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Anybody used HD "At-Home" Services?


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By Mark in Ogdensburg, NJ on 5/25/2006


Home Depot in my area offers installation services on siding, roofing, even HVAC for new construction. Has anybody used them for any of these? If so, how did it work out?

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 5/26/2006


In my area they offer the same type of services. Let me reiterate a couple of things here:

1) Home Despot does not employ siding installers, HVAC technicians, roofers, etc. These are all subcontractors to Home Despot, they also do their own subcontracting.

2) Home Despot makes a profit on setting up these installations. As I understand it, Home Despot makes about 25%-30% off the top on the installations. The contractors actually doing the work also have their overhead and profit. Why pay for two sets of overhead and profit?

3) One of my subcontractors runs a crew entirely dedicated to Lowe's installations. He told me the difference in installation prices he gets from that crew through Lowe's, what he is charging me, and how much Lowe's makes just setting up these installations.

4) I would use this for bid purposes for the bank only. You will get better bids elsewhere and equal quality work, perhaps from the same subcontractors Home Depot is using. Home Depot offers you nothing except convenience, and even that is debatable.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 5/26/2006


HD subcontracts the work out to local contractors. So the quality of work you get is kind of a crapshoot. I'm sure there are many HD contractors that are fine, honest, hardworking guys. 

I'm also sure that HD selects their contractors based on price and availability. That probably means that the guy they send out to install your furnace is someone who is willing to work cheap and can't find better-paying work anywhere else. (Purely my opinion.)

We had HD install some carpet in our basement. The guys showed up in a rotted-out old van, looked like escaped cons, and took all day to install approximately 500 sq ft of carpet. All of that would have been fine if they had installed the carpet correctly. They didn't. The installers didn't match the carpet pattern at the seams, so every seam stood out like a sore thumb. It took three trips to HD, and two additional days off work to meet the HD rep at my house, to get them to admit that the job was done incorrectly. They finally sent another crew out to replace the carpet. The week's salary I lost in the process far outweighed any savings from shopping at HD.

As I said, I'm sure they do have some competent crews, but I'll never take that chance again.


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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 5/26/2006


I like the big box stores. (Both the orange one and the blue one). They are perfect for selecting products from the shelves and piling them on a cart, and then scanning them yourself at the self-checkout.

I typically avoid the big boxes for anything complicated, any orders that are not on the shelf, and anything installed. The indifferent associates can screw it up way too easily. And if you think the guy in the orange apron doesn't give a hoot, wait until you talk to the manager who cares even less.

I would never buy anything installed from these guys. I don't think anyone doing new construction does. The installation services offered are for the convenience of consumers, who have small projects and are willing to pay retail prices. If you need a bid to complete a loan package, why not use a number from these guys? It should not be hard to beat, using an actual contractor who does the work instead of a middleman when it comes time to do your actual project.


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By Karlie in Ogden, UT on 5/29/2006


Michael,

I have to agree with you. Home Depot is just fine for the things that you can go in and buy off the shelf, but when it comes to anything special order or that needs delivered to your site, you never know what you are going to get with them.

My husband and I have been learning the hard way on the three different major purchase items we have bought from them. First, it was the lumber. Their price was roughly $3,500 cheaper than any of the other four lumber bids that we got. With what it costs to build a home these days, we really needed that $3,500 for other things. Therefore, we started the long and painful process of getting all our lumber from them. Even though a large beam for the garage was in the order form that we gave them, they forgot to order it and when our framers told us and then said that they needed it by the next morning at 7 a.m., because a crane was coming to do the trusses at 9 a.m. We were kind of in a panic. Home Depot said it was a "special order item" and who knows when we would have got it from them if we had not gone elsewhere.

We called another lumber supplier who told us that they would have it to us early the next morning and then they called us back four hours later that day and told us it had already been delivered, thank heaven!!! We should have gone with this lumber supplier in the first place, and the beam they sold to us turned out only to be about another $30 more than the one Home Depot could have ordered for us. There were plenty of other countless problems with the lumber, which I will not elaborate on.

Next, were the windows and doors. Because I do not favor brass hinges or brass anything for that matter, I had to order my doors on another special order to get the brushed chrome hinges. After nearly three weeks of waiting for the doors and having to delay my framers for several extra days, I called them up on a Friday and asked what was taking so long to get the doors in. They assured me that the doors would be in the following Tuesday. So on Tuesday I called back and asked to have my doors delivered to which I was told they had not arrived yet and they would be there the next day. On Wednesday, I called to check on the doors, they were still not there, and I was told they would be there the next day (Thursday). Of course I was not happy and asked them what the heck was going on and they finally agreed to call the vendor to see where they were. When they called, they found that the vendor, after nearly four weeks, hadn't even started making them!!! I was very upset and my framers were expecting to come and place the windows and doors on Saturday morning.

I had to cancel my order and pull whatever was most similar out of their stock doors and now I'm looking at having them, if I can actually get them to, replace the hinges that are brass for the brushed chrome ones. My husband has wondered aloud if they even ordered the doors in the first place. On the windows, we found one has a problem with the mechanism that allows the window to go up and down and I guess I will see how long it will take them to get that one right.

What I have ultimately decided is that the next time I build a home, I will not go through the hassle of dealing with Home Depot over large ticket items that have to be pre-ordered. The effort spent securing such "deals" doesn't seem like such a good thing after all. Time is money and they have wasted a whole lot of my time. Thank goodness, I decided long ago after much hassle of even getting a bid from them over cabinets, that I would not use them for this service, I think about this and I am thankful every day for this decision.

-Karlie


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By Steven in MN on 6/20/2006


I used Home Depot for carpet and had a bad experience. They gladly take your money but will not follow-up on a carpet order or a contractor. They tried to give me the number to do the work. I got real nasty with them and finally got some action. Over two months for carpet. Was not a delay from carpet mill either.

The second run in was ordering a $742 Hansgrohe shower panel. It took several weeks to get in. No support parts for it. Any washer or part would be another 6 weeks. A few months later, the brass cold water elbow failed and caused  a couple thousand dollars in damage to my newly smooth plaster ceilings on main floor and basement ceiling below the master shower. Home Depot gladly took my $742 but says they only sell the stuff and are not responsible! LOL. Hansgrohe will gladly replace the elbow with the same defective metal alloy elbows, you guessed it, with a 6-week delay. I have to get an attorney involved.

After spending $100K at Home Depot the past several years I go to Lowe's a mile away now, but will not buy anything critical/complicated from a big box. Local suppliers may be an extra couple bucks but cheaper in the long run.

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By Sharon in Queen Creek, AZ on 7/14/2006


Thanks for the info. This is my first O-B, and I'm nervous about going to the bank. I have bought the land and am waiting for the plans to be drawn. I guess banks in AZ are nervous about making smaller house loans. - I was told nothing under $500K from one bank - they have lost money from unprepared O-B's and overruns.

Sharon


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By Bill in Irving, TX on 7/24/2006


I have a mixed bag to share about HD services:

I got a quote from them for my granite that was a few thousand dollars higher than I got it for direct. Presumably this is due to the fact as already mentioned that they do have to write in their profit on the materials and labor.

I did end up using them for the installation of three garage doors and openers. With the cumbersome and heavy moving parts, I felt like it was beyond what I could comfortably do. It also gives me leverage to get repairs and replacements at their expense if something goes wrong. I did not think the cost for this was out of line. The contractor who did the work does so exclusively for HD, and I expect discounts to them accordingly. I was satisfied with this transaction.

Finally, there are certain items like Andersen sliders that have a somewhat proprietary installation. They must be installed by a qualified installer. Due to schedule constraints, I had to go with an outside contractor to install. I subsequently had trouble with the retractable screen, and was not able to get any relief from Andersen.

My conclusion is that one must assess each individual case on its own merits.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 7/24/2006


I purchased three Clopay garage doors from HD. One of them was larger than average (10x9) and had a double torsion spring. I was a little nervous about installing that myself, so I asked HD how much to install it for me. They quoted something like $1100 to install that one door!!!!  I said "no thanks."

The doors were delivered by a couple guys that HD contracted for deliveries. It turned out that these guys worked for a garage door company. They asked me if I was looking for someone to install the doors. I said, "Maybe. How much would you charge me?" When they told me $650, I about fell over. "For all three doors?" I asked. "Sure!" they said.

When they came out to install the doors, I told them about the HD price. They shook their heads and told me that they sometimes do installs that are contracted through HD. According to them, the installers get $100 per door (split among however many guys it takes to install it) while HD and the door company split the $1,000.

So, my guys got more than double their normal pay and I got a heck of a bargain.

For anyone about to have garage doors installed, I'd recommend finding the guys who actually do the work.


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By Bill in Irving, TX on 7/24/2006


Coincidentally I also bought the Clopay doors and three Genie Excelerator openers. I am looking at my invoice as I type. I paid $150 each for the installation of the doors, and $99/each for the installation of the openers. Therefore you came out a little better than I did. I still believe it was worth my while. I think the takeaway message is that one would want to assess the cost and get at least one second quote for the work, but do not underestimate the value of having the HD backing and commitment to the work.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 7/25/2006


I want to clear up a big misconception here. Just because you used HD "At-Home" Services, and paid through HD, don't think for a second that you have HD backing the work with their name and reputation. Find someone who wasn't happy with the HD "At Home" installation, and the trouble it takes them to get things corrected, and you might just change your opinion.

HD backing and commitment to work simply does not exist, except in their marketing department.


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By Bill in Irving, TX on 7/25/2006


I don't have to go far to find someone who wasn't happy with something done by HD, because I am such a person. In fact when human beings are involved in anything there are going to be errors and problems. When that is a given, we can only hope there is integrity enough within a company to follow through to make it right. While I was not entirely satisfied with some of the contractors I hired, I was always satisfied with HD effort and commitment to make their errors right.

If your experience is different, I think it is something others would have to consider. I just don't think it is fair to paint Home Depot as BAD with a broad brush without considering normal human failings, the resultant incompetence and the fact that it is quite common for things not to be made right. In the end, I think you have to "measure twice and cut once"; stay on top of your job and check everything thoroughly.
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 7/25/2006


This was the second time I had checked into using "At-Home" services after the abysmal carpet experience I described earlier in this thread, which is evidence that I kept an open mind. 

My primary complaint with the carpet install was the sub-par quality and the glacially slow response by HD to make it right. It was, in every way, contradictory to your suggestion that they "back the work with their name and reputation." But, again, it was one experience with one store (several managers) and one installation crew. I have the luxury (if that's the right word) of having three HD's within short driving distance, so I simply never went back to that particular store.

From the other two stores, I got a quote on installing the Clopay door I described above and got a quote on having some roofing installed. The door install was $1,100, the roofing was $12,000 for 17 squares of mid-grade 3-tabs. I consider both of those quotes to be outrageously high.

I may still get a quote from them, if I need a service they provide. But from the experiences I've had so far, I don't expect much.

Your door install price really surprises me. The manager that quoted me $1,100 didn't pull that number out of thin air; it was in his database with the Clopay door info. Maybe it's a regional thing. Maybe my door was far enough out of the ordinary that the install cost was higher. I didn't get a quote for the 8x7's or for doors with linear springs.

In my experience, HD is just another middleman that takes a cut of your money. The guys actually doing the work are doing the same job for the same pay, regardless of whether you paid HD a fee for the referral. 

I totally agree that anyone contemplating using "At Home" should gather their own data and make their own decision. 

What they should absolutely never do is assume that they'll get the best price, or acceptable customer service, from HD.  Evidence is plentiful that HD often falls short in both areas.


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By Mark in Provo, UT on 4/24/2007


We asked for a bid on blown-in insulation from Lowe's at home service division. They had a centralized call center with rude and ignorant teenage-type staffers. A local guy came out who was very professional but way too slick, with demonstration models and literature. He bid the blown-in at $1,800 while telling me that they couldn't do part of it because the access area was too tight.

The winning bidder did it all for $630 and managed to handle the tight access area just fine.

Mark

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