Friday, January 21, 2011

Same song, different verse

A year or more ago I was contacted by Jeanne Holland, a retired schoolteacher, who lives with her husband, Bill, a US Naval Academy graduate and former Navy pilot, in Potomac Green, a Del Webb retirement community in Ashburn, VA, near Washington DC. Jeanne told me about cracks in the ceilings and walls of their Pulte home, and asked me about the framing repairs that were done to 668 homes here at Sun City Hilton Head, SC. Our stories are similar.

Jeanne said that scores of her neighbors with the same model house have the same cracks. Pulte said that the cracks are not structural; therefore, they are not covered in the 5-year framing warranty. The Loudoun County building inspector, Dennis Mitchell, also said that the cracks are not structural.

We talked about the roof framing problems here. Pulte substituted nails for hurricane clips in houses here, and then didn’t put in the two nails per truss-to-truss connection that their engineer specified (typically, there are MANY truss-to-truss connections in each house). When it was discovered, like Potomac Green, Pulte denied that there was a problem. Beaufort County did also. It was only after The Island Packet got involved that Beaufort County agreed to re-inspect more than 2,700 homes built over a 3-year period. Repairs were made to 668 of them.

Similarly, despite overwhelming evidence that lagoons here were not built deep enough, Pulte denied that there was a problem for more than 3 years. It was only because of the TENACIOUS efforts of a small group of residents that Pulte was forced to fix the shallow, poorly built lagoons.

After several years of trying to get Pulte to fix the cracks in her home, Jeanne contacted WUSA, CBS, Channel 9, in Washington, DC. The video that WUSA ran on the air can be seen at

Coincidentally, we lived in northern Virginia for our entire lives before we moved to SC six years ago. While we were visiting our daughters at Christmas, I went to see Jeanne and Bill.

Jeanne said that she was in the bedroom, and the wind was blowing, when she heard a loud noise, and cracks opened up in the ceiling and walls. Any IDIOT (take note Pulte and Loudoun County) can tell that the cracks in Jeanne and Bill’s home are structural. The fact that the same cracks appear in scores of other houses of the same type says that the STRUCTURAL problems are systemic.

Jeanne and Bill’s ordeal is not over. Pulte Homes continues to follow their playbook of “deny, deny, deny” and “delay, delay, delay”. The more that Pulte denies the problems, and the more that Pulte delays in fixing the problems, the harder that Jeanne fights them. And, the negative publicity for ("Masterbuilder") Pulte Homes keeps building (excuse the pun).

"When will they ever learn? When will they EVER learn?”


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