Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stucco lawsuits, Sun City Hilton Head, SC

September 3, 2008

On September 3, 2008, Pulte, Del Webb Communities, and South Carolina State Plastering, LLC, were named in 87 separate law suits filed in Beaufort County, SC by attorneys representing homeowners in Sun City Hilton Head. This is the first round of individual law suits brought against the developer and builder of Sun City Hilton Head after the Court ruled that the stucco case against the Developer cannot be handled as a class action lawsuit. It is expected that more individual lawsuits will be filed.

Estimates for removing and reapplying the stucco average $40,000 per house. For more information see

Following is from "Homeowner Stucco Defects Power Point Presentation", which can be found in the “Important Documents” folder:


Plaintiff’s Attorney
Q. …pursuant to South Carolina law, how long is the case going to be stayed?

Attorney for Pulte
A. Most likely indefinitely. These are all homeowners that have to be over 55 to live there. By the time all 4,000 comply, which they probably never will, half of them will already be dead.

Pulte has acknowledged, in sworn testimony, that:
• It did not employ the services of a design professional for the design of the stucco systems at issue.
• It has no knowledge of how to install a proper stucco control joint.
• There was no supervision of the stucco subcontractor with regard to proper stucco application.
• Following this lawsuit, Pulte began in July 2007 utilizing stucco control joints at the corners of windows and doors in its new construction across U.S. Hwy 278.

Sisnroy Engineering Report
Cracking in Stucco

“Eventually 100% of the homes will exhibit cracking due to excessive stress from improper stucco installation.”


Thursday, May 8, 2008

senior citizens, veterans. it doesn't make any difference to Pulte

How to Prevent New Home Defects
Buyers should take care that they're not purchasing an inferior-quality house
June Fletcher, The Wall Street Journal
Oct.2, 2008

As the downturn deepens, many would-be homeowners are taking advantage of down payment and closing cost assistance, free finished basements and other incentives offered by builders eager to move their merchandise.

But buyers should take care that they're not purchasing an inferior-quality house.

For the month of August, the producer price index for construction materials rose 13% over the same period a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As costs rise, some builders cut corners. The Consumer Federation of America says construction tops its list of the five fastest-growing complaint categories.

Bruce Barker, a Phoenix home inspector, says almost all the new houses he sees have minimum-quality windows, and about three-quarters have inadequate loose fill or fiberglass insulation; other houses he's inspected have brand-name condensers on the exterior of the home, where buyers can see them, connected to generic furnaces hidden in the attic. Steve Showalter, a Graysonville, Md. inspector, says builders have stopped using plywood sheathing and instead use oriented strand board, which can swell with moisture unless it's installed correctly—and it rarely is, he says. Rob Ringen, a Sonora, Calif. home inspector, estimates that 80% of the repair work that new home owners have to do today can be traced directly to poor-quality materials like twisted and split framing, and short-cuts on installation, like missing flashing over windows that allows rain to leak in. And since building code inspectors are being laid off in the downturn, and remaining ones overworked, such problems often slip by. "Homeowners get it right in the neck," says Mr. Ringen.

Since new home contracts often have binding arbitration clauses, many disgruntled buyers can't sue—although some have taken creative steps to embarrass builders they think have cheated them. Cynthia and John Daugherty posed as orange-jumpsuited "prisoners" on
the Web site they made about their Pulte-built Kansas home, listing complaints about bad foundation walls and bouncy floors., with a logo of a home swirling down the toilet, was created for Beazer Home buyers complaining about buckling hardwood floors, chipped tiles and cracked caulk.

Although builders have been known to sue or buy out people who start complaint sites, it's far less stressful to prevent such problems in the first place. While visiting the house often during the construction period can uncover some problems, most homeowners don't have the expertise to check for every defect in construction and materials. That's why it's essential to turn to professionals to look after your interests. Before you sign a contract, have your attorney read it to make sure your rights to legal redress for defects are protected. Before you close, make sure to hire a home inspector, preferably one with an engineering background, to ensure that no one took any shortcuts.

Also, take time to read and understand whatever warranties the builder offers. The warranty will likely exclude certain items like appliances and cracks from normal settling of the house, and may limit the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages or defects. This time period may be shorter than the time state law provides for filing a lawsuit under the principle of "implied warranty," so the builder may demand that you sign a paper waiving these rights. This is in the builder's interest, but not yours. Don't do it.

Write to June Fletcher at


Thursday, May 1, 2008

US EPA and Pulte Homes


On June 11, 2008, the United States lodged a settlement between the United States, Pulte Homes, and the States of Maryland, Tennessee, Colorado, and Nevada, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Pulte Homes was ranked the third largest home builder in the country in 2006 and the fourth largest builder in 2007 in terms of home closings and revenues.

EPA conducted inspections and gathered information for Pulte Homes construction sites located throughout the country.

The types and severity of alleged violations vary for each site but generally include:

  • discharge of polluted storm water to storm sewers or waterways without obtaining an NPDES permit;
  • failure to develop an adequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for minimizing the amount of sediment and other pollutants in storm water runoff from the sites;

  • failure to install or implement appropriate storm water controls or best management practices (BMPs) required by the SWPPP (for example: silt fences were not installed in all required areas; BMPs to prevent sediment from entering storm drains were not installed; no BMPs were installed at construction entrances to prevent offsite trackout of dirt; concrete washout basins were not installed to prevent concrete from flowing into storm drains; portable toilets were located directly on top of storm drain inlets without BMPs to prevent spills from entering the storm drain);
  • incorrect installation of BMPs (for example: silt fences were not properly trenched in; sediment ponds were not completed prior to commencing site grading);
  • failure to keep BMPs in effective operating condition (for example: silt fences and storm drain inlet protections were full of sediment and no longer effective; silt fences had fallen down or had holes; construction entrances needed additional rock);

  • failure to adequately or routinely inspect BMPs to ensure proper operation and maintenance.
    Pulte Homes has agreed to a settlement with the United States and the States of Maryland, Tennessee, Colorado, and Nevada, and the Commonwealth of Virginia to resolve these alleged violations.
Under this settlement, Pulte Homes will pay a civil penalty of $877,000, implement a Supplemental Environmental Project costing a minimum of $608,000, and implement a management and reporting system designed to provide increased oversight of on-the-ground operations and ensure greater compliance with the storm water requirements.

Specific measures include:

  • establishment of three management tiers that will be responsible for storm water compliance within the company, including the designation of trained, qualified staff at every construction site;
    a requirement to follow specified criteria for guidance in developing site-specific SWPPPs for every site;

  • a requirement to conduct pre-construction inspections and quarterly oversight inspections and reviews at all sites in addition to the routine inspections required by NPDES permits;
    a requirement to use EPA-approved forms for pre-construction inspections, routine inspections, and quarterly inspections and reviews; and,
  • a requirement to implement storm water training programs for storm water managers and builder employees, and storm water orientation programs for storm water consultants and contractors.

The Supplemental Environmental Project is designed to reduce sediment in storm water runoff in a northern California watershed in Mendocino County.

The State co-plaintiffs will receive a portion of the penalty based on the number of Pulte Homes sites within each State. The states will receive the following amounts:

  • Virginia: $12,000
  • Maryland: $21,000
  • Tennessee: $ 7,000
  • Colorado: $14,000
  • Nevada: $47,000