Build Direct Nightmare

orangeleDecember 4, 2011

I purchased Vanier Cosmopolitan Santos Mahagonay engineered hardwood flooring from Build Direct in August 2011. Please do not make the same mistake. About a week after most of the flooring was installed, began to get cracks and delamination. This process has continued with many many cracks and multiple multiple delaminations. They sent an inspector after weeks of begging them to send one. There inspector took 35 minutes, did not even look at the entire downstairs flooring, nor did he even look at the unused wood also having cracks and delamination occuring. The inspectors report really did not give any specific cause for the problems, but build direct blamed installer nonethe less. I hired an independent inspector who did a 3 1/2hour inspection and provided a documented opinion stating that delamination and checking were a manufacturing issue. Build Direct has offered to sell me DIFFERENT flooring at a discounted price (gee I wonder why). That would mean I would have to pay an extra 25K or so to rip up the current crappy delaminated cracked flooring, reprepare the floor, buy new flooring, and then reinstall new flooring. I am currently disputing the credit card charge.

Please do not make the same mistake I did, and do not buy from them. They are based in Canada making it difficult to successfully sue them, and their products are from China which makes quality a question.

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I certainly don't want to bad mouth the company, as I don't know much about them, but unhappy consumers should "hold their feet to the fire" in cases such as this one. It may be difficult to sue, because you or your attorney would need to do so in the Canadian jurisdiction, but it is not impossible.

Everyone in the flooring business has at times found themselves unknowingly selling defective merchandise or products that do not meet marketability standards. However, that does not excuse the business from liability. Your expert would have to prove that the product is defective or not suitable to be marketed for the given purpose.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 2:04PM
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My name’s Rob Jones, and I work in the marketing department at BuildDirect. I've taken a close look at what happened with your purchase, and what happened afterward, too. First off, I like to say that I fully understand your disappointment and frustration with what happened. Investing in a floor is a significant commitment, and one that isn’t without effort and expense. That things went very wrong for your installation is regrettable, to say the least. When our customers aren’t happy, neither are we. This is certainly the case here.

However, the idea that the products themselves were at the heart of what happened isn’t what the third-party inspector’s report showed. When these types of problems arise, it’s a third-party inspection that we must rely upon to decide what actions to take. In this case, it took some time before the third party inspector responded to requests to perform the inspections, which was frustrating for everyone, including us.

But, what the inspection showed was a humidity level on installation site that was well outside of the prescribed range as outlined in the installation instructions we’ve made available online to those researching the products for projects like yours. The report showed that it was the dry conditions on your site that was found to be the cause of the damage to the installed floor boards, and to the unused boards as well. The report suggested that as the wood dried out due to lack of air moisture in your space, the boards cracked, and delaminated.

As such, we were not able to compensate the full replacement of your flooring under the conditions of the manufacturer’s warranty. An offer for new flooring at a discounted price was our best solution at the time to resolve the issue for you, our customer, and to protect our company from greater costs relating to damages over which we had no control.

Still, in saying all that, this has been an extremely unsatisfying result for you, and I greatly empathize. The situation isn’t closed so long as you’d like to constructively discuss possible alternative solutions and reasonable options in resolving this issue, beyond our offer of a discount for new flooring, and with the above site environmental issues in mind.

Thank you for considering this response, with sincere understanding and empathy on our part of the negative experience you’ve had in purchasing products from our company.

Here is a link that might be useful: BuildDirect

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:24PM
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I can see how high humidity can cause issues but low humidty? I guess they do not install hw floors in the dessert! So its not possible the wood was stored at too low a humidity in a warehouse before delivery....makes me scared to get wood thats for sure.....what specifically did the homeowners report cite as the issue?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 12:20PM
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Hi andrelaplume2,

Well, it depends on the kind of wood. In this case, it was a tropical wood that thrives naturally in a high-moisture environment, and not in a very dry climate. But, no matter what kind of wood you invest in, hardwood floors need to be in areas that are environmentally controlled at all times for both temperature, and for moisture. They are suseptible to moisture levels because they are, in the end, natural products, not ones that are badly made. So, a balance needs to be struck when you're preparing the space, and maintaining it as long as the flooring is there.

I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 6:09PM
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To Mr. Jones from Build Direct: I would like to correct your account. Firstly, the third party inspector hired by your company made no conclusions whatsoever regarding the cause for cracking and delamination. The only conclusions made were by your category manager who, to the best of my knowledge is not a certified wood flooring inspector and cannot be considered an impartial judge. Secondly the third party insepector hired by your company made no measurements whatsoever of the subfloor moisture. So to make a conclusion regarding moisture gradients from the subfloor through the flooring and to the room humidity is impossible based on his measurements. Thirdly, the third party insepector measured the relative humidity of the home at 31% when the recommended humidity level is from 35-55%; hardly a large deviation from recommended levels and humidity levels are known to fluctuate throughout the day in a home. It is also important to point out that your inspector is not certified as a wood flooring inspector. I called the National Wood Flooring Association who certifies inspectors, and they confirmed the result which can also be found on their website that the inspector hired by your company is not certified to be doing wood floor inspections (The inspector is also not certified by the NOFMA as claimed by your category manager).

Lastly and most importantly, I hired a Certified wood flooring inspector,who is also certified to be an expert witness in Nevada courts, who did a thorough inspection involving 3 1/2 hours and multiple measurements of moisture levels at multiple locations, stated very clearly in his report that after his inspection, evaluation, and measurements, that delamination of my flooring IS a manufacturing issue. Secondly he stated that the initial cause of checking (cracking) is a manufacturing issue as well. His opinions are referenced and explained.

Therefore the ONLY opinion of a certified wood flooring inspector is that the delamination and checking occuring in my flooring purchased from Build Direct ARE manufacturing issues. The inspector hired by your company is neither certified, nor gave an opinion. I have sent your company the inspectors report; his conclusions are made despite any moisture gradients or humidity measurments which may or may not be in a given range.

Your company should really do what is right and pay for the demo, subfloor reprep and reinstallation of new flooring. It is highly instructive to note that your company offers to sell me different flooring. If your company does not believe there is not any issue with the flooring, why would you simply not offer me the same flooring at a discount, with instructions to correct any moisture or humidity issues in the house?

Please tell me if anything that I have stated is factually incorrect.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 9:14PM
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Hi Mr. Tom, and to others,

Just for context's sake, this discussion has been ongoing via FB and email since my last post. So, sorry about the delay in responding on this particular thread.

I'm not sure where the information is coming from that the inspector wasn't qualified to conduct the inspection. The company we work with vettes all of their inspectors rigourously. They have to. Otherwise, it would endanger their reputation to do what they do when issues arise. It would not make sense for them to send out an unqualified inspector. It would not make sense for our company to work with them. It wouldn't make sense for us to come to these conclusions without factual support just to gain what we think is a short-term advantage.

On the product front, we've been selling that particular selection of wood floor for about three years. I'm told that this is the first instance of the kind of damage we've seen in it. This is not very conclusive in and of itself. It's when the dry climate is factored in, and the extreme dryness of the wood as it was found on site as reported to us by the inspection that makes the difference. Again, this is a species that does not naturally thrive in a dry climate. Consistent environmental intervention, the details of which are provided in the installation instructions, is vital to its health. The report showed that the site was not within the specific environmental parameters, evident in the dryness of the wood. So, we believe our conclusions were drawn justifiably.

As to the offer of a new floor, that is legitimate. We're trying to come to some arrangement where we share the burden of what happened. But, since we believe that there is an environmental issue that affects that specific species (and other exotics like it), it wouldn't be prudent to repeat the process by sending you another batch of the same product. The selection of another species seems to be the best approach, with the issue of air moisture regulation being central to an installation strategy, whichever species is chosen.

This remains to be a terrible situation which we clearly wouldn't wish on anyone. Our offer of a collection of the old floor and a discounted price for a new one is the best we can do in this instance. I don't know how much further things can be taken on message boards like this one, or elsewhere on the Internet. But, I'll try to respond the best I can.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 4:32PM
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Mr. Jones: I think that it is nice that you have an opinion regarding the cause of the delamination and cracking in the flooring that I purchased from BuildDirect. However I think it will be instructive for you to actually answer a few very simple questions for readers to come to a conclusion about whether your opinion is valid.

1) So you are affirming that the inspector that conducted an inspection of my flooring for Build Direct, Mr. M. Hallewell IS a certified wood flooring inspector? If so which agency?

2) Was the opinion that you stated above as the cause of the delamination and cracking in my flooring purchased from BuildDirect explicitly stated in Mr. Hallewell's report or any inspector's report?

3) Why have you or any BuildDirect representative not explained why you have discounted the opinion of a certifed wood flooring inpector who conducted a 3 1/2 hour examination of my flooring who stated explicitly that the delamination and checking in my flooring is, and I quote a "manufacturing responsibility." This report was forwarded to your company earlier this month.

I will await your reply to these questions,
Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 8:55AM
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Mr. Jones: I also wanted to point out your explanation of why my flooring is having a problem is nonsensical.

You state, and I quote, "when the dry climate is factored in, and the extreme dryness of the wood as it was found on site as reported to us by the inspection that makes the difference"

In you own inspectors report he measures the surface moisture as 11 percent. This is VERY moist; indeed many manfacturers would not even find this level acceptable to ship out of the factory. The interior of the wood as measured by your inspector was 6%, also not dry at all. Thus your hypothesis that the wood delaminated because the wood was dry, is not supported by your inspectors own measurements.

Lastly you also suggest that the dryness of the environment contributed to delamination. If this were the case, that the dry conditions in the house dried out the wood, then this should have happened at the surface of the wood (which had 11% moisture readings) prior to happening in the interior of the wood where moisture was measured at 6%. Contrary to this supposition, the surface is much more moist than the interior of the wood; this runs contrary to your explanation. Let me state that I do not necessarily believe any of the measurements your inspector took are valid, but assuming you do, your explanations are nonsensical.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 9:41AM
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The American National Standard for Engineered Wood Flooring, ANSI/HPVA EF 2002

3.5 Bond Line: All adjacent surfaces of each ply shall be uniformly and securely
bonded. The flooring shall conform to the requirements of the bond test described in 4.2

3.7 Construction: The flooring pieces shall be of balanced construction, which means
that they are free from warp or twist to the extent that they do not interfere with the
installation or negatively affect the intended use of the product. The purpose of this
requirement is to provide a product which will perform satisfactorily over the typical
range of humidity and temperature in an indoor environment, when installed according to
the instructions of the manufacturer. Any construction with an even or odd number of
plies, and any combination of thicknesses and shrinkage characteristics that meets the
requirement for balanced construction is permitted. No two adjacent plies shall have
coinciding openings greater than 12.7 mm (1/2 inch)

4.2 Bond Line Test: Two test specimens, 50.8 mm (2 inches) wide by 127 mm (5
inches) along the grain, shall be cut from each flooring sample tested. The specimens
shall be cut from opposite sides of the flooring after all tongue and groove portions have
been removed. The specimens shall be submerged in water at 24 C+-3C (75 F +-5F) for 4
hours, and then dried at a temperature between 49 and 52 C (120 and 125 F) for 19 hours,
with sufficient air circulation to lower the moisture content (based on oven-dry weight) of
the specimens to a maximum of 8 percent. This cycle shall be repeated until all
specimens fail or until thr ee cycles have been completed, whichever occurs first. The
flooring shall be considered as failing when any single delamination between two plies of
either specimen is greater than 50.8 mm (2 inches) in continuous length, over 6.4 mm
(1/4 inch) in depth at any pint, and 0.08 mm (.003 inch) in width as determined by a
feeler gauge 0.08 mm (0.003 inches) thick and 12.7 mm (1/2 inch) wide. Specimens shall
be examined for delamination at the end of each cycle. Delamination due to tape at joints
or inner plies or defects allowed by the grade shall be disregarded. For performing the
bond line test, the flooring samples shall be selected in multiples of ten in order to
provide for a sufficient number of specimens (two specimens per sample) to which the
acceptance levels are applied. Ninety-five percent of test specimens shall pass the first
cycle, and eighty- five percent of test specimens shall pass the third cycle.

There is nothing in a residence that can come close to this spec. Short of three consecutive floods.

If it is sold as an engineered product in the USA it must meet this criteria and protocol.

Shear, as they call it is a direct cause from unbalanced construction of the plies, and the different species used in the construction of the boards. Different species have different shrink and swell ratios.

The old 3 ply stuff that was the same species in all three layers, rarely had any issues, like we see today with this cheap manufacturing from China.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 11:19PM
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I had a similar problem with their porcelain tile....they seem to be set up to sell really sub par products. Mine was with their Salerno brand which is incredibly poorly manufactured. BD offered a "nominal" $400 credit on what will cost me $15k to fix....they wouldn't even provide any credit for the unused boxes. I am just going to Home Depot from now on.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I encourage everyone to please read through this thread since it involves a discussion between myself (consumer) and a BuildDirect representative (Mr. Jones) regarding the structural failure of the approximate 10K worth of BuildDirect flooring, and the failure of BuildDirect to honor their 25 yr warranty.
Please note the failure of Mr. Jones to reply to the simple questions asked of him regarding why BuildDirect failed to honor their warranty, and their faulty explanation of why they refused to honor their warranty. As I point out, EVEN USING THEIR OWN INSPECTORS measurements, their explanation is non-sensical.
Don't buy from BuildDirect; If you have a problem with their product, you will get shafted like me since they are based in Canada, and will hide behind legal roadblocks (you cant sue them in small claims court, must use their arbitration firm, and you must travel to Canada to do so, as required by their Terms of Use). Buy from an American company to help avoid these problems. I have included a photo of the BuildDirect flooring that I spent $10,000 on which had to be torn up and replaced with another manufacturers product.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:37PM
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Flooring warranties are notoriously bad instruments and most are issued as marketing tools and are constructed to protect the manufacturer from claims. Ask any retailer and I bet most will agree with me.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:59PM
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They lost my business...thank god for this forum.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 12:15AM
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I was alarmed to see what kind of company this is that offers such great prices! So I went to their site and it would not pull up anything (Alarm 1). So I decided to check out customer reviews. This Thread (Alarm 2). Not USA Product (Alarm 3). Anything that sounds to good to be true usually is. Buy local, it may cost more up front but you will save in the long run. No matter what you say Build Direct guy \/

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 2:26PM
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What a nightmare. My heart goes out to you, Orangele. This must have been not only expensive, but caused mental anguish and sleepless nights . A good lesson for me, to spend a little more and deal with local suppliers one-on-one, when buying costly items.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 10:49PM
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