This record is to document various problems with a vinyl siding job that was contracted through Lowe's in Brunswick, GA. Our case has since been settled. Names have been removed to respect privacy.
Clicking on the photos below will open the full size photo. Depending on your screen size, photos may not be large enough to see in full detail. Clicking the top right corner will expand the photos to actual size.
Before the job was started, we were told that there would be no need to paint anywhere on the house, that any exposed wood would be covered in metal. You will see in several of the pictures that all of the wood was not covered.
We were also told that all rotten wood would be replaced during the install. During the install, a key spot that was noticeably rotten was being covered with vinyl. When the installer was informed that the board was rotten, he was hestitant to remove the vinyl and questioned whether or not he was supposed to replace it. He was shown the paperwork that says he was to replace any rotten structure on the exterior of the house where vinyl was to be secured. You can see in at least one place that wood was placed over the existing wood instead of being cut to size, causing the siding to bow outward over the new piece of wood. This is hard to show in a picture because of the subtle curve it creates, but it is noticeable in person and I've created a rendering of the problem. The curve is not the issue, but I believe the wood under the new piece to be rotten. This can easily be inspected because the vinyl siding is starting to fall off in that area anyway.
In the proposal what was to be done was broken down in detail. It was pointed out to us that items marked in the proposal were not done. One major item being house wrap being put on before the vinyl siding. The quote was roughly $1,000 less than the actual contract price yet the house was not wrapped.
We did not have the time to oversee this job nor did we feel that it was our responsibility. Lowe's was paid to do the job and make sure it was done right the first time. We are not aware of one time that an actual Lowe's employee came to check on progress or the quality of the install.
The original completion date for the vinyl siding job was June 26, 2011. Several reasons contributed to the "3 day job" (how long Lowe's said the job would take) taking several weeks. The main installer openly admitted they had another big vinyl siding job that they needed to do so he could pay his bills as he was not making much money from our installation, basically putting our job on the back burner. We did not complain once about the extended installment period, we just wanted the job done right and not rushed.
After the install, a piece of siding fell off the back of the house. We called Lowe's in Brunswick and they sent an installer named <Installer> to fix it. The piece had not been secured to the house at all.
After that, the siding on one side of the house and on the carport began to fall off and we noticed the metal wrap on the 4x4 posts was wavy, showing big gaps along the seams. <Installer> came to fix the issues, tearing down half of the siding on the side of the house in question and working his way back up. The carport pieces were not secured to the house at all. He put more nails along the seam of the metal wrap, but this looks bad as you can see in the picture with a nail every few inches down the whole post.
On May 27, 2012 the siding on the back of the house had started to slip off again. It was at this time we really started to question the quality of the install and thought it wise to do a thorough inspection of the rest of the house before the warranty expired so we could have any lingering issues resolved before it was too late.
One major concern was the nails holding up all of the metal wrap had rusted. I pulled out one of the nails and brought it to the Lowe's hardware department to see what type of nail it was. The employee said right away that they were paneling nails and pointed them out on the shelf. When asked what application they are suited for he said that they were used to hang the wood paneling you would find inside an older home. I then took this information to the vinyl siding department and spoke with Steve. I told him about the nails and a few other problems that we had discovered. He said he would have someone come to the house and review the issues.
A few days later <Installer> showed up again. We walked around the house together and I pointed out all of my concerns. He agreed with me 100% that all of my issues needed to be addressed and even told me how he would have done things differently. He said that because of the amount of work involved and the fact that Lowe's would be losing a significant amount of money on this job, he would have to contact his boss and show him what needed to be done before he could get started.
I received a call from Lowe's saying that <Installer> was overbooked and could not complete the repairs. I was told that another installer would be taking his place and that he would be there with some other Lowe's employees to review the issues. <Repair Company> called to say they would be here on June 6, 2012. Out of curiousity, I researched the company to see who they were. Their website listed just about every kind of repair possible with the exception of vinyl siding.
On June 6, 2012 a group of Lowe's employees showed up including <Install Manager>, who I believe manages the vinyl siding installations, and the new installer. I am not sure who the other two men were.
I started off by pointing out the rusty nails and told them I had taken a nail out and brought it to the hardware department at Lowe's to find out what kind they were, I was cut off by one of the men who said they were paneling nails. I didn't even have to finish explaining that the hardware guy said they were indoor paneling nails that shouldn't be used outdoors, he already knew it.
When showing the way the posts were wrapped poorly, one guy immediately said that it was the post behind the wrapping that was causing the problem. I'm not sure how you can determine the condition of the post behind the wrapping while standing 8 ft away, though once it was mentioned, everyone jumped on board to support the theory that it was structural and we would have to replace the posts for the wrap to be applied properly. After they left I measured down the length of some of the posts to find varied widths in the metal wrap. I'd say that is to blame for the warped look in the metal. The wrap on the under side of the carport is floating so there is nothing to secure the middle. They attempted to caulk the gaps but you can see in the photo that this did not hold.
I asked about the house wrap being in the proposal. One of the men said that "the house wrap is actually the metal wrap that is on the house" and that "an underlayment is never installed on a remodel." On the proposal it has the metal wrap and house wrap listed as two distinct items, both of which are checked. I have since found his statement that an underlayment is never installed on a remodel to be completely untrue.
I questioned why some of the trim pieces were mitered and some were not. The reasoning behind not using angled cuts on all of the j-channel was explained to me as "a house is not always square." I worked as a custom cabinet builder for 8 years and I know first hand that homes are not built perfectly square. While the statement is true, it does not excuse why they used straight cuts versus a more visually appealing angled cut in some places.
I showed them where the serial number was showing on the top piece of vinyl siding. <Installer> had told me that a small strip should have been cut and nailed into that piece to cover that. They agreed.
The metal wrap on the fascia was cut short along the top edge. <Installer> had said the wrap should have been tucked under the drip edge of the metal roof about 2 inches so water could shed downward and not get trapped. In some places the wrap is actually bowed out below the drip edge of the roof forming a pocket on the fascia for water to sit without a way out.
I pointed out the use of j-channel on the outside corners of the porch. Their installer said that this should have been corner trim like what was used on the other corners of the house. To make things worse, the original installer installed the j-channel the opposite way on the 2 corners, so one is done with the j-channel doubled-up on the side wall, the other is done with the j-channel doubled-up on the front wall. (Note: The sill under the screen was installed after the vinyl siding to cover the exposed tops of the j-channel, which is why they are not wrapped.)
The vinyl siding was cut short in several places. When I showed this to the group they determined it was cut to allow for expansion and contraction.
The caulking around the entire job was horrible. Around the window you can see where they started to caulk the screen in by mistake and stopped, but didn't bother wiping out the caulk. Not only was the application horrible, but the type of caulk used does not appear to be rated for outdoor use. It appears to be latex caulk, which turns brittle and cracks when exposed to weather and heat. The roofers used silicone that has held up fine. You can use the Lowe's website as a reference to compare the two types of caulks.
When I mentioned the previous installer, <Installer>, had agreed that all of my issues were valid, I was told some of the stuff was up to the installer to use his best judgement. Obviously the guy who did the job, while may have used his best judgement, did not use good judgement. It is hard for us to trust his judgement now after finding several issues revolving around poor craftsmanship. <Install Manager> claims that craftsmanship is not an issue, that these complaints are due to normal wear and tear.
Their siding installer openly admitted he does not have the tools required to fix the job in regards to the metal wrapping.
One of the men said "they aren't obligated to fix problems 2 years after the initial install." When I informed him the job was done less than a year ago, he said he "would have to go over that with management."
After showing the complaints, and after a private discussion amongst themselves, <Install Manager> came back to tell me that "honestly, this looks like a fine job." Upset, I started to point out problems near me. I started with the rusty nails and asked if that was a fine job to her. She said "yeah, it doesn't matter what kind of nails you use, they're going to rust."
I pointed out siding falling off the house, she said "it's due to expanding and contracting."
I pointed out the use of latex caulk, she said "it doesn't matter what kind of caulk you use it's going to crack." I asked what the long term solution to that problem is, she told me "you just have to keep reapplying caulk."
Problems that I showed them, were reviewed by <Installer>, the installer that Lowe's sent initially, who agreed 100% that the problems were legitimate. When Lowe's called I was told that <Installer> was overbooked and would not be able to complete the repairs, but on this visit I was told he does not even do vinyl siding for Lowe's, that he is the window and door man. Why would the window and door man be sent to review my complaints on vinyl siding and why was he sent to make repairs before?
They went a step further to say that my father requested that this man not be allowed back on the property. This is not true. He requested that the original installer not be allowed to make repairs. They said the initial installer no longer works for Lowes. When I asked if it was due to poor craftsmanship I was told by <Install Manager>, "no, because of his legal problems for not paying child support." I'm not very fond of the original installer, but this struck me as very unprofessional.
At this point they started to walk away saying that they shouldn't even be talking to me, that "if this goes to court it will be with my father." I said I could step inside and get him right now and they said they would just go back to the store and talk to management. Nothing I said should have given the impression that we were wanting to go to court. All we wanted was the job done right. Again, them bringing up going to court seemed very unprofessional.
Later this evening the store manager, <Store Manager>, called trying to return money to make the problem go away. I told him we are not interested in getting money back, we just want the job completed up to our standards. He said that from what his team had gathered from our complaints is that they would have to redo the vinyl siding from scratch to meet our standards and that is something he is not prepared to do. I said no, we just want what is wrong fixed.. nothing more, nothing less.
He said they would try to fix some of the cosmetic problems like rusty nails. He agreed with <Install Manager> that the caulking was normal wear and tear and that it would need to be recaulked every 6 months, but they would do it this time to make us happy. The caulking job was horrible and the installer, <Installer>, agreed. Most of the places, he said, should not have even been caulked and that it was just covering up for cutting pieces short.
<Store Manager> said anywhere there are short pieces they will place another piece over it to fill the gap. This sounds like more patch work covering up poor craftsmanship. We are looking to get the job done right, not cover up what is wrong.
He said that we were outside of the 1 year warranty period and that they were not obligated to fix anything. When I told him we were within the 1 year period, he began questioning why we had waited so long to report any problems. I didn't feel the need to answer that question as we are still within the 1 year warranty period.
He seemed irritated that he was talking to me rather than my father just as the team had been earlier today. My father is 65 years old and does not need the stress involved with dealing with this problem and has asked me to handle it for him. Whether they talk to me or him the job was done poorly. When it comes time to make decisions and/or sign paper work, of course he will be the one to do so, as his name was on the contract. He is well informed of the situation and backs anything I say.
<Store Manager> said a home inspector would be contacting me next week to schedule an appointment to walk through the job with himself present.
After speaking with the Lowe's corporate office, they assured me that it was ok for me to help my father in this case.
On June 19th I walked outside to find <Install Manager> and a man she says is the store manager (<Store Manager>) leaving down the driveway saying they were just looking. They got in their vehicle and left.
A little while later I got a call from <Store Manager>, saying he was the one there with <Install Manager> to look at the job himself. He said the job looked fine minus a couple of pieces that were cut short, though he felt they were cut short to allow for expanding and contracting. He said he already ordered the pieces of siding to replace it. He said they would replace the nails that are rusted also, but due to us not having gutters the nails would rust again. He said a home inspector would not be coming out.
I informed him we would be getting a professional vinyl siding installer to inspect the job ourselves since he declined to have the home inspector check the installation. He requested that he and his installer be present during the inspection.
On June 25th <Store Manager> called to inform me that he had an inspector ready to see the house and would be here Wednesday. I told him my siding guy could not be here this week and he said he had to move forward so he could "put this job to rest." I asked what had changed since the last time when he told me the inspector would not be coming and he informed me he had found someone that would do the inspection for free. I am not sure why any 3rd party that does not work for Lowe's would do a free home inspection, but I agreed to walk through the job with his inspector.
A few hours later a vinyl installer that was recommended to me showed up unexpectedly and walked around pointing out issues with the install. He took me to an install he had done in a nearby neighborhood to show me what a proper installation looks like and after years of being installed, the job still looks great. None of the problems I am having, that Lowe's has considered normal wear and tear, are evident in his work. There is no caulking used anywhere and everything is cut in a way to make seams minimal. This was a fine installation job.
On June 27th the home inspector, <Inspector>, came. He arrived a few minutes before <Store Manager> and <Install Manager>. I started by asking whether or not he worked for Lowe's. He said he does not work directly for Lowe's, but does do this type of thing for Lowe's occasionaly. In my conversation with <Store Manager>, we agreed to have a 3rd party not affiliated with Lowe's inspect the installation. <Inspector>, while not a Lowe's employee, does have a working relationship with Lowe's. I tried to research <Inspector> to see what his qualifications were, but could only find a mugshot of him for drunk driving.
He immediately noticed the siding falling off the side of the house above the front door. I showed him a more accessible spot doing the same thing and he set up a ladder and pulled the piece off, cut it and nailed it back up to fit. He said "Now, why couldn't the dumbass installer do that to begin with." When I pointed out a rusty nail and told him they used paneling nails on the entire job, he said they were siding nails, but they do look like paneling nails so it's hard to tell the difference. He said this based on past experience, not from pulling and examining the nails actually used on our house.
<Store Manager> and <Install Manager> showed up and the inspector pointed out the siding falling off the side above the front door. Everyone noticed very clearly, except for <Install Manager> who needed <Store Manager> to climb the ladder and point directly at it before she caught on. I question her actual knowledge when it comes to vinyl siding as everything she says seems to point to a lack of experience. We then went to the back of the house to review some of the complaints. The inspector said that in a spot where the metal wrap met the roof, the roof was not installed properly and that's why the caulk was applied. When I said lets get a roofer out here to fix the problem, <Store Manager> said that the roof has nothing to do with the vinyl siding complaints. Apparently no one knew that Lowe's was actually contracted to do the roof at the same time the vinyl siding was contracted. When I informed <Store Manager> of this, he looked at <Install Manager> who was shaking her head no and denied that the jobs were contracted at the same time. I informed them that the jobs were indeed contracted at the same time, but the siding guys were late arriving to the job and extremely late finishing the installation. <Store Manager> said he would have to review the paperwork to confirm this before the roof could be addressed.
<Store Manager> took offense when I mentioned that it seems like no one at the store knows what is going on with our job. He claims that he "knows everything that goes on in his store." I then asked why <Installer> was sent to review our complaints several times. He said "I can't answer that." Looking at <Install Manager> for her response to the same question she says exactly the same thing.
Again, I mentioned the rusty nails. <Install Manager> said they are the same nails they use on all the jobs and that they are the nails we paid for. I told them we didn't buy the nails. She and <Store Manager> both agreed that we did in fact buy the nails when we paid for the job. I told them we didn't select the nails used on the job. Trying to blame us for the nail selection is laughable. I have never heard of a construction job where the consumer was asked to provide the proper nails to complete the job. She then said that she had a box of siding nails they use in the truck. <Store Manager> asked her if it said "vinyl siding" on the pack, she said yes and left to get them. She came back with a box of aluminum nails. Nowhere on the box did it say it was used for vinyl siding, but I do agree they look somewhat similar to the nails used on our house, and being aluminum they probably would have been fine. She tried to "bet" me that they were indeed the same nails used on our house and said she would pull a nail to compare the two. I told them it was not necessary and went on to inform them that aluminum does not rust, it oxidizes (home inspector agreed) which creates a dark coat around the nail which prevents further oxidation. It does not turn a rusty red color and deteriorate. During the explaination of oxidation and aluminum properties the inspector began rolling his eyes. When I saw this I told him he could roll his eyes all he wants, but facts are facts at which point he started to walk towards the front of the house. <Install Manager> still asked if it was ok to pull a nail to compare, I said sure. She never came back with a nail. When asked later the home inspector said he pulled one but it was hard to tell what it was. I can tell you what they were not, and that's the nails <Install Manager> showed me in the box. They are smaller and not made of aluminum.
<Store Manager> did not like that I had spoken with an outside vinyl siding contractor without him present, stating that he wants full disclosure. I did agree to have him present but the contractor actually showed up unannounced. This didn't seem like that big of a deal to me especially after walking outside catching <Store Manager> and <Install Manager> snooping around our house on 6/19 without scheduling a meeting. He also brought up that flashing was not in any of the complaints I had made with the corporate office and that he was only there to go over issues in the Lowe's system notes. I gave them my full complaints, whether or not they copied them word for word I do not know, but regardless he should have been willing to hear the complaints straight from the source rather than going solely by notes written based on my phone calls.
<Store Manager> questioned whether or not my siding contractor was reputable. I told him that I saw for myself some of his work that he willingly took me to see and after several years the jobs still looks better than ours. I brought up that his siding guy admitted that he does not have the equipment to do the metal wrapping around the house, he then said he has a guy who can do it and pointed to the home inspector. This is the same inspector that he said does not work for Lowe's. Why would he be the one to fix any issues on the house?
When <Store Manager> asked the inspector if the job was installed properly, he said "yeah, they just didn't cut it right." To me that means it was not installed properly. Cutting is part of the installation, if not done right the installation is wrong.
I asked <Store Manager> how he would feel had this quality of work been done to his own home. He said that he would not complain about the quality. I then walked over to the porch and applied a minimum amount of pressure to the top piece of siding that fell off of the house with ease and asked whether he would complain about that. He did agree that this should not have been so easy to pull off.
<Store Manager> also brought up the fact that we signed the letter of completion. I explained that the warranty is for 1 year. These problems did not just happen the next day, they have accumulated over a period of time. He said he would have his inspector make a list of problems, give me a copy and we would go over them at a later date when my vinyl siding guy could be present (probably Friday, July 6th). His inspector said he had the list and they left. I don't think it was humanly possible to inspect the entire job thoroughly in the time they were there. He definitely didn't look at things I noticed in the back of the house, because I was standing there the whole time talking with <Store Manager>.
<Store Manager> wants to move forward with completing things he and his inspector agree need to be addressed. But they only want to cover up the problems. The inspector himself said there should not have been caulking applied in some places, yet he suggested they just fill it with more caulking. That is not my idea of a solution, that is patching up an existing problem using the same methods that caused the problem to begin with. <Store Manager> also implies that he is doing us a favor by fixing the few issues he is willing to address because he does not feel that they are covered by the warranty (such as the caulk and nails).
July 3, 2012 I called corporate to let them know I still had not received my copy of the inspection notes. I asked the inspector for a copy before they left and he said he would make a copy at the store and come back to drop mine off. I told the agent on the phone that I was done dealing with the local store and that I would be getting 2 separate companies to provide me with quotes to fix the vinyl siding and that I would be sending them via certified mail along with my complaints.
During the 2 hour phone call, I feel like progress was finally made. I was told the local store would be taken out of the equation and that I would be able to send my notes along with pictures to a supervisor who would pass it on to the marketing director.
I sent the e-mail to <Customer Service Supervisor> on July 5, 2012 at 6:00pm.
UPDATE AFTER E-MAIL SENT:
On July 6, 2012 at 8am I received a call from <Install Manager>. I informed her that I had spoke with corporate and that they would be taking over the situation.
At 2pm <Store Manager> called to ask what was going on. He was upset that I had gone to corporate and went on to tell me that it did not matter if I was talking to corporate because ultimately "this is not a corporate problem it is a local store #2643 problem." I told him that I was told the complaint was marked complete at the local store level which he denied. I told him I was just relaying what I was told. He started hounding me for the name of the person I spoke with at the corporate office, telling me he had no notes in the system that I had spoken with anyone. I told him I just called the 800 number and spoke with an agent named <Customer Service Agent>, but that I didn't see how that could possibly be of any use to him. He said he wanted the name so he could e-mail them right now. He asked if I would talk to a man named <Area Installs Manager> to see if we could resolve this without corporate involvement. I told him I did not want to talk to anyone else at the moment. He implied that I was wasting my time by talking to corporate, that they will actually just send the complaint back to his store to fix. I told him we would cross that bridge if/when we got to it. He quickly ended the conversation and hung up before I could respond.
I received a call at 3:30pm from <Area Installs Manager>. He seemed confused when I answered saying "Yeah?" as if I was the one who called him. He then said that <Store Manager> told him to call me and that I wanted to speak with him. I explained that I was done dealing with <Store Manager>, that I had actually told him that I did NOT want to speak with anyone else, that I was working with the corporate office now and that I didn't want to bring more people into the mix. He then told me that he works with the corporate office and asked who I had been speaking with there. I told him that I had just sent an e-mail with my notes and pictures of the install to <Customer Service Supervisor>. After hanging up I noticed the phone number (912-223-xxxx) was a local number. I called the number back to verify that this was the number that called me and got his voicemail saying that he was the area installs manager for Lowe's.
Additional photos and notes...
Overall, you can see that this job was not done in a professional manner. The way that we have been treated by the management at our local Lowe's store really reflects the level of professionalism shown in these pictures.
A reference for installing vinyl siding can be found on the Lowe's website here. I can see that this installation did not follow even the basic steps outlined in this guide.
After a visit from <Area Installs Manager>, it has been determined that house wrap was part of the original proposal and should have been installed before the vinyl siding was installed. He said that Lowe's would be treating this as a new installation, removing the existing siding and starting over. Hesitant to allow another Lowe's installer to do the installation, we opt'd to settle and use our own installer to complete the work.