Z-Wave mesh issues after ditching Vera

First off, sorry for the wall of text. I know Z-Wave mesh issues are probably a common topic here, but I’d appreciate it if somebody might be able to provide some guidance.

I’m migrating to HA (Supervised, Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5+) from a Vera Plus that started my foray into Z-Wave a few years ago and has mostly worked fine. But I knew Vera had some shortcomings, so I wanted to give HA a try and possibly improve my mesh at the same time.

I have about 20 nodes split roughly evenly between my house and my shop. Connectivity between the two areas was not ideal, but generally reliable with a bit of a delay sometimes using a set of hard-wired switches bridging the areas. The Vera was set up in the house and was able to control the house nodes perfectly and the shop nodes with some sporadic delay.

My plan was to put HA in the shop, connect the shop nodes to it, and then use the Vera integration to connect to the nodes in the house. But, I can’t get around the fact that HA is so much better and I just want to get rid of Vera and have HA/Z-Stick control it all by leveraging the mesh to the house. This seems feasible after realizing the Z-Stick has better range; it seems to be able to see some house nodes since it’s a bit closer to the house. Also, I upgraded the shop side of the prior bridge to a Z-Wave Plus switch, further improving the mesh (theoretically). So, let’s get rid of Vera!

I tried using the offline inclusion button on the Z-Stick to exclude the house devices from Vera and include them to HA in the shop (by re-interviewing after plugging the Z-Stick back in). While it partly worked on a couple of the house’s nodes closest to the shop/HA that seemed to have decent connectivity, it didn’t appear possible to include the remaining nodes this way as they couldn’t be re-interviewed through those couple of house nodes that were seen by the HA in the shop.

After reading that it’s recommended to not use the offline inclusion feature of the stick, I tried a new approach and moved my controller to the house temporarily to include all of the devices. This went great. Then I moved it back to the shop and started a network heal overnight, expecting that it would all line out perfectly. It didn’t.

The heal resulted in numerous nodes showing FAIL, some being SKIPPED (due to being presumed DEAD, I think), and only a few (mainly battery-powered) actually succeeding. But, for the most part, it all works albeit with some nodes having delays. Ironically, the node that prior seemed to have the best connectivity from house-to-shop, now can’t be reached at all. It was the node I was primarily counting on for a good bridge, though it seems a couple others may have taken up the job. I now also have one node in the house that perks up on the network when operated manually, but eventually goes dead again; it’s the furthest from the shop.

I don’t understand why the heal didn’t work as expected. I don’t understand why the house-side node of the bridge isn’t visible at all when it had been in direct view of the controller (from the shop) prior, with re-interviewing getting nowhere. I don’t understand why the one other house node is marginal despite being in clear view of at least another node or two in the house that have okay connectivity.

From an HA standpoint, I don’t understand why I’m almost always prevented from manually healing individual nodes. I don’t understand why I can’t start another network heal; I presume it’s because the system is now perpetually trying to re-interview the node it can’t see at all. I don’t understand why numerous nodes failed or are skipped during the heal despite showing Active and Ready and generally working.

As you can see, there’s a lot I don’t understand. Please help me understand, and don’t make me go back to Vera. If my understanding of Z-Wave is correct, I have sufficient connectivity with relay-capable nodes (and the controller itself) that I shouldn’t have to.

Thanks in advance.