DUBLIN (KPIX 5) – When you spend three quarters of a million dollars on a newly built home, you expect it to be picture-perfect. That’s why you do a walk through, and make a punch list.
But some things you’re not going to notice until you move in. Even the problems you do notice may turn into a real headache to fix.
It’s the last thing the Treadwells expected when they moved into their new Dublin home, a broken water pipe, leaking through the ceiling, in their brand new home. And not just one pipe.
“We have had a total of three holes cut into our new house, within about six weeks of owning it,” said Douglas Treadwell.
They say they’ve also had problems with windows and kitchen cabinets. “The standard pattern was oh that’s normal, there’s nothing wrong with it,” Douglas said.
Neighbors Sangita Ray and Ajay Natarajan aren’t happy either. “The last three months have been totally nightmare,” said Sangita.
Their brand new hardwood floor, a feature they paid $10,000 extra for is all scratched up. And their new granite countertop stained with brownish spots.
They are not the only ones unhappy with their builder, D.R. Horton. Complaints to the Better Business Bureau have been climbing, and have spiked in just the last few months to a total of 364 over the last three years. That’s compared to one complaint for their closest competitor in size, the Pulte Group.
“The whole excitement of buying a brand new home is almost gone,” said Sangita.
The homeowners say they noticed some problems during walkthroughs of their new homes, and assumed D.R. Horton would take care of them right away. Instead the homeowners said they just got the runaround.
“Unfortunately it’s very common,” said attorney Julie Mouser.
Her firm, Angius and Terry LLP, has represented clients in suits against each of the major builders. She says when one buys a newly-constructed home, you have no choice but to accept their warranty.
“You can make a complaint to the Contractors State License Board, but typically they will tell you that you are bound by the warranty,” Mouser said.
A warranty that for most cosmetic defects only lasts one year. So Mouser said it’s common for some builders to stall.
“Typically it is not in their financial best interest to run out and make repairs every time a homeowner calls with a complaint,” she said.
D.R. Horton turned down KPIX 5’s request for an interview, but in a statement it said closed 50 percent more homes than the second largest builder, so it’s logical that it would have more BBB complaints than any other builder.
While the company did fix the Treadwell’s leaks right away, they left the holes for months. The builder eventually agreed to give them $9,000 to hire an outside contractor for the holes and other repairs.
“I am very frustrated, and very surprised it actually happened, that this kind of treatment is even possible, especially after you pay so much money,” said Valerie Treadwell.
As for the Sangita and Ajay, they’ve been promised a new hardwood floor. But four months later, they’re still waiting to move their furniture in, out of fear they’ll somehow be blamed for the damage.
“We just want to sit on the furniture and watch TV,” said Ajay. “This is just terrible.”
D.R. Horton offered to replace Sangita and Ajay’s hardwood floor, or give them money back to hire their own contractor. But they say the money is less than what they spent on the floors.
The Treadwells agreed to a cash settlement with the builder.
D.R. Horton statement:
We value the commitment our homeowners make to purchase a D.R. Horton home, and we believe in and stand by our commitment to provide a high-quality homeownership experience. If any of our homeowners are unsatisfied with their home, we want to hear those concerns and address them.
We are currently working with the Treadwells to resolve a detailed warranty list they submitted in February. The warranty repairs began on April 1st (at the Treadwells’ request), and they are almost completed. The “4th leak” reported by the Treadwells was actually a minor gap in the caulking behind their bathroom counter, which we repaired during our initial inspection of their warranty list in February. We are not aware of any current leaks in their home. As for the Treadwells’ previous warranty claims, recall from our previous response that in December of last year, the Treadwells chose to take a cash settlement and sign a release instead of having D.R. Horton perform repairs.
With regard to Sangita Ray and Ajay Natarajan, D.R. Horton has been working diligently with them to resolve their hardwood flooring concerns. When they first brought their concerns to our attention, we inspected the flooring and offered to repair/replace the areas that appeared not to meet industry standards. When Ms. Ray and Mr. Natarajan disagreed with our assessment, we then brought in a third-party inspector for a neutral evaluation. This resulted in a small increase to the flooring to be repaired/replaced, and D.R. Horton offered to perform this work. As Ms. Ray and Mr. Natarajan still were not satisfied, we then offered to completely replace their floor with the same flooring as before. The homeowners instead requested a refund of the price they paid for the flooring when they purchased their home. In response to this request, D.R. Horton offered to pay Ms. Ray and Mr. Natarajan our replacement cost for their flooring approximately four weeks ago. We are still waiting for their response; however, our offer remains open – D.R. Horton will replace all of their hardwood flooring with the same flooring as is currently in their home, or D.R. Horton will pay them our cost to replace the flooring.