Drainage issues - warranty

Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
We have an agreement with a builder we do installs for, we bill a lesser man hour rate and don’t quote jobs, charge at cost materials and do maybe 5-10 homes a year. It’s a good arrangement, we make 10% profit and can’t lose, we will still not charge for time if we make a blatant mistake.

We have a lot of rocky ground where I am and we have had lawns on rock with 6” or more soil that worked fine.

This one was pretty bad but we managed to get 3-4” sand and 3-5” in spots soil down but have never seen a development this bad. The developer doesn’t have any drainage or sewers, the roads just flow into river rock basins on the sidewalk and then flow back out onto the road, I guess drainage was tricky in that area and they wanted to try get some lawn back there otherwise it was going to be all gravel.

Normally we install everything after an excavation company does site prep, though in this case the excavation conpany spread the sand and soil for us. We just topped up an additional 2” and did the turf. There is grade on the lawn down to the next lot.

Also on these homes they usually don’t turn out well because they don’t do irrigation and this one in particular had tenants move in right away with large dogs (done end of August)

I took a look after 3 weeks and it was very long and looked overwatered, was told they were running the sprinklers non stop.

There is crown land behind the lot which is basically just 100 acres of solid rock that slopes towards this house. It is basically like a small stream that comes towards this back yard and it’s just too wet, turf isn’t taking at all. It won’t last at all. It was dry when we were there and couldn’t tell that is was going to be this bad in the wet weather.

Now, the home owner is very upset with us and we did explain that although we can’t take responsibility for this as we did not do the site or soil prep, we offered a goodwill gesture of adding sand and seeding in the spring. The builder will buy materials and we do the 16 man hours of labour. This will erase all profit and we are doing it only for the builder.

They have continued to send harassing emails through the realtor saying it is unacceptable and demanding it be fixed now.

What would you do? We have done a few dozen of these homes for the builder and he is very good to work for, he knows the deal. I am fine with eating some labour and trying to reseed, though I did tell them we can’t guarantee that would work at all either. I’m also worried about getting dragged into further problems if we go and do this for free. The landscaping is not something covered under a home warranty by contract, goes for us, the home owner who bought as well

There is also 12 trees planted along the back (huge mounds of soil) of the lawn where water comes in which May help once they get established.
 
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Freaky Fido

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northeast USA
Sounds like you're doing everything right to try to resolve it in good faith for the sake of your relationship with the builder and their reputation. What I don't get is why is the homeowner contacting you through the realtor? I'd put an end to that. They need to follow chain of command. As far as I can tell you have no obligation to the homeowner or the realtor. Feel free to ignore them. Your obligation is to the builder and at this point it's voluntary.
 

Cut n Strut

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Midwest
We have an agreement with a builder we do installs for, we bill a lesser man hour rate and don’t quote jobs, charge at cost materials and do maybe 5-10 homes a year. It’s a good arrangement, we make 10% profit and can’t lose, we will still not charge for time if we make a blatant mistake.

We have a lot of rocky ground where I am and we have had lawns on rock with 6” or more soil that worked fine.

This one was pretty bad but we managed to get 3-4” sand and 3-5” in spots soil down but have never seen a development this bad. The developer doesn’t have any drainage or sewers, the roads just flow into river rock basins on the sidewalk and then flow back out onto the road, I guess drainage was tricky in that area and they wanted to try get some lawn back there otherwise it was going to be all gravel.

Normally we install everything after an excavation company does site prep, though in this case the excavation conpany spread the sand and soil for us. We just topped up an additional 2” and did the turf. There is grade on the lawn down to the next lot.

Also on these homes they usually don’t turn out well because they don’t do irrigation and this one in particular had tenants move in right away with large dogs (done end of August)

I took a look after 3 weeks and it was very long and looked overwatered, was told they were running the sprinklers non stop.

There is crown land behind the lot which is basically just 100 acres of solid rock that slopes towards this house. It is basically like a small stream that comes towards this back yard and it’s just too wet, turf isn’t taking at all. It won’t last at all. It was dry when we were there and couldn’t tell that is was going to be this bad in the wet weather.

Now, the home owner is very upset with us and we did explain that although we can’t take responsibility for this as we did not do the site or soil prep, we offered a goodwill gesture of adding sand and seeding in the spring. The builder will buy materials and we do the 16 man hours of labour. This will erase all profit and we are doing it only for the builder.

They have continued to send harassing emails through the realtor saying it is unacceptable and demanding it be fixed now.

What would you do? We have done a few dozen of these homes for the builder and he is very good to work for, he knows the deal. I am fine with eating some labour and trying to reseed, though I did tell them we can’t guarantee that would work at all either. I’m also worried about getting dragged into further problems if we go and do this for free. The landscaping is not something covered under a home warranty by contract, goes for us, the home owner who bought as well

There is also 12 trees planted along the back (huge mounds of soil) of the lawn where water comes in which May help once they get established.

I don’t know how y’all do things there but around here these builders are only responsible for the landscaping within 10’ of the home itself. I regraded several lots last year, different builders, that had standing water about 12’ out, practically around the entire home. Every customer had told me the same thing, 2 year home warranty and when they called about the water issue, they were told it’s the home owners problem, not the builder and the warranty doesn’t cover it.

I do not work for the builders, the customers contacted and hired me independently. If it were me, I’d not deal with the home owner unless they hired you. If the builder is asking you for a favor, be sure to ask for a favor in return.
 
OP
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
The realtor who sells homes for the builder is just forwarding me messages that would be “from home owner to realtor, to builders realtor”. Then she just shows me them.

i am perfectly fine with doing some extra labour even out of our responsibility, but I am actually reconsidering due to the hostile behaviour. There were too many things out of our control here. We knew it was not the best idea to do a lawn here but this builder likes to try have some grass and we did our best.

The buyers realtor wording about how this is unacceptable and extremely terrible work just doesn’t understand it’s not a bad batch of turf but a major water issue, which all of the lots around here have. They are making it seem like it was poorly installed turf.

Another odd thing is the home buyer (he buys a lot of these homes for rental properties only and doesn’t seem to care that much) actually contacted me amiably separately asking about prices for 2 other homes he bought just a couple weeks ago. These exchanges about this one wet yard have been going on for about 3 months and we did make it clear it can’t be done until spring
 
OP
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
This is duplex as well but is generally one back yard about 100 feet long by 20 feet wide which is split. The day we installed the turf two large families with big dogs moved in and I am pretty sure they weren’t staying off the lawn as we told them to. I also know there was no real maintenance and I think tenants were cutting the lawn. It did look fine for about 2 months up until fall, despite overwatering and letting it grow too long
 
OP
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
7AF2CE25-17C7-41E0-9965-DD89D70E3592.jpegE27F2C32-A92B-45FE-9A26-21605F588648.jpegThe left side garden bed edge is bordering the rock government land

We ran the sprinklers for half hour when we installed and again the next day, there was no sitting water, so when they pictures were taken still in the summer before any rain, I imagine the sprinklers had probably been run for a very long time.
 

Delmarva Keith

LawnSite Senior Member
If I’m understanding correctly, your customer is the builder, not the homeowner — is that right? If I have it right, I’d ask the builder what he wants to happen and go from there. If it’s reasonable, do that. The homeowner has no agreement or contract with you and I’d make sure to keep it that way. If the homeowner is “upset” and has already rejected a goodwill gesture of sand and seed in the Spring, I’d be done with them. Shake the dust from your sandals and don’t look back.

Your job is to keep the builder happy and maintain that relationship and that’s it. Homeowners, realtors, probably lawyers next: don’t get involved in that circus or my bet is you will be sorry.
 
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
If I’m understanding correctly, your customer is the builder, not the homeowner — is that right? If I have it right, I’d ask the builder what he wants to happen and go from there. If it’s reasonable, do that. The homeowner has no agreement or contract with you and I’d make sure to keep it that way. If the homeowner is “upset” and has already rejected a goodwill gesture of sand and seed in the Spring, I’d be done with them. Shake the dust from your sandals and don’t look back.

Your job is to keep the builder happy and maintain that relationship and that’s it. Homeowners, realtors, probably lawyers next: don’t get involved in that circus or my bet is you will be sorry.

Yes, the builder is the client. He seemed like he didn't want to blame us, his initial quote was "it's out of my hands". Also, he did mention he didn't think they were taking care of it, he did also mention we had a bad batch of turf one time at his personal house, but that was because we let it sit for a couple days before rolling it out and we tore it all up, replaced it. The adding sand and seeding was my idea, but I would want a promise to be left alone in the future.
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
We have an agreement with a builder we do installs for, we bill a lesser man hour rate and don’t quote jobs, charge at cost materials and do maybe 5-10 homes a year. It’s a good arrangement, we make 10% profit and can’t lose, we will still not charge for time if we make a blatant mistake.

We have a lot of rocky ground where I am and we have had lawns on rock with 6” or more soil that worked fine.

This one was pretty bad but we managed to get 3-4” sand and 3-5” in spots soil down but have never seen a development this bad. The developer doesn’t have any drainage or sewers, the roads just flow into river rock basins on the sidewalk and then flow back out onto the road, I guess drainage was tricky in that area and they wanted to try get some lawn back there otherwise it was going to be all gravel.

Normally we install everything after an excavation company does site prep, though in this case the excavation conpany spread the sand and soil for us. We just topped up an additional 2” and did the turf. There is grade on the lawn down to the next lot.

Also on these homes they usually don’t turn out well because they don’t do irrigation and this one in particular had tenants move in right away with large dogs (done end of August)

I took a look after 3 weeks and it was very long and looked overwatered, was told they were running the sprinklers non stop.

There is crown land behind the lot which is basically just 100 acres of solid rock that slopes towards this house. It is basically like a small stream that comes towards this back yard and it’s just too wet, turf isn’t taking at all. It won’t last at all. It was dry when we were there and couldn’t tell that is was going to be this bad in the wet weather.

Now, the home owner is very upset with us and we did explain that although we can’t take responsibility for this as we did not do the site or soil prep, we offered a goodwill gesture of adding sand and seeding in the spring. The builder will buy materials and we do the 16 man hours of labour. This will erase all profit and we are doing it only for the builder.

They have continued to send harassing emails through the realtor saying it is unacceptable and demanding it be fixed now.

What would you do? We have done a few dozen of these homes for the builder and he is very good to work for, he knows the deal. I am fine with eating some labour and trying to reseed, though I did tell them we can’t guarantee that would work at all either. I’m also worried about getting dragged into further problems if we go and do this for free. The landscaping is not something covered under a home warranty by contract, goes for us, the home owner who bought as well

There is also 12 trees planted along the back (huge mounds of soil) of the lawn where water comes in which May help once they get established.
The homeowner isn’t your customer
The builder is
You shouldn’t have any dealings with , speak to or correspond with the homeowner as they didn’t hire you

how did they get your contact information in the first place?

drainage isn’t your problem as you didn’t do sub grade

the builder can offer whatever remedy he wants
Your deal with the builder is whatever you agree to
 

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