Owners of townhouses at Berkshire Place have discovered construction defects and are seeking relief from the builder, Pulte Homes.
HORIZON WEST It started with a simple paint estimate on the town houses at Berkshire Place.
All the homeowners association wanted to do was paint the exteriors of town houses. But the painting company rejected the project, citing potential construction defects, according to Jeffrey Tepper, a homeowner in the community.
“We didn’t believe them,” Tepper said.
But soon, the homeowners began to discover the problems the painting company saw. Horizontal cracks began appearing on the side of the homes. They found rotting wood, mold, water damage and even structural damage.
The name “Pulte Homes” is etched prominently in the pavers leading up to Tepper’s home. The home building group constructed the town houses starting in 2007, with some completed as late as 2011.
To assist them with their claims, the homeowners hired attorney Michael Sasso. They also created a Facebook page, “My Pulte Nightmare,” where they share information.
“Extremely poor workmanship by Pulte Homes,” Sasso said. “One of the worst I’ve seen in 30 years of doing this.”
The residents also have turned to Orange County District 1 Commissioner S. Scott Boyd, who drafted a letter for discussion at the Board of County Commissioners’ March 1 meeting. About 100 residents plan to attend that meeting.
“When homebuilders come in and start building their product, we want a community that’s going to look and last for the next 50 to 100 years,” Boyd said.
Diana DeRose has lived in her town house for almost a year. She hasn’t noticed as much damage to her unit as some of her neighbors, but discoloration and growing cracks on her home worry her. The fears of what could be hidden — mold and more problems — keep her on her toes.
“It’s just really scary for us,” DeRose said. “I have money invested in this place and moved here because I was
planning on retiring here and staying here and not moving again. And now, you’re just really concerned about your property value and what’s going to happen. I go around and … I look at the ceiling or I’ll look at the walls to see if issues are starting.”
DeRose is now considering selling the home, but she is left with the same question her neighbors face: Will anybody even want it?
So far, the homeowners have not been pleased with what Pulte has done to resolve the issue. Mediation between the homeowners and Pulte Homes began Feb. 16 and lasted two days.
“All I can say is, it started on Tuesday morning, and it was a two-day mediation,” Sasso said. “We walked in with no money, and we walked out with no money.”
Pulte Homes’ Sarah Garlick said: “The mediation on Feb. 16 was an opportunity for all parties, including Pulte and the contractors, to understand the issues and claims presented by the plaintiffs’ attorneys. We hope to reconvene with the parties to continue with the mediation process and work (toward) a resolution.”
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].