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Daily News and Current Events
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Friday, January 09, 2004. Texas: House inspectors questioning Medallion Homes' liability waiver requirements "Before I could get out there, Medallion sent a fax to my office stating I needed to sign this agreement," Rodriguez said. "I informed the client, and also the Realtor that represents that client, that I would not sign the agreement. Their hold-harmless agreement says I'm responsible for their defects and their negligence; that's my interpretation."

Friday, January 09, 2004. IN: Homebuilder Defends Decision To Fix Moldy Homes Trinity Homes has offered to buy back 68 homes that it built in Zionsville, citing mold concerns, but several other homeowners are seeking to be included in the buyback program after claiming that attempts to fix their homes failed.

Thursday, January 08, 2004. National Interest: Crumbling Dreams The outsides of many new homes in the US and Canada are covered with synthetic stucco. It's easier to work with than cement stucco and it's less expensive. But Consumer Reports says thousands of homeowners are complaining synthetic stucco has led to severe water damage, costly repairs, endless lawsuits and a real heartache for homeowners.

Thursday, January 08, 2004. PA: Mount Laurel to join lawsuit against builder MOUNT LAUREL-Last Friday, the township of Mount Laurel filed an application for intervention with the Superior Court of Burlington County seeking to join a class action lawsuit between residents of Holiday Village East and J.S. Hovnanian & Sons of Mount Laurel.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. MN--National Interest: Homebuilder avoids jail in Supreme Court ruling “If you want to call a builder a criminal, you ought to have to prove intent, particularly when it gets to some of these esoteric little building code provisions that don’t seem to have monumental importance when it comes to protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare,” Schoenwetter said. [The building code violated concerned foundations and resulted in homes flooding during normal rains. The builder was notified numerous times of the violation during construction, (see earlier articles), and did not make sure corrections were made.]

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. FL: Board would help homeowners vent The panel, similar to those already operating in five Central Florida counties, could fine or suspend the construction privileges of a builder until the owner's problem is fixed.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. IN: People Want Developer To Buy Back Mold-Plagued Homes ZIONSVILLE, Ind. -- Some homeowners are demanding to be included in a Trinity Homes buyback offer, saying the homebuilder's attempts to fix their mold problems have not succeeded.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. MO: Local Men Indicted in Home Building Scheme An area home builder and his business partner have been indicted on various fraud charges involving their construction and sale of custom luxury homes, United States Attorney Ray Gruender announced today.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. CT: A house nightmare Residential Warranty, which provided a 10-year warranty on the house, consented to make the repairs being sought by Kim Embree-Willis and her husband, who is also named Kim. But then the company changed course and filed an appeal. [Interesting to note that the homeowner is also a contractor.]

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. North Carolina: City reviewing complaints about Project Homestead homes A News & Record report last month detailed complaints about shoddy construction such as uneven floors, cracks in walls and leaky roofs found in many Project Homestead houses. A group of the nonprofit's boosters responded to the report this week, saying the newspaper was intent on destroying the agency and the negative publicity was discouraging people from buying Project Homestead houses.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004. Florida: Builder may be suspended 5 years A home builder already charged with bad workmanship could have a one-year suspension from constructing new houses in Seminole County increased to five years. Seminole officials say they will seek the heavier penalty because builder Scott Kobrin did not repair a house within 30 days, as he was ordered to do early last month by the county's Building Contracting Examiners Board. The deadline was Jan. 2.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004. NJ: Board strikes down proposed sewage treatment plant The township land use board last week voted unanimously for the second time to reject a developer's plan to build a sewage treatment plant to serve the Brass Castle Estates project.

Monday, January 05, 2004. National: New Homeowner Website: Welcome to the Reynen and Bardis Nightmare This website is about our Reynen and Bardis nightmare.  We purchased a home from Reynen and Bardis in December of 2002.  Immediately we started to notice some cracking in our walls.  We contacted Reynen and Bardis and were told that this was normal settling and we should wait 90 days and they would correct the issue. 

Monday, January 05, 2004. National.: Press Release: Consumer Group Provides No Cost Information Guide in Final Year of Hardboard Siding Claims Affecting 4 Million Homeowners. The claims period for a 1998 settlement with the Masonite Corp affecting approx 4 million structures in the United States will come to an end for many homeowners in 2004. HADD has developed a no cost self help guide on how to identify and avoid problems with the claims process for those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.

Saturday, January 03, 2004. Washington: Problems Found With Many Newer Homes New home building is booming. But, as KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Consumer Investigator Bebe Emerman has uncovered, many homes built in the last 10 years are riddled with problems.

Friday, January 02, 2004. Indiana: State Regulators to Investigate Mold Complaints Against Homebuilder State regulators planned to look into complaints about mold problems in upscale houses constructed by one of central Indiana's largest homebuilders.

Friday, January 02, 2004. National: Clients Bugging You? [Quote from a Remodeling Online article] "These clients won't sign contracts with arbitration clauses, or they want to revise the contract, or add delay penalties. " [Imagine that...not wanting to sign away your rights or agree to a one-sided contract...guess that means any informed and cautious client is a problem client?]

Thursday, January 01, 2004. National: Consumer Reports' 'Housewrecked' Cheered, Booed Article by Broderick Perkins in Realty Times: "It is difficult to document evidence of a growing trend in the actual number of defects because, until recently, media coverage has been spotty and localized and no government agency tracks them. Lately however, investigative reports, some of them with a national scope, have revealed more than just isolated problems."

Thursday, January 01, 2004. New York State: Kleinberg ready for move Brooklyn, N.Y., native will become mayor at Jan. 4 ceremony... Kleinberg got involved in the community in a way that has brought many people into local government ÷ he had a problem in his home. He said he had leaks in his home about four years ago. The builder did not resolve the problem and Kleinberg sought assistance at Town Hall, but had no luck there either, he said.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003. National: Mold-Sniffing Dog This Dalmatian and lab mix is more than man's best friend, she is the secret weapon in Jason Earle's moldy mission. She's one of only 18 mold detection canines in the United States. Scientists say a dogs sense of smell is several thousand times stronger than a human's. A quality that could come in handy since mold thrives in dark, hidden places.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003. Texas: The odd, the funny, and just plain weird Less than a month after receiving $100,000 from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, Gov. Rick Perry named an executive from Perry Homes to a commission that will implement a new law designed to reduce lawsuits against builders.

Monday, December 29, 2003. OH: Erpenbeck attorney relishes challenges Defending disgraced former homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck is all in a day's work for Glenn Whitaker, an attorney who once took on a president and who seems to thrive on defending prominent if unpopular figures caught in the headllines.

Monday, December 29, 2003. Texas: Press Release: HISTORIC TEXAS HOMEBUILDER LAW TO TAKE EFFECT JANUARY 1, 2004.For the first time in Texas history the Texas homebuilding industry will be regulated by a newly created Texas Residential Construction Commission created solely to address new home construction defects and abuse of consumers.

Friday, December 26, 2003. National: Joseph Stanton Appointed Lead Lobbyist for NAHB WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced today that Joseph Stanton has been named as its new senior staff vice president for legislative and political relations. In his new role, Stanton will serve as the lead Capitol Hill lobbyist and manager of the association's legislative and political operations.

Thursday, December 25, 2003. Colorado: Faulty window lawsuit settled Poor-quality, wood-framed windows built by Champagne Imperial led to a multimillion dollar class-action lawsuit against not only the window manufacturer, but a house builder that used the windows. [Ryland Homes]Champagne Imperial's settlement totals $12 million. Ryland Homes also agreed to a $2.7 million settlement in the suit

Wednesday, December 24, 2003. Texas: Commission imposes new rules on homebuilders "It is nothing more than a reckless, dangerous experiment that they're trying to pass off to look like a home lemon law," she told the Dallas Business Journal. "It's like putting lipstick on a pig."

Monday, December 22, 2003. CA: Gov. enters plastic pipe fight Schwarzenegger is embracing plastic construction piping, sharing the view of his building-industry patrons that plastic should be permitted as a less-expensive alternative to copper. Union plumbers, who were among the biggest benefactors of ousted Gov. Gray Davis, are fighting that view, saying plastic piping could threaten public health and safety.

Monday, December 22, 2003. NY: Home builder struggles In the weeks before Dec. 5 when Troy-based Wedgewood Builders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, dozens of companies filed mechanic's liens against properties the company was working on. The bankruptcy filing disrupts the home-building plans for a number of local families and may cost the company's subcontractors, excavators, electricians, drywallers and pavers, to name a few, more than $1 million in lost revenue.

Monday, December 22, 2003. National: Magazine finds many new homes are plagued with problems For most people, the purchase of a house is the most expensive investment they will ever make. In 2003, more than 1 million new homes were purchased in the United States, with an average sales price of $250,000. But an investigation by Consumer Reports, the results of which are published in the magazine's January 2004 issue, indicate that an increasing number of new home buyers are finding that their dream home turns into a nightmare because of shoddy construction and serious defects

Monday, December 22, 2003. NC: Housing Headaches GREENSBORO -- The nonprofit builder Project Homestead Inc. sold shoddily constructed houses and often refused or put off pleas to correct the defects until its houses' one-year warranties expired, numerous low-income homeowners in Greensboro and other cities say.

Sunday, December 21, 2003. California: Mold could be a killer By Barbara Anderson The Fresno Bee (Published Sunday, December 21, 2003, 5:40 AM) The day Michelle Seniff found out that a black mold inside her Visalia rental home might have killed her 16-month-old son was the day she left. When Rob Seniff got home from his job at a cheese processing plant that day two years ago, the Seniffs fled the house, leaving everything ......

Saturday, December 20, 2003. California: Breathing Uneasy. Neighbors on asbestos-laden Communications Hill catch developers breaking a required precaution, but the developers say it's just dust in the wind "I remember learning how bad asbestos was for your lungs while in the Navy," says Communications Hill resident Romeo, 32. Anxious about potential health risks to his wife, Aimee, 33, and their year-old son, Conor, he complained about the debris from the construction to KB Home, the Fortune 500 company that is grading the hilltop to fill out its 700-plus-unit Tuscany Hills housing complex.

Thursday, December 18, 2003. National: Newsweek Article on Lawsuits Is Fatally Flawed, Full of Falsehoods and ExaggerationsNewsweek fell for myths and distortions spread by a well-organized campaign funded by big business to strip consumers ö but not businesses ö of their legal rights.

Thursday, December 18, 2003. Press Release: National Homebuilder, KB Home, to Remove Restrictions to 1st Amendment Rights.KB Home, a national homebuilder, will remove their restriction on homeowners to publically protest in the subdivision, or on the internet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003. Texas: Texas Residential Const;ruction Commission offline. The website of the newly created Texas Residential Construction Commission is down for some unknown reason.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003. TX, National : Builder to drop 'shut up' clause The good news is that KB Home's regional general manager for Texas said Tuesday that the company will omit that language in future subdivisions...........One other bit of good news: When a Los Angeles spokeswoman for KB Home said such language had become something of "an industry standard," it was something of an exaggeration.

Monday, December 15, 2003. MN, National : Construction industry builds war chest to fight lawsuits Known as the ãMinnesota 50 Legal Action Fund,ä the money is not intended for lobbying activities or lawsuits involving individual builders. It is to be used exclusively for court cases that have broad ramifications for the industry, according to the groups. A recent example would be the Arkell case, which involves a Minnesota builder who faces jail time for allegedly violating the state building code.

Monday, December 15, 2003. Indiana: Mold changes dream house into nightmare Trinity, which builds 500-600 homes a year and is among the city's 10 largest builders, is facing mold complaints at several other developments in the area. Last month, Christopher and Mary Colon filed a lawsuit in Hamilton Superior Court against Trinity and parent Beazer. The suit, seeking class-action status, alleges that improperly applied brick caused mold infestation at the Colons' 2-year-old home at Prairie Crossing in Noblesville.The moisture problem potentially involves hundreds of Trinity homes in Indiana, said the couple's attorney, Richard Shevitz of Cohen & Malad LLC in Indianapolis.

Sunday, December 14, 2003. Texas. KB Home: Buy a house and shut up! The paragraph in question is lengthy, and deserves to be quoted at length. "No sign of any kind or character, including (a) any signs in the nature of a `protest' or complaint against Declarant (KB Home) or any homebuilder, (b) or that describe, malign or refer to the reputation, character or building practices of Declarant or any homebuilder, or (c) discourage or otherwise impact or attempt to impact anyone's decision to acquire a lot or residence in the Subdivision shall be displayed to the public view."

Friday, December 12, 2003. National: Report Says Freddie Mac's Lax Oversight Led to Scandal WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 - Federal regulators released a scathing report Wednesday on the corporate culture that fostered improper accounting at Freddie Mac, the same day that they announced that the company had agreed to pay a $125 million penalty and to take measures to prevent future misconduct.

Thursday, December 11, 2003. NY: Jilted homeowners gather, vow to take aim at Wedgewood The company, which declared bankruptcy Friday, failed to pay suppliers, creditors and subcontractors around $10 million despite receiving payments from customers.....Cerulli produced a certificate of incorporation from the state Labor Department dated Nov. 6 filed by Stephen Frank, Wedgewood's director of sales and marketing, for a business called Cambridge Custom Homes, Inc. Some homeowners fear the new business could be the first chapter in a horror story for a whole new set of families, and while they would like to get their money back, they are more determined to stop more victimization.

Thursday, December 11, 2003. IN: Homeowners register complaints about developer At a meeting Wednesday night, several homeowners said Hatfield's work is shoddy. They're complaining of what they say are code violations and unfinished work, and they're worried that the same things could happen to others.

Thursday, December 11, 2003. Texas: Interesting link: now points to Users website at now points to Reasons unknown.

Thursday, December 11, 2003. National: Nightmares on Mold Street Melinda Ballard, the group's founder, said homeowners who want coverage for water damage and mold will have to buy a FloLogic system. Ms. Ballard well knows the risks of mold: after rampant mold growth forced her and her family to flee their Texas home, she sued her insurer for failing to pay for repairs that would have eliminated the moisture. She was awarded a jury verdict of $32 million, later reduced to $4 million.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003. NATIONAL: Housewrecked [Consumer Reports Magazine Jan 04 issue] Last year, consumers bought more than 1 million new homes in the U.S., a near record. Average sale price: $250,000. But a CR investigation has found that increasingly, buyers are discovering that their new dream home has serious defects and that they have more consumer protections for a fickle $20 toaster than for a flawed investment-of-a-lifetime.

Monday, December 08, 2003. PA: Consumer Protection Lawsuit The Pennsylvania's Attorney General's office filed suit against Michael D. Robinson and Mike Robinson Builders. Robinson is a Modular home builder.

Monday, December 08, 2003. NY: Contractor files bankruptcy Wedgwood Builders is in a heap of trouble. Since The Record first reported early this year on the battle between the Troy contractor and a Capital District customer over shoddy and unfinished work on a house, the company, which has built modular homes around the area, has managed to dig itself in pretty deep.

Monday, December 08, 2003. NY: Wedgewood Builders Files for Bankruptcy, former General Manager Creates New Home Building Company Here is a sample of what is in the bankruptcy documents: close to 100 estimated creditors who are owed as much as $10,000,000. Companies like CR Drywall in Vorheesville are owed $75,000. C & S Building Material in Latham is owed more than $33,000. Broughton excavation of Castleton is owed more than $68,000. The list goes on and on. While all of this has been going on, there is a new development. News10 has learned that one of Wedgwoodâs owners has already started a new home building company. And who will his new customers be? Heâs already fishing in familiar waters.

Monday, December 08, 2003. MN--NATIONAL interest: Supreme Court decision could be historic In the City of Austin versus Carriage Homes Inc. and developer Arkell case, the theory of holding a responsible corporate officer liable for violation of a public welfare statute -- if upheld by the highest court -- would change everything.

Saturday, December 06, 2003. NY: Home Buyer's Beware: New Homes Have Problems Too "It's a lovely home, it's just unfortunate it's not structurally sound,"

Friday, December 05, 2003. Colorado: Petitioners seek overturn of Rippy bill The Colorado Public Interest Research Group, or CoPIRG, has joined others in pushing an initiative aimed at battling what it calls ãa harmful bill · that strips homeowners of their rights to recover construction defects.ä

Friday, December 05, 2003. NATIONAL: Freddie Mac Promotes Consumer Choice With New Subprime Mortgage Arbitration PolicyFreddie Mac announced today that effective August 1, 2004, it would no longer invest in subprime mortgages originated on or after that date that contain mandatory arbitration clauses. Freddie Mac is the first among secondary mortgage investors to adopt such a stance on subprime mortgages with mandatory arbitration clauses. This policy is aligned with the corporation's existing prohibition on the use of mandatory arbitration for prime market mortgage investments.

Friday, December 05, 2003. TX: Foundation repair industry on solid ground The International Association of Foundation Drilling estimates that the residential foundation repair industry is now a $10 billion to $15 billion a year business.....Mitchell and Witherspoon are critical of the homebuilding industry's widespread use of shallow foundation slabs. Including piers would only up the cost by about 7 percent. It's much more expensive, they say, to put in the piers after the house begins to pull apart. Mitchell said he approached several high-volume homebuilders and offered to put piers in for between $2,000 to $3,000 per house. The piers, he added, would come with a lifetime warranty. "They weren't interested. I got told, 'Our slabs are engineered.'" he said. "I said, 'It's not working."

Friday, December 05, 2003. NY: Local Modular Home Contractor Plans to File Bankruptcy Bankruptcy spells defeat. Defeat for Wedgewood Builders, but more importantly defeat for many families who have put money down for homes that they don't have. Defeat for the dozens of contractors, electricians, plumbers, painters and a major building supply company who are out hundreds of thousands of dollars. When Wedgewood Builders declares bankruptcy, they're not going down alone. [Home owner who provided this link stated one of Wedgewood's owners is now going to keep on building under a new corporation, Cambridge Custom Homes.]

Thursday, December 04, 2003. TX: City Hall witness says he's guilty A developer who built a bribery case against two city councilmen by wearing a wire, delivering wads of cash and betraying his friends was rewarded for his undercover work Monday with a plea deal that leaves room for him to avoid being sent to prison for his own crimes.

Thursday, December 04, 2003. FL: Seminole Suspends Local Home Builder [a different article from the one below]The county effectively put Cosmopolitan Homes out of business for a year and threatened to make that five years if repairs aren't made according to building code, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

Thursday, December 04, 2003. FL: Seminole Suspends Home Builder A home builder accused of shoddy work will not be allowed to construct new houses in Seminole County for a year.

Thursday, December 04, 2003. Washington State: Insurance Premiums Hammer Construction Neither Newman nor Mahrt could say how many lawsuits were filed against Washington contractors, how much these suits have driven up premiums as a whole or how much insurers have paid in settlements. Insurers don't collect industrywide statistics on claims, Newman said. [The concept of build it right and honor the warranty still evades many contractors, and the home buyer is blamed for the rising insurance rates.--HADD]

Tuesday, December 02, 2003. California: Chased out by mold. A young couple flee their new home, fearing that is where their son's illnesses originated. The Hamres' legal struggle began then, with Ryan stationed hundreds of miles away in Miramar, providing support for the war in Iraq.Every night, Suzanne talked to him on the phone about Tyler's health and their financial problems. Ryan felt outraged. And helpless. "This is the issue that really sticks in my craw," Graves said. "The easiest thing (Jack Wilson Construction) could have done from the beginning was to find a suitable place for the Hamres to live, and they didn't do that."

Monday, December 01, 2003. Texas: Lawsuits filed against 2 area builders. Obra Homes, Armadillo Construction are accused of contractual problems with homebuyers There are two lawsuits pending in Cameron County courts against Obra and Armadillo Construction Inc. alleging that contracts used to sell thousands of homes across Texas since 2000 ÷ most of which were built in the Rio Grande Valley ÷ have kept buyers in the dark about a state law that guards their rights in cases of faulty construction. [The notice about the Residential Construction Liability Act became law in 1999. The clause must be on the contract right above the signature line.]