We ordered a deck install from Lowe's, (Store # 0499) West Columbia, SC. Project was paid for on August 1, 2013. Lowe's contracted with Mac Renovations out of Greenwood, SC to do the install. Lowe's wasn't the lowest estimate we got. But we bought the pitch that they guarantee the job and we'd have the full backing of a national company, blah, blah, blah. Don't believe it!
We wanted composite deck boards and ordered MoistureShield. The example that we were shown was a solid board, no side channel since it was being installed with screws, not the clips. This was the first problem I noted - when the materials were delivered the MoistureShield boards had the side channel. I asked the Project Specialist at the store about this and was eventually told the manufacturer had changed the product. However, the MoistureShield website still shows the solid deck boards available.
We were told when we got the estimate for the deck that the joists would be placed 12 inches on center. When the deck was being installed, the joists were placed 16 inches on center. I called the Project Specialist at the store who checked with the manufacturer on this and I was told that since the deck boards were being placed perpendicular to the joists and not on an angle, that 16 inches on center was the correct spacing. I accepted this even though it wasn't what I had been promised for the construction.
The next issue we encountered was that we had been told from the beginning that footers would be poured and the 4x4's mounted on the footers. The contractor sent someone out to measure and inspect the site. Even though this method of construction was approved by this employee it wasn't done even though 27-80 lb bags of cement were ordered and delivered to the house along with post anchors and other supplies necessary for this type of construction. Holes were dug, the 4x4's dropped into the holes and cement put in the holes around the 4x4s. We were told this change was due to the height of the deck from the ground. It is a low deck - about 12 to 18 inches above ground level. But this wasn't a surprise. Everyone knew the height of the deck from day-one. I have never understood why the last minute change. Additionally, two of these support posts sank and were shimmed up. These two support posts were replaced after we complained about the shims - but I'm not convinced that more supports won't sink over time and the deck will sag. We have mostly sand land and they used so much water in the cement that I'm not sure it will hold up.
Start of the install was finally scheduled for Sept 6. (We had been told the MoistureShield boards were a special order and would take approx. 2 weeks to be delivered.) Mac Renovations didn't show up. No phone call, they just weren't here so about noon or 1pm I called the store and they checked on it. I was told the installer had a supervisor out with a hurt back so they would be here Monday, Sept 9. While I understand that stuff happens - I feel they should have called me to let me know what was going on.
Work began on Monday, Sept 9. Sometime during that day or the next (Tue, Sept 10) the installer noticed that only 12 ft deck boards were delivered and we needed 16 ft deck boards. I don't know if this was a manufacturer delivery error or a store ordering error or why it wasn't discovered when the order was checked in upon delivery to the store. In any case - it delayed our deck install an additional month. The store was notified and 16 ft deck boards were ordered. Construction of the deck frame continued through Wed, Sept 10 and all work stopped to wait on the 16 ft deck boards. I believe the deck boards were delivered to the store on Sept 25. The installer couldn't come back to our house to begin work again until Oct 7. Excess materials from building the frame sat in our yard for 2 weeks before the store arranged for pick-up. Way too much lumber and cement was ordered so there was quite a pile. Since the full materials order had been delivered prior to the initial start date, the rest of the material pile sat in our yard over a month total waiting for the install to be finished.
Two men returned Mon, Oct 7, no supervisor. Thedeck rails weren't bolted to the frame - they started laying deck boards and screwing them down to the frame. Many of the screws were stripped out during the installation. This became a problem when I noticed the spacing got too wide over the second half of the deck and asked that it be corrected and they couldn't remove the screws and reposition the deck boards. Several boards had to be broken and pried up and new boards used. We had paid for these boards and now they were on the trash pile. I asked for these boards to be returned to the store for a credit since they were destroyed during the install and not by anything we did, but they were carried off and thrown away the last day of construction.
During the confusion of cleaning up I didn't notice this until after they had left. The store eventually gave us a refund for two additional boards, but since the broken boards were thrown away we weren't sure how many actually got destroyed.
Holes were cut into the installed deck boards for the hand rail 4x4s. Of the 10 4x4s used in our hand rail - only 3 are attached to the deck frame with carriage bolts after I complained about the method being used. The rest are simply screwed in with long screws. Additionally, none of the 4x4 railing posts are boxed in with 2x4's or secured in any way other than two "ledgerlok" screws being screwed through the framing into the posts. When I questioned this (I had asked about this when we were getting estimates and had been assured by the store Project Specialist that the handrails would be attached to the frame with carriage bolts) - I was told carriage bolts couldn't be used for some unexplained reason but I didn't have to worry - these handrails weren't going anywhere. I don't know, but this isn't what I contracted for and not what I expected nor what I thought I was paying for.
One hole in the deck boards was cut right over the top of a joist so the 4x4 was notched out to fit over the joist. This wasn't necessary to the placement of the handrail - it just wasn't taken into account when the holes were being cut. This results in a 2 inch notch having been cut out of the center of the 4x4 so the 4x4 could "saddle" over the joist. Sloppy work. We have a bench across the front of the deck which I was told would be bolted to the frame. This wasn't done either. The bench is simply screwed down to the deck boards. It seems solid now - but it's not the construction I was assured I would get.
The remaining excess materials were finally picked-up from our yard on Oct 18. A week and a half after construction was completed on Oct 9 and I had to call several times to get it picked-up then.
All in all - I didn't get the premium construction I expected and that I paid for. Lowe's wasn't the cheapest bid we got - but we chose Lowes because I thought we could depend on them to give us sound construction. I definitely don't feel we got it.
We finally got refunded for the excess material that was returned to the store on November 16th - nearly a full month after the last of the materials were picked-up by the store. Receiving this refund took numerous phone calls on my part and finally involvement of the store manager to get it done.
Several Lowe's employees have been out to the house to "inspect" the deck and all keep assuring us that even though the deck wasn't constructed according to original specifications it is "sound" and according to "normal building practices". Frankly, I no longer believe anything Lowe's tells me. Had we known in the beginning that specific practices that we inquired about weren't going to be followed in the construction we never would have contracted this project through Lowe's. The cost was higher than other estimates we received and we didn't get the construction we were assured we were going to get.
Lowe's Customer Service made an offer to send Mac Renovations out to address my complaints and "fix" the deck install. No one has actually listed the things that would be "fixed". I asked if a different company could be used and Lowe's said no - it can only be the original installer. Why would I want this company to come back? They had the opportunity to build this deck right and didn't. They didn't like it when I asked questions about the methods they were using and either told me "everything will be fine", ignored me or argued with me.
Lowe's did a kitchen remodel for us about two years ago and we also had Lowe's install two outside doors for us. Both projects were well done. However, this deck install has been a horrible experience and we don't feel the deck is well constructed - nor what we were assured we were buying. For the price, over $11,000, we expected a quality job and a quality finished product. We have additional projects planned for next year, new wall-to-wall carpeting through-out the house and a privacy fence in the backyard that we had planned to contract with Lowe's. After this experience, the less than satisfactory results and additional difficulties of even getting refunded for excess materials ordered by and returned to the store, we will not consider Lowe's for these projects. In fact, the entire experience has been so unsatisfactory we won't be shopping at Lowe's.
Product or Service Mentioned: Lowes Installation.