How dirty should new construction be?

patricenyAugust 11, 2012

Hi everyone - my apologies if this is a stupid question. I need a reality check, and immediately thought of this group as the perfect place.

How dirty should new construction get, or be, at this stage of a build?

I am building a new house. We are probably 2 weeks or so away from moving we're in the final stretch.

We had a night of heavy rain. I stopped over last night to check on the progress, and found my basement had flooded. Most of the water has dried, but there are actual mud swirls all over the concrete floor. This is in addition to all the dirt/drywall dust and assorted other debris that was just laying around all over the place, so the entire basement floor is beyond filthy.

I don't have any appliances (or anything else of mine) down there, so nothing is wrecked. But it was still upsetting to see my basement floor looking like a river delta had settled in it.

We have a precast basement stair system that will be enclosed in the garage (when they finally get the roof done on the garage!), but in the meantime it's just a nice set of sloping stairs serving as a big funnel for rain right into the basement.

Apparently the GC realized he probably should have covered those stairs, because NOW he has devised a cover for them. Of course, now it isn't going to rain for the next week or so either though. Plus the garage should be done this week too.

The rest of the house is a disaster area too.

They finished installing the hardwood floors and tiles this week. Since the place is a giant mud pit can guess what the inside looks like. There are clumps of mud everywhere. There are even clumps of mud all over the bottom of my kitchen island. It looks like they congregate there, and stand around kicking mud up against my new cabinets. They've put paper down in front of the doors, but again.....clumps of mud everywhere.

Some of this I expected. I knew there would be drywall dust everywhere. And there is. But I figured they'd finish the drywall before they put in the hardwood. Now the floors are in and there is still some finish drywall work to do.

The place is just filty. The front door is covered in black hand prints. (Both sides!) The bathroom cabs have slop all over them from tiling.

The granite isn't in the kitched yet, so they're just throwing all of their tools in the top/open drawers on top. The drawers are getting scratched up and are covered in dust too.

The entire place is just filthy.

I don't know how much is dirt that will actually clean up, vs. what is actually damaged though. I was so shocked at the general condition of the house that it didn't occur to me to look closely at the island or the floors to see if anything is damaged under all the dirt. :(

The contract says the house will be delivered in "broom clean" condition. That place needs more than a broom to clean it up.

So - help me. Is all of this normal for a house in the finishing stages?

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I would be concerned about a basement flooding. What did the GC say about this?

If you go through the forum you will find other homes that were at a similar stage of finish as you and their homes did not look like this. Although they were dirty. I would insist that they clean GC clean the house and would pitch a fit. This does not sound reasonable at all. I would also hold back any further payment until the place is cleaned thoroughly and you can assess what is damaged.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 12:42PM
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I would be very upset if the basement flooded 2 weeks before I was supposed to move in. It sounds like your GC doesn't have a process for keeping up with the dirt and timing some of the work so it doesn't impact the finished parts. Can you have a talk with the GC?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 1:36PM
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As a comparison, we are about 2 months away from moving in. They have been building and installing built-ins and painting trim this week.

When I went today, all cabinets were covered by a layer of plastic sheeting to protect them, and the (plywood underlayment) floor had been basically shop vacced. (i.e. I wouldn't eat off it or walk barefoot, but the majority of the sawdust was gone).

I would be very upset if my new floors and cabinets were covered in mud.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Broom Clean?!?!? OK, I was going to say, "yes, it sounds like they are being ridiculously sloppy and that basement needs to be totally checked out so mold isn't forming, but rest assured it will be all clean and pristine when you move in..." but then I saw that they are delivering the house to you in "broom clean" condition? WTH? We have built 2 homes, one with a production builder and one custom and we did an extensive reno on the production home before we moved and in no case were the home anything but absolutely pristine when we moved in. I mean, the builder himself was muttering about one of the windows having a smudge the day before we moved in, and it was completely clear the next day.

I have only heard the term "broom clean" used in conjunction with the expectation of landlords relating to the condition of rental properties upon move out.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 2:12PM
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We are supposed to leave our townhome "broom clean" when we hand the keys to the new owners next week. If your contract says "broom clean," I would try to get the builder to modify that to be more specific about the level of cleanliness that is expected. If he's reluctant, maybe he would be willing to split the cost of a professional cleaning crew before you move in. (I'm assuming the builder drew up the contracts, right? If so, anything that is legally ambiguous should be interpreted in your favor, in the unlikely event that you decide to file a claim.)

Regardless of how "clean" the house should be, it should not be DAMAGED. Scratches/scrapes/etc are DAMAGE and if they remain when you do your final walk through, you should refuse to take possession until everything that they damaged is repaired or replaced.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 4:57PM
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I don't care if the terminology is "broom clean" for them to turn the house over to you. Lumps of mud is miles away from even being close to broom clean. Yes, broom clean at the time of turnover would be fine, but damage to your cabinets and other things because they're tracking in mud in not acceptable. I sure hope the GC understands it will be HIS nickel that fixes any of this.

But, the bigger problem is the flooded basement. BIG problem. If you are supposed to be moving in in two weeks, why is the garage roof just now going onz? It should have been installed when all of the other roofing was done, i.e. dried in stage. You need to be able to dertermine if that is the sole reason that the basement flooded. The only way to do that if no rain is expected is a garden hose and spray it on the roof to see where the water goes. Make SURE that happens before you close.

There are some serious red flags here and it's time for come to jeezus meeting. Whomever is the hotter head, let them schedule it and let them rant a bit. Whomever is the cooler head should follow that up with notes of all the stuff that is wrong, giving the GC a list and a deadline to make it right.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 8:34PM
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I was pretty upset with the condition of the house. But I am also a neat freak, so I wasn't sure if I was over-reacting.

Honestly, I almost expected to come back here and have everyone tell me this is pretty normal for new construction.

We are meeting with the GC on Monday. I guess it is time for a come to Jesus meeting.

This has been a long and stressful build. I would do so many things differently if I could.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 10:44PM
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Broom clean is totally unacceptable for a new home. The contractor has been negligent in protecting your home, based on your descriptions. It's not cheap to have regular site clean-up done, and I can see why some contractors try to cut corners there.

A major clean-up needs to be done by the contractor in order to assess what has been damaged, so repairs can be effected prior to closing. You're NOT too picky. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 12:58PM
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"Thanks for the feedback everyone. I was pretty upset with the condition of the house. But I am also a neat freak, so I wasn't sure if I was over-reacting."

You could be being a tad melodramatic :)
You should have posted photos of the mud clumps so we could scrutinize them before making the final determination.

I'm kidding of course.
Good luck in the meeting and remember- photos would not be unwelcome.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Adding to what GreenDesigns suggested, I would hose the roof down before your meeting so you can see the results for yourself. If you can't do that, I'd do it while he's standing next to you on Monday.
I'd also suggest walking through prior to the meeting and making a punch list of items (bathroom vanity, floors, etc) to you make sure you don't miss anything. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 3:59PM
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