Saturday, March 28, 2009

insurance premium reductions for wind loss mitigation

The South Carolina Dept. of Insurance requires insurance companies to offer insurance premium reductions for residential properties with "fixtures or construction techniques" installed to reduce the amount of loss in a windstorm.

In houses that Pulte built here at SCHH from 2004 to early 2007, Pulte eliminated their practice of installing hurricane clips at roof truss connections. Two nails were supposed to be used at the connections in lieu of a hurricane clip.

Subsequent Beaufort County re-inspections of more than 2,500 homes here revealed that MANY roof truss connections lacked the two nails specified. Some connections only had one nail; others had none. Some nails were short; some nails missed their target completely. Others were in split wood rendering them ineffective. Also during the re-inspections MANY houses were found to be missing required wind bracing.

An inspector must certify that wind loss "fixtures or construction techniques" have been used in order to qualify for the insurance premium reduction for wind loss mitigation. Will houses that Pulte built here between 2004 and early 2007 pass inspection? Will insurance inspectors balk at the use of nails instead of hurricane clips? Will they find missing wind bracing, despite the Beaufort County re-isnpections?

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Poorly built by pulte, no different at Del Webb"


“The union campaign also released findings of a survey it conducted last year of 872 Pulte and Del Webb homeowners in Nevada, Arizona and California. About half live in Southern Nevada. The results were published today in a report called, “Poorly Built by Pulte, No Different at Del Webb.”

excerpts from the report:

“Based on our our surveys, Arizona, Nevada and California Pulte and Del Webb homeowners are dissatisfied with their homes and frustrated by the builder’s response to their issues. Investors and home buyers should consider whether Pulte’s self-inflicted damage will affect the reputation of its brands beyond any housing market rebound.”

“J.D. Power overrates Pulte and Del Webb homeowner satisfaction.”

The 12-page report is available at

Monday, March 23, 2009

to sue or not to sue, that is the question

to my friend, Carl Brown, at (,230.msg8757.html#new ) :


about the same--folks here don't know what to do--including me. About 500 are suing Pulte (one case has been decided--, The rest of us (in the thousands) are trying to decide what to do. Some of us, who may be planning to sell and move, and whose houses don't exhibit any outward signs of stucco distress, are struggling with the decision as to whether to sue or not.

Your expertise has been very helpful to me, and hopefully to others. Your comments, along with others ( have been helpful in sorting out the Pulte BS. Now, all we have to do is to decide what to do...

Thanks for all your help.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

question & answer on


It is really incredible that of all the talented and highly educated people we have living here that only TWO people have applied to run for the BOD!!! Did Wes Grady's experience scare everyone else off? Are they so disgusted with the way our 'English' leader puts down anyone who tries to speak his or her mind in the Business Meetings? There must be SOME reason that no one will even apply for the board... there must be SOMEONE who can stand up to the BOD 'leaders' and say enough is enough??? Maybe the 'Leadership Training Committee' has stopped all applicants in their tracks when they pull out rule that says they must sign the 'vow to give loyalty to the BOD' Anyone have any thoughts on this???


It’s not incredible at all. “scare them off”, or have some of us “seen the light”?

I was kicked off the community website ( for calling Jon Cherry a tyrant. Put another way, I got kicked off for telling the truth. (BTW, if calling Jon Cherry a tyrant is a capital offense, then what about all the names that President George W. Bush was called in the newspapers, on radio and TV, in public by elected representatives and presidential candidates, etc.? Pulte needs a lesson in American freedom of speech.)

Is the SCHH CA a true COMMUNITY association? If you haven’t figured out that answer by now, then you’re not paying attention. Builder (I use the term loosely) Pulte controls the BOD. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is tyranny. Wes had the audacity to pledge to make CA dealings transparent--Pulte and their resident accomplices (on and off the BOD) squelched that. If that’s not tyranny, then what is?

“disgusted"? you bet! With their record Pulte doesn’t have the moral authority to be dictating to this community what we should and shouldn’t be doing--or saying—e.g., Pulte doesn’t have the moral authority to ban me from the website that I’m (in part) paying for.

Since the late 1700s many have fought and died for this country, defending our freedoms and democratic form of government—a republic where we have a vote in the way that we are governed. We do all those who sacrificed a great disservice by folding to tyranny. Where is your outrage, people?

Pulte may control what goes on INSIDE the gates, but they don’t control OUTSIDE the gates. I’ve got PLENTY to say. I may not be able to fight tyranny inside the gates, but I can outside --

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dissension among the ranks

From :

“At the meeting in a private club at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, representatives from KB Home, Centex Corp. and Pulte Homes
Inc., some of the largest home builders in the U.S., may call for Mr. Howard’s ouster or threaten to break away from the 200,000-member trade group, these people said. A Pulte spokesman declined to comment. Executives from Centex and KB Home couldn’t be reached.”

Jerry Howard is CEO of the National Association of Home Builders.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pulte's lagoon action plan - 3/10/09 update

. The approved construction plans call for a minimum 5 ft. depth for all Phase 5 lagoons. DHEC said that they’re going to hold Pulte to the approved construction plans for Phase 5.

DHEC said that the bottom of a pond is that area that encompasses everything except the pond’s 4:1 bank slopes. That is, the entire bottom of the pond should be at the bottom elevation shown in the approved construction plans, i.e., depth = 5 ft. or greater.

As-built drawings show that in 20 of 31 ponds all or some of as-built bottom is at a higher elevation than that shown on the approved construction plans, i.e., depth < 5 ft.

In their 3/10/09 update of the lagoon action plan Pulte failed to address 11 lagoons where all, or some of, the bottom is higher than the bottom elevation shown on the approved construction plans, i.e., depth < 5 ft.

All 20 of the 31 ponds with bottoms higher than the elevations shown on the approved construction plans should be addressed, i.e. should have depths equal to or greater that the 5 ft. called for in the approved construction plans.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pulte stucco propaganda

In a 3/26/08 letter Derek Morgan, Customer Relations Director for Pulte's South Carolina Coastal Division, states:

“These homeowners have notified Pulte/Del Webb representatives that certain home inspectors have told them that the holes in the weep screeds are for drainage and that the holes should not be coated with stucco. Such statements are incorrect. The stucco manufacturers for Sun City have confirmed that "the holes are for keying of the stucco and NOT FOR DRAINAGE. The stucco manufacturers further indicated that weep screeds with or without holes may be used, and that "finishing the accessories themselves (with stucco) is an aesthetic consideration.”

Thomas K. Butt, FAIA
November 8, 2004
Architect Butt states:

“In a properly designed stucco clad wall, water from these breaches (cracks at stucco control joints) is expected to penetrate no further than the WRB (weather resistive barrier) and exit the wall base at a weep screed or dissipate through evaporation.

There are limits, however, to the volume of water a stucco clad wall system can successfully handle. When these limits are exceeded, the WRB and related flashing materials, which are often made of asphalt saturated paper or felt, can disintegrate and become useless. Limiting the volume of water penetrating stucco cladding is typically accomplished by one or more of the following design and construction strategies:
• Limiting cracking by using appropriately low water-cement ratios and proper curing.
• Flashing penetrations and terminations successfully.
• Providing weeps at wall bases and soffits.

Without a soffit weep, water can become trapped on the inside of the stucco soffit and easily find its way through breaches in the WRB to the framing and sheathing, typically at laps, terminations and fastener holes.
We recommend that all soffits, even those only a few inches wide, have weeps, preferably combined with a drip function.”

The statements don’t square, do they? Imagine that. I wonder who SCHH residents should believe?


Saturday, March 7, 2009

meeting at DHEC-OCRM

my notes from a 3/5/09 meeting at DHEC-OCRM:

Approved Plans
Shannon Hicks stated: “All ponds must be built according to the approved construction plans.” However, DHEC enforces only certain aspects of the approved plans. DHEC is concerned with storing runoff (quantity) and treating the “first flush” (quality). They are not concerned with construction materials. DHEC will not enforce the “structures must be precast concrete” requirement in the approved construction plans. DHEC does not regulate algae or odors in ponds.

Amendments to the approved construction plans
DHEC’s regulations require them to review proposed changes to the construction plans, and to approve them, if the changes meet their regulations. A representative of the Property & Grounds Committee asked if a plan change for a 3 ft. minimum depth might be approved. Shannon Hicks responded that since DHEC does not require a minimum pond depth in their regulations, that this is possible.

As-built plans
DHEC will require as-built plans following reconstruction. The required certification is as follows (taken from DHEC’s “PROJECT CERTIFICATION SITE INSPECTION REQUEST” form):

“I, as a registered professional, certify construction of the stormwater management system at the above referenced project has been completed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications. This certification is based upon periodic observations of construction and an inspection for design compliance by me or a representative of my office who is under my supervision. Any changes from the approved plans are shown on the attached as-built drawings (if applicable).”

Shannon Hicks said that it is common practice here in the Lowcountry to build stormwater management ponds by digging a hole and not placing embankment along the wetland’s side, allowing water to spill out over long stretches into the wetlands. Phase 5 SCHH ponds that empty into the wetlands are built this way. I pointed out that rip rap is placed sporadically along the edge that spill out into wetlands, not along the entire edge. This design (allowing water to spill out over a hundred or more feet) results in a continuous maintenance problem.

Leaking control structures
We reported to DHEC that control structures leak. Photographs taken after the recent heavy rains show the water level in a lagoon dropping close to a foot over a few days after the rain.

Limits of excavation
DHEC considers the bottom elevation shown in the approved plans to extend over the entire bottom, not just part of it. Pond banks should slope at approximately 4:1 to the bottom elevation, which should extend across the entire bottom of the pond.

Property restoration
We told DHEC that we are concerned with damage to private property during reconstruction. We said that we are concerned that private property will not be restored completely or in a timely manner.

Monitoring reconstruction
We expressed our concern that DHEC closely monitor the reconstruction work. DHEC performs a final inspection after reconstruction is complete. DHEC is working with Pulte to obtain periodic reports of the reconstruction. Shannon Hicks said that SCHH residents can contact DHEC with their reconstruction concerns.

Final approval process
When the reconstruction is complete, DHEC will perform a final inspection. After DHEC confirms that the construction conforms to the approved plans, including any amendments, DHEC will approve the reconstruction. After DHEC’s approval, operation, maintenance, and repair of the lagoons are the community’s responsibility.

A schedule for the reconstruction work has not been submitted. We discussed our concern with the schedule for the work, including how it relates to the January 12, 2010 expiration of the DHEC permit for Phase 5.

Dead trees in wetlands
DHEC said that the Corps of Engineers will allow removal of dead trees in wetlands that threaten private property. Removal of dead trees that threaten private property should be coordinated with Common Area Maintenance and the Corps of Engineers. A representative from the Property & Grounds Committee said that guidance for residents on removal of dead trees that threaten private property will be forthcoming.

Irrigation drawdown
Pulte told DHEC that as they pump water out of the lagoons to wetlands, irrigation, etc., that they pump it back into them from wells to maintain water levels.


follow-up email:

Subject: SWM ponds
Date: 3/7/2009 6:40:54 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Reply To:


Thank you for meeting with us last Thursday, and thank you for meeting with SCHH residents on January 22.

I was surprised to hear you say at the meeting this past Thursday that it's common practice here in the Lowcountry, with respect to stormwater management ponds, to dig a hole, not build an embankment on the discharge side, and allow the water to run out along the edge of the hole over long stretches.

What’s to prevent “backwash”? With water flowing over the edge of the hole, potentially in both directions, what's to prevent the erosion and sloughing of this edge into the pond, even with rip rap protection? What’s to prevent the edge from “moving” into the wetlands? from trees falling into the hole? Given enough time, isn’t it reasonable to expect that the edge of the hole will collapse and the hole (pond) will simply fill up with sediment? Eventually, won’t the surface return to what it was before the hole was dug?

All of the ponds that I designed had embankment all the way around with freeboard. Overflows were at an elevation above the natural ground line at discharge, preventing “backwash”. A pond with embankment and freeboard all around, and an overflow at an elevation above the natural ground line, is controlled. A pond with a side without embankment and freeboard, where water is allowed to spill over the edge (potentially in both directions), is uncontrolled. Such a pond doesn’t even meet the definition of what I believe that a stormwater management pond is supposed to be.

I would be interested to see experience data for these ponds without embankments, with one side simply being a dug edge, and with water flowing out onto natural ground over long stretches. What has been their operating and maintenance experience over a period of 25 years or longer? I will appreciate you furnishing such data, or referring me to a source where I can obtain it.

Again, thank you for meeting with us on Thursday.


Thursday, March 5, 2009


a few local Pulte testimonials:

"Hey Ray, Talk about quality!! My son was giving his kids a bath in the master bathroom. He leaned across the tub to scrub his sons back. When he pushed off the far wall to stand up his finger went through, yes through, the wallboard. And it wasn't in the center of the 24" studs as is allowed down south, it was only about two inches away from the stud. Kinda thin wallboard huh!! Nick"

"We have had two wood floors put in; they keep getting mold under the wood which surfaces as black spots all over the floor. Pulte came out and could not find the problem after the first floor started going bad. They never found the real problem, but they had their subcontractor put another floor down, blaming it on the glue. This summer it happend again and we are going thru all kinds of testing once again. I think it's a foundation problem but they will not do anything, does anyone know of a lawyer we can contact? "

"Pulte's subcontractor supposedly put down water-proof moisture glue in before he laid the second floor. The second floor showed signs of water in nine months I just met another person who has the same problem on a Del Webb home. Pulte would not do anything for them, blaming it on the patio that was laid before they moved in! I think we all built on a swamp land,and God knows what will happen in a few years. My husband just burys his head in the sand. Pulte will not put a wood floor in again. They want to put tile down. I am so upset I don't know what to do."

"We have a similar situation (foundation/slab crack from side to side and visible on the exterior) here in Del Webb Charleston (same developer as SCHH). When push came to shove and we finally had Pulte officials come to look at and evaluate the crack, we were pretty much summarily dismissed and told that we were covered under the SC law regarding structural defects (10 years, I think.). In the meantime the only cosmetic evidence seems to be cracking tiles and grout pulling apart showing that the house is shifting albeit minimally at this point. We had wanted to put down hardwood flooring but are reluctant to "cover up" the crack. This is certainly not the retirement dream home we had imagined. - Paul & Kitty Venancio, Del Webb Charleston --"

"Thanks for responding. Perhaps, I wasn't explicit enough. I am trying to find out if it's the developers responsibility beyond the year for the foundation/slab/settling. I can't find anything in our documentation about the slab. Last week we heard a very loud crack. It sounded like the house was struck. The pictures on the living room walls were crooked and the next day we noticed that a whole course of tiles split across the living room. This is the same area that the foundation split before, resulting in the cracked tiles. Pulte didn't fix the foundation crack the first time. The tile people filled it and replaced the tiles. Is this going to continue? Our house was slightly over a year when the first jolt happened and now, a year later, it's happened again. We have not been here full time and don't know anyone who has a similar problem in our neighborhood. Also, where are the 4 houses that sank and had to be bought back by Pulte?"

"My family was here for a visit this weekend and for something to do I took them to see the model homes as my son-in-law, who is the first green home builder in the Dayton, Ohio area, wanted to look at the quality of work. Of course what he saw surprised him in what should be was show case homes. What I noticed was that the retaining walls around one of the lagoons were starting to lean. It was looking out the back window of the last house on the souteast corner side. The worst was on the side next to 278. I was not really surprise, but if you have not visited the models, thought that I would pass is on to you. Also was not surprise to see that all models, that the stucco is being removed and being replaced with Harddy Plank."

"Thank you for your vigilance! I’m still trying to get the lagoon surround maintained behind my home. It has never been done in over 2 years. Our neighborhood rep says that PULTE/CAM does not return any of his telephone calls. Also, I’m getting conflicting reports from the subcontractors who want to dredge & clear the pipe from the lagoon to the storm water system
and Pulte's employee who has deemed it clear and closed the file – contrary to the advice of several contractors who have actually been chest high in the lagoon and reported the problem to Pulte."


Monday, March 2, 2009

Attn. SCHH residents--after a BIG rain

Immediately after a BIG rain, lagoons should be full—NOT necessarily to elevations shown in construction plans, but to elevations to which they were built. Immediately after a BIG rain is a good time to see if the existing control structures are leaking.

This is a photo of a control structure:


As you can see, the water level is down from the top of it. With a BIG rain, the water level in the lagoons should be to the tippy-top (a technical term) of the control structures. If not, then they leak.

SCHH residents, if the water in your lagoon isn’t to the tippy-top of the control structure immediately after a BIG rain, then take a digital photo. The photo could be useful in future discussions with DHEC. You can email the photo and it’s location to me, if you wish (