Saturday, January 31, 2009

what Sun City residents won't hear inside the gates

from WSAV, Savannah, Ga.:

A three year battle…most would have just given up. But a group of Sun City residents is not backing down. They want their developer, Pulte Homes, to fix lagoon and stormwater drainage problems that they say are only getting worse.

check out the video at

Monday, January 26, 2009


Overflow Crowd Jams Magnolia Hall
Supports Phase 5 Committee On Lagoon and Stormwater Drainage Issues

The January 22 DHEC Public Hearing on Phase 5 Lagoon and Stormwater Drainage Issues drew an overflow crowd of over 600 residents to the beautiful new Magnolia Hall. Every one of the 540 seats was filled and 100-150 people had to be turned away as fire laws prohibited any standing room attendees.

This important meeting, which would never have happened without the efforts of the Phase 5 Lagoon Committee, was likely the one time in which all property owners in Sun City were able to speak directly to DHEC officials about their own lagoon and wetlands concerns. After an introduction of the DHEC team and their respective roles, resident Timothy Doyle P.E., a retired Civil Engineer with years of experience in stormwater management systems, presented his independent Engineering Report on the Phase 5 system relating to design and construction problems. Doyle compared DHEC approved construction plans for our neighborhoods against “as-built” drawings all of which were prepared by Pulte’s Thomas & Hutton Engineering Company. He made field inspections of all 32 lagoons. He examined issues of pond depth deficiency, rip-rap overflow failure and soil erosion. At present, 19 of the 32 lagoons have as-built water levels below what is shown on the DHEC approved construction plans. 27 do not meet the 5.0 to 5.7 foot depths indicated on those same plans. Doyle found that even after the work Pulte proposes to “fix” our lagoons, 16 will still be deficient in depth because their bottoms are too shallow or their outflows or ‘weirs” will still be too low. Additionally, several wetlands have been flooded due to overflow failure or poor design of portions of the stormwater system and numerous hardwood trees are rotting and dying around us. Pulte has offered no solutions to this issue.

Phase 5 Lagoon Committee Chairman, Rick McCollough of Aster Fields, took the audience through the lengthy and painful history of the past three years in trying to get the developer to address and properly correct all of these problems. Residents sent hundreds of letters and emails and made phone calls to Pulte with little progress. DHEC began its own investigation in September, 2007. The ad hoc Phase 5 Lagoon Committee representing the four neighborhoods was formed in September, 2008. Direct contact has been made with the governor’s office and various state, county and city officials and representatives to engage their assistance. As McCollough noted, “for Sun City residents this is about protecting their pocketbooks and property values.” If these problems are not completely and correctly resolved by Pulte, costs going forward will be substantial and could lead to future increases in our assessment fees and impact every property owner whether living on a lagoon or not.

Following the presentations, individual residents from all over Sun City came to the microphone for the next two and a half hours to speak passionately about their own lagoon and wetlands issues and frustrations with getting satisfaction from the developer. Many pleaded with DHEC to provide ongoing oversight and a timetable to compel Pulte to fix all of the identified problems. The Phase 5 Lagoon Committee and the many concerned residents who attended this important DHEC meeting have made a united and bold statement to both DHEC and Pulte. Patience is thin and our determination is strong. We will not back away from seeing this matter through to its rightful conclusion. Remember, the deadline for submitting written comments to DHEC following the meeting is February 9.

Send to:
Blair Williams, DHEC-OCRM, 1362 McMillan Ave., Suite 400, Charleston, SC 29405
You may also read the full Phase 5 Lagoon Committee Report and Timothy Doyle Engineering Report on

The members of the Phase 5 Lagoon Committee wish to thank all of the residents both within Phase 5 and from many other neighborhoods who attended this meeting to hear firsthand what the Stormwater Management System problems are all about. We thank all of those who patiently waited your turn at the microphone to speak your own minds. We will continue to pursue this effort and keep you informed on progress. Your support was awesome. THANKS!

Aster Fields ....................Basket Walk ..............Murray Hill ...............Water Lily Cove
Rick McCollough Chm. ....Howard Johnson .......Don Cammerata .......Bob Ferrante
John Ott .........................Bill Abel ......................Jim & Alice Lee .........Rocky Hughes
...........................................................................Dick Williams


Friday, January 23, 2009

Sun City developer promises to remedy lagoon problems



1. Pulte doesn't build the ponds right in the first place. SCHH residents point this out to Pulte THREE YEARS ago.

2. The government agency in charge of monitoring the design, construction and operation of the ponds, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), is TOLD by SCHH residents in September 2007 that the ponds weren't built right.

3. On June 12, 2008, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that four builders, including Pulte Homes, agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $4.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. SCHH, along with other communities, is named specifically in that document.

Coincidentally, ON THAT SAME DAY, June 12, 2008, DHEC issued a Notice of Violation of the Pollution Control Act against Pulte for violations brought to DHEC’s attention by SCHH residents, beginning on September 6, 2007. These violations (which are the subject of the January 22 DHEC meeting at SCHH) ARE STILL UNRESOLVED.

4. On January 22, 2008 at DHEC's meeting at SCHH Pulte announces that they'll fix the ponds that they didn't build right FOUR YEARS or so ago.

WOW!!!!! AIN'T THAT SPECIAL?!? Pulte is going to do what they should have done in the first place--build the ponds right--only AFTER THREE YEARS of blowing off Phase 5 residents--with help from the Corps of Engineers, DHEC, Beaufort County, the SCHH Community Association, the Board-appointed Property and Grounds Committee, and the Neighbor Representative Council. "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem."

And, it "isn't going to cost us a nickel". Why, Mr. Cherry, do you find it necessary to assure residents that they will not have to pay for Pulte's construction blunders? What does that say about what residents think about Pulte?

PS You won't find the photo (of several acres of dead trees in a wetland next to the 9th hole at Hidden Cypress Golf Course) in the SCHH brochure!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

for the record

following are my remarks presented at the 1/22 public meeting held by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in reference to lagoons (stormwater management ponds) at Sun City Hilton Head, SC:

My name is Ray Koenig. I live at 58 Redtail Drive here in Sun City. I’m a retired civil engineer.

More than two years ago, while riding a bike through the community, I noticed water flowing out of stormwater management ponds over long stretches, more than 100 feet long. I designed a few stormwater management ponds in my day, and the ponds that I designed had embankments with freeboard and defined spillways, typically no more than 10 or 20 feet wide. I thought that it was strange that some ponds here don’t have freeboard and defined spillways.

Then in the summer of 2007 I saw an article and a photograph in The Island Packet of a pond that, during a normal rain, came within a few feet of a house. I called the person named in the article, and we talked.

· * He told me about how water in the pond described in the newspaper article rises quickly during a normal rain, and comes within feet of a house.

· * He told me about birds walking around and plants growing in the middle of other ponds.

· * He told me about ponds on the approved plans that weren’t built, and other ponds that were built, but are not shown on the approved plans.

· * He told me about how his neighborhood, Aster Fields, had organized a committee, and that they talked to Pulte, to Beaufort County, and to DHEC. He said that, despite all their work trying to get these ponds fixed, that NOTHING had been done to fix them.

As a result of our conversation that day more than a year and a half ago, I got involved.

I have three comments and four rhetorical questions.

Comment #1:
Poorly constructed lagoons aren’t the only construction problem that we’ve had here. We’ve had poorly constructed roof truss connections, poorly mixed and poorly constructed stucco, poorly constructed roofs that leak, a poorly constructed retaining wall that collapsed, and other construction problems.

Pulte controls this community. They control the Community Association and they control information that is disseminated to residents here through our community’s website and our neighborhood representatives.

For THREE YEARS Pulte, Pulte’s engineer, the community association, and neighborhood reps have consistently denied that there are CONSTRUCTION problems with these lagoons. In THREE YEARS Beaufort County and DHEC have been NO HELP in getting these problems fixed. The lagoons today have essentially the same MAJOR CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS as the day that they were built.

Comment #2:
The suggestion that the problems with these ponds are MAINTENANCE problems is both RIDICULOUS and an insult to intelligent people. Ponds BUILT without embankments, freeboard, and defined spillways, and with outfalls that were BUILT too low, as the as-built information shows for 23 of the 32 ponds, are POORLY BUILT. Lack of embankments and freeboard and spillways, and outfalls that are BUILT too low have NOTHING to do with maintenance.

DHEC is responsible for approving the design and construction of stormwater management ponds.

Question #1: Why is it that YEARS after these Phase 5 ponds were constructed that residents have to inform YOU that the ponds weren’t built according to the approved construction plans? Shouldn’t YOU have known that yourselves?

DHEC is also responsible for monitoring stormwater management ponds after they’re built.

Question #2: Why is it that a year and a half AFTER the residents informed YOU of the MAJOR construction problems with these ponds that they still look essentially the same as they did a year and a half ago? Why haven’t YOU made Pulte fix them?

On June 12, 2008, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that four builders, including Pulte Homes, agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $4.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. SCHH, along with other communities, is named specifically in that document.

Coincidentally, ON THAT SAME DAY, June 12, 2008, DHEC issued a Notice of Violation of the Pollution Control Act against Pulte for violations brought to DHEC’s attention by SCHH residents, beginning on September 6, 2007. These violations are the subject of this meeting, AND ARE STILL UNRESOLVED.

Question #3: Is it possible that the feds contacted you BEFORE their June 12, 2008 press release to give you a “heads up”, so that YOU wouldn’t look bad for not having addressed FOR MORE THAN NINE MONTHS essentially the same violations that the feds were issuing their press release for? The INCREDIBLE timing of the fed’s press release and your Notice of Violation ON THE SAME DAY suggests that this is a distinct possibility.

My last questions to you are, quite simply, when will these ponds be fixed, and, will they be fixed COMPLETELY AND CORRECTLY?

The emphasis is on “COMPLETELY AND CORRECTLY”. Pulte has a history here, be it roof truss connections, or stucco, or collapsed retaining wall, or leaking roofs, or what have you, of NOT taking responsibility for their mistakes. When they’re finally FORCED to, they try to fix them as CHEAPLY as possible, which usually means INCORRECTLY AND INCOMPLETELY.

My final comment to you is this: don’t come around here after Pulte is gone and expect this community to pay for fixing MAJOR CONSTRUCTION problems with these ponds. You’ll have a fight on your hands. MAKE PULTE FIX THESE LAGOONS NOW--COMPLETELY AND CORRECTLY.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

our turn

Thursday is OUR turn, Sun City.

For the past THREE YEARS we residents have heard often from Pulte, from Pulte's engineer, from the CA, from TYSKs, from emails from NRs, and from the silence of the P&G Committee and Beaufort County that there are no problems with the lagoons here. That's a lie.

As-built drawings PROVE that there are MAJOR CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS with the Phase 5 lagoons. In June 2008 DHEC issued a NOTICE OF VIOLATION to Pulte in response to the major CONSTRUCTION problems brought to their attention by Phase 5 residents in September 2007.

But, you don't need as-built drawings or DHEC for you to know that there are problems with these lagoons--you SEE it. When you SEE plants growing and birds walking around in the middle of a lagoon, you KNOW that there's a problem.

For THREE YEARS Phase 5 residents have not been heard because of the control that Pulte has on this community. On Thursday it's FINALLY our turn. We have a voice. Use it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

what is this?

I removed the carpet and padding, exposing the concrete slab underneath. The crack runs the full length of the floor. At one point what appears to be a vapor barrier appears in the crack. PULTE, THE VAPOR BARRIER IS SUPPOSED TO BE UNDER THE SLAB. With the vapor barrier THROUGH the slab, instead of UNDER it, the slab is weakened, and cracks. Duhhhhhhhhh! Just another example of Pulte's "high quality".

Sun City, any question why your ceramic tile floors are cracked?


Saturday, January 3, 2009

day of reckoning


DHEC to discuss Sun City lagoons
The Island Packet
Published Sunday, December 28, 2008

"The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has scheduled a meeting at 1 p.m. Jan. 22 in Sun City Hilton Head to discuss the community's lagoon system for stormwater management.

Sun City's stormwater system, which relies heavily on lagoons to filter runoff during heavy rains, has been a controversial topic within the gated community.

Several residents have complained to DHEC's Ocean and Coastal Resource Management office over the last two years, saying the lagoons were poorly built.

In June, DHEC officials met with Sun City developer Pulte Homes to discuss lagoons in three neighborhoods that agency staffers alleged were either built or maintained in ways that violate state environmental laws.

DHEC has not announced a final enforcement decision regarding the lagoons."

a day of reckoning.

There are MAJOR construction deficiencies in the Phase 5 lagoons.

Phase 5 residents advised Pulte of these deficiencies THREE YEARS AGO.

Beaufort County and DHEC have known about these deficiencies for more than A YEAR AND A HALF.

The lagoons look the same today as they did three years ago. NOTHING has been done to fix them.

The SCHH Community Association and the Property and Grounds Committee have been NO HELP in getting these problems addressed.

The truth will be told on Jan. 22.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Facts vs. opinions

There are facts, and informed opinions, and there are uninformed opinions. Of the three, facts are the most compelling, followed by informed opinions. Uninformed opinions can go out with the garbage.

Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish facts from opinions, and informed opinions from uninformed ones. How does one distinguish one from the other?

First, look at the source. You wouldn’t seek medical information from a plumber. You wouldn’t look for plumbing information from a doctor. Is the source credible? By their qualifications, do they have authority in the matters of which they’re speaking?

Second, where did the facts come from? Is the data reliable? Did the facts come from painstaking study and research, or were they developed “on the fly”?

Third, are the facts repeatable? Can you duplicate the results yourself? If so, then the data is reliable.

Here are some examples of facts:

1. Pulte stopped installing hurricane clips in roof truss connections in SCHH houses in 2004. They installed them prior to 2004, and after 2007. They refuse to install them in the houses that they built between 2004 and early 2007.

2. Pulte ordered laboratory tests on stucco from four homes at SCHH. The tests showed: (1) high air void content, (2) weak cement paste, and (3) overall low to poor quality of the stucco.

3. A retaining wall failed on the 17th hole of the Hidden Cypress Golf Course.

4. As-built data taken on Phase 5 lagoons show that 30 of 31 lagoons were not built four years ago according to approved construction plans and are not operating as designed. Three years ago Phase 5 residents began asking Pulte to address the lagoon problems. In summer 2007 Pulte deeded Phase 5 lagoons to the community association. In September 2007 Phase 5 residents informed DHEC of the lagoon construction problems.

There are more facts on this blogsite..


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shoddy construction

Google "Pulte shoddy" and see what you get.

When it comes to dealing with shoddy construction, builders have the upper hand if they can isolate the customer, dealing with one customer at a time (as opposed to an angry mob).

Unfortunately, when MANY victims in the shoddy construction mess DO talk with each other, they do just that—they talk to each other. You might just as well be talking to yourself.

The internet is a powerful tool for exposing shoddy construction, and the builders know it. So, you folks who are looking to expose shoddy construction, and want something DONE about it, stop talking to each other and USE THE INTERNET. Create a blog—it’s free—and tell your story. The advantages to a blog are obvious:

1. You don’t have to tell the same story over and over again—a link to your blog is all that you need.

2. You can tell your story EASILY to those who can make a difference—to your elected representatives—send them your link and tell them that you EXPECT THEM to do something about it. If enough people do the same, then they'll know that THEIR job depends on it.

3. Your blog is PUBLIC—there, on the internet, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for ALL to see. Shoddy builders just LOVE that!

4. Did I say that it's FREE?

Remember, there’s POWER in numbers. GO PUBLIC. Start your blog TODAY. Encourage others who are victims of shoddy construction to do the same. Did I mention that it's absolutely FREE?

"All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke

unpublished comments

this is my blog. I choose to accept or reject comments before they are published to my blog. I reject comments that are confrontational, use bad language, or are irrelevant to the subject at hand--which is the shoddy construction and practices of builders, particularly Pulte Homes. Specific comments that I have chosen not to publish:

1. Anonymous: I’m sorry that I’m unable to help you with your block retaining wall. The block wall that you describe is much different from the wood retaining wall that failed here. I suggest that you contact a registered professional engineer in your area.

2. Microbiologia: Gabriel, I enjoyed emailing with you. I hope that you found the truss connector plates that you were looking for.

3. Bthewee: you sound like a Pulte sympathizer. Sorry, but I don’t get your anger. I also don’t get your golf clubs analogy. SC adopted the International Building Code as the state building code. New houses in Beaufort County, SC are required by code to withstand a 130 mph (hurricane force) wind gust. Storm surge and wind driven debris are also concerns in a hurricane, but so are high winds. Hurricane clips ARE important. That’s why MANY of us here installed hurricane clips in our houses at OUR expense.

Shoddy construction

Google "Pulte shoddy", and see what you get.

Most victims of shoddy construction are silent. Do they think that shoddy construction problems will just go away? They won't. Are they afraid? Taking on builders can be intimidating. Are they dishonest? Do they figure that someone else will buy it, and then the shoddy construction problems will be theirs? Do victims of shoddy construction just not give a damn?

Because of YOUR silence, we can expect shoddy construction to be around for a LONG, LONG time. Your children and your grandchildren thank you.

We have every right to expect that the house that we paid for with our hard-earned money, and the infrastructure in our private community that we pay to maintain, be built to the normal standard of care.

If you’re a victim of shoddy construction, then the fact is that YOU have been “taken”, both by the builder, and by the government that is supposed to be protecting you from shoddy construction.

Do you LIKE being cheated? Would you LIKE to see your children and your grandchildren cheated too? If not, then DON'T BE SILENT. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. .

retaining walls














retaining walls must be designed to resist sliding and overturning.