Lowe's the un-improvement store, a renovation nightmare cautionary tale - buyer beware

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Aug 17, 2019
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We engaged Lowe's home improvement to professionally measure and design our first floor renovation project on February 17, 2018, which included a kitchen, half-bath, living room and hallway. We worked with the Lowe's designer to design our floor plan, cabinets, materials, find a contractor, select appliances, flooring, lighting, other finishes. We purchased the renovation project on March 4, 2018. At the time of purchase the designer had difficulty transferring our approved design from his laptop to store computer system and because of numerous customer profiles he had difficulty associating the project with our current address and contact information. We completed the transaction and had to pay in full ($65K) but these initial difficulties should have been the warning signs for us to walk away. Work stopped around August 5, 2018 and now more than a year later we are still experiencing the repercussions of this purchase in the worst case scenario renovation nightmare that was originally scheduled to be complete by May 2018.

First issue - We noticed after reviewing our contract and receipts (after the 3 day cancellation period) that the services we paid for did not align with our contract. We notified the designer by phone and he assured us that everything was covered and our project would be completed.
Second issue - Our cabinets did not arrive in April as scheduled and after calling several times they could not find our cabinets. We subsequently received an email in May stating our cabinet were ready for delivery in March and will be returned to the vendor because they could not get a hold of us. We noticed the dispatcher was calling on an old phone number (i.e. another out of state profile).
Third issue - Contractor could not start for three weeks after the cabinet were delivered and did not show up for the first two weeks of the project. We called the Lowe's help line and left a message and two weeks later received a project coordinator (i.e. out of state) to manage our project. throughout the project the contractor was inconsistent is being on site as scheduled.
Fourth issue - Lowe's did not include materials to install drywall, molding, tile floors, back splash, etc. and when we called the designer about it, he said we had to purchase those items separately. This cost us another $12k above what we thought the project was going to cost.
Fifth issue - Lowe's could not provide us enough flooring material for our project even though we purchased it at the time of our project but then also refused to refund our money and would only offer store credit. We did not want a $15K plus store credit so we came to a verbal agreement with Lowe's that Lowe's would install our flooring for the originally agreed price and we would find replacement tile. We purchase replacement tile at another retailer for 3X the original tile price. We also purchased an additional 600 sqft. for a future connecting project to ensure we had the same dye lot (i.e. color).
Sixth issue - Cabinets arrived damaged, some appear used and returned, colors were inconsistent, finishes were incomplete. Lowe's would replace some but refused to replace all the damaged cabinets.
Seventh issue - Kitchen design approved at the time of purchase was not the design received or design we paid for (i.e. an earlier version). Lowe's was willing to provide some of the originally designed cabinet but then wanted to charge us an additional $4K to return and replace key cabinets and insert that were not included with our payment.
Eighth issue - Kitchen design was not properly measured by Lowe's to fit our space or appliances. The kitchen design added a foot and half of wall space to our kitchen due to Lowe's mis-measurement of the floor plan meaning the design did not fit in our space. Our electrician, plumber, and HVAC installer relied on Lowe's design to install outlets, appliance hook-ups, HVAC blower ducts, lighting etc. and to bring all items up to current code requirement (costing us $57K). Our appliances identified in February and then purchase thru another retailer in April at the urging of Lowe's will never fit in the design Lowe's created. A 36 inch oven has only 35 inches of space, 74 inch tall refrigerator only has 73 inches of space, the 24 inch wall oven and microwave have 30 inches of space. Our floor is 703 sqft but Lowe's measured only 532sqft for the flooring install under estimating the material needed. Lowes measured the quartz needed at 82 feet but we really needed 157 feet of material.
Ninth issue - Cabinets were delivered to our garage and should have remained in our garage for only a couple of weeks but now over a year later then have been exposed to temperature changes. Some cabinet were installed and as the seasons changed wood contracted cause cabinet faces to split. We since moved what we can lift into our house but there are cabinet too large and heavy that remain in our garage.
Tenth issue - Lowe's did not disclose that the project coordinator was in another state and would never step foot within our project to manage the completion or assess/resolve issues that developed.
Eleven issue- Lowe's never completed the job and we have many items that we paid for that have never been performed.
Twelve issue- Lowe's do not properly assess or represent the quality and capabilities of the contractor's workmanship for our renovation project resulting in the below damage and poor quality install.
  1. Contractor damaged newly install electrical, plumbing and HVAC that was properly installed, worked, and inspected and passed by county official prior to Lowe's starting work.
    1. We now have electrical damage because contractor uninstalled electrical, rewired items, and remove newly install wiring. New previously working outlets, light switches do not work. The Contractors rewiring caused electrical arching of wires and damaged our hood vent, intake air and wiring within the kitchen. More than half the kitchen wiring is not working. Additionally after drywall was installed lights and outlet outside of the renovation area that have wires inside the area do not work. We received estimates to repair electrical for $10K which does not include drywall removal, drywall replacement or painting. Estimated actual cost is likely over $25K.
    2. Contractor had to remove a toilet and pedestal sink to install flooring and reinstall once flooring was complete. Toilet now drains into the basement ceiling/sub-floor causing a smell in our first floor even though we have not used the bathroom in over a year. The sink was not leveled prior to reconnecting to the wall damaging the tile back splash. Additionally, the contractor moved/removed plumbing install for appliances that is improperly sized and drained. We received estimates to repair plumbing of $5K which does not include replacing subfloor, basement ceiling, backsplash, ect. Estimate actual cost of damage is likely over $15K
    3. Contractor poured self-leveling compound in our brand new HVAC blowers ducts because he did not cover the ducts to prevent the self-lever compound from running into the duct. Our HVAC now has a high frequency ring and ducts are rusted. We have had the ducts vaccumed at a cost of $700. The rusted/damaged ducts need to be replace to prevent rust blowing around our house, which entails removing subfloors or ceilings. Estimated actual cost is over $25K.
  2. Contractor did not have skills to install tile flooring and heat wire as assured by Lowe's at the time of purchase and the Contractor when we met him.
    1. Heat wire was installed without following the installation steps and warranty guidelines voiding the warranty. In floor heating does not work for two reason, one heating section does not work and never heats the floor. Additionally the thermostat wire that should be installed in the floor was never installed and remained in the box. Wire and material costs about $8K to replace. Electricians time to reinstall is about $4k.
    2. Tiles were not installed level or properly spaces. Contractor did not use lashing clips that would have allowed for proper application for tile size installed. Lashing clips would have cost about $100 bucks for the entire install but the floor replacement including removal, install, materials, labor, subfloor replacement(due to damage) will cost us approximately $60K.
    3. Contracter wasted materials and used almost 1000 sqft of flooring for a 700 sqft application. Due to the delays the original dye lot is no longer available. Replacement of 600sqft for our future project will cost approximately $5K.
    4. Due to the uneven floor, installed cabinets are uneven (installed without our permission to proceed) which would cause countertops to crack according to quartz counter top installer.
  3. Contractor did not have skills to install new venting for outside venting hood vent (where we previously did not have outside venting) or the intake air venting needed for high powered vents. He did not properly install the new window.
    1. Contractor wired hood vent outside of county code regulations previously wired by our electrician
    2. Sawed 10 inch holes in an 11 inch major support beam to vent outside damaging the structural integrity of our house and we now have some sign of sagging to our house.
    3. Intake air does not close and is a large hole in our ceiling in the middle of the room, which consistently allows heating, cooling, and pests access to our house.
    4. Hood vent was damage by electrical arching and sometime works and other times does not.
    5. Outside venting was not located where we requested results in high powered air to vent onto our deck blowing chairs etc around the deck.
    6. External siding was remove and replaces but sags and as it was not properly installed.
    7. Window was not properly seal, insulated, and was damaged during install and wood casing was not installed.
    8. We estimate that we have to replace the hood vent, intake air, drywall, siding, support beam and associated structural items as our houses structural integrity is now in jeopardy. We approximate this to cost us $100K to repair.
  4. Contractor used tools not regulated for internal use (i.e. jack hammer). which cracked our foundation, causing a window to crack and a partial collapse of our sunporch. We estimate this will cost about $150K to repair.
  5. Contractor damage adjacent rooms and entry ways we estimate this at approximately $40K
We initially requested Lowe's to replace the contractor, pay for damages, replace the damaged cabinets, replace the flooring material, replace other spent materials, pay for demo of the installed floor, and pay to move the electrical, plumbing and HVAC to the properly location once a cabinet redesign was approved. Lowe's made promises to make it right, fix our house, and get our project back on track within 30 days. Lowe's delayed and kept transferring us to new people within the organization that stated the same thing, even hires two insurance assessor, asked us to obtain estimates and nothing ever came of Lowe's promise to make it right. We are now asking for refund of the contract price because of all the design issues, measurement issues, and cabinet issues plus the damages totaling approximately $500K.

Due to the delays caused by Lowe's we lost.
  1. On appliance rebates and purchase rewards because the appliances had to be delivered and installed before January 1, 2019 ($7K)
  2. Lost discounts on countertops due to Lowe's delayed install. Lowe's would not honor the 20% discount offered on the Quartz at the time of purchase because vendor stated the sale was over. Lowe's wanted us to pay full price.
  3. Paid interest on kitchen and related kitchen install that we have not had an opportunity to utilize
  4. Lost years of a warranty for products and appliances purchased
  5. Lost wages to meet Lowe's assessors, inspectors, and to obtain requested estimates
  6. Increased cost to eat meal prepared outside our house because we have no working kitchen
  7. Loss of use of the first floor of our house and garage
  8. Attorney's fees
We estimated these cost totaling approximately $270K as of May 30th and climbing. We filed an arbitration case against Lowe's on June 6, 2019 as required under our contract and Lowe's was obligated to pay for the arbitration but Lowe's refused to pay. We were faced with paying another $5K to proceed with our claim or the arbitrator would have to administratively close our case. We borrowed another $5K to pay for the case to proceed and Lowe's finally responded after months of nothing to say they had no liability, were not in breach of contract, our claim is merit-less, stating we asked Lowe's to perform items outside the scope of our contract, and that they provide no warrant on goods sold under the contract (i.e. the cabinets).

We did everything right, reached out to Lowe's and documented and informed them of our issues, tried to work with Lowes to resolve the issues and Lowes never had any thoughts, plan of action, suggested settlement, or a path to move forward. After months of phone calls, emails, and hiring an attorney; Lowe's never made any attempts to resolve our contract dispute. This ordeal has devastated my family, destabilized our family's financial future, ruined our home that we once loved, and has left us stuck with no foreseeable end. Help, advice whatever you can provide us to help us move past this renovation nightmare and help us develop an action plan forward would be appreciated. Thank you for your consideration.
 

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Sep 19, 2015
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#3
What did the arbitrator rule? Is it binding arbitration?

If you are in the midst of arbitration the executives likely will not respond.
 
Aug 17, 2019
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#4
Have you tried writing to the executives of Lowe’s, not the local ones?
We were assigned a executive customer service last September, who first stated he would find a resolution within 30days and then transferred us to the claims department in October.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#9
They probably won’t reply anyway. Once you start
legal action, the Executives won’t engage with you.
You need to let the legal process work it’s way out. You should listen to your attorney. If you agreed to binding arbitration, you are stuck with waiting it out.

This is a warning for others considering using a home improvement store for renovations. They subcontract the work out and unless you know the name of the contractors they are using you have no way to check their reputation or whether they are even properly licensed.
 
Aug 17, 2019
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#10
He is representing us and believes we have a great case. But are we doing enough? I really thought Lowe's would have settled with us at some point. Is there things we should be doing to prepare for our arbitration? documentation we should be getting together?
 
Aug 17, 2019
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#11
"Neil Maley, post:
"This is a warning for others considering using a home improvement store for renovations. They subcontract the work out and unless you know the name of the contractors they are using you have no way to check their reputation or whether they are even properly licensed."


I would definitely agree this was the most shocking realization about this nightmare.
 
Likes: Mel65
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
Do not say anything that could prejudice your case and I hope you have a good lawyer.

Renovations frighten me because of all the bad contractor stories I have heard.

I do think the arbitration process has to continue no executive will interfere.

It does sound like a dreadful experience.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,539
8,754
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San Francisco
#15
For your own protection, please remove your post. I can't imagine what you've been through but I surely don't want you to create any new problems. Best of luck.
 
Likes: Mel65
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