Category: rants

Having a Home Built: What We Didn’t Expect

Pictures of many home builder/neighborhood problems described are posted below some of the written descriptions. I’m not giving the name of the builder because my goal is to share information with this company per their request, and to help anyone considering using a home builder learn from our mistakes.

*****NEWLY ADDED AT END OF THIS WRITING: Pictures of some of the few houses left in the neighborhood that haven’t been repainted. Our house was built in the first phase of the neighborhood, so many of the houses pictured are newer than ours, with siding cracking and falling off, and paint rubbing off and fading far beyond what’s typical for houses built in under the last 8 years.

Included last is a picture of the latest garage door in 20+ I’ve spotted half-open over the years because 1 spring isn’t enough to support a garage door the size of our neighborhood’s garage doors, according to 3 garage door repair companies we called. I’ve been watching them break 1 by 1 over the years, many within 5 years of building.

One company told us using 1 spring is no longer up to code because of this basic engineering issue. If our builder disagreed with the opinion of all of the local garage door companies on this point, we should have been informed we’d be soon replacing our garage door at the time of purchase.

If we’d known 1 spring would break soon, we would have paid extra for 2 because springs breaking can be dangerous if they break and hit a person standing in the garage at the time (as well as an annoying repair to be making before you’ve owned your home for 9 years).*****


Nine years ago, my husband and I had a home built by a local builder in one of their custom neighborhoods. We chose an open lot as close to the playground as possible, as our son was nearly two and active. The lot backed up to vacant land full of trees and grass, offering privacy that largely factored into our decision.

We were told by the model home salesperson, Larry, that the neighborhood was quickly filling up with “young families like ours” and were assured it was not going to be a rental property-filled neighborhood. We were excited to live in a suburb with other kids for our young child to befriend.


We were told that the field on the other side of our backyard fence had been sold to a church. We found this soothing, as it gave us hope we might not have apartment buildings one day looming over our backyard, and minimal noise.

The land, however,  was not sold, and is still for sale. We now wonder if one of the many large apartment complexes being built in the area, or perhaps a noisy strip mall will be built against our back fence. It eventually became apparent, as the ‘for sale’ sign in the field stayed up, that Larry blatantly misrepresented the land to get our money.


Larry also told us the sidewalk that runs along the side of our playground–and stops abruptly–would eventually be continued to a nearby neighborhood that was across a field. He touted the fact that the sidewalk, once connected to the other neighborhood, would allow us walking/biking access to a nearby park and community center.

We waited for the sidewalk to be connected to the neighborhood across the field. Nine years later, this has still never happened.

19.pngThis is the neighborhood sidewalk to the north of the playground that branches off into the sidewalk to nowhere.

11.pngThis is the branch of sidewalk next to our playground the salesperson assured us would eventually be connected to the neighborhood across the field. All of the neighbors with whom I spoke were told the same thing.

54.pngThis is where the sidewalk ends. Shel Silverstein would be impressed. The houses you see are the neighborhood to which we were told we’d eventually connect.


The neighborhood connection might not have happened because the field has been turned into a dangerous drowning hazard for the children at the playground.

Did I not mention that? I’ll explain.

Another selling point Larry shared was that the field would “always be a field, because the city owns the land, and it’s zoned as a floodplain.” We liked knowing there would be open land so close to our playground, and this very much factored into our decision to buy our home where we did.

goodfieldI took this picture of my son standing at the edge of the floodplain field the day he decided to wear his Batman pajamas to the playground, which is behind us. He looked so thoughtful, and ready to fight evil… I couldn’t resist.


Imagine our surprise when the city brought loud digging machines to carve a twenty-ish foot deep lake into the “field that would always be there.” The digging and machinery noise lasted months, and if a kid who can’t swim falls in, they’re out of luck. The lake they dug has no gradual incline into the water to prevent drowning… it goes from edge to extremely deep immediately.

12.pngThis is the view of what used to be the field my son was staring out across in the previous image. The water spout you see is one of three, and the only one that still works, so we’ll be expecting lots of mosquitoes this summer.

Instead of a field, we now have a lake twenty yards from the edge of our playground. No fence was built to keep kids out, and strangers wander daily around the lake to fish.

20.pngSee how close to the water our playground is? Yeah, it’s fun trying to keep the children away from the drowning pool. A fence would have been nice. Just sayin’.

With the new water hazard/mosquito-breeding health risk, and plenty of unknown people circling it, our playground feels much less safe than the vision the salesperson painted.

24.pngWhen they dug the deep pit, the workers slopped concrete along the top north edge and didn’t bother to flatten it. It’s an ankle-twisting eyesore that actually makes it harder to walk the edge. Please note the old plastic picnic table one of our random “fishing guests” recently discarded. Lovely.

None of this was shared with us when we were in the process of choosing a lot or buying a home. So much for the promises of that “forever field” of open land used to sell us on the neighborhood.

17.pngThis is lovely, but we now have strangers constantly wandering near our homes. They either park at the playground, or access the lake from the dirt road they’ve created on the other side.


Some problems with the home we noticed immediately upon acquisition:

1. They used the wrong bricks… halfway through building our house.
We chose a red brick for our outer walls. The builders ran out of our red brick mid-build and substituted an orange brick, giving two walls an odd “half red/half orange racing stripe” appearance that caused multiple neighbors to ask, “What’s going on with your walls?”
racing stripe wall.jpg
The fastest wall on the block.
The builder sent someone to look at the walls. They immediately agreed the walls looked weird. They sent the bricklayers to knock out individual bricks and replace them with red bricks, creating an equally odd-looking red and orange-mottled appearance.
Speckled but still orange-red, rather than the crimson-red brick. The other side of the garage had the same half ‘n’ half appearance.
A representative from the company once again came to our home, agreed the walls on both sides of the garage still looked strange, and finally the brick crew was sent to tear down the walls and replace them with red bricks that matched the rest of the house.
This was an annoying and stressful process, and we didn’t understand why bricks that didn’t match the rest of the house were used in the first place. Not very professional, and certainly not a quality move.
2. They broke a hole in our back fence during building and weren’t going to fix it.
While smoothing out the lot to lay sod, one of the building company’s workers broke a large hole in four boards of the back fence. Nobody ever fixed this. They just left a gaping hole in our back fence and expected us to accept it.
When we took possession of the home, we asked the builder to fix it, and the first person they sent told us the nearby home supply store was “out of boards in our size,” and patched the hole with pieces of boards, which looked trashy and ridiculous.
fence patch
This is where our magical pet leprechaun enters and exits. Be jealous.
We once again called the company out to look at the “solution.” The second employee shook his head in embarrassment, drove to the store, bought boards in the correct size, and had the fence fixed quickly.
Hey! Who stole my kiddie escape hatch?
3. Our doorknobs were falling off within months.
The nice gentleman who properly fixed our fence also secured all of the doorknobs in the home, as they’d become loose to the point of nearly coming off very quickly.
They’ve been fine ever since, which logically implies they weren’t properly installed the first time. Many other neighbors I spoke to said their doorknobs were falling off within months of getting into their homes, as well as the cabinet doors. (I guess we got lucky with our cabinet doors. Bright side!)
4. We may someday have a house fire because the electrical system was not installed with care.
We immediately realized the electrical system in the home was not done well, as the living room and bedroom light and ceiling fan switches are on opposite sides of each other in each room. We still forget and wonder, “Is this the room where the ceiling fan switch is on the right or on the left of the switch plate?” While admittedly minor, my husband and I believe this annoyance speaks volumes about the lack of care put into the building of our home.
This is the living room ceiling fan and light switch. I honestly can’t tell you which side is which without getting up to check, but I do know the bedroom is wired the opposite way.
The lack of attention to detail concerning our wiring also makes us worry. A few years ago, our fears were confirmed when the electricity inexplicably failed in the front office/bedroom.
When we called to have it checked out, the electrician told us a wire had come loose in a wall outlet. This means we had a live wire loose in our wall. We asked if this is normal, and he replied, “Not if the electrician who wired your house did it right. This shouldn’t have come loose.”
Oh. So… that’s not horrifying at all. And aside from tearing apart our house walls to investigate, there really isn’t any way to go back and check the work of the poor quality electrician this builder used. Needless to say, we have five smoke detectors throughout the house.
5. Our smoke detectors were not wired correctly.
Speaking of smoke detectors, perhaps because of the “wacky wiring” of our home, they all went haywire, randomly beeping and going off at all hours, despite multiple fresh battery changes.
We bought replacements that use electricity, and these did the same thing. We finally gave up and bought battery-only ones, even though our home is supposed to be wired for electrical smoke detectors.
These run on batteries, even though we’re supposed to be wired for electrical smoke detectors. Darn.
6. They “skipped” giving our attic insulation.
When we first moved in, the fellow installing our cable was in the attic. He told us, “Just so you know, your home builder never blew insulation into the front office/bedroom. It’s completely empty up there.”
We called the builder, and they sent the insulation company to put in the insulation they skipped. The room is freezing and at least ten degrees colder than the rest of the house every winter, so we still wonder if they cheated us anyhow.
7. They didn’t clean our lot before laying sod.
As I landscaped the front yard, I realized while planting that no cleaning of the lot had been done before they covered it with sand and smoothed it over for laying sod. I dug up glass pieces, nails, chunks of brick, wiring, food trash, planks of wood, and other such debris buried deeply below.
We made sure our young son always had shoes on when playing in the yard because we were scared he’d cut his feet on something the builders left behind.
8. They didn’t tell us that if we chose not to add-on ceiling fans during building, it would be a major ordeal to add them later on our own.
When purchasing the house, we were given the option of paying extra to have ceiling fans installed in the bedrooms. We decided we could do this in our son’s room later if needed, thinking we might want a different (kid-style) theme.
When we tried to install a ceiling fan we purchased to match his room, we discovered the way our builder had installed the light made it impossible to add a ceiling fan without cutting a hole in the drywall of the ceiling, turning what is usually a simple conversion into a major ordeal.
My husband bought a ceiling fan and took this light off before realizing the builder had made installation impossible without cutting a chunk out of the ceiling. Sorry, sweaty child. No ceiling fan for you.
This was obviously not revealed to us during the negotiation of our home, or we would have paid for them to install ceiling fans during building.
9. The paint they used is so cheap, it actually wipes off.
We were given three color choices of paint for the house, and chose a neutral beige. What we were not told was the paint that would be used in our new house was going to be the poorest quality (known in certain circles as “construction grade”) of chalky matte paint available.
The paint showed every hand touch, smear of oil or dirt, and if we tried to clean it, it rubbed off completely. I had to repaint the walls in a better quality satin finish paint because it looked smudged and filthy (or missing) so quickly.
Other neighbors have told me they can’t let their kids play with sticky toys meant to be thrown at walls because they leave permanent oil marks in the cheap, chalky home builder’s paint. This doesn’t happen where I’ve repainted with a better quality of paint.
The white paint on the doors and floorboard wood trim is so cheap it rubs off with a dry rag. It has done this since we first moved in, and isn’t an age-related thing, just a poor quality issue. I have asthma and only use natural cleaners, but even the most gentle products remove the cheap home builder’s paint.
10. Our kitchen tile cracked for no apparent reason.
Within the first year, a tile in the kitchen cracked, and the crack ran through other tiles until it hit a grout line, where it continues to the concrete under the carpet. We wonder if it crosses the entire (connecting) living room.
Kitchen tile crack 1 (2)
We thought our son had drawn on the tile with a ballpoint pen. It took us months to realize the tile had cracked… within the first year of moving into our home.
11. Our carpet felt like stepping on rocks.
Speaking of the carpet, when we first moved in, our carpet pad was full of what felt like rocks that hadn’t been cleaned before the carpet was placed. If we stepped on one of these spots, it hurt our feet.
The builder sent the carpet crew, who told us the problem wasn’t rocks, but instead faulty carpet pads full of hard chunks of adhesive. They pulled up our carpet from the edges, away from the walls, and cut the chunks out.
After that, the carpets never stayed anchored firmly against the walls and appear to be coming away from the walls everywhere they were pulled up to remove the chunks. In many places, there are long plastic strings sticking out.
The carpet company also left sharp nails sticking up that our entire family has stepped on and cut our feet to the point of bleeding (where the carpet meets the kitchen tile).
Many other neighbors told me they experienced the same “rocks under the carpet” situation, so this was an issue the builder knew about. Clearly.
12. Our bathroom drain sometimes smells like dead animals and we don’t know why.
When we moved in, the master bathroom sink drain had a rotten smell. The plumber the company sent to inspect it told me this was caused by my “hair products” and that his wife caused the same thing.
I thought this was interesting because we’d been in the house for less than a month and noticed the smell, and oh, also because I don’t use hair products. I don’t even wear make-up most days.
His solution was to instruct me to “pour bleach down the drain every once in awhile” to get rid of the smell. I’m not kidding. We do this, and we still smell the smell occasionally.
(P.S. The last time I used the “hair spray” you told me was sullying our sink’s drain, it was the ’80s, but thanks for wasting my time, oddly sexist plumber.)
13. Our master bath garden tub was improperly installed.
The master bathroom garden tub is surrounded by marble, and the plumbers who installed it didn’t angle it correctly, so water pools in the corner. This was compounded by the fact that the spout they installed wasn’t long enough to go past the lip of the tub.
Master Tub pooling corner (2).JPG
My husband added blue food coloring to show how the home builder didn’t properly angle/grade our tub toward the drain. He later installed a faucet long enough to reach past the lip of the tub because the builder didn’t fix this when we asked.
We have to keep a squeegee on that corner shelf (to the left of the faucet) to remove the puddle of water after every use, or else we get mold. The caulk used to seal the marble slabs around the tub ruptured immediately, and we have to re-do it often or mold grows in it.
Master Tub back caulk (2)
We often re-caulk because the builders did such a shoddy job installing the marble, it all came loose immediately. Yes, that’s our poorly-angled-bathtub-squeegee on the right.
We paid thousands extra to add the large garden tub to our home package, by the way. I wish we could take this back and have the smaller one-piece shower/tub combo put in. What a waste of money, time, and maintenance for such a crap-quality product.
14. I’m too dumb to microwave, or maybe… just maybe… we got one with a factory defect.
The microwave, oven, refrigerator, and stove were offered as an add-on, and we chose that option. The dishwasher doesn’t clean our dishes, the stove is corroded, rusting, and warped, the refrigerator’s top shelf cracked immediately, the side (condiment) door fell off, and the microwave broke three times.
Cheapest appliances they could find? Ding, ding, ding! You guessed it.
The first time the microwave broke, the builder sent a worker out who figured out the inner piece that had broken, ordered a new one, and replaced it. It was a little box with wires. This required many visits, and during one of them, he grilled me about how I was using the microwave, blaming me for the breakdown.
I’m a middle-aged woman, and the last microwave I had was a $40 Walmart purchase that lasted me over 15 years until I sold it at a garage sale. I’m not stupid, and I know how to treat appliances well. I’m also a neat person, keeping them extremely clean. I was offended by his suggestion that I’d microwaved wrong, causing this issue. Really, buddy?
When the same microwave part broke again (a part inside the machine, far away from my cruel, microwave-destroying hands) I was vindicated. And annoyed. Because once again, a strange, rude man was in my house, disrupting my toddler’s nap schedule and my life. He had to remove the same part, then come back later for a total of four visits.
The microwave broke again, because this was obviously a factory defect and after pleading our case to the home builder, they finally sent a very nice different man with a new microwave that stopped breaking. He installed it in minutes, which impressed me greatly as well. Bless that sweet, efficient man. He apologized repeatedly for the accusations and nuisance caused by the four visits from the other guy, and I really appreciated his kindness.
However, the stove is still corroded, rusting, and warped, the refrigerator is held together by glue and duct tape, and we have to wash all dishes completely before we run them through the dishwasher. We’ve renamed it the “place we dry our clean dishes.” Because we’re fun like that.
15. Our builder only installed one spring for garage doors that required two.
Over the years, we’ve watched all of our neighbors’ garage doors sitting in various states of partly-open, wondering why they all did this? Were they airing something out? Is this a new garage door trend? Often the weather was extreme, and having a garage door open seemed cost prohibitive. We were perplexed.
The mystery was finally solved when our garage door spring snapped and broke while I was leaving one morning. I got lucky because my car was outside in the driveway when it happened, as there is no way to manually lift a garage door once the spring snaps. My car would have been trapped inside otherwise.
We called a few garage door companies, and every one of them, after hearing about our situation, told us that cheap builders install one spring even though it’s unsafe to not use two springs when a garage door is larger than a certain width.
Ours was too big for one spring, and the garage door employee told us our builder is known for being cheap and not installing the two springs needed for a garage door of this size. (We have an average-sized two-car garage door, like everyone else in our neighborhood.) We had to pay to install the two springs our builder should have given us.
Now we knew why all of the houses in our neighborhood had the partly-opened garage doors at one point or another. The garage door company told us we were lucky parts of the large metal spring didn’t fly off as it broke, because this can damage cars and hurt people.
This scared me, and I had to wonder if while saving money at our expense, the home builder considered the liability issues of cutting this particular corner. Because if my child had been injured during the snapping of our garage door spring, there would be litigation.
Our next-door neighbor’s garage door broke in the exact same way, for the same reason, three months later. Their house was built at the same time as ours. The neighbors on the other side of us told me their garage door broke too.
16. The sky is falling. Or maybe it’s our drywall.
After our one year warranty was up, my husband wrote the home building company to let them know we had drywall screws popping loose all over our home. Imagine if the screws holding your drywall sheets in were covered with a thin layer of cheap, chalky paint that crumbled away, revealing silver screws, and you’ve got our ceilings.
This was happening in every room, too. There are also places you can clearly see the lines where the edges of the drywall start and stop. It looks like our house is falling apart, and this started before the two-years-past-building mark.
Kitchen Ceiling 2 (2)
This is what they look like before the paint falls off, revealing silver screws. Quality work, right?
The home builder sent two guys to fix the drywall screw pops, which I assumed was going to mean covering them and blending them into the orange peel texture so they no longer stood out.
This is what they look like on a side wall in our son’s room. There’s currently one above my bed I thought was a spider until I noticed the flakes of paint on my pillow. It made me wonder if I eat paint chips from popping drywall screws in my sleep. Never had that concern before in my life. 
This is a drywall screw exposed right now in the master bedroom ceiling. Classy.
What the two guys they sent did instead was slop a bunch of spackle over the drywall pops, giving them an oily, blobby appearance, and then they asked me for paint to cover what they’d done. I had a bit of the original paint in the garage, so they painted over the lumps they created, effectively making what were flat, silver screws look even worse than before.
No, our living room ceiling doesn’t have nipples. That’s where the home builder’s employees “fixed” the exposed drywall screws.
If I’d taken a small paintbrush and painted the screws to match the ceiling it would have looked better than the much more noticeable globs they created.
Here’s a glob of spackle over one of the drywall screws in the master bedroom.
This spackle glob is on the guest bathroom ceiling.
Here’s another “fixed” spot on the bathroom ceiling.
These little blobs of spackle and paint live on our kitchen ceiling. We call them Greasy Joe and Lefty.
There were also drywall screws popping out on the walls I’d repainted in a satin finish, and for some reason after covering those with spackle, the guy decided to not mix my can of paint well, then paint a large rectangle over the whole mess, again making it look worse than before.
Do you see the weird streak of lighter brown at the upper right where the wall meets the ceiling with the oily-looking blobs? That’s where the employee the home builder sent “covered up” the drywall screws. And yes, people have asked me what happened there.
Here it is up close. I want to repaint the entire wall so it will match again, but we don’t have the money, and I’m sick of painting walls only to have drywall screws pop out, ruining my work.
The only way I could fix their mistakes would be to sand down all the raised-by-spackle places and repaint entire walls wherever they did this.
As you can see from the pictures, the home builder’s employees made the re-covering of our uncovered drywall screws look like water damage or structural damage, which may lower the value of our home if we decide to sell it someday.
17. Our back door is no more.
The back door. Dear God, the back door is beyond repair. It would take a complete reinstallation of a new door to fix it. The entire frame is rotting, cracked, and open to the outside world (and termites).
Dinner is served, termites! Also, good luck trying to force this open, humans!
Our son can’t open the back door to go play in the backyard. Sometimes I can’t either, and have had to go around from the front door to the back via the side gate if my husband isn’t home to help.
The door is so out of alignment it has to be lifted to a certain angle, and brute force applied to unlock it. Once unlocked, it again takes serious upper body strength to open it.
My husband had to add the hideous-looking foam weather stripping because the door no longer fits in the frame, allowing air and bugs in.
This is a crack in the door frame that runs all the way down.
The screen door is also so out of alignment that it feels locked, so even if you get the main door open, you have to fight the screen. Here’s hoping we never have a house fire because of the faulty electrical wiring described above, and need to get out the back.
This is the view from inside the screen, looking out.
Here it is up close. When it rains, water pours in between our screen and door.
18. Our master window wall area is trying to escape.
The frame of the master bedroom window is cracking and pulling away from the wall. I don’t know how else to describe this. It looks like someone took a chisel and tried to cut the window out of the wall.
What is happening to our master bedroom window? Did someone try to steal it?
Much like the back door, we have no idea how to fix this, aside from tearing the wall down, replacing the entire frame, and redoing the drywall.
19. Siding? More like SLIDING, amirite?
Every house in our neighborhood had siding separating with dark patches between the pieces showing through within a few years. The darker the paint, the more obvious this process appears. Whatever our home building crew used to fill in the gaps between the siding pieces was made from a substance that over time has created a dark, wet-looking area anywhere it was used.
Back of house siding finger width (2).JPG
These separated areas are everywhere.
Many people have had to repaint, and our neighborhood isn’t a even decade old. This is wrong.
Back of house siding under windows (2).JPG
Oh, good. Popping screws on the outside too.
Our paint is a lighter shade, but this has been happening to us as well over the years. You can even see the shiny plastic insulation wrap they used around the house between the pieces of siding coming apart. This is not new, and is definitely not something I’ve ever seen on a house before. Nobody cared as they haphazardly threw our home together, and man, does it show.
The siding on the right side of our back door.
The siding was slipping off before the two-years-past-building mark.
West side of house siding (2)
This was happening after less than two years.
The only solution to this will be to pay someone to patch the openings, reinforce the slipping siding, and professionally paint our house with a decent quality paint. And then hope for the best, I suppose.
Our house is much too new to be having so many problems, and many of them started within a few years. This is not normal. I grew up in two farmhouses built in the 1800s, and never experienced any of these issues. I’m aware that in this world “you get what you pay for,” but in this case, I truly don’t believe we did.
Yes, the home builder fixed many problems mentioned eventually. The “eventually” part, however, wasted a lot of our family’s time and made it clear to us we hadn’t chosen a builder who valued quality or customer service over saving money. And many of the issues look worse because of their shoddy, half-hearted attempts at fixing them.
I was raised to believe that any job worth doing is worth doing well, and wish I’d chosen a home builder with the same sense of work pride and integrity my parents instilled in me.
At one point after our home was built, we watched our home builder on the television show where they build a home for a family in need and “Move that truck!” to reveal the final product. The family enters their beautiful new home, tears are shed, etc. Exciting, right?
But rather than feeling proud to own a home by the same builder, we watched the show feeling bitter, and annoyed by the hypocrisy–by all the care taken to build the house on TV–while our simple dwelling crumbled around us. It felt like eating a stale sandwich made by a chef who braggingly prepares a gourmet feast for somebody else in front of you.
We are so disappointed with far too many aspects of our home. This is our house, the place we’re raising a child and being a family, and it’s falling apart. It isn’t fair, and it makes me sad. My husband and I can’t count the number of times we’ve been frustrated because of our “new” home, and it affects our marriage and our child’s quality of life.
We are nine years into home ownership, and most of the issues I’ve discussed above were happening within two years. I don’t think this is reasonable “wear and tear” for a home this new. At all.
We feel taken advantage of, and don’t understand how this home builder can brag about the quality of their homes on social media, which is one reason I’m writing about our experience. If they cared enough to come to our home, and maybe even talk to other people in the neighborhood, they’d see these issues are not exclusive to our home.
Our next door neighbor recently sold her home, for example, and told us about the list of things that our builder didn’t do “up to code” that was insanely long. It took days and money and many people to fix what wasn’t done correctly before they could finish the sale of their home.
One problem was that their attic’s front vent was faced the wrong way, so that the slats pulled water in rather than deflecting it down. The inspector told her she was lucky she didn’t have mold in her attic because of this. Before she could sell her house, she had to hire someone to climb up on her roof and turn the circle-shaped vent around to where it should have been placed by the builder.
This is the kind of poor quality everyone in the neighborhood (now full of property management companies and renters, by the way, and not “home-owning young families” as we were originally told) has realized too late is the norm for the company that built our houses.
My advice to anyone interested in building a new home would be to choose your home builder wisely. Read reviews. Visit sites of homes being built by the company you’re considering and talk to the workers. See if they’re engaged, careful and sober–or trashing the place and unwilling to talk. Our home was filled with garbage during the whole building process, and we were discouraged from bothering the workers during the day. Now we know why.
Drive around older neighborhoods built by the home builder you’re considering and see how they’re holding up. If there’s a playground or park, chat with the people there to find out if they’re satisfied customers or regret using the home builder.
Another helpful tip: Get the company names of everyone brought in to do the electrical, flooring, plumbing, carpentry, painting, etcetera… so you can research them as well. Do this before you sign anything or choose your home builder; not after they’ve already started.
Most importantly: Document everything about your neighborhood and potential new home in writing, and don’t believe a word the salesperson says otherwise. They want your money.
They can market themselves as family-oriented and concerned with quality, but at the end of the day, your home builder is a business, not a friend. And if they’re like our home builder, once they have your money, they don’t care what kind of a dump your family has to live in until you can someday afford a better place.
Addendum: Below are pics I’ve taken of neighborhood houses experiencing the siding and poor-quality paint issues we’ve all dealt with, many of us within the first 5 years of ownership.
The houses in the neighborhood that actually look decent only do so because they’ve hired quality professionals to re-do their siding and paint. You can tell which ones they are because they’re often not in the limited array of colors used by our builder.

These houses are facing all different directions, by the way. It’s not a “weathering on one side” issue, it’s a “poor quality materials and workmanship” issue.

I know sales are sales, but if you’re going to brag about the quality of your product online, and it’s not quality, please don’t be surprised when former customers try to warn others.
Our latest neighborhood broken garage door. This has happened to everyone I’ve spoken with about their garage. And to our neighbors on both sides.

The Real Reason Women Dread the Man Cold


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If you’re female, you’ve probably rolled your eyes along with other women at some point in reference to the dreaded Man Cold. This can look bitter or mean to those who haven’t dealt with this phenomenon, and can understandably make men feel mocked.

For this reason I would like to announce right now to all men that we’re not picking on you. I promise. We aren’t even really making fun of you: it’s more like we’re making fun of our society. Hate the game, not the player.

I’ll explain.

Although there is a growing trend of men being the primary caretakers of the children in families, this duty quite often falls on the shoulders of the woman. The mother. So please reverse everything I’m about to say if you are reading this as a stay-at-home dad. My husband and I decided whoever makes the most money will do so, and the other will take care of our child only because it made financial sense: we are not bound by traditional gender roles.

My fella can make more money than me. So that makes me the stay-at-home parent in our situation. Not because I’m female, but because we like being able to afford food and bills and stuff.


My husband works in a crowded office environment, and often finds himself surrounded by sick people who inexplicably refuse to use their sick leave for its intended purpose— to lessen the spread of productivity-lowering contagion.

When this happens—when his coworkers ignore management’s pleas to stay home when ill to instead share their misery with the workforce—my husband will eventually catch the illness. He then brings it home to our family, where our son and I usually catch it.

Because I have calcifications all over my lungs from either a fungal infection or multiple untreated past pneumonias during my “no health care” minimum wage job days, I inevitably end up on antibiotics for pneumonia. (The last virus was so brutal, my husband ended up with a secondary infection that morphed into pneumonia, and on antibiotics as well.)

This makes us angry because the inconsiderate coworker who came to work and shared the virus with us has now destroyed our quality of life for at least a month while we all take turns being sick. They’ve disrupted our child’s schedule and activities, cost us money in doctor visits and medications, and stolen precious sleep from two adults with a child who has fought sleep since he was in utero. We don’t take loss of sleep lightly at this point. Do not fuck with our sleep.

This also means that if the person who didn’t stay away from work while sick is a young, child-free person who got over it in a few days, with the luxury of resting when needed, rather than taking care of a child/children while feeling like ass, yet has no idea how deeply and adversely they’ve impacted our family and finances… I want to drive to my husband’s job and punch them in the face every day until our entire family is finally over the stinking virus they decided they could “tough it out” and work through.

Because hey, guess what, people who come to work with contagious illnesses? Nobody thinks you’re tough. They think you’re an inconsiderate asshole. Your bosses resent you because you’ve now infected a large portion of the other people who make money for their company, and your coworkers resent you because of the month-of-sickness spiral into which you’ve now sent their families spinning.*

It’s not cool, bro.


This week, my husband caught what my girlfriends and I not-so-affectionately refer to as the Man Cold. When we call it that, we are sometimes referring to the guys who say things like, “I must have caught a stronger version of this virus than you,” to us, or emotionally regress back to an age before they had grass on the field when ill. But really, most men aren’t wimpy about colds. This isn’t what makes us angry.

What makes us angry enough to label it the Man Cold is that the primary caretaker of the children (not always the mother, obviously, but true in my case) doesn’t get to be sick. We don’t get to stop preparing the children for school, doing laundry, making meals, bathing them, helping with homework, driving them to and from everywhere; and if they have caught the illness, we take care of them. All while being sick ourselves.

(And no, it’s not a “weaker version than your virus,” it’s the fact that women are inherently strong as fuck. Did you not see us grow a human with our body and deliver it into the world? Are you new?)

Who takes care of the mother with a Woman Cold you might ask? Well I’m glad you did, because that right there is the source of our sneering and eye-rolling about the Man Cold. Because the answer is nobody.

Nobody takes care of the Woman Cold.

The Woman Cold must be ignored while the equally-sick female in the relationship is required to continue life as usual.

And here comes our Good Will Hunting moment, you guys. Brace yourselves. Maybe grab a tissue.

It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

Okay, stop fighting me and come in for the hug now. It’s okay to cry. This is a safe space.


My husband has currently been sick for days, and because he also believes sharing contagious illnesses with coworkers is a shitty thing to do, he’s been using his sick days, lying in the master bedroom while closed off to protect our son and me from his wicked respiratory virus.

We have no doubt we will catch it eventually because we all live together and touch the same surfaces; all we can hope is that we manage to stagger the onset of my symptoms and our child’s symptoms so there might be one person strong enough to help the others at any given point in the next month while we deal.

He’s been sick, and I’ve been performing most of the duties we normally share. His feeling crummy makes me feel sorry for him, of course, but a wee bit resentful, even though I know he needs to rest, sleep, watch television, and read. I get it. I’m not a jerk, I swear.

The Man Cold resentment breeds only because past history has shown once my husband is well enough to go back to work, I will most likely be the next one to fall ill.

Having used his sick days as intended, this means I will not be able to retreat with my Mom Cold to rest, sleep, watch television, and read. I don’t ever get an uninterrupted week-long break to be sick. I will still have to perform all of my house chores and childcare duties, no matter how awful I feel. And I don’t like them apples. There is no such thing as the Mom Cold, and for this reason, we have grown resentful.

(Obviously exchange “Mom Cold” with “Dad Cold” and “Man Cold” with “Woman Cold” if you’re a stay-at-home dad. And use both genders if in a same-sex marriage. Like contagious viruses, I don’t discriminate.)

So you see, guys… in a perfect world (or in a more evolved country), after taking your week to heal from the wretched virus, you would then have enough sick days leftover to give your now-sick partners the same chance to rest and rebuild you had. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and in this one, we got the short end of the “sick stick.” So… Man Cold, we sneer. Don’t take it personally. We’re not actually mad at you: we’re mad at a country that doesn’t give employees ample time off, the dumbest part being that productivity increases drastically in well-rested, healthy people with good quality of life.

Short version: Man Cold actually means the system sucks, and damn it, primary caretakers of children really wish they could simply be allowed to be sick, rather than miserably slogging through after the now-healthy partner in the relationship must go back to work.

Unless you’re a whiny baby about minor illnesses, of course. Then yes, we’re mocking you personally. Woman up.

Huge shout-out to single parents who must be both bearer of Man Cold and Female Cold and Mom Cold and Dad Cold, by the way. Universal Colds. I bow down at your eternally exhausted feet in awe as I fearfully take zinc and vitamin C supplements, waiting for my dance with the latest respiratory virus.


*Those who work jobs without sick leave are exempt from this rant. Been there, done that, and I know when people complain about your being at work sick, you want to scream, “Well then are YOU going to pay my fucking rent? No? Then SHUT UP.” Because of course you don’t want to have to work while you’re sick. Duh. And employers who don’t give paid sick leave: you suck. You really, truly do. Stop it.