Saturday, February 28, 2009

"alligator swamp"

Sun City Hilton Head, for example, "was basically an alligator swamp with five farms, and now they have carefully carved lagoons to drain the water to various places," Norris said.

If years of drought are followed by rainy seasons, water might flood the lagoons there and cause problems, Norris said.

"The way our county is described with 50-percent water ... in most cases around the country this would not be buildable," Norris said. "If you look at a national soils manual, they would advise not to (build). But these are the beauty spots. This is where people come. Everybody will scratch out their own pad and make it buildable to the sacrifice of something else."

Friday, February 27, 2009

sinking houses and collapsed retaining wall

how many collapsed retaining walls have you seen in your life?
(I've seen 2--1 here, and one near my house when I was growing up. I’ve read about more, but I’ve only seen 2.)

how many times have you seen new houses sink to the point where they had to be torn down?
(not until I got here. Ditto—I’ve read about structures that sink (leaning tower of Pisa), but I haven’t seen them myself)

what does this tell you? It tells me that collapsed retaining walls and sinking new houses are not common occurrences. if they were, then you'd see a LOT more of them. it says to me that properly engineered and properly constructed retaining walls and foundations usually don't fail.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Has anyone seen those engineering studies?

On October 10, 2007 when I met with Gary Kubic, Beaufort County Executive, he said that the County would prepare an engineering report of the roof truss connection problem.
Has anybody seen that engineering report?

Later Kubic said that the County had hired an outside firm to evaluate its Building Code Enforcement Department. In August 2008 The Island Packet called for making the report public.
Has anybody seen that report?

In February 2008 the SCHH Property and Grounds Committee said in the minutes to their February 2008 meeting that Pulte was preparing an engineering study of the retaining wall failure at hole #17 at Hidden Cypress Golf Course.
Has anybody seen that engineering report?

I haven't seen any of these reports. Nobody who I talk to has seen them either.
It's fairly obvious why Pulte isn't forthcoming; but, what about Beaufort County? After all, they're PUBLIC officials. We taxpayers pay their salaries. And, what about our elected County Council? Why haven't they made sure that the reports are made public?

BTW, I'm still looking for an answer to my questions to Kubic: what agency is responsible for assuring that timber bridges and retaining walls are designed properly (plans sealed and signed by a registered professional engineer)? And, what agency is responsible for certifying (similar to a certificate of occupancy for a house) that timber bridges and retaining walls are built according to the approved construction plans? It's been more than a year and a half since I asked Kubic these questions. Mr. Kubic? Jerry Stewart? other elected Beaufort County council members?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Attention, SCHH residents

I sent the following email to US Senator Lindsey Graham, US Senator Jim DeMint, and US House Representative Joe Wilson:

On January 22, 2009 representatives from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (DHEC-OCRM) held a public meeting here at Sun City Hilton Head to obtain public comments and to answer questions concerning stormwater management ponds here. More than 550 people attended the meeting. A summary of the meeting can be found at and

During the meeting there were several comments and questions from residents regarding wetlands here at SCHH. Many hardwood trees in the wetlands are dead or dying and pose a threat to homes here. Residents want to know what they can do to protect their homes from dead trees in the wetlands falling on them.

As the Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over wetlands, and as Congress controls funding for the Corps of Engineers, we request that, similar to the DHEC public meeting, that you request that the Corps of Engineers send representatives to SCHH to hold a public meeting to explain the Corps position regarding wetlands here at SCHH, and to answer resident questions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

If enough residents here do the same, then it'll happen. You can get telephone numbers and email and snail mail addresses for Graham, DeMint, and Wilson from google.

Pulte, wetlands, and the Corps of Engineers

A question from :

Re: lagoon problems

« Reply #66 on: February 22, 2009, 05:47:01 PM »

I have heard that the Corp of Eng. has no finding against Pulte for flooding of the wet land areas that has killed the hard wood trees. The Corp has said that the area was once flooded and the area was drained for the growth af pine trees, therefore Pulte can reflood any area.

I don’t know what the Corps of Engineers official position is regarding the wetland problems here. All I know is that when two people from the Corps of Engineers met with a small group of residents here a few months ago, it was obvious from the get-go that the Corps staff were unsympathetic to the wetland problems here. I must admit that I don’t understand it. I thought that the Corps of Engineers was supposed to be all about preserving, protecting, and creating wetlands.

Congress funds the Corps of Engineers. Joe Wilson, Lindsey Graham, and Jim DeMint are our representatives in Congress. Maybe if enough of us contacted them, and asked them to have the Corps of Engineers come here and explain their position to us in public, at Magnolia Hall like DHEC did, then we’d get some answers. Votes matter to politicians.

PS Elsewhere on this blogsite is the story of Pulte, the US Department of Justice, and Environmental Protection Agency.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Thank you, Congressman Johnson

WASHINGTON –Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) introduced legislation today known as the Arbitration Fairness Act.

The bill aims to protect consumers from business practices that require them to cede their rights to a jury trial as a condition of service. The Judiciary Committee, on which Johnson serves, held hearings on the bill in 2007 and 2008. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced similar legislation in the Senate in 2007.

Today, many businesses rely on mandatory and binding pre-dispute arbitration agreements that force consumers, employees and franchisees to settle any dispute with a company providing products or services without the benefit of a jury trial.

“This is not an anti-business bill, but a pro-consumer bill,” said Johnson. “One of our indelible rights is the right of a jury trial. Guaranteed by the Constitution, this right has been gradually ceded by citizens every day as they purchase a new cell phone, buy a home, place a loved one in a nursing home, or accept a new job. Once used as a tool for businesses to solve their disputes, arbitration agreements have found their way into employment, consumer, franchise and medical contracts.”

Johnson is optimistic about the bipartisan legislation because he garnered more than 35 original cosponsors, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. and former subcommittee chair of Commercial and Administrative Law Rep. Linda Sanchez.

More than 100 Representatives co-sponsored the house bill when Johnson first introduced it in the 110th Congress in 2007.

If passed, the act would not dismantle arbitration as a means to resolve conflicts between businesses and consumers, employers and employees but rather give consumers a choice of how to resolve a dispute with a company.

Write a thank you note to Congressman Johnson today.

Here's mine:

The Honorable Hank Johnson
United States House of Representatives
1133 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-1004

Dear Congressman Johnson,

Thank you for introducing HB 1020, the Arbitration Fairness Act. As you know, this is much-needed legislation.

We live in neighboring SC, only a few miles from the Georgia border. Pulte Homes, the builder of our community, Sun City Hilton Head, is responsible for some very shoddy construction here. Pulte has a binding arbitration clause in all of their sales contracts. As you know, these clauses are very consumer unfriendly. Details of our story can be found at

Thank you again for introducing this much needed legislation.


Raymond Koenig


Here's my email:

Dear Congressman Wilson,

I respectfully urge you to vote yes on HB 1020, the Arbitration Fairness Act, introduced by Congressman Hank Johnson of the 4th Congressional District in Georgia.

Pulte Homes, the builder of our community, Sun City Hilton Head, is responsible for some very shoddy construction here. Pulte has a binding arbitration clause in all of their sales contracts. These clauses are very consumer unfriendly. Details of our story can be found at

Mandatory arbitration clauses deny one of our indelible rights--the right of a jury trial. Guaranteed by the Constitution, this right has been gradually ceded by citizens every day as arbitration agreements have found their way into many consumer contracts.

HB 1020 will restore our right to a jury trial. Please support it.





Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I posted the following on 2/10/09 on (SCHH's "other" website):

at the DHEC meeting on 1/22 I made the statement: “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.”

Is anyone else besides me disturbed by this? particularly by the fact that the Community Association is seemingly an extension of Pulte? that NRs, the website, lower mailbox, etc. are used to disseminate TYSKs that are sometimes little more than Pulte propaganda? that Board-appointed committees sometimes don’t seem to be looking out for the best interests of the residents?

For example, on April 3, 2008 I placed the following message on the webpage of the Property and Grounds Committee:

The following questions, posted 4/3/08 in Vox Populi on the community message board, pertain to lagoons. These are questions that could be answered by an independent, third party before the community takes possession of the lagoons from the Developer:

Are underground pipes connecting the lagoons clogged with silt? run a camera thru them--that will tell. this service has been available for years.

Is it possible to achieve normal water level as shown on the plans in all lagoons, or are some of them constructed so water runs out the perimeter before water reaches the normal water level shown on the plans? take elevations--nothing new here. Picture a bowl. You want water in the bowl to be at elevation 15.0. but, if the rim of the bowl is at elevation 14.5, then, needless to say, you'll never get water in the bowl to elevation 15.0.

Should the lagoons have freeboard (perimeter elevations that are one foot or more above the normal water level (elevation)? This may take a little research--what is local accepted practice? what is universal "good practice"?

There's been no response to this message on P&G’s webpage. However, it’s since been learned that Pulte deeded over the Phase 5 lagoons to the Community Association in the summer of 2007.

Does it disturb anyone else but me that the Community Association, NRs, and Board-appointed committees don’t seem to be looking out for us?

Monday, February 2, 2009



Pulte replaced the corroding metal corner bead (my neighbor reported that the original metal corner bead had disintegrated from corrosion) and replaced it with vinyl corner bead. Then they re-stucco'd the windows. Similar to my leaking roof, Pulte sent in the "A" team to fix the original shoddy construction. All's well that ends well? is it the end? The attorneys at would probably say that it's probably not the end.


yesterday my neighbor called me to come look at her stucco. Pulte removed the hurricane shutter supports at the bottoms of her windows. There is heavy corrosion.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hey, masterbuilder!

Hey, Pulte! Approved construction plans call for pre-cast structures conforming to ASTM C478 or C913. Here's what a pre-cast structure looks like:


NOT like this:


Let’s review the WIDESPREAD shoddy construction here:

* Roof truss connections that are barely attached (the State Building Code says that the roof must withstand a 130 mph roof wind gust)

* Missing roof truss bracing
* Stucco that was poorly mixed (a violation of the State Building Code)
* Stucco that was poorly applied
* A retaining wall that collapsed
* Poorly constructed lagoons
* Leaking roofs

Are these ALL just innocent “mistakes”? or are they the expected result of poor (or no) quality control? The number and frequency of these “mistakes” clearly demonstrate the expected results of shoddy construction. Shoddy construction results from bad contracts, unqualified companies and workers, ineffective (or no) supervision, and ineffective (or no) quality control.

And what about the government agencies whose responsibility it is to protect citizens against shoddy construction? How could they have missed all these “mistakes”? Their “oversights” result from bad (or no) inspections by unqualified, poorly motivated, or overworked inspectors, ineffective (or no) supervision, and ineffective (or no) quality control by the government agencies responsible for protecting us.

Until WE demand change, WE will get the status quo. WE MUST DEMAND that our government representatives address these problems NOW.

Your children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors will thank you for DEMANDING that the WIDESPREAD problem of shoddy construction be addressed.