. From there we bought a new standing inventory house in Pearland, Texas from a very large builder. Coming back to Utah, we found a great house back in Spanish Fork that was completely custom. Custom cabinets, custom paint, custom appliances, custom fireplace, custom flooring and..... custom problems, custom headaches, custom cursing and custom chaos.

Though the builder was very talented, this was only his second house (the first was next door) and as we neared the end of completion, corners were being cut as fast as we were cutting extra checks to pay for unplanned "upgrades." Though we absolutely love our house and it has become a blessing in our lives, it has not been without its drama. Like the fact that they forgot to insulate the garage right below our bedroom leading to frozen pipes our first winter. Like the combining of electrical circuits so that our Christmas lights couldn't be on at the same time as the office lights. Like the "two-tone" paint job that left our ceilings the same color as the walls. Like the upstairs air-conditioning unit not being adequate to keep our bedroom cool during the summer. Like the appliance allowance being used on everything except appliances. We really do love this house, but it has cost us a pretty penny to take care of all these mistakes. Lesson learned - don't buy a custom home when your company's relocation policy says you have to be under contract and close by a certain time and the builder isn't sure he can meet the deadline but tells you he can in order to secure the contract and then subsequently short cuts most of the remaining items to meet said closing deadline. Whew!

One of the biggest surprises in the new house wasn't even any of the items already mentioned. It was the wood flooring. Oh, the wood flooring. When you walk into our home, on the left is a formal family room. On the right is the office. Take a close look at the pictures below. Do you see anything a little abnormal? Irregular? Peculiar? Unexpected?

As you can see, the flooring in the main entry is a different color than the flooring in the other two rooms. Here's a closeup.

We actually love it this way now and wouldn't think of changing it, but that's not how it was intended to be. Originally the two side rooms were to have been carpeted but we asked instead for the wood from the entry to extend into these rooms. No problem we were told. Then we were told they were out of wood and that specific die-lot no longer existed. This was hand scraped pre-fabricated wood so we agreed that the builder would try to find something that would match and look nice. A few weeks later we checked on the house to find pure oak floors being installed. It didn't look anything like what we had and the stain they were putting on didn't come close to matching. The floor looked like someone had gone to Home Depot and purchased 2x4's and laid them down and then stained them. Even the installer agreed that the floor looked better with just the concrete. We spent the next month going back and forth with the builder and the flooring company. "The builder said this is what you wanted," said the flooring company. "The flooring company said they can't match the wood," said the builder. "The builder said this is what you wanted," said the flooring company. You get the idea. Frustrating!

Then, right at our wits end, the other partner with the flooring company came to see us one night after work. He apologized for the merry-go-round and offered a solution. "Let us pull the oak floors out and replace them with the identical type of wood in your entry" he said, "just a darker color. It will look great. I've got just enough extra wood in the warehouse so you just pay my guys for the labor. Just don't tell my partner because she doesn't think its her fault and I disagree." We got all of this in writing, agreed and the work commenced.

Fast forward about 3 months after we moved in. We got a call from the first owner asking about our floors. Somehow she had heard that we had changed out the oak with the hand-scraped wood. She was calling to tell us that our floors had been stolen. I assured her they were still here as I was at that very moment standing on them. "No," she said, "the wood used in the two rooms was stolen out of my warehouse by my 'former' partner . He stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of my inventory and is now in jail." Thankfully I was able to show her the receipt for the labor so she didn't pursue legal action with us. Every once in a while I get nervous coming home though, wondering if I'm going to find the wood floors ripped out, repo'd by the floor company. Can they even do that?