At 10 a.m. Thursday morning, Sen. Madden, for the fourth legislative district that covers Glassboro, Monroe Township and Pitman, joined Sen. Ronald Rice and the Senate Committee at Rowan University to talk about something that Madden calls "a pretty significant event." The committee heard testimonies from residents on four bills that are aimed at new homeowners problems.
"We've been constantly receiving complaints about poor workmanship and the quality of homes," said Sen. Madden, in a interview before Thursday's meeting. He said he's been getting them since, well, he's been in office.
He named Holiday City and Chestnut Green in Williamstown, and Sawyer's Creek in Washington Township as areas that have had problems over the years. "We've had people from these different groups come to us," said Madden.
Today, people from these communities had their chance to personally testify before Senate to tell them what their problems are, and hear the introduction of the new bills.
The New Homebuyers' Bill of Rights is the first bill and under this, rights would include: no increases in the sales price of a new home without the agreement of the homebuyer, a fair and realistic opportunity to seek mortgage financing and the right to certain inspections and copies of home plans. Madden said this "Bill of Rights" will "provide new homebuyers with the basis by which to ensure their new home meets all of the specifications promised."
The next bill would enhance protections already under current law provided by The New Home Warranty and Builders' Registration Act. Madden said he wants to refer these home owners to this act.
"There are holes in the warranty," said Madden. "We want to plug up these holes; give it some teeth."
The third bill would amend the State Uniform Construction Code Act to authorize the Department of Community Affairs to direct any local enforcing agency that is not performing necessary inspections in a timely manner to allow the owner to have inspections paid by the owner, but independent of their control. Inspection time had been a big concern for the Senator.
"We've had reports that developers have provided false inspection papers to prospective new home owners," said Madden in a statement from the Senate office. This new law, said Madden, will hopefully stop that.
There haven't been problems in just Washington Township and Williamstown, but all of Gloucester County, and all of South Jersey, said Madden. Sen. Rice, from Newark, is traveling down for this special meeting and is also sponsoring testimony on another bill, which would further enhance the protections afforded those buying newly built homes.
Madden said the problems given by homeowners seem to be in the same realm.
"Routinely," said Madden, " they have a theme regarding draining issues, mold growth, water in crawl spaces. There's just a lot."
Cracks in the foundation of the homes is a popular complaint, said Madden.
"Some of these homes are not that old," said Madden, who noted one lady complained about foundation problems, and lived in her home for less than one year.
©The Plain Dealer 2006