My Toll Experience

Other Problems

1.  There are electrical problems throughout the house.  The wrong type of wiring was used in places, and there are numerous code violations in the way the house was wired.  Phone lines and electrical outlets throughout the house have failed.  Many of my neighbors have serious electrical problems as well, and there have been at least 5 electrical fires within this sub-division that I know off.  (My local fire department has steadfastly refused my requests for information about the number of fires in Toll Brothers houses within this township.)

2.  The steps outside the three back doors are not up to code, and the handrails were each held on by a single nail.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)  I found this out the hard way when I slipped on the steps outside the back kitchen door and grabbed the handrail to break my fall, only to have the handrail come off in my hand.  I landed on the concrete footing on my right knee, and now have a torn ACL as a result.

However, I was relatively lucky: a Toll Brothers homeowner in PA suffered a worse fate because Toll cut a corner when installing her kitchen counter top.  When the woman put her weight against it, thinking it was a solid piece and could support her, it came apart, and she lost her balance and fell.  So severe were her injuries that she will never walk again, and her marriage has ended as a result.  And a number of people have been killed or seriously injured by cranes collapsing at Toll Brothers construction sites in New York.  (See Related Articles.)

Gerry Lewis, who took over as Site Manager for this sub-division after John Runzer left, insists that the steps were intended to be temporary, and therefore are not required to adhere to code.  According to state code officials, however, even temporary steps are very much required to adhere to code.  This raises the question of how familiar Toll employees are with the very code they are expected to incorporate into the houses they build.

3.  The brick facing above the fireplace in the family room has pulled away from the wall.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)

4.  The upstairs fireplace cannot be used, because the flue is too small, and the smoke backs up all over the house.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)

5.  The chimney for the living room fireplace is comprised of mismatched bricks.  It appears that the masons ran out of Spaulding Tudor bricks, which it what I had selected, and rather than wait until more Spaulding Tudor bricks were available, they just went ahead and built the upper-most six feet of the chimney with a different brick.  Needless to say, it looks ridiculous.  

6.  The tiles on the floor around the upstairs fireplace are supposed to extend out for 18” in every direction away from the fireplace, but extend only 12” along the East-West axis.  This is a fire hazard and a code violation. (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)

7.  Several of the windows do not have screens.

8.  I did not get a double oven, although the sales literature all indicated that I would.

9.  I paid for but did not get a full waterproofing membrane around the basement exterior.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Report, D'Alessio Report, and photos.)

10.  The trim was not primed before it was painted, and all of the paint is peeling.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)  It has been peeling since the day I closed on the house, and this is noted on all of the punch lists.  Nonetheless, Toll insists that this is a "maintenance problem." 

I paid for but did not get hardwood floors in every room except the conservatory, kitchen, laundry room, and upstairs bathrooms.  When I called this to Mr. Runzer’s attention, he advised me that it was too late to correct the problem, but that I would get a credit at closing to offset the additional money I had been charged.  Not only did I NOT get the credit, but I had to fork out another $800 for carpeting to cover up Toll Brothers’ mistake.

12.  The wrong cabinets were installed in the Master Bathroom – cabinets that do not match anything else in the house.  Again, I was told by Mr. Runzer that I would get a credit at closing, but again, none was forthcoming.

13.  Every room in the house is significantly smaller than the rooms shown on the plans, especially across the width of the house.  For example, the plans show the living and dining rooms each as being 13’4” wide, but in fact each is only 12’10” wide.  Every other room is at least 3” shorter in width than shown on the plans.  Most rooms are shorter in length, also, although not to the same extent.

I have been advised by many other Toll Brothers homeowners across the country that the rooms in their houses also are significantly smaller than advertised.  This appears to be a very common problem, and is one more example of what I consider to be false advertising on Toll Brothers’ part.

Toll’s expert witness, Harald Greve, has never made any attempt to refute my argument that the rooms are all smaller than advertised.  He never even bothered to measure the rooms.  This suggests that Toll Brothers knows that the rooms in their houses are smaller than advertised.

According to a senior engineer with the N. J. Division of Codes and Standards, the plans that Toll Brothers used to build this house are not even legal.  Not only are they very generic, meaning that they show the very basic Madison model, without most of the options I had selected, but they are also a mirror image of the actual house, and as a result, all of the writing on them is backward.   (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Report, and D'Alessio Report.)  You cannot read them without holding them up to a mirror – and I seriously doubt whether the people who worked on this house bothered to do that.  In addition, the plans do not identify the specific block and lot number, or the address of the house. 

Yet Toll insists that plans like this enable them to build “quality.”  Toll’s expert, Harald Greve, insists there is nothing wrong with using plans like this.  The fact that the so many of their houses appear to be poorly built would seem to refute these claims.

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