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I have just started looking for a new house in telfair 60 . As i understand selecting a reputed builder is very important . While trying to do some research I could find David Weekley as the only reputed builder with good reviews available in telfair(They are also in JD Power list of most reputed builders ) . But considering my price range(350K without upgrades) , I liked a specific model by Trendmaker . In the same neighbourhood I have seen lot of Trendmaker homes . But i could hardly find any credible source of information on Trendmaker building quality and their services .

If any of the forum member can provide me with better resources on builders it will be great . I am specifically interested in

1. Trendmaker

2. Ryland

3. David Weekley

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I've researched many builders myself recently. Here is what I found. Be very wary of internet sources. For example, this internet article from JD Powers ranks Centex and Pulte as the top-ranked builders. Now go read this blog about Centex and this one about Pulte. Paints a different picture, yes?

One thing I found is that people love to complain on the internet, and people love to put up horror stories of builder problems on the internet. So if you can't find much publicity about a builder on the internet, and the builder is a decent size company in several markets, then that is probably a good sign, not a bad one.

For the builders you asked about, read these assessments of Ryland Homes, if you dare. Or how about these stories about David Weekley?

So what can you believe? My advice: do as much "homework" as you can, but take everything you learn with a grain of salt. Every builder is going to have some great referrals and some outspoken complaints. Look for an overall reputation, based on many different sources: internet research, word-of-mouth conversations, sales literature, etc. Probably the best thing I did was introduce myself to the folks living in the neighborhoods I was interested in, especially the ones who had new homes from the builder I was trying to research. I asked them how happy they were with the home, the build process they endured, how satisfied they were with the building superintendent during construction (which is a vital factor, I learned, as not all supers are created equal).

Also, do forum searches on this site for the builders you mentioned. You will find some interesting threads about them, which you can use to glean ancedotal evidence. FWIW, my opinion is that Trendmaker is one of the top builders in Houston. Weekley is also good (overall), and Ryland is a distant third. Just my opinion. You really need to just dig in, learn as much as you can, and make the best informed decision you can. Good luck!

Edited by Timnwendy
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Be wary of Ryland. They were in our former neighborhood, and they are pre-fabricated homes. The home comes in a large pile of pre-constructed parts. Some of them sat out in rain and sun for months and warped. Then they would put them together (watching them put the warped ones together was fun) and sell them. Don't ever buy one.

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My wife and I purchased a new Trendmaker home and have loved it. I had a townhouse from Perry Homes in Midtown in the late 90s and then did a custom home in the Heights until this Spring, when we moved to this Trendmaker home in Telfair. So I'm pretty good at spotting quality and good customer service.

First of all, they think of everything. We got to know our builder and site manager very well and frequently spoke with him during construction. Going on 10 months and our list of "warranty repairs" is laughably small. They used engineered wood throughout, which I liked. The yard drains like it should which is tricky in new additions.

The one thing I like about them is that their model homes are all built using "base" level design choices. So you can have their model for very little over the base price. Most other builders cram their models full of extras and then you find out you can't afford their model home once you get their price list. Darling Homes is terrible about this in Telfair. They put like $100k of upgrades into their model. Go see how many homes they've sold...not many. The only upgrade TM admitted to was carpeting b/c the models get so much foot traffic. Now the only other "upgrade" they don't include is the extravagant landscaping at the models, but no one else does either. You do get decent quality landscaping for the front yard, per the developer standards, including two large oak trees.

I find David Weekley to be a horrible neighbor. We've lived with their construction trailer next to our house for almost a year. Trash, speeding subcontractors, blocked driveways, tire tracks in our yard, broken "shared" fence are examples of how they treat their neighbors. We had to call their HQ and complain loudly several times before they cleaned it up and repaired our yard and fence. Their homes seem okay but they charged a lot for lot premiums and we just felt that they weren't good value compared to TM.

We liked the Ryland plans but the finishes & exteriors weren't that great. I don't know much about them, but you can sure pick out their homes here in Telfair. I don't mean that as a compliment. Some look like mini office buildings or a dentist office. But that just my opinion and everyone can disagree.

In the end, you have to find homeowners and talk to them. The internet does have cranks on it, but there are also a lot of true stories too. I never found one article condeming TM, but plenty on DW. A family member who is in the trades says that DW foundations have been a sore point for about two years, but who can say for sure. Its not like this info makes it into the Chronicle.

Good luck and spend a lot of extra time talking to and walking in various builder homes. You'll pick up on things if you take it slow, notice little things and be nosy. I'd buy another TM in a second.

Edited by aapchad
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Well, interestingly enough, today I did find someone who is not pleased with Trendmaker. She left several complaints at the HOBB website in which she chronicled her long-running battle with them. You can read about it here. Look for the posts by Nancy Hentschel made on October 11, 2007 and July 13, 2007. She claims there have been problems with the tile in Trendmaker homes in Telfair and in subdivisions in Katy. She paints a fairly villainous portrait of the company. Read her novel and decide for yourself.

Hey appchad, did you ever see her protesting outside the Trendmaker model in Telfair? :o

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As a builder, I try not to speak to the quality of another builders product, but in this case, of the mass production builders, they aren't the worst in the area. That isn't to say that they are good or bad, just simply not as bad as others.

They don't actually build custom (nor do most other builders who claim to do so), so just make sure that you get what you want.

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Well, interestingly enough, today I did find someone who is not pleased with Trendmaker. She left several complaints at the HOBB website in which she chronicled her long-running battle with them. You can read about it here. Look for the posts by Nancy Hentschel made on October 11, 2007 and July 13, 2007. She claims there have been problems with the tile in Trendmaker homes in Telfair and in subdivisions in Katy. She paints a fairly villainous portrait of the company. Read her novel and decide for yourself.

Hey appchad, did you ever see her protesting outside the Trendmaker model in Telfair? :o

I know that I've seen the woman sitting in a lawn chair out in front of the model on a few occasions. She had signs on her car and sat next to it with an umbrella (for the sun) while reading a book. It was nice to see a "silent" protest rather than being harrassed by someone. She wasn't offending anyone but the Trendmaker sales team. She definitely had a more subtle approach than the Lemon Lady at the Tremont Tower on Yupon @ Westeimer.

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The quality of the house is only as good as the crew building it. We had our home built 3 years ago. My wife or myself stopped by every other day during construction. We saw lots of construction variations such as location of light switches, hardware, etc on our house from identical floor plans.

We also caught some shoddy work (bends in the piping, leveling of frames, tilework, etc) and had it corrected. Also, make sure you verify the upgrades you picked out are correct. The floor tile installed did not match what we picked out......we found out that the maker had changed the dye color. We had it all tore up and htey had to give us an upgrade as the colors available did not match our scheme. My wife was hardcore and called the builder direct for every issue.

Yes, we were a pain in the butt.....but we now have a quality built home.

If you cannot do this, pay someone to do this for you..............this is the biggest investment you will make so get it done right!

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  • 4 weeks later...

No I had not seen or known about this lady protesting TM. It is not surprising that some people are disappointed with their homes. Having built three new homes in my life, each of a different style and size, I can attest to how emotionally involving it can become. Some people just get disappointed no matter how their house turns out. Often new homes are viewed as "new beginnings" but people drag their old problems and attitudes with their furniture into their new homes, so I've heard many times of people being unhappy that the neighborhood is different than they had hoped/dreamed, etc.

For us, TM was open and approachable throughout the process. I had some complaints during framing and roofing that were addressed to my satisfaction. I made multiple visits to the Design Center to go over issues I had with my own design choices and with issues the builder raised too. We worked it out together. I got two inspections with the builder's representative and made several lists of things we didn't like. Everything got fixed before we moved in. Our builder, sales person and two subs also visited us the first few weeks to check on us. Our custom builders never did that. To me custom builders are mostly swine.

As we lived here, we did see things that we missed the first time around. That was true of the other houses we built too. We've had two warranty calls covering about 12 items and TM handled everything. We did repair some tile after we had to replace the dishwasher. TM handled it and now you cannot tell anything ever was wrong. We just had our second infrared scan of our house and the inspector found no faults. I got to watch him the whole time and he explained very carefully how the inspection looked for leaky pipes, poor insulation jobs, air duct problems, etc. He found nada that made him concerned.

We will be having a Fox Inspection person come out in February to do a final full inspection before our one year anniversary comes around. We'll post how that turns out to be fair to anyone looking at TM as a builder.

While I can empathise with many people over disappointments, I cannot fault TM in my case b/c they've been above board, responsive and timely in making me happy. Normally small problems/defects drive my wife to distraction, but she is so happy with this house. She talks about it all the time. I just wish I had done a few more small options, but that's another story and nothing bad about TM.

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We just had our second infrared scan of our house and the inspector found no faults. I got to watch him the whole time and he explained very carefully how the inspection looked for leaky pipes, poor insulation jobs, air duct problems, etc. He found nada that made him concerned.

Not to get too far off topic, but how much did the infrared inspection cost? The inspector I'm currently using for my home doesn't use it.

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Not to get too far off topic, but how much did the infrared inspection cost? The inspector I'm currently using for my home doesn't use it.

Its part of the service TM offers to home buyers. One scan shortly before move in and another scan 8-11 months later. On the first scan, we got a picture of our house from the front using the infrared camera.

According to the guy we had, if i was paying customer, its about $200. Takes about 30 minutes to an hour, then you get a certificate afterwards in the mail.

They are trying, without much success, to get the insurance industry to consider such certificates when rating a house for homeowners insurance. Given that it can detect leaking pipes, poor insulation and some building faults, it might stand to reason that insurers would go for it. Apparently though, there is a long line of other businesses/products also hankering for such a blessing from the insurers because it would lead to significant business.

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Be wary of Ryland. They were in our former neighborhood, and they are pre-fabricated homes. The home comes in a large pile of pre-constructed parts. Some of them sat out in rain and sun for months and warped. Then they would put them together (watching them put the warped ones together was fun) and sell them. Don't ever buy one.

I doubt it. I doubt that they built with warped framing, and I doubt that you watched them. The frame packs don't usually sit outside for more than a day or two before they are assembled, and that's not enough time to warp, even in a downpour. Also, I don't think you would be able to tell if they were warped, just by looking at them from the street.

Cykat, calling you out.

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  • 1 month later...

As I promised, we had our home inspected last week by a local Katy inspector. He spent about three hours here and then walked us through the results. Here is what he found:

  1. The faux stone facade doesn't seem to have a drainage plane where water can sheet off the house. We're discussing this with the builder now. Danger is that water could penetrate behind the stone (because no one fully mortars every crack and crevise). If this is a problem, then practically every house in Telfair and in other new neighborhoods will have the same issue.
  2. Found one area on a top gable where there was some old water staining. Builder is sending a crew to climb up on the roof and inspect. Our builder's rep felt the stain was old b/c as he put it, with all of the recent rains, if it was an ongoing problem, we'd see more staining, more water problems.
  3. Some minor electrical switches needed "switching" where there would be consistency between where the lights, ceiling fan, etc. switches were located. Made a comment that the electrical box, while it passed City inspection, could have been done neater and used special straps. Said that my builder was no different than every other builder in that respect...says its on practically every report he write.
  4. Everything else was minor - adjust a door here, a couple of nail pops, move some dirt from around the foundation.

All in all, there wasn't much. He was complimentary to the builder but not in an over the top way. TM asked for a copy of the inspection, which we provided.

So, now the ball is in the builder's court. They have crews coming to address the issues.

We're still pleased with how they handle our concerns.

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What would be a great service, is an inspector to inspect your house while its being built. It would benefit both the owner and builder, as they can resolve things while under construction.

I'm pretty sure I've seen inspectors that will do that....

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  • 2 months later...
I'm pretty sure I've seen inspectors that will do that....

Does anyone know a good home inspector for Telfair? I am in the process of building a home and would like a good inspector throughout the building phase. Also, what is a good company for the infrared inspection?

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  • 10 months later...
Does anyone know a good home inspector for Telfair? I am in the process of building a home and would like a good inspector throughout the building phase. Also, what is a good company for the infrared inspection?

Matter of Fact, just did a 1 year builders inspection in Telfair. The inspection went well, although there were several issues regarding attic insulation and recessed light fixtures being in contact with one another.

In the past, I have inspected several homes in the Telfair community, the builders included Perry homes, David Weekley, and Ryland Homes. I would have to say none of these homes were consistent in construction nor quality, they must have had a phase where they hired new contractors or PM's.

Here's a story, my client and I walked in the home an hour earlier to our scheduled inspection and found out that the builders were excavating through the cement slab, in the middle of the kitchen!. They were not going to disclose that two of the Tension cables were over stressed and snapped in half. Buyer backed out immediately, but the next purchaser probably had no clue at all...we went through 3 homes before he decided to sign-on one.

On average I find about 40-100 items that range from $2000-$20,000 dollars worth of damage, incorrect wiring, incorrect placement of rebars/tension cables, incorrect construction, cosmetics, etc...

So, it is very important to actually sit and stand over these builder's during critical stages of construction, pre-pour, pre-drywall, and Final phases.

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  • 2 months later...

An update to my posting a year ago when we had a home inspector review our Trendmaker home.

We are now seeing some signs of problems with our upstairs flooring. We have two places in two different bathrooms where the tile has cracked in a straight line over three or more tiles.

It seems the joist is pressing on the plywood decking creating a high spot in the floor that eventually cracked the tile. Given the weather, we're going to wait until the fall to fix this problem. Its not really noticeable cosmetically since the tile looks like multi-colored marble. We're more worried about being able to find the tile for the repair.

We don't see any bottom floor foundation issues yet, but I think we are seeing the settling of the house after two years of living. We hope we won't have other issues. We are keeping the foundation watered and have a sprinkler system, so there isn't much more we can do.

The only other issue we have had is that we had to reinforce our back fence, which backs up the levy. Our lot had been "built-up" by a couple of feet and the dirt only extened a few inches beyond our property line before dropping down about 8 inches to the levy floor. As a result, there wasn't much support for the fence posts and we got a lot of leaning in the fence line. We have an unusually large lot, and our back fence is 179 feet long. We paid 1k to get additional posts put in three feet deep and the fence was corrected. Hurricane Ike didn't damage the fence while neighbors and others on the levy had downed fences. The other comment i'd say about Trendmaker fences is that their sub builds a pretty crappy fence overall. WHile the posts are now stable, we'll end up replacing the fence boards in about another year. They are splitting, they weren't attached well, etc.

So, I'd suggest that if your lot is built up by adding soil to it, make sure the fence posts go down an extra foot to maintain their stability.

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