Buyers Agents Be Aware: Pulte has changed HVAC system from Sheet Metal ductwork to Flexibile ductwork

Asked by Dl4546, Minneapolis, MN Thu Jul 19, 2012

Our house is under construction. We just found out that our HVAC system has been changed to CHEAP flexible ductwork which always has numerous problem. Please go to the following site for more info:

http://askweldin.com/Flex.html

Pulte didn't inform us about the change. We came to know about that on pre drywall meeting. We asked the reason and they said it works much better than sheet metal. They also said that Purchase Agreement (PA) allows them to make any change. Before signing the PA, we checked the model home and liked its structural, electrical and mechanical work including the sheet metal duct work that was installed in the model. It was a big factor for purchasing that house. At the time of purchasing agreement, we were told that we will receive same things as standard in our house as shown in the model except for upgrades. We feel that Pulte has cheated us. For stealing few thousand dollars, they broke our dream. Can something be done?

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5
Dean Foerster, Agent, Minnetonka, MN
Fri Jul 20, 2012
BEST ANSWER
Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Not only is it nearly impossible to clean flexible duct work but it also creates turbulence making certain rooms uncomfortable and it raises your energy bills.

As a Realtor that has worked with smaller builders and showed and even sold Pulte homes I can say that I am not surprised. Pulte has mastered the art of the most square footage for the money. They add features like granite because buyers can see that part and skimp on the out of sight items like insulation, duct work, etc. These choices usually meet minimum code and are not breaking any laws. As long as the public continues to demand these homes, they will keep building them. The bad part of this is that it puts pressure on the smaller builders to cut corners in order to compete. The only solution is to write and blog about this (like you have done) so enough people learn to ask the less obvious questions and work with realtors that understand new construction. Also talk to some smaller custom builders to have them point out the differences. The average Realtor gets paid anywhere from 2.5%-3%. A good agent should be able to save you at least that much on a new build and help protect you.
0 votes
This is exactly what happened to us. We got imppressed by looking at few fancy items but did not know what are they going to install behind the wall to steal thousand of $$$. Their purchase agreement does not include all the specs detail and someone can easily forget to check when siging the agreement.
Flag Fri Jul 20, 2012
Dan, Home Buyer, Alabama
Thu Aug 9, 2012
Mice love flexible duct work. All those little ridges are permanent lodging zones for the millions of mouse droppings once the little critters convert your duct system into a super highway.
0 votes
That is really not something that anyone wants to hear about duct work. This will make me curious as to the kind of duct work that has been in a few different places I have lived. I'm going to go to my place after work today and check out the system.
http://www.lmac.com.au/services
Flag Fri Nov 7, 2014
Peretired, Home Owner, Culpeper County, VA
Fri Jul 20, 2012
Pulte Homes has an extensive history of this sort of thing. I know—I own a Pulte house—in a Pulte development on the SC coast. In 2006 I discovered that roof truss connections in these houses were woefully inadequate. I’m a retired civil engineer. The building code requires that houses in this location must be capable of withstanding a 130 mph hurricane force wind. It was obvious to me when I saw the roof truss connections that they could not. I came to find out that Pulte decided to substitute two nails for the hurricane clips called for on construction drawings. That’s bad enough; but, many of the connections that I saw had no nails, one nail, nails that completely missed their target, nails in split wood, etc.—woefully inadequate.

Currently, in Schertz TX, foundations for homes in a Pulte development have completely failed due to expansive soils, and the fact that the foundations don’t have steel reinforcement (rebars). Unlike our houses a completely failed foundation is fatal.

If you want to know more about Pulte’s shoddy construction, see my blog: http://peretired.blogspot.com/ . Good luck with Pulte Homes. Most of us have found that Pulte’s SOP is to deny, deny, deny and delay, delay, delay. If the problems are “manageable”, then most of us have fixed them ourselves.
0 votes
Mike Kelcher, Agent, Burnesville, MN
Thu Jul 19, 2012
Your post started out with "Our house..." I understand. However, remember, it's "Pulte's house" until you buy it...and you may not have to buy it. If this type of ducting isn't acceptable to you, what are they willing to do to make you a happy customer? Would they build you a different home on a different lot with sheetmetal ducts? Would they change this home's existing ducts to sheetmetal or is the construction beyond the point where that would be feasible?

A lot depends on the purchase agreement. Any decision you may choose to make may depend on the amount of earnest money you stand to lose. If you had an inspection addendum that may play into things. There's too many "unknowns" to speculate as to what all of your options might be, but if you call me I may be able to help. Please understand though, that I may not be able to help if it means that I'd be interfering with an existing contract between you and someone who is representing you. It all boils down to the paperwork, but you definitely have "options".
0 votes
They are not willing to do anything to resolve this issue. I am going to file complaints in The Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau (BBB). If matter does not reslove then I will them to the court. Please advise if you know of any other better route. Thanks
Flag Fri Jul 20, 2012
Mary Jo Quay, Agent, Burnsville, MN
Thu Jul 19, 2012
Hi DI4546,

I'm guessing that you didn't have an agent representing you when you signed a purchase agreement?
The photos in the link are of what we commonly see for air exchange systems. When you signed the purchase agreement you were given a list of specs. That would be specific elements to be used in the construction of your new home including plumbing, heating, electrical, windows, etc.

The first thing you would want to do is check with an HVAC company for their professional opinion of the impact of using flexible as opposed to sheet metal. The web link shows examples of both good and bad installation.

It is not uncommon to have a home inspection after the home is built to insure that systems, siding, roofing were all properly installed. Your inspector would be aware of new industry standards, if they are installed properly, and advise you accordingly.
0 votes
Thanks for your response Mary,
We personally don't like flexible ductwork becuase we think it looks cheap and compare to sheetmetal has more issues. That's the reason when we were looking for a new house, we decided to purchase a house that has sheet metal ductwork and Pulte has in their house. We particularely asked about mechanical work and were told that you will be delivered same thing as shown in the model. So we did not go through in spec detail. However, we asked sales agent and the field manager by email about if there is any new change coming and were told that there is none. But later found this surprise. Just to let you know they are still trying to make other changes without informing their customer that are cheap just because they think purchase agreement allows that.
Flag Thu Jul 19, 2012
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