My Toll Experience

Framing

Where to start!  Throughout the house, the framing is very poor.  Many of these defects are visible to the naked eye.

1. 
Instead of placing the exterior basement door within the door frame, Toll’s framers leaned the door against the exterior wall and then constructed a wooden casement for it.  This leaves all of the wood around the door exposed to the elements, and it is rotting as a result, despite the fact that I have had it capped.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Report, D'Alessio Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)

2.  There are serious trip hazards at the tops of both of the staircases that run between the first and second floors.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Report Dowling Report, and photos.)

Harald Greve proposes fixing this by filing down the lip of the top step.  This completely ignores the fact that this will leave the newel posts at the top steps suspended in mid-air.  It also overlooks the fact the top riser will then not be the correct height.  In other words, this will substitute one code violation for another, and look ridiculous.  But it is cheaper than pulling out the entire staircase and setting it in correctly, which is, of course, all Toll seems to care about.

3.  The interior of the wood framing around the skylights was never sealed or painted, and is rotting as a result.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)

4.  The walls in the Conservatory were not framed correctly: the top of the East – West wall along the southern end of the room is 5” higher than the top of either of the abutting walls at the corners where they meet.  (See Criterium-Lockatong ReportD'Alessio Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)   As a result, the western wall has split away from the ceiling, and the entire roof of the Conservatory is unstable.

5.  There are ELEVEN (11) illegally modified trusses in the attic supporting the roof.  (See Criterium-Lockatong ReportD'Alessio Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)   Every one of these represents a major code violation, as it undermines the structural integrity of the entire roof.  (One of my fellow Toll Brothers homeowners in Montgomery Township has already had a roof collapse as a result of improperly modified trusses.)

In the face of two reports and the accompanying photos, Toll’s expert, Harald Greve, and engineer Peter Wilner both insist that these illegally modified trusses do not exist. 

6.  Because the attic was not framed correctly, there is an infestation of bugs in the front wall between the brick façade and the particle board.  (Toll’s commitment to “quality” and “luxury” did not extend to the use of real plywood.)  As a result, I regularly have bug droppings all over the interior sills of one of the dining room windows, just feet away from my dining room table.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)

7.  Many of the joists under the first floor are twisted out of plane, rendering them structurally deficient.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and Dowling Report.)  As a result, the flooring throughout the first floor is very uneven (i.e., bumpy). 

8.  The subflooring was installed incorrectly, as a result of which tiles are cracking in the conservatory, kitchen, laundry room, and two of the three upstairs bathrooms.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)  I know this is the reason for the cracking because the tile installer told me before I ever even closed on the house that the tiles were all going to crack for this reason.  Cracked tiles are a problem throughout my subdivision, and apparently in Toll Brothers sub-divisions in other parts of the country as well.  (See video.)

Toll’s proposed solution to this problem: replace the affected tiles, even if the tiles you originally selected have been discontinued and cannot be matched!  As long as they can find some tiles that look somewhat like the ones you originally selected, and use these to make the repairs, Toll thinks the problem will be fixed!  (See Lewis Letter.)  Their commitment to “quality” does not extend to getting to the source of the problem and making the repairs necessary to ensure that the tiles will not crack again, nor to giving you tiles that match. 

9.  Several of the main weight-bearing walls are seriously out of plumb. The entire upper half of the center front wall is nearly 15 degrees out of plumb.  The front wall is so twisted out of plane that the front door cannot be closed correctly.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and photos.) 

Despite the fact that this problem was noted during my one pre-closing walk-through and has been on the record ever since, Toll has absolved themselves of any responsibility for fixing it, because I added a storm door!  Ironically, had the front door been set in properly, I would not have needed the storm door in the first place.  This is but one example of the absurd lengths to which Toll will go to avoid doing right by their customers.  (See Transcript from November 29 Hearing, Part 1 and 2 for other examples of their avoidance techniques.)

10.  Several of the walls are so splayed at the corners that they are literally pulling apart at the seams.  In the northeast corner of the family room, there is a single crack that extends all the way up from the floor to the ceiling, and then on up into the ceiling for another six feet.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)

11.  The living room and dining room walls just inside the front door are supposed to be the same width, but there is in fact a 10” difference between the two.  One extends 24” in from the front wall; the other extends 34” in.  Further, neither one of them extends the correct distance, which is 28”, the width shown on the plans.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)

12.  The ceiling of the Family Room is crooked, and drops down from the center on both sides.  Neither Harald Greve nor Peter Wilner made any attempt to measure it, but nonetheless they assert that this is an “optical illusion.”  However, the engineers who have taken the time to measure it have determined that in fact it is a very real condition.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and photos.)

13.  The floor in the family room peaks in the center along the north-south axis at a height that is nearly two inches higher than is the floor at either end of the room.  This is because the beam underneath the room was not seated properly.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Reportand photos.)

Harald Greve acknowledges that the floor is tented; his suggestion for repairing it is to lift up the walls of the family room, lower the beam underneath, and set the walls of the Family Room back down.  This completely overlooks the fact that the floor joists of the bedrooms that share walls with the Family Room will be pulled out of their straps and all of the electrical and duct work will be pulled apart.  In short, it will pull the entire rear half of the house completely apart.  In addition, when the walls are set back down, they will no longer be the correct length.  Every other engineer who has heard this proposal has laughed at its absurdity – but Toll likes it, because it minimizes the cost of repairs.

14.  The skylight in the kitchen is crooked, and the entire rear wall of the “Garden Room” -- the 10’ x4’ addition at the rear of the kitchen – is bowed.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)

Harald Greve insists there is nothing wrong with this wall or the skylight.

15.  Both walls along the rear stair case are crooked.  This is very obvious to the naked eye.

Harald Greve insists there is nothing wrong with the walls.

16.  The “open landing” in the center of the second floor is only 8’ wide along the east-west axis, but is 1.5 inches lower on the east side than on the west.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report.) 

17.  Where the Master Bedroom and Master Den meet by the upstairs fireplace, the joists switch direction.  Mr. Runzer had promised me that he would make sure that all of the hardwoods ran in the same direction, because otherwise it would “look stupid.”  He did not keep his promise and, yes, it does “look stupid.”  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)

18.  Most of the windows and doors are not set in correctly and do not fit.  In some places, there is a full half-inch gap between the outside surface of the window and the inside surface of the sill.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Dowling Report, and  photos.)   Some of the doors will not stay shut as a result – they are set too far apart to latch shut properly.  And this results in a tremendous loss of energy.

19.  Several windows cannot be locked because of the poor fit.  One of the windows in the Conservatory is missing a lock altogether.  (See photo.)

20.  The railing at the top of the center staircase is undersized, and the stain is the wrong color.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)  Note also the marks left on the floor - under the varnish.

21.  The center stairs were not set in correctly.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Report.)

22.  The insets for the conservatory windows are the wrong size, and many of the required fasteners were never installed.  (See photos.)

This is only a partial list of the framing problems.  See the Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Report, and D'Alessio Report  for a complete list.  Harald Greve denies the existence of all but a very few of these.

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