Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eco-friendly Contractors: What Can Happen

Review of NewSouth Windows
Friends, have you thought about buying energy efficient windows, doors or any other remodeling project to make your home more eco-friendly? They often are fabulous ways to save money and they can lessen your carbon footprint!

After I bought my new home, I hired NewSouth Window of Orlando to install 14 energy efficient windows and to convert my sliding glass door to energy star patio doors. I ended up having to hire a second company, Collis Roofing, to finish the project, but once it was done our energy bills dropped significantly. We keep the house at a chilly 74F all year long (in Florida) and our utility bills never exceed $200 for electric, water, and sewer combined! Sweet Jesus, it's lovely!

However, it's important to find the RIGHT contractor because finding the WRONG one can end in a lot of headaches. Trust me. I know.

My (Not So Pleasant) Story
I didn't originally want to write this story because it's so personal, but I feel like it needs to be told. In my wildest dreams I never thought anything like this would happen, but it did. The truth is that it can happen to anybody! You need to protect yourself! So, please read this and make sure you are never in the same situation I'm in!
When signing an energy efficient contractor make sure these things happen:
  • Pictures of projects completed in other homes, including ALL of the products you wish to buy especially if they are from sub-contractors!
    • Do not accept drawings-- they must be actual pictures! You want the detail!
  • If the contractors are subcontracting another company, call that company and speak to them.
    • Ask for pictures and details about what they offer.
    • Make sure that company understands what you want and can provide it.
  • Do a review on the people who own the company to see if there are any back stories to their business
In the case of NewSouth Window, they did not provide any actual pictures of the doors which I purchased. I also never was informed that the subcontracted company was unable to produce the door which I ordered and, instead, they made a very special custom door.

The Door Fiasco:
This was my vision when I purchased the doors (energy efficient three-quarter french doors with a cat door):
Custom French doors from Collis Roofing in Orlando
These are my doors from Collis Roofing (Orlando)
after I received the doors from NewSouth (below) and returned them
BUT this is what I received from NewSouth Window:
three quarters french door with "cat" door from New South Window in Orlando/Tampa
It's just a little different, right? The industrial studs are totally homey and my cat MIGHT have been a tiger, so it's understandable that the pet door is human size. After a few quality discussions, they understood that I had small domestic cats (not tigers) and they finally agreed to return the doors.

Defective Product
Windows for NewSouth Window Orlando TampaDoes it look like a cloudy day? That's actually a defect that makes the energy efficient window useless in terms of energy efficiency.

Oh, and yes, this picture was taken today (March 24, 2014). It's been almost two years since it was installed and I still have it.

WHY do you still have a defective product!?! Oh, I'm so glad you asked!

It just so happened that we had a hiccup in the loan process. I used their loan program and it was accidentally canceled months before the windows were installed. No one knew-- not me, not NewSouth Windows-- until they tried to bill me on the Saturday after the windows were installed. Not a big deal, right? I can file for a new loan!

BUT first thing on Monday morning, NewSouth Window called me and insisted that I was trying to swindle the company and get out of paying the debt. He said he would FORECLOSE ON MY HOME! (I don't mean to spoil the story, but he meant it!) 

Notice of Commencement Issues
Immediately after that conversation, I looked through all of my paperwork to try to find my loan documents, but I found something called the "Notice of Commencement". I still don't know 100% what this is because no one will tell me, but from my research it has something to do with starting a project and the ability of the contractor to put a lien on the property. It required a notary's signature and my own signature. I never signed anything in front of a notary for Newsouth Window! After some investigation, I  found some interesting information-- the notary actually works at NewSouth Window.

I filed a formal complaint and the picture of the document is the Notary's sworn response saying that she never met me and she just signs papers to not inconvenience people. Yeah, that's totally awesome because that's what notaries do. {raises eyebrow}

Here is a lovely quote from an entertaining (and saved) voicemail from Mr. Earl Rahn {clears throat}:"If you tell anyone else that you feel that we committed a crime, which is forgery, then this will take a different path"Pretty open ended statement there, buddy. He never clarifies what he means but I assume it's not good because whatever path we already were on was pretty much crap-tastic. Over the months, it's progressed from "haha, he's so silly" to the idea that maybe he meant that he'd cover me in honey and put me in a bear cave, but I really don't know. It's open ended so your guess is as good as mine. He might have meant that he'd feed me to kittens. Beats me. {shrugs}

What is Slander: let me school you.
Slander is when someone makes false and damaging statements about someone or a business in public. It is not reporting something to an agency and it doesn't happen if you tell the truth. You have to have both stated untrue things and caused damage. You can see that I provided you with actual evidence to show you that this is the truth. So this is NOT slander. 

After all, as much as they appear to like to sue me, I would not post this if it wasn't true and cleared by my lovely lawyer. 

Foreclosure or PAY! {wags finger}
Anyways, I told them that I didn't think I should be held liable for payment until their wrongs were corrected. I even offered to pay a portion of the total cost, but they refused. They continued with their attempts to foreclose on my home without notifying me. In fact, they had taken out a lien on my house about a week after the windows were installed. It was months and months later that I became aware that my home even had a lien!

After I got an awesome lawyer and they filed all sorts of fancy paperwork, I thought they gave up and realized there wasn't much of a case. I had no intention of pursuing my counterclaim because I'm cool like that, but apparently they didn't hold the same sentiment.

A year later, they went to court without telling me and New South Window won almost double the price of the windows (because I wasn't present) and the ability to foreclose on my home if I didn't pay!! {evil looks all around} And, yes, apparently this is lawful behavior {more evil looks}. In fact, our house will be sold in FOUR days (March 27, 2014)  if I don't pay them buckets of money {sad/super angry face} 

The did offer me less than a 5% reduction in the amount owed IF I removed all of my negative reviews. No thank you! My freedom of speech is worth more than $728.19. 

So Why Write This Story?
A few reasons.

First, I've been a grumpy bunny these last few days and YOU GUYS cheer me up without even knowing! Every morning when I check the blog, you all have uplifted my spirits with your comments and emails! You all have been such a tremendous blessing to me, but more than you can ever know right now. I am kind of embarrassed that this happened and I originally didn't want to tell anyone, but I think you guys deserve to know! I only hope that my negative experience can help you or someone in your life.

I just really want to make sure that people are aware because I had no idea this could happen when I hired a contractor. Since my experience with NewSouth Window, I have worked with three different contractors and the jobs have gone great. So not every contractor is going to give you a hard time, but it's good to know what kind of red flags to look for! I hope my story can protect you from getting into a similar situation.

Craftsman Front door from Collis roofing in Orlando
Energy efficient front door from Collis Roofing
in Orlando
Plus, if I have to pay them almost $13,000 dollars for $7,500 worth of product so I think that they deserve some bonus advertisement, don't you? Will you help me get their money's worth? {grins} Love you guys!! SHARE PLEASE!!

If you live in Central Florida and are looking to buy windows, then you should GO TO COLLIS ROOFING!! I know, it's a roofing company, but they have an amazing window and doors selection and it's top quality. I get so many compliments about my doors. They were a great price and they were 100% upfront about everything. It was the best experience I could have had especially after my NewSouth Window deal. Check them out here: Collis Roofing.

UPDATE: Collis Roofing found my review online and said that if you call for an estimate and tell them that Sherri sent you they will give you a 10% discount on doors/windows!! (YAY!)

Have you ever had an experience like this with a contractor?! If so, what did you do?

If you want to check out NewSouth's website for whatever reason: NewSouth Window
Sherri Griffin
Sherri Griffin

Thanks for checking out my blog. I get serious about a few things in life: animals, chemicals, and food. For the rest I can't promise anything so keep the bar low. For more about me check out my "About Me" page! Happy DIYing!


  1. I am so sorry to read of your horrible ordeal. I will be sure to share your post on my page. Here's to wishing you that the best and correct action/result comes your way!

    1. Thanks Aileen! I really appreciate the support!

  2. I am posting this problem with NewSouth windows also. What ever happened to customer service and having good quality products.

  3. Wow. That's crazy! I'll make sure never to use them and I'll tell my friends too!! Thanks for sharing this story.

    1. I'm glad that you found it useful! Thank you! :)

  4. Sherri G,
    I am sad to have read what happened to you. Karma will prevail. I am no longer with Collis Roofing, but the Dept I started is still going strong and taking care of many customers like yourself. The vision of Collis Roofing is quite simple, "Take care of your Customer!"
    I am glad I was able to be of service ;-)

    1. Phillip! Thanks for messaging me. I am sad to hear that you are no longer at Collis Roofing, but I hope you are very happy with what you are doing now (maybe your own business?). I always tell people how amazing you are and what you did for me during that time! Thanks for everything :)

  5. Hi Sherri,
    My name is Lydia. I am the Customer Service Manager at Collis Roofing. I would first like to thank you for your awesome kudos!!! I am sorry that you had to go through so much but I am pleased that Collis was ultimately given the opportunity to help you. That being said, I wanted to let you know that our owner is offering a 10% discount for any window/door job that mentions your name :) Have a wonderful day and hang in there!!

    1. Lydia, thank you for writing and giving my readers that AMAZING deal!! Collis Roofing is definitely my favorite contractor in Orlando and I'll keep preaching it loud and clear!! Thank you!!

  6. I guess that wasn't really anonymous :-)

  7. I really felt very bad for you.Thanks for sharing your story with us & warning us.I will make sure that we won't get into that trouble.Good luck...

  8. Replies
    1. Sherri, You have no idea just how sideway s Earl +Dan are,trust me I know.They would screw their own mothers.Full of bullsh$t !!!! money is all they care about.In their hands,the windows are good when they are made the way they are designed to be made,but when they tell you at first,they want you to make a quality product make sure everything is perfect it s what you get,but then as orders start rolling in .... its just get these windows done don t worry if they look n work like crap they need to be on a truck tomorrow.they started out right hired people who knew what they where doing,then got busy,saw those $$$$$$$ started hiring non english speaking types(you know what I mean) that they can pay less $, and don t understand what QC is,so now you get a large percent of crap.they don t care what you get, as long as they get their $$$$$ DONT WORRY THEY WILL GET KARMA S WRATH SOON ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!

    2. Thank you for the support and your passion about this! It really means a lot to me :) And I am also looking forward to the whole Karma part you mentioned :)

  9. Sorry for your experience with NSW, but I just had my installation completed and I could not have been happier. The Installers that came to my home were outstanding, they were courteous and very respectful of my home. The windows look great and they made sure that the outside met all my association requirements (I live in a condo). Not everything is perfect in this world and sometimes mistakes are made, it was after reading this review that I chose NSW to do my windows as in the business world it is comments like this that improve the quality for everyone else. Thanks.

  10. Sherri G.

    Unfortunately, I hear stories like yours all too ofter over the phone and at home shows and expos all over the state. Complaints of leaks, fogging, drafts and water damage aren't unusual. All of these issues are not limited to just ONE window company. It is an industry-wide problem. Research online forums about replacement windows and you will find very important information you need in order to make an informed purchase.

    The single most industry complaint that I receive concerns breakage. That's right - what most consumers aren't aware of is that "hurricane-rated impact windows" or any window presented as a "hurricane window" performs very poorly when it comes to withstanding impact. It kind of makes you wonder how they can even use the term "impact resistant" in their name? Do a video search for "impact window demo" and "impact window test" and see what happens to a window that receives an impact. You can see for yourself or I'll tell you right now that every single impact-rated window shown in any of these videos is absolutely demolished and will need replaced. Is that what you expect after spending 3 times as much money for your windows?

    What window makers and window sales outlets WON'T tell you is that unprotected impact windows should not be installed in places susceptible to large missile impacts. When you have impact windows installed on the ground floor, or any floor below your tree limbs, they are at risk of getting broken during a storm.

    Broken impact-rated windows are expensive to replace, create a mess and should be boarded up until they are replaced so until they are replaced you won't have a window to look out of.

    Water intrusion (leakage) is also a common problem with windows. Many windows perform well during laboratory testing but when they are installed into homes they somehow change. There are many lawsuits from condo owners who suffered water leaks and damage due to leakage from their own windows or those of others who lived above them.

    The "energy saving sales trap" is what many consumers fall victim to. If you want to make your windows more energy efficient and save money on your monthly electric bill, simply weatherizing them will result in significant energy savings and it will only cost you a few hundred dollars - not thousands. New windows that are of poor design or even high quality windows that are improperly installed will be drafty.

    There have been many different studies done regarding the payback time necessary for installing new energy efficient windows. Most show the time required to be in excess of 40 years. Unfortunately, the lifespan of new pvc replacement windows is somewhere around 20- 25 years so before they are paid for, it's time to buy new ones.

    The key to stopping breakage, water intrusion and air leakage of windows is really quite simple. Put up a protective layer to keep windows away from flying debris, wind pressure and rain. That is exactly what our product does and it does it VERY well.

    John Sortore
    Evolution Hurricane Shutters, LLC

  11. Reading your post and the comments was very useful to me. I had just been researching New South Windows for replacement windows but I am very comfortable in saying I'll take a pass on this company. Sometimes I don't think that companies full realize the impact of their actions when something goes wrong. It is like reading reviews of insurance buyers where nothing went wrong. It is when things do go wrong that you want to understand how the company reacts. I don't know how many prospective customers they are losing from this one single post, but I imagine anyone doing a little diligence would be offended by what happened here. I know I am.

  12. Run, Run, Run, To much to tell. 5 months of Hell. was told they would make it right. Never did.

    1. I'm sorry you had to go through their sh*t storm, too.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. They are about to close Fort Lauderdale. No insurance, permits or licenses. A major con job there! Don't use them. The GM is crazy! He talks down to everyone. Earl Rahn was let go by Champion. What does that tell you!



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