Love at First Sight...Then the Nightmare Begins
As most people who are from Northern Virginia can attest, living here does not come cheap. So you can imagine how ecstatic my husband and I were when we came across K. Hovnanian Homes in Haymarket, VA. The townhomes K. Hovnanian built in the Westmarket Community looked absolutely gorgeous! In fact, we purchased was a 2,200 square foot luxury, brick-front townhouse. It included options such as stainless steel appliances, maple cabinetry, Corian countertops, hardwood floors, upgraded ceramic tile in master bath, and a 2-level bump-out. Not only that, but the neighborhood seemed perfect as well. There was a community pool, tennis courts, and basketball courts. However, as we learned quickly, if it looks too good to be true...it must be.
For the price of $298K my husband and I, first-time homebuyers, thought that we were making a smart choice. At the time we purchased the townhome, townhomes of comparable size (that were built in late 90s and early 2000) cost approximately $400K-$425K in Fairfax County. Even though Haymarket is approximately 45 miles from Washington, DC, we decided that it was still the best bargain we could get, and since we were working in the Chantilly area, we thought that the commute to work would not be too bad (growing up in NoVA you get used to traffic).
So our options were: 1) purchase a brand new townhome in Haymarket for $298K with all the options and luxuries we wanted, or 2) pay $100K extra to buy an older home in the Fairfax County area. Naturally, we couldn't resist the temptation of having a brand new home with all the options we were looking for, and K. Hovnanian seemed to fit the bill. They were providing the best bargain, throwing in great incentives (such as a fully-fenced back-yard), and aesthetically, the house and the community was perfect in everyway. We dealt with a helpful sales representative from the Westmarket Community, but after settlement everything seemed to go terribly wrong...and very fast. The poor craftmanship and poor community planning were quite evident shortly after we moved in. We had issues ranging from faulty plumbing connections, mosquito problems, noise disturbances due to thin walls, and mice infestations, to name a few.
Shortly after we moved in, the dishwasher leaked to our basement because the construction crew failed to connect the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. Since the home was still under warranty, K. Hovnanian did send someone to fix the problem. When they did come to fix the garbage disposal, we didn't realize that they cracked it. By the time we realized this, it was too late to make a claim. The garbage disposal replacement cost us $500 (with installation).
Behind our row of townhomes, was the community's water reservoir. We learned that K. Hovnanian (and not Prince William County) was still responsible for the maintenance and up-keep of the reservoir. However, the summer we moved in, K. Hovnanian poorly maintained the reservoir, leading to serious mosquito problems. Since K. Hovnanian did not install a feature such as a water fountain, the stagnant water in the reservoir attracted mosquitoes...and plenty of them. The problem was so bad, that our next-door neighbor contracted malaria after spending a short time on her deck. It wasn't until more homeowners voiced their anger that K. Hovnanian decided to do anything about the situation, and it wasn't until the next summer that a water fountain was installed.
Poor materials/appliances along with a terrible construction manager adds to the insult of paying so much for a home, and then dealing with so many issues. The walls had to be constructed with the most cheapest material, because my husband and I could easily hear our neighbors' activities. In fact, apartment-living, was a more quiet experience than living in our own home. We could easily hear our neighbors going up and down the stairs, closing doors, and (embarrassingly) having intimate moments. The appliances they provided with the home looks good, but are definitely cheap, since our refrigerator door handle never managed to stay on for more than 2-weeks. The windows the house was constructed with are so energy INefficient. Our winter gas bill would be $220/mo, and I attributed it to the fact that all the heat would escape through the windows (despite having covered them up with thick curtains). For our 1-year inspection, we scheduled it as requested. However, K. Hovnanian did not show up. They apologized for messing up the appointment, and requested for a different date/time. When we couldn't honor that date/time (due to a conflict with my husband's work), K. Hovnanian indicated that if we didn't allow them to perform the inspection for that specific date/time, then we would have to forfeit our 1-year inspection. Since my husband had to be at work, we had no other choice, thus leaving us to make any repairs to the home ourselves.
Lastly, I would like to mention the awful problem we encountered with the mice. This by far, was the most difficult problem we encountered. We learned, through our pest control technician, that we were not the only homeowners with the issue. In fact, the majority of homes in our street had the same issue, since he serviced them as well. Upon some research, my next-door neighbor, discovered that K. Hovnanian decided to build the Westmarket community on what used to be a Boy's Scout camping ground. When we mentioned this information to our pest control technician, he concurred that disturbing such a place would be what caused the mice to come into our homes. This piece of information, suggests that K. Hovnanian, did nothing to inform their homeowners of the occurrence...because logically, when you disturb a mice nest, the construction manager should have seen the amount of mice escaping from it. Yet, they did nothing. Doing nothing caused us homeowners (who were clean and tidy people) left to deal with the problem. By the time us homeowners realized we had mice in our homes, it was too late to do anything. The mice have already created their nests in between the walls, and they probably created an access path between all connecting townhomes, too. So despite what one homeowner could do to eliminate the problem in their home, the mice still had access, via other townhomes, making the mice entry difficult to determine, and thus the making the mice difficult to eradicate.
My husband and I realize, that home builders, are in the business of making homes. And, like any other business, they need to make their profit. But, what we cannot agree with, is that K. Hovnanian took short-cuts and were negligent to an extent which caused homeowners, like myself, to suffer through issues as we've mentioned. When you are making a large purchase, such as that of home, you have certain expectations. You expect that the home is planned and constructed properly, and that you receive a certain level of service (which we didn't receive). Our advice to those thinking of purchasing a home from K. Hovnanian is: 1) Do not be awestruck by the beautiful home they are selling you. 2) Take the time to hire your own home inspector (even though it's a new home). 3) Have a full understanding of what you're getting into as well, by researching on the land they are constructing your home on, and by learning what kind of materials they are constructing your home with.