Buyer beware of Meritage Homes in the Raleigh, NC area. They are not equipped to keep up with the demand, and it is manifesting itself in delays, poor quality, poor communication, poor customer service, and unhappy customers.
We had a contract to build a home with Meritage in Durham, NC. Delays, mistakes, poor quality, communication problems, and lack of experienced construction management started from the very beginning. After we signed our contract, it took three months for Meritage to break ground on our lot. During this time, we received no updates and had to persistently inquire to get any information. At first Meritage avoided our inquiries and we couldn't get any information about reasons for the delay, and then the reasons for the delay kept changing, and some of the reasons given were lies.
When Meritage did finally start we had all kinds of problems: concrete slab problems, framing problems, electrical outlets in wrong location, HVAC vents in wrong location, brick columns on front porch not straight, walls not straight, trim not straight, bad fireplace stone installation, mistake pouring concrete driveway - the list goes on and on. We requested meetings with Meritage about problems several times, and none of our requests were granted or even acknowledged. We had a real estate agent representing us, and he couldn't get Meritage's attention either. He told Meritage several times that there were problems and that we were not happy, and Meritage ignored him also. Meritage's lack of interest was frustrating and baffling. Meritage's modus operandi appears to be to ignore the customer as long as it can and then if pressed either claim ignorance about the problem or say that there is no problem. There were also several times where we were told something would be done and it was not, and we were not told why. Meritage lost their credibility and broke our trust early, and it only got worse. The communication and coordination between Sales and Construction appeared non-existent. There were many, many times where we asked our Sales associate, who was supposed to be our prmary contact for questions, something about our house and he either did not respond or did not have the information we needed. It definitely seemed to us and our agent that Sales was not getting the information it needed from Construction. It was a typical example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.
One contributing factor to the problems we experienced was that Meritage changed our construction manager, with no transition or handoff (even though our agent suggested a meeting), at a critical time in the process. Things went downhill after that. Several things which were discussed with the previous construction manager were missed or done incorrectly. Our new construction manager was inexperienced, appeared overwhelmed and not knowledgeable about our house, and was not present much at our job site. We and our agent felt that our construction manager was not giving our house enough attention and was not walking it like he should.
The problems piled up to the point where we decided we could not close because Meritage was not fixing anything and we did not have confidence in the quality of the home. If there were that many problems we knew about, how many problems were there that we didn't know about? The final product was as flawed as their processes and communication. We informed Meritage that we would not be closing, and only THEN they decided they wanted to meet with us. We met with management (Director of Sales and Director of Construction). They claimed they had not heard about any of the problems. They admitted they had problems with their internal processes and with their staffing and with our construction manager being inexperienced, overloaded, and insufficiently trained. They admitted they were having trouble keeping up with demand. They agreed that our concerns were valid and reasonable. They offered to "look into" the problems but could not commit to fixing them. We politely asked for a refund of our $11,000+ deposit, and they refused.
We also had issues getting a closing date from Meritage and Meritage's in-house mortgage company, MTH. When we got to the point where we should have received a closing date, we did not have a closing date. We went several weeks past the point where the builder should have provided a closing date - the mortgage company even told us that it was strange that we did not have a closing date by that point. When we asked our Sales associate about a closing date, he told us he had nothing to do with the closing date and passed us off on the mortgage company. The mortgage company passed us off on Meritage. Not getting a closing date for so long and so late in the process made it difficult for us to lock a mortgage rate and resulted in us getting a higher rate than we should have.
We know Meritage can easily sell the house for at least $10,000 more than our contract price. They raised the base price on our model $9,000 shortly after we signed our contract. Meritage should not be able to keep the profits from selling our home AND keep our deposit. Falling back on what the contract says about the deposit is not reasonable, fair, or acceptable given a) Meritage did not fulfill the terms and conditions of the contract b) all of the attempts that we made to get Meritage's attention about problems fell on deaf ears and c) everything that Meritage put us through.
We forwarded our request to the Division President in Raleigh but have not heard back.