Our problems with our Fieldstone home & Owens Corning siding

We moved in to our newly constructed Fieldstone-built home on June 16th, 2004. Within the first year, we had several warranty requests, including a toilet leaking into the subfloor, a broken window frame, drafts coming through electrical outlets, water pooling in the garage-door wrap, improper insulation below one bedroom, and other more minor problems (missing door stoppers, a kitchen drawer that wouldn't close, etc.). Most of these problems were fixed at no charge and in a timely manner. The garage-door wrap was not fixed, perhaps because during the time of our requests, Fieldstone went through three different warranty-service managers. The overly cold upstairs bedroom, situated above the garage, received a new heating vent, but it is still very cold in the winter. When we requested that somebody check the insulation between the garage ceiling and the bedroom floor, we were told that it was "up to code," though nobody every checked it.

After the first year, we have experienced other minor problems, perhaps the result of normal wear-and-tear, but also perhaps the result of shoddy workmanship and materials. For instance, in our front room, six drywall screws have come uncovered, leaving unsightly black marks on the white walls. This is a simple matter. I can fix it with some spackle and some paint. But you should think to the underlying cause of this problem. I am convinced that it is quick-and-careless work. Still, this is not the biggest problem.

Within a month after our one-year Fieldstone warranty expired, a heavy windstorm blew loose two of the vinyl siding panels on the front (west-facing) side of our house. Because I knew the warranty would not cover this, I got on the roof with my neighbor, David Steadman, and reattached the panels. I noticed then that they were warped and bucking, that their seams were windward, and that the wind was easily lifting underneath the seams because of the warping. It seemed like several panels were cut too long, then forced in, thus causing some of the bucking. I also noted that because the prevailing winds in Lehi come from the north, the seams should have probably been placed away from the wind, not into it (i.e. the northernmost panel on top of the southernmost). Finally, I noted that the bottommost panel, which should have been attached to a fixed strip of siding to hold it into place, was entirely footloose. The strip was installed below it, but in the wrong place, so that the lip of the upper panel overshot it and had nothing to latch onto. This allowed it entirely too much play in the wind.

This happened two or three more times over the next year. Whenever the winds were swift, the siding panels would come undone and flap in the wind or even blow completely loose. Finally, after a day when two panels blew completely off the house, I was fed up. I called Fieldstone to complain and to demand that the panels be replaced and the work redone.

Steve Cordner, the current warranty-service manager, was very cordial and professional on the phone, offering to take a look at the damage, even though the one-year Fieldstone warranty was expired. He came out to see the house two or three times. However, he never got close to the problem siding panels. Instead, he made his judgments from the ground, claiming that he could tell that they had been installed properly. He gave me the number of Owens Corning, the manufacturer.

I called Owens Corning, which no longer employs or contracts local installers or investigators, thus they could not send a representative to survey the damage and make a judgment. They agreed to send me a warranty claim kit, which would require me to send in samples of the siding, photographs, and paperwork.

Meanwhile, the siding installer also came by the house, one day when I was not home. He told my wife that he had seen other homes whose siding had warped, and they all had dark-colored siding. Indeed, a neighbor's house down the street, the only other house in the development with dark gray siding, was also warping. This house, however, was situated in such a way that the worst warping was sheltered from the wind. The installer claimed that he had warned Fieldstone not to use the dark-colored siding, but they paid no heed. He believes that the warping is due to a material defect. Thus we should contact Owens Corning, the manufacturer. We had already done that.

Nobody wants to accept responsibility for this problem, which is obviously due to manufacturing, installation, or a combination, plus normal weather conditions. Nobody else in my development has this problem. It is a fluke, sure, but it's obviously not caused by me or my family.

In my judgment, Fieldstone builds no-frills houses quickly and relatively inexpensively. This is fine. It inevitably leads to problems, though, and Fieldstone is generally willing to make things right, though not always right away. The problem comes with defects that don't appear within one year. Then begins the passing-the-buck game between builder, installer, and manufacturer.

When the weather improves (it is swowing and windy today), I will return to the roof to measure the distance between the nails, to see if the installation matches the recommendations at the Vinyl Siding Institute's website. Owens Corning recommends that all installers follow these guidelines for proper installation.

I plan on emailing links to this site to management at both Fieldstone and Owens Corning, as well as the installer, if I can find out his name. I will involve the Better Business Bureau. I will write to Bob Gephardt of KUTV News in Salt Lake City. His "Get Gephardt" segment helps consumers solve problems with businesses when they feel they are being stonewalled. He has often helped people solve problems with homebuilders, subcontractors, and manufacturers. I will keep on fighting this fight until my house is repaired.

Early siding damage

Additional warping above the garage

Additional warping above the garage

Additional warping above the garage

Further damage and siding loss

Potential problem above the principle area of damage

Closeup of damaged area

Closeup of damaged area

Area above the garage, with some warping

Long view of the front of the house

Another view of the damage

North side of the house, no damage

East side of the house, no damage

South side of the house, no damage

West (front) side of the house, with damage

Potential problem above the principle area of damage

Lowest panel entirely unattached, misplaced anchor beneath

Panel broken in strong wind after it pulled loose

West (front) side of the house, with damage

West (front) side of the house, with damage