We were one of the people who purchased into the resurgence of Brookyln's Waterfront Agreement with Toll Brothers. We did not get quality living as promised but in return we got nothing but grief and trouble.
I resided at Townhouse C (THC), one of four townhouses that were built at Building I at Northside Piers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There is also a second building and a third was supposed to be built be Toll Brothers but they have since backed out of the deal.
Townhouse C's owner is a high profile member of the Downtown Brooklyn Community. i also act as the Owner's representative. I am also disabled, suffering from dystonia, a muscular disease that is related to Parkinson's Disease. On some days, I required a cane or crutch to walk.
Prior to the Owner's purchase of THC, a colleague and I had two walk-thrus. The first time was in
late November 2009, what we saw, we immediately suspected that there were water and plumbing issues.
Right outside the door to THC in the common hallway, that there was a section of the ceiling that was cut, edged with water stains. Then we found the sink in the second floor bathroom dismantled and the insulation removed from the wall. There was also a wide hole at the side of the bathtub. And in the third floor bathroom, the toilet has been totally removed.
We were told that there were no water issues involved here. Later on, in the second walk-through with Mark Cardasco, who is the project manager for Toll Brothers, turned on the washing machine and the dishwasher and water it started to literally rain over our heads from the pipes in the cellar! The owner wanted an independent home inspector to look the property over because of the leaks. Toll Brothers only allow us to choose between two New Jersey-licensed inspectors that THEY approved of. Why New Jersey and not New York?
We held off the closing and have even wanted to back out of it, but eventually the owner had to close on March 5th as Toll Brothers wouldnt give the deposit back. We contact the Attorney General's Office in January and Sandy Hagan of the Real Estate Financial Bureau said they were too inundated with complaints. It would take a year or more for them to help us get our deposit back. She said that there is no reason why the developer would deny you unless they are hiding something.
After closing, I eventually discovered that the townhouse contains numerous examples of defects
and poor workmanship. According to the Attorney General, Toll Brothers have a one year warranty, which means they have to fix everything that is wrong or broken. When the Owner brought up all these issues to them, the Owner was told to do a punch list. Now doing the punch list became a full time job for me as there were so many defects and issues, it ran up over 15 pages.
Besides drafty windows that pump up the electric bill and the examples of poor and sloppy workmanship discovered all over the townhouse:
The floor was engineered wood so they were rising in various locations throughout the townhouse.
Cracks are evident on the steps of the townhouses' three staircases.
Kitchen counter-tops were not leveled and aligned improperly.
The kick-plate for the Sub-Zero refrigerator was missing and was replaced by a piece of wood.
The HVAC system made an excessive amount of noise when in operation.
However, much more serious is the leaking of water throughout the building, including the fireplace, and especially in the cellar. The concrete floor of the cellar was carpeted, and the intruding water created the perfect condition for the growth
of mold and mildew, which affected my health and cause me to developed a rash on my leg. The Owner had Mold Pro come into inspect the townhouse three times. Their reports confirm the existence of toxic mold in the premises. A copy was also sent to the Board and Toll Brothers. Not surprisingly at this point, nothing was done to remedy the situation.
I finally suggested to Mark Cardasco that they gutted all the townhouses, waterproof and insulate the townhouses, let the seasonal rain go by to see if is not taking in water, and put me up in a comparable unit in Tower II.
Toll Brothers promptly went into submarine silent mode.
Nothing was done as Toll Brothers wanted everything done on their terms. They will not accommodate you. To ask Scott Avram (Assistant Vice-President of Toll Brothers), Mark Cardasco and Project Manager Joe Fuentas to do so and the answer is no, no, no and no.
Barani Guttsman Tansy, the VP of the Boards of Managers, said that workers from Toll Brothers tried to enter the townhouse to fix the problems and I wouldn't let them in. The Owner had informed her: for them to work on the property, I need their contractor licenses, and also insurance. They refused to co-operate. The house is full of family antiques, fine art glasswares and china and if they damaged a $3000 item, they don't want to pay for it. They had already broke a $150.00 item and they don't want to talk about it. Harleysville Insurance dropped the Owner's $15 million policy after they sent an independent inspector, Cory LaViolet of Terrier Independent Claims. They said the building was not suitable
to be sold and thus they would not insure it any longer. My request to Toll Brothers is simple: pack us up and move us out and then you can do whatever you want.
The Board of Mangers, headed by Keith A. Berger, Esq, who works for Goldman Sachs, was of no help either. They backed Toll Brothers, not the owners. It came to my attention that the Board's lawyer, David Tane was assigned by Toll Brothers. Isn't that a conflict of interest? During a meeting between the Board and the owners, someone asked Keith Berger on the issue of water seepage and mold and he went blank faced and said that this is the first time he's heard of it...like I haven't been bringing this to their attention!
Faced with no other recourse, we and some other owners, went public with their grievances against Toll Brothers. They didn't want the owners to go public for obvious reasons. They tried to convinced all the other owners not to do so either as it will affect their own ability to sell their properties.
The other owners in Building I to the press that the properties they brought into are sub-standard and are shoddily constructed. The windows allowed in cold air and rain and thus drives up the electric bills into hundreds of dollars per month. Some windows in Tower I actually blew out of their frames. The cladding of the building was also coming off. They also charged that Toll Brothers was not responsive to their complaints and few, if anything was done.
Toll Brothers stated to the New York Post that it "is aware of these isolated situations and strongly disagrees with the allegations as they have been presented," and will continue to honor its obligations and provide the quality and customer service for which it is known. Apparently Toll Brother's definition of customer service is rather unusual , for after going public, that is when the retaliation began, not only from Toll Brothers City Living, but from the Northside Piers Homeowners Association.
In a take that! move, Toll Brothers took my suggestion of gutting all the townhouses and housing their respective owners in another unit. All of them, except for THC. THD was the first to be finished and re-occupied because one of the residents was a pregnant woman and thus that property took precedence. And they let me, a disabled man, continued to live in a mold infested home.
As work commenced on the other townhouses, more water and sewage leaked into the basement of THC through the common walls it shared with adjacent THB. I called the Department of Building and Russell McCroy appeared.
He said to Ms. Tansy that they have a week to get Toll to re-mediate because it's now a health issue. Instead, Ms. Tansy turned on me, she went ballistic, giving me this Linda Blair impersonation, threatening that 'you don't know what
I can do!' Needless to say, Toll Brothers did not re-mediate, despite requests to do so from Keith Berger.
I eventually put up two poster sized photos of my two golden retrievers in the front of THC to advertise the condition of the Townhouse. I put up speech bubbles, having one dog saying: Say No to Mold!, while the other one replied: Why am I not surprised? This is a townhouse lemon! I also put up blown photo of the mold that is growing in the basement walls and placed an artificial lemon tree in the balcony. Some of the local residents were amused and apparently that of the Boards of Managers was not. In a counteractive move, they promptly changed the building's policy and began
fining the Owner for having unauthorized signs up on the property.
I then contacted the Commissioner of Health of New York State, sending him a letter and a photo of the rash on my leg. In October 2011, Glen Revan from the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene came and inspected Townhouse C. His report indicated the smell of urine, sewage, ground water and mold. He inspected the other townhouses as well and I accompanied him during his inspection. I also took some pictures of the THB next door. Mr. Revan did a report of his findings and concluded that the townhouse wasn't suitable to live in.
When Sabine Manas, the owner of the adjacent THB, found out that I have taken pictures of her property, she started a lynch mob with the Board of Managers to have me arrested on the night of September 30th 2011. The 94th precinct was called to Northside Piers. Sabine Manas and other members of the Board of Managers were in the front of THC. She lied and had me arrested for criminal trespassing. She told the police officers that she represented Toll Brothers. She gave the wrong date and time when I was at her gutted property, and she discounted the fact that I was there with a city official, and I had written proof of that. I wonder ifSabine have signed a confidentiality agreement in exchange
for her property being redone and being housed in another unit in the building.
The report was filed under Bill Butler's name. Butler, who is a contractor for Toll Brothers through Meridian Hudson, ultimately did not give a deposition. Butler told Toll Brothers Property Manager Adam Gottlieb: If you pull me into this, I am going to quit. I am not going to follow up on the police report that Sabine Manas processed. Jeff Klarfeld, the Property Manger of Building I from Penmark Management said: I am NOT going to be in trouble, but this Board is going to be in trouble.
The charges and case were ultimately dismissed by the Honorable Judge Evelyn La Porta, not only because of Butler's refusal to give a deposition, but on the fact the I was accompanied by a city official.
Because of the fact that the townhouse is now deemed uninhabitable, the Owner no longer pay the common charges and the Board of Managers in response, instead of working with Toll Brothers to make the townhouse INHABITABLE, they suspended all services to THC.
The current situation is that the owner and Toll Brothers are in the process of buy back. According to Vanderbilt Appraisal, the appreciated value of townhouse is 1.45 million and Toll Brothers is offering less than that.
Northside Piers were among Toll Brothers' first constructions into New York State. A Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company, it had built and sold luxury condos, houses and other residences across the country. If the four townhouses are any indication, Toll Brother's initial foray in New York is turning out to be a disaster.
As of now, the case have also been placed on the attention of the Office of the Attorney General, Mayor Office for the Disabled Deputy Jason Mischel, and the New York State Licensing Division, as the agent who handled the sales, Teresa Ali, turned out not to be a license real estate agent or broker in the State of New York. Ms. Ali have since relocated to Northville (aka Novi) Michigan.
Which, not surprsingly, brings us to another Toll Brothers related horror story, as posted by one Northville buyer on here on RipoffReport.com: http://www.ripoffreport.com/builders-contractors/toll-brothers/toll-brothers-toll-brothers-lu-39dd4.htm
Reading that was like reading the history of THC almost verbatim in terms of Toll Brothers' tactics as the buyer also made repeated complaints and in the end, they too, have to resort to hanging up a banner on their property to make known to the public the dreadful state of their home:
*Build the property as fast and cheap as possible.
*Induce the buyer into making a deposit without making full disclosure of the condition of the property.
* Force the buyer into closing by not returning their deposits.
* Make whatever promises and agreements that is needed to close the deal.
* When the complaints comes in, drag it out as long as possible so the buyer can no longer afford to fight them and gives up.
* When they do settle, they have people sign confidentiality agreements to protect their reputation.
And in an unusual, but perhaps not surprising update, the writer's tone turn completely around after settling with Toll Brothers, citing that Toll Brothers have treated us fairly and negotiated in good faith and praised their professional handling of the dispute. The fact that the update was shackled in quotation marks gives the impression that the now satisfied owner is trying to tip us off that this is a statement not unlike that of a coerced one obtained with the aid of a pointed gun or a confidentiality agreement.
A casual search on the Internet will see that what is happening at Northside Piers and Nothville are not isolated incidents: Toll Brothers have complaints made against them from people from across the country: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Tennesee, and West Virginia. In the case of West Virginia, Vicky Surdosky of Martinsburg Station brought a townhouse from Toll Brothers. She slapped them with a lawsuit and it is scheduled to be heard on September 9th 2012.
In fact, there is even a blog for disgruntled Toll Brothers buyers: http://tolltruth.blogspot.com/ Reading the same list of complaints: water issues, mold, shoddy workmanship, becomes almost monotonous. Some owners have also either considered and/or went public with their complaints or band together for a class action lawsuit against Toll Brothers. One owner who is seeking a national class action suit is Harry Bloch of Pennsylvania, who have set up his own website (http://www.howtolldestroyedourlives.com/) and have posted several videos on YouTube ("Looking for Shmucks)
chronicling his own experience concerning Toll Brothers. The image of taped windows in Bloch's Toll built home brought an immediate sense of deja vu of THC.
In the end, do not buy from Toll Brothers and I urged everyone to come together and make this public knowledge.