Home Depot Sells You A Deck They Can't Legally Build

Robert and his wife ordered a deck from Home Depot with the understanding that it would be installed around the middle of August. It turns out that Home Depot didn’t have necessary certification in order to build the deck. Home Depot is now requiring Robert and his wife wait until around Thanksgiving while their engineer does his paperwork.

Robert writes:

I have been a long time reader of The Consumerist and I thought that this would be a good time to submit something.

In June my wife and I decided that it was time to add a deck onto the back of our house. We had 4 or 5 contractors come out to our house and give us estimates. We decided to go with the Home Depot Deck Division because of their name as well as the quality of deck that we would be getting. We signed the contract on July 2nd. We were told that the deck would be put in around the middle to end of August. We really didn’t want to wait, but figured we would have it in time for a Labor Day get-together.

We were told that we would have a measurement guy come out and measure for the deck in about 2 weeks. When he came out he told us that our home-owners association packet would be in the mail within a week. About 3 weeks later we still had not received our HOA packet. I called them to ask about it and they said that it was scheduled to go out early the next week. They also said that when we got it back from our HOA to call them and set up a time to put in the deck. We finally received the HOA packet and I sent it off to get approved. When I got it back on August 23rd I called Home Depot to let them know I got it back and to set up a time for them to come and put the deck in.

Thats when things went downhill fast. When I finally got ahold of the person I was supposed to get ahold of (Carla) I told her I got the homeowners packet back. She asked me to fax the approval letter to her so she could put it in the file. I had to get off the phone so I could fax it and I told her I would call her back to make sure she received it. I faxed it over and then I called Carla back. When I asked when we would be able to get the deck put in she said there was a problem. She said that the engineer for Home Depot Deck Division in our area did not have the County Seal. She said they had figured out this a week earlier and were trying to straighten it out. She said that it will probably take at least 11 weeks to get the seal and then another week or so to get the permit.

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. 12 more weeks before our deck could be put in? That would mean we could start enjoying our deck around Thanksgiving. In West Virginia Thanksgiving is not the time you want to be sitting out on a deck unless you enjoy 30 and 40 degree weather with snow and rain.

My wife called them back the next day and talked to Carla’s supervisor. The supervisor was really unsympathetic and said that their was nothing she could do. When my wife asked to be compensated for our time she was told that Home Depot does not talk about compensation until the deck is complete. My thinking on this is that they wait until you have the product attached to your house and then you still owe them the money no matter how much compensation they deem sufficient.

So, Home Depot knows they are going to install a deck in Jefferson County, WV on July 2nd, yet they don’t have a seal to do so in this county. They wait until almost 2 months later to even begin applying for the seal. Thus making us, the costumer, wait an additional 3-4 months to get our deck put in. What do you think is fair compensation? Do you think we should have to wait until the deck is complete before we talk about compensation? We went with home depot because of their brand name, the quality of their decks, and the lifetime warranty they offer on their decks. Now after dealing with them we are extremely disappointed with their customer service and their attention to their customers.

If you could please post this to your site I would really appreciate it. I feel that Home Depot is not doing anything to keep our business because we signed a contract.

As bad as it sounds, the fact that Home Depot’s contractor didn’t have his paperwork filed doesn’t surprise us. Here are some other people who would also not be surprised: The woman with a sex offender in her kitchen, and the guy whose kitchen got gutted and never replaced.

Anyhow, you’ll want to file complaint with the West Virginia Attorney General and the BBB.You can also call the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808. You might also want to complain to the county you live in as well as the West Virginia Department of Labor.

It also might not hurt to show the contract you signed to a lawyer. Perhaps some bright legal mind can give you some advice that we can’t. If you can’t manage to avoid having Home Depot install your deck, try an EECB. When launching your EECB, be sure to include copies of all the complaints you’ve filed.

How To Protect Yourself From Home Improvement Scams [West Virginia AG]


Edit Your Comment

  1. VTSquire says:

    Seriously… never ever… EVER contract Home Depot to do any kind of construction work on a home. They have a systemic failure of policy at the expense of both the customers and the laborers. This country-wide list of complaints regarding sunrooms, decks, kitchen work and sex offenders (sex offenders?! Jesus!) screams of it. The worst part is, this couple probably got charged entirely too much on top of everything else.

  2. FishingCrue says:

    I hate to say it but they should have gotten a licensed contractor. They rely on their reputation, not the reputation of the megacorp they work for and have to provide satisfactory results lest they get word of mouth business. Complaining about HD’s incompetence in home installation is kind of like complaining that the food at McDonalds is unhealthy.

  3. iMike says:

    Just fire HD and find someone else. Pretty simple.

  4. Esquire99 says:

    You are entitled to no compensation. You should dump Home Depot and hire another licensed contractor. Granted, Home Depot screwed up, but why should they compensate you for it? You were not harmed by their screwup. The deck did not collapse, injuring you and your wife. They simply don’t have the proper certification. If you are stupid enough to allow them to do the installation, you should expect a discount, but aside from that, they owe you nothing. What do you expect, them to cut you a check?

  5. homerjay says:

    “I have been a long time reader of The Consumerist “

    “We went with home depot because of their brand name,”

    One of these must be incorrect because they both can’t exist in the same story.

  6. stavs says:

    Ugh…I had HD come give me a quote on a deck and they wanted double what the local guys wanted (about $20000). I wanted a 12×10 deck (raised) with Gray Trex and White Trex Vinyl railing. Their design is based on a modular setup that is built in a factory. Granted thats good for quality control, it should provide for a lower end cost, but it didnt. I ended up with a local boy who built me a beautiful deck AND installed a sliding patio door for $9300. I cant even remember why I even though of allowing HD to bid, but I’m glad I did so I could reinforce why I would never hire them in a million years. Their lifetime warranty is also probably just a bunch of shit. Drop HD and go with a local. Also, the wasting of your time is ridiculous…why do people feel they should be compensated for their time? Whats the going rate these days for time anyway?

  7. crnk says:

    what is with consumerist and long ranting posts today?

  8. Esquire99 says:

    @crnk: Must be lack of material or poor choices by the editors. I’ve been horribly disappointed lately.

  9. cryrevolution says:

    @homerjay: Ha. Exactly.

  10. humphrmi says:

    First, If you have paid any money down and they still don’t have the contract today, you can file suit for all sorts of nasties around signing a contract that they don’t have the ability to perform on. Granted, it probably won’t go to court before they can install, but it will help you get your money back… which fits in well with my second point.

    Second, get your money back, or if you haven’t paid any, hire someone else. Run, run quickly away from Home Depot, and do not look back. You didn’t get your deck this year, deal with it and look to make sure you don’t get screwed for the deck you can now start planning on using next year.

  11. TMurphy says:

    My parents just got a deck put in at our house, and I have to say it probably took as much time getting everything approved by the city as it took to build the deck. I would certainly expect a division of a company that specifically works on decks to get this process done as quickly and painlessly as possible, so Home Depot definitely is acting poorly on its part, but I wonder if the system can’t be improved so it doesn’t take weeks to get approval. There wouldn’t be such a big problem if it took only a week to get the county/city to OK everything.

  12. sly100100 says:

    I’m a little confused. Compensation for what? They asked that right off the top in one of there first calls.
    What do they want? The deck for free?
    I’m no expert but it seems the Home depot signed a contract with them to have a deck built within a certain time frame. Home Depot basically signed the contract knowing they couldn’t even build it within that time frame. Therefor the contract should be void. If they did pay money up front it might be hard to get it back, but if not I would take your money else where and get a better deal.
    It’s too bad in this day and age that everyone is sue happy.
    And really these big corporations don’t notice little dings like that for small amounts of money. You would have to sue for a lot of money before it actually makes them want to change the way they do business.

  13. JiminyChristmas says:

    Budget and schedule are the primary concerns of any construction contract. Any contract worth the paper it’s written on should spell out when the work will be complete.

    If the Home Depot contractor said the deck would be done by mid to late August I hope the homeowner got that in writing. If that’s the case, then HD has violated the contract and the homeowners are entitled to some form of redress.

    If the schedule isn’t stipulated in the contract, then I would characterize that as shady and unprofessional on the part of HD. And if the homeowners signed it…well, that was not very savvy on their part.

    FYI, for something like a deck, 8 weeks from the signed contract to the work being complete is a perfectly reasonable time frame. In fact, by mid-July most desirable contractors will have their schedule already filled through the end of the season.

  14. royal72 says:

    (a) the real problem here is there’s an hoa. it’s your fucking home and as long as it’s approved by the city/county, build away.
    (b) ask anyone that’s ever had work done to their home, it never goes perfectly as planned, time or otherwise.
    (c) it’s home depot, what do you expect? that’s like going to mcdonald’s and expecting to get a good and healthy meal for $3.99.

  15. ppiddyp says:

    IMO, if you want someone to do work on your house, you should ask your neighbors who did their work. Word of mouth is the easiest way to find anyone halfway competent and cheap. The best work I’ve had done was by people who didn’t advertise at all and got by on building good working relationships with customers. Part of it is that they know that one really angry customer is going to cost them a LOT.

  16. Anonymous says:

    //the short version
    -robert+wife buy engineer deck from home depot
    -contractors are licensed in wva but..
    -county is requiring state seal on engineer blueprints for engineer deck
    -home depot/their contractor could of made a better decision on how to handle issue
    -compensation?? maybe.
    -what should they do now? cancel+go with someone else.

    Here are the actual circumstances concerning this deck project.

    The deck that Robert and his wife purchased from the Home Depot is a unique ‘engineered’ deck product, basically meaning it’s not your typical stick built deck. (It’s probably why they can offer a life-time warranty on this product.) Most engineer products require an engineer seal (of the state the work is being done in) on their blueprints.

    The company in this case, which Home Depot is contracting the work out to, used to be able to pull permits in WVA without requiring a WVA-seal on their blueprints. In this particular county that Robert and his Wife live in, though, is requiring the state seal on the blueprints before it can be accepted/issued a building permit.

    Its unfortunate that the Home Depot cannot work an arrangement to find an engineer to approve/stamp their blueprints for the engineered deck. They should pay an outside engineer to review it instead of waiting for their current engineers to be licensed in the state of WVA.

    What Robert and his Wife can do is cancel the contract. There is no cancellation fee when purchasing a deck from the Home Depot. They might even be refunded the permitting/administrative fees (all the work required to get them to the step they’re at; processing paperwork, drawing blueprints, hoa packages).

    They can go with their local contractor, Billy-Joe Bob’s Deck Builders, and probably spend a 1/4t their original contract. The thing is, they would be building a “typical” deck from that particular county, there is usualy some lee-room as far as the decor of the deck, but it’s going to be your standard deck without all the fancy bells and whistle of a Home Depot Deck. Probably no warranty. No service. You do get what you paid of I guess. Hopefully Billy Joe Bob got a building permit!!!

    I think under a different circumstance, there wouldn’t be such a head ache in dealing with the contractors here. They could of made the process better on the customer instead of relying on their engineer submit paperwork to get licensed, but that’s the choice they’re making (a poor one).

    IMO: Robert & his wife have all right to complain. Compensation? Maybe not. If they do wait for their deck to be installed by the Home Depot, I am sure they would get some compensation on their deck. 10-15% discount? some free accessories? However, if they can’t wait, they should just cancel and go with someone else. End of story.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I also want to note something about home projects.

    Depending on your building permit jurisdiction, it can take anywhere from:

    1 day
    1 week
    1 month
    6 month
    1 year (YES, REALLY!)

    The best time to get your home improvement is probably in the off-season. Of course you want to enjoy your deck in the summer. But if you purchase your deck in the fall/winter, there is usually less hassle and less chance to be disappointed by any delays. SUMMER time is where the deck builders will be most busy, as well as the township/jurisdiction being swamped which in terms mean your project is prime for delays.

    Keep in mind that there is a process that must be fulfilled.

    2. ZONING

    Let’s not mention, a lot of juridiction require your HOA (Home Owner’s Association) to approve your home improvement project before it can approved by the county. It may be even more of an hassle of getting your project run through your HOA (they may meet once a week, once a month, have many stipulations and restrictions, and god only knows what).

    There is also other things like: RPA (Resource Projection Area), or Historic Area, which require even more time before a project can be finally built. This could mean having to do a petition, or open hearing on your project and anyone in your neighborhood can strike down it down for one thing or another.

    And if you’re very stubborn, and gun-hold about your project or size, or anything like that, you can try getting a variance (basically talk to the county/city/etc. and prove a harshship on why you need x, y, and x). That itself can take anywhere from 3 months to 6 months, to get one hearing from city council, or architectural review board, or who knows what. Say for example you have a very small lot/property, and having a deck on your backyard will make your household well roomier! But let’s just say your proposed project is on the property line, or 1′ feet from there, and your deck projection is already small. I mean, you could just give up on your idea, or try to go through an appeal.

    There is so much that can hold up a project. There can be disagreement on how safe a project is at the juridiction because Billy-Bob the plan reviewer is completely incompetent. A lot of time, in the small towns, Billy-Bob is the trash man, and other time, he works at city hall. When new product/plans are submitted to these township, they can flat out refuse you.

    AND-THIS-IS-WHY-YOU-HIRE-A-CONTRACTOR. Yeah, it’s not always going to be the WORLD-IS-AGAINST-YOU, but there are lots of obstacle and headaches to overcome when trying to do a home project. Imaging walking into city hall, or some other jurisdiction, and spending 3-hours to 7-hours just to not get a building permit because you were missing important documents & information. It’s not easy, and honestly, A LOT OF PEOPLE GO THROUGH, AND FIND OUT HOW MUCH HELL IT IS when they go through it the first time.

  18. s_carpenter says:

    I used to work for the bluepriting department of the deck installation team in which Home Depot goes through. Due to legality, I will not name the company. In fact I probably drew up the blueprints for this particular deck. I can only say that this is so typical of the company I used to work for. They are notorious for promising decks to be built by a certain time in order to get a sale, but rarely ever follow through. Yes, the decks are gorgeous and probably the safest around, but the process a poor customer has to go through to get the deck is gruelling. Half is the fault of the county, and half is because said deck company is too cheap to hire more than one engineer and when something new comes up has to scramble to get a seal or special instructions or details required on plans. In turn, the customer pays way more than these decks are worth and has to wait an entire summer just to get a deck in the winter. Home Depot isn’t actually building these decks. They contract my ex-employeer all up and down the east coast. The unfortunate thing is that HD is blind to the lack of organization and professionalism of their contractor. The CEOs paint pretty pictures, but the truth is the company I used to work for is horrible. They believe in just making up drawings and “fixing them when the problems occurs” rather than make sure everything is all set when it should be. They always believe in the cheap way out and no customer serive. Instead, they threaten customers with restocking fees and make them pick and chose to wait longer or to cancel and pay outrageous fees. They let go my entire blueprinting department so that they could outsource to India for less. So now customers can expect even longer waiting times because the blueprints are always wrong. The people drawing these blueprints can’t even read the written English which may have some special instructiuons for how a deck may need to be to custom fit a house. These decks aren’t typical square decks, they are designer. They told us the same day they let us go that we no longer had a job and had to leave. When they begin to notice they are losing money, they promise their shareholders millions and how do they get it? Not by pleasing customers- but by getting rid of entire departments and firing employees with no notice. Not even so much as a week notice. I’m not suprised that Robert and his wife had to wait so long for help. I’m truly sorry they went through Home Depot. Home Depot has no idea how incredibly untrustworthy their contracter really is. I feel sorry for anyone who buys a deck from them.

    -Stephanie Carpenter

  19. s_carpenter says:

    “BY BRADG33 AT 09/30/07 05:03 PM @crnk: Must be lack of material or poor choices by the editors. I’ve been horribly disappointed lately

    So what exactly do you think is a worthy post? To me, this is a very good one considering the number of people who have or may fall victim to this same poor choice.

    Guess we should all be writing about nintendo wii and guitar hero. would that be l33t enough?