Friday, November 28, 2008

a new blogsite for you to post your comments about Pulte:

check it out!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No thanks to Pulte


Thankful for some things, not for others

Bluffton Today
November 27, 2008
Carl Lehmann

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I hope you find many things, events and occasions for which you can say thanks.

As for me, first I say thanks for having survived another year of being cancer-free. My stage 4 colon cancer forced me into retirement in 2002, and thanks to some fabulous surgeons, five surgeries, radiation treatment and fantastic drugs, I survived against all odds. I also say thanks to my family who supported me throughout the ordeal of the first two years of treatment. Of course, they still stand by me, but treatment now is routine, just a checkup every six months.

I am not sure that we should say “thanks” to the letter from Pulte concerning stucco sent to all of us via our neighborhood representatives. I read it very carefully, because I thought that it might lay our concerns to rest. Unfortunately, the letter contains so many inaccuracies that it requires an answer that every resident in Sun City can read. First, a bit of background.

Some years ago Pulte/ Del Webb switched from siding on houses to stucco. Some homeowners noted cracks and other faults.

A law firm from Charleston got involved, hired engineers to inspect homes at no cost to the owners and when problems were found asked them to join a lawsuit.

The lawyers tried to get it certified as a class action lawsuit. The court denied that motion. In its order, the court stated that a class action lawsuit involving a few hundred owners is inappropriate because it might prevent other owners from suing Pulte for defects in trusses or structural components.

Pulte trumpeted that as a great victory. Of course, now they are faced with more than 500 separate legal actions. The first case went to arbitration as required by South Carolina law. The arbitrator recently settled that case by finding that the stucco was defective and ordered Pulte/ Del Webb to pay over $66,000 for the complete removal and reapplication of the stucco.

Hence the letter written by Jon Cherry, Pulte’s vice president in our area who, together with another three Pulte employees, makes up a majority on our board of directors.

Here are just some of the inaccurate and self-serving statements made by Mr. Cherry in his letter.

Cherry: The company has been diligently making any repairs necessary on homes throughout the community.

Fact: One of my neighbors purchased his home in 2003 and notified Pulte almost immediately of stucco problems. It is now 2008 and nothing has been done.

Cherry: We attempted to repair the stucco on the plaintiff/homeowner’s home more than a year ago. The plaintiff/ homeowner refused our offer.

Fact: That was two years after the owner contacted Pulte about the problem.

Cherry: Any monetary award is first applied to lawyers’ fees and their “expert” service fees.

Fact: The award order clearly states that Pulte must pay all legal fees in addition to the award to the homeowner.

Cherry: Plaintiff attorneys block any communications between Pulte/Del Webb and homeowners; essentially not allowing us to perform any routine warranty.

Fact: The only blocked communication pertains to the lawsuit. Routine warranty can continue.

The biggest insult to all the residents is the allegation by Cherry that “justice seems seldom the goal, greed too often the motive …” If Pulte/Del Webb would handle complaints in a responsible manner, no lawsuits would be necessary.

Carl Lehmann is a Sun City resident. You can reach him at

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"they made their bed and now they have to sleep in it."


Sun City couple awarded $66,000 in faulty stucco case
Published Saturday, November 22, 2008

A court-appointed arbitrator awarded a Sun City Hilton Head couple $66,000 earlier this month from the community's developer, Del Webb, due to improperly installed stucco on the couple's home. Del Webb is a subsidiary of Pulte Homes.

The judgment, issued Nov. 12, also states that legal costs incurred by the couple, Mary and Joe Oros, must be paid by the developer.

"This represents a total victory for the homeowners," said their attorney, Charleston-based John Chakeris, who has filed about 100 more lawsuits related to Sun City stucco issues.

However, Pulte spokesman Jon Cherry called stucco defects on the Oros home an isolated instance. He pointed out that a judge declined in April to hear Sun City stucco cases collectively as a class action suit.

In a letter to residents after the arbitrator's judgment, Cherry wrote that Pulte surveyed more than 2,500 homes to see if there was a pattern of cracked stucco.

"The survey determined that there are no widespread deficiencies in the stucco applications," he wrote.

But Chakeris told Sun City residents in another letter that homeowners with stucco problems who don't take legal action within three years of finding out about them could lose their right to collect damages.

Cherry responded, warning Sun City homeowners of "attorneys and their tactics as they try to create an atmosphere that encourages lawsuits ... with stories of their many and substantial victories."

Cherry also warned that a plethora of stucco suits could have the effect of negatively "impacting resale property values in Sun City Hilton Head."

He also stressed Pulte's reputation as a reputable builder.

"Pulte Homes/Del Webb takes pride in our reputation in the building industry and our track record of building high quality homes," Cherry stated.

Chakeris, however, still was celebrating what he said would be the first of many legal victories. "I'm sure the Pulte people aren't very happy, but they made their bed and now they have to sleep in it."


Monday, November 17, 2008

"master builder" strikes again!


Pulte fixing foundations on five Sun City homes; fails to get permits

Published Monday, November 17, 2008

The Beaufort County Building Codes Department placed a stop-work order on Pulte Homes last week after contractors began massive repairs on five homes in Sun City Hilton Head without first obtaining building permits.

The foundations of those homes -- at 18, 20, 22, 24 and 26 Old Country Roses -- were cracked, Sun City officials and neighbors said.

The five sets of homeowners moved to other houses in Sun City, according to Jon Cherry, Pulte's local general manager. The homes along Old Country Roses are now vacant.

It is unclear if the five homes are owned by Pulte or by the residents who moved out. Cherry also would not elaborate on the costs of the moves, the repairs, the new homes or any arrangements made with the owners.

A company called Ram Jack Foundation Solutions had been repairing the homes for about two weeks before Beaufort County stopped work at the site. Ram Jack lifts the homes and does work that is designed to prevent future dramatic settling, according to the company's Web site.

The Ram Jack project supervisor, who identified himself only as Scott, said at the site Nov. 6, the week before the stop-work order was issued, that Pulte officials told him he was not allowed to discuss the nature of the repairs to the five homes.

Ram Jack recently repaired two other homes -- in addition to the five currently being worked on -- in a different area of Sun City. Cherry said Pulte did not obtain permits for those repairs either. Cherry said he doesn't believe the problem of faulty foundations is widespread.

"The soil is just settling at different times," he said. "I don't know exactly why it happens."

Of the stop-work order, Cherry said, "We didn't think we needed permits to do the repairs."

Larry Fields, plans examiner for the county Building Codes Department, said the application for the permits had not been submitted as of late Friday. Fields said he expects the application early this week.

According to Ram Jack's Web site, most foundation problems are caused by differences in soil moisture and drainage and by poor soil compacting prior to home construction. The five homes along Old Country Roses are beside a lagoon.

A woman who answered the door at one of the five homes Nov. 6 would not comment on the work. She was in the process of moving out.

That day, three construction trucks lined the streets, and piles of soil could be seen outdoors and in the homes' garages.

The other homeowners affected could not be reached for comment.

Neighbors Bill Jones and Mike Vann, who live across the street, said their neighbors told them they were not allowed to discuss either the nature of the repairs or the arrangements for their moves elsewhere in Sun City.

The heavy construction, however, has piqued the interest of curious neighbors, who drive and walk down the street regularly to check on the progress.

"We've got more traffic than Grand Central Station down here since work began," Vann said.