SUGAR HILL, GEORGIA -- On August 31, 2003, I purchased a Touchstone home. Shortly after moving in, I began having plumbing problems. On several occasions when doing laundry in the upstairs laundry room, the toilet and bath tub on the first floor would fill with dirty water and sewage. Then once while I was doing laundry, dirty sewage water started pouring out of the center of the living room ceiling, down the ceiling fan and off its blades onto the walls and floor. The dirty water had also started running from the ceiling in the basement. I called Touchstone and was told to call the plumbing service listed in the home ownerâs manual. I called Touchstone's plumbing company and they came out. The plumber snaked the line and opened it up. He suggested that the clogged line was caused by diapers that my husband, my children, or I had flushed down the toilet. I pointed out that our children were not of diaper wearing age and we had no diapers in the house. He further suggested that the house was very new and that may be a workman had flushed something (a rag) that he shouldnât have. He stated that this was a common problem.
With the line cleared, he left. We continued to have problems. I had to have them come out again for the exact same reason, and they snaked the line again and left. Touchstone told me that I would have to pay the bill in which I did. Still the problem continued. I called Touchstone Customer Service to inform them that I was having this ongoing issue with the plumbing and they insisted that it was my problem because it was out of warranty. Since the plumbing was backed up again, with my tub overflowing with sewage and my ceiling fan dripping once again, I snaked the toilet myself. The problem was temporarily resolved, however it happened even again. My ex-husband came over and tried to snake the drain from the downstairs toilet. When he was unable to clear the line from the toilet, he went to the basement to try to clear it from the main line. When he unscrewed the cap to the main line, filthy water and sewage poured out over him and onto the basement floor. It finally cleared.
When Touchstone was called again, they continued to state that it was my problem and my responsibility to get it corrected even though they were contacted numerous times regarding the same problem before our first year warranty. It continued to happen again. This time was even worse. The tub overflowed and sewage went into the ventilation system and poured into the basement damaging the remainder of the items that were left down there. The insulation was covered with sewage as well. That had to be removed and thrown out with furniture and lots of toys and electronic equipment. We seemed to be getting no where with Touchstone or Northwest Plumbing, so I called a different plumbing company. They came out and put a camera down the line and found that the plumbing between the house and the sewer did not come together and only about 30% of the overall piping was open to allow sewage through. The plumber determined that not only was the plumbing not connected properly, but there was a slump in the line. There was evidence of roots in the lines and leakage into the soil even causing more growth in the surrounding shrubbery. This is a glaringly obvious construction defect, especially noticeable because of it being a left to right shift opposed to an up and down one. On page 80 in the Touchstone Home Information Book, under BUILDER WARRANTY GUIDELINES, it states:
No leaks should exist in any soil, waste vent or water pipe. Condensation on piping does not constitute leakage and is not covered. Your builder will take corrective action to eliminate leakage unless the leakage is caused by freezing pipes.
Sewers, fixtures and drains should operate properly. Your builder is not responsible for sewers, fixtures and drains which are clogged through the homeownerâs negligence. When defective construction is the cause, your builder will repair it; when homeowner negligence is the cause, the homeowner is responsible for all repair costs.
This defect has caused thousands of dollars in damage to personal property. I tried to have Touchstone resolve the problem years ago without success. I would not have so much damage in my house and to my property if Touchstone had held to the agreement in the ownerâs manual and first year warranty responsibilities. It has caused bacteria-ridden, feces and urine filled water to be strewn about the house and allowed to seep into its carpets, drywall, duct work, insulation, et ceteraâ¦causing an unhealthy and hazardous living environment. Since I called Touchstone about this, I have done some research regarding sewage spilled in residential environments and the biological hazard that such contamination creates and the professional cleaning that is required. According to the Health Department, this faulty construction has caused hazardous conditions in my home in which two young children and I live, and I work there on a daily basis. Touchstone not only has not provided the cleanup service to make the house a healthy living environment for my children, but they were actually rude to me when I discussed any of this with them. It did not seem to affect them when I explained to them that I had been experiencing continual headaches which I believe could be caused by the contamination of waste material still present in my home structure and ventilation system. While Touchstone sent out a crew to fix the line between the house and the sewer after many attempts to resolve this within months of my purchasing the house and moving in, they have not done anything to address the damages caused by the faulty plumbing. Affected areas of the house need to be sanitized. Personal property that had to be disposed of, needs to be replaced. The damage to the yard and landscaping need to be repaired as well. While initial repairs to the pipe have been completed, this matter is far from resolved; however Touchstone has only now offered me a mere $1,200 that will only cover my latest plumbing bill and some of the structural damages. The representative from Touchstone Homes in charge of customer service, stated that if I accepted the money, I would have to sign a full release stating that Touchstone is not liable for any of the damages or anything else that could possibly arise from this situation (which in now adding up it appears to be an additional $8,000 in damages). I feel this is unacceptable. In addition to numerous damaged toys, furniture, and electronics, over $1,200 in plumbing costs, numerous costly carpet cleanings, damaged landscaping - the insulation, ventilation system, ceiling, contaminated and rusted ceiling fan, and the carpet in hallway and great room will have to be repaired or replaced. I will also have to have the house inspected and possibly treated for contamination.
I am pasting some information that was copied straight from the Touchstone website. I am disappointed that this information is not true.
The philosophy of Touchstone Homes says it all, "We pledge to build quality designed homes that will satisfy the highest expectations of our customers. Excellence, integrity and honesty in the conduct of our business, and above all, consistency in quality and performance, are the cornerstones of the success of Touchstone Homes." "We are focused on giving our buyers the most home for the money," emphasizes Richard Stein, Chief Executive Officer of Touchstone Homes. "Our product offers a high degree of finish for the money; more than the consumer might get from our competition. We do not want to sacrifice quality or design, which are our trademarks."
Touchstone Homes has been the recipient of numerous Professionalism Awards from the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Associations, in recognition by its peers in the industry for its solid construction and its exciting floor plans. Touchstone Homes has also earned the designation of Certified Professional Home Builder, which reflects a solid and successful company that will be around in the future. Bryan Cohen, President, believes, "It is important to make certain that every home we build and every community we build in lives up to our standards of high quality, because each home we build is a home that we would be proud to call our own."
Touchstone Homes is a customer and community driven homebuilder offering diversified, personalized products serving the greater Atlanta marketplace. We are striving to become a production oriented builder providing a wide array of standard options to our standard plans.
At Touchstone Homes we........
Focus on providing value to our customers, trade partners and employees.
Believe in accountability, responsibility and communication.
Ensure that all decisions support our mission goals and maintain our guiding principles.
Strive to create a company culture focused on a family environment.
Strive to employ the best team members.
Focus on systems development and use of technology.
Provide opportunity for personal and professional growth for all stakeholders.
Foster entrepreneurial spirit among all team members.
Continually re-evaluate company resources, market environment and stakeholder's expectations.
Emphasize honesty, integrity and fairness in all that we do.
I requested of Touchstone Homes that they uphold their warranty and fairly compensate me for the damages that have affected my family and me. I requested that my home be professionally inspected to ensure there are no collateral contaminates still located in the house. I feel that Touchstone needs to replace the contaminated ventilation system, insulation, and ceiling fan. Also, depending on the professional opinion of a qualified inspector, Touchstone needs to either professionally clean or replace the contaminated carpet. In addition, I need to be compensated financially for the damaged items in the house and landscaping repairs, plumbing bills, and carpet cleanings. Touchstone has refused to do this. I am extremely disappointed from a company that was named "America's Best Builder".