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.

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