Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral Builder Ratings
This page contains the opinions of myself (Bruce Lunsford) regarding my experiences with local home builders. These statements are accurate to the best of my ability and are my opinion of quality and/or my experiences with personel.
These ratings appear in no particular order. Some have incorrectly assumed that builders are listed from best to worst.
Toll Brothers didn’t become the nation’s largest builder by building junk or having bad service. Their staff is generally professional and responsive. The homes I have inspected have had some issues, but were quickly resolved by staff. I would have no problems recommending Toll Bros.
I’ve had generally good experiences with Meritage. I inspected one home that had a number of significant issues, including a mold related issue. The bottom line is all builders will have issues, what matters is how they are dealt with. While I would watch them carefully, Meritage is one to consider.
DiVosta makes a lot of claims about their quality and service with good reason. They really are a very good builder of solid homes. You do pay for the quality, but it is real. Their walls are solid concrete and the roof structures are well assembled. Good luck finding an owner of a DiVosta home that has anything but good to say about their customer service. I have heard first hand stories from people explaining how they fixed items out of warranty, including plumbing leaks, wood rot, etc. The electrical wiring is the best I have seen in a non commercial building. UPDATE: Since Pulte bought DiVosta quality is still good, but many of the things that made them outstanding have been dropped, like solid concrete walls.
R. Fry Builders
Very bad overall experience. The builder's representative made it clear that he couldn't care less about the home's problems or the buyers concerns. All he wanted to do was talk about his upcoming scuba vacation with a buddy of his. The home had numerous problems, the most serious, and disapointing of which was an extensive mold problem which had been covered up prior to the inspection. A proper clean up was NOT performed. This issue is still ongoing at the time of this writing as the builder is causing delays. The full extent of the mold contamination will not be known until the builder consents to cutting some inspection holes in the walls.
Kraft (condominiums only)
I have inspected a few Kraft condominiums. While all have had some issues, the buildings were pretty well built and staff was always professional to deal with. With proper inspection, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a Kraft building.
Arthur Rutenberg Homes / ARBC
ARBC homes are generally very well built with several touches that make a significant difference, but few homeowners will ever notice. Here is the bottom line – any builder can manage to make a home look good, even if it’s poorly built. As a home inspector I look for the little details that make a home very well built. These items generally make the home cost more, but are often worth it. This home had a radiant heat barrier on the roof decking and extra insulation in the attic which will combine to significantly lower cooling costs. It also had other nice touches like an isolation membrane under the floor tile. This should prevent the floor tile from ever cracking from normal settlement.
Gulfstream homes has had their share of problems lately. Customer service is questionable according to many homeowners and my personal experience. Some site managers are not doing a good job. Fit and finish generally good however, many major items are poorly designed. Example; A paver driveway that is designed to flow water over top of it instead of running a drain culvert under it. Several electrical problems, loose roof tiles, etc.
A more recent home had several significant problems. I found one shower tile repair that was very poor and did not meet code. The drywall they installed behind the tile was not moisture resistant drywall (as required by code) and may have failed in a matter of a few years. Other areas used MR board which meets code, but is not nearly as good as cement based board which lasts forever. That’s a bad way to save a few dollars on an expensive home.
Nice higher end home with very poor fit and finish. Drywall is very rough, trim is very bad, general finish is surprisingly poor to anything but a superficial walk through. My buyer on this home was out of state which could explain the poor fit and finish. If you choose them stay on top of their work. Sample home had a moderate design flaw that prevented a pocket door from working properly.
Note: More recent homes by Stock have had much improved fit and finish. The first home reported on above may have had a bad site superintendent. I would not rule out a Stock home, but I would stay on top of them, and/or hire a good inspector to do it for you. I've seen a number of builder errors that were just silly.
Lennar is a builder of condominiums. I do not know if they also build homes. The sample condo was actually built fairly well, which can be very rare for condos. The sample was a few years old which gives me an idea of how well it will hold up. Fit and finish was decent and construction materials were actually a bit above average, which is again rare for condos. Not as good as Kraft, but less expensive I’m sure and light years above Reliable which is discussed below.
Condo builder north of Isle of Capri. Poor overall. Fit and finish was disappointing and roof was very poorly installed and will not survive a storm. Difficult to work with in terms of repairing problems. Concrete patio surface very rough and did not drain properly at all. Overall disappointing. Before they would repair any noted defects I had to quote them code to prove they were wrong. While not all that uncommon, it is always disappointing when I have to educate a builder on things he should already know.
Sample home appeared to be decent quality, but did have some issues. Poor roof design on sample home may cause long term moisture/mold issues on an interior wall. Overall I would rate them as an “avoid” because of a generally very poor attitude and they refuse to cooperate with private inspectors, or allow them on their property.
The obvious question is – what are they trying to hide?
Builds a nice home and builder has a very good attitude. Mr. Bordeaux seems very intent on building a quality product. Sample home was not perfect, several defects were noted, however the builders attitude in general was well above average and he was anxious to repair all defects. While some builders tend to get defensive or make excuses, he did not. Builds higher end homes. Fit and finish good, quality materials, beautiful marbles and granites, etc. Based on my experience, he is a builder to consider.
Avoid. Reps were very nice and knowledgeable, but home had far too many corners cut for such an expensive home. The worst was the home was designed without hurricane shutters or impact glass. The home was designed to allow a window or door to fail, but not collapse. This is fine for the structure, but what about the contents of the home? This is a pathetic way to save a few thousand dollars on an otherwise very expensive home, not to mention how the insurance rates will be affected. I would not use a builder that is willing to sacrifice your possessions just so he can save a few bucks. I would strongly recommend going with a builder that cares enough about your contents to provide you with decent storm protection. They also cut corners on termite protection, quality of windows (in terms of wind resistance) and other areas. Basically, if you CAN SEE it, they use high quality materials, but if you CANNOT SEE it, they cut major corners. I personally would absolutely avoid this builder – period.
(Avoid) Generally cooperative personnel and the homes are sound structurally and mechanically. The fit and finish of some of their homes is decent, and on most is very poor. Base grade cabinets are the same type and quality sold in home improvement stores intended for garage storage use. They (base cabinets) are outright junk, just no other way to put it. If you use them you need to upgrade cabinets and flooring. The last two homes inspected were less than one year old. One had a failed septic system. The other was brand new and all of the sod was dead because it was never watered. On the upside, it was a surprise that the home included impact windows. I’ll have to investigate the brand – Florida Extruders International.
UPDATE – I have had NOTHING but problems with first home as of late. Their homes have had numerous problems and they have been very slow to respond which has me worried. On one particular home I had to make 5 trips to verify repairs were made. On each occasion first home had assured everyone the repairs had been made. Each time very few, if any repairs had been made. The home buyer understandably backed out of the deal.
UPDATE 2 – They continue the slide. Everything I have seen lately is just horrible. Absolutely horrible fit and finish. Why they pay their subs for this totally sub par work is just bewildering. Concrete finish, trim work, door installation, paint, etc. All horrible. They WILL try to force you into closing on their junk. I strongly suggest you do not close until the home is right.
I would give this builder a very strong avoid rating. The general fit and finish was about on par with First Home, but the builder attitude is among the worst I have dealt with. The building field supervisor kept referring to the home buyer as “that chick”, behind her back of course and just had a foul mouth and a general disrespectful attitude. Do you want to deal with someone like that for a warranty issue?
Well the first amendment allows me to state my opinion last time I checked. In my opinion this is the worst builder of medium to higher end homes around. I cannot over stress this point - I would VERY strongly recommend you find another builder. The sample home was just unbelievably poorly built with far too many defects to get into here. I wouldn’t let my worst enemy buy a home from this guy.
Legend Custom Homes
Builder of medium end homes in the