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New Jersey: Public Hearing on defective building
Monday, 18 September 2006

Lawmakers to hear construction grievances
Damning results from a state report released last year about negligent and sometimes dangerous workmanship on new homes throughout New Jersey could re-emerge Tuesday night during a public hearing called by a state Senate committee.Lawmakers will hear testimony from victims of shoddy construction, who will offer suggestions on what legislative initiatives would help protect homebuyers from irresponsible builders and unresponsive overseers.

Lawmakers to hear construction grievances
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 09/18/06
BY NICHOLAS CLUNN
STAFF WRITER

MANALAPAN — Damning results from a state report released last year about negligent and sometimes dangerous workmanship on new homes throughout New Jersey could re-emerge Tuesday night during a public hearing called by a state Senate committee.

Lawmakers will hear testimony from victims of shoddy construction, who will offer
suggestions on what legislative initiatives would help protect homebuyers from
irresponsible builders and unresponsive overseers.

Most of the complaints and ideas raised will likely mirror findings written in a March
2005 report by the State Commission of Investigation, an independent fact-finding agency with a focus on corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.

Following a two-year investigation, the commission found numerous incidents of deficient construction, lax government oversight and inadequate consumer protections in the new-home construction field.

"There are some really serious problems, and the sad thing about it is that it doesn't represent the large majority of the builders and the contractors,'' said Sen. Roland L. Rice, D-Essex, chairman of the Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

Howell resident Tracey Kelly said she will attend the hearing. She challenged builder K. Hovnanian over alleged construction flaws at her home in the Country Meadows development and went on to lead the state chapter of a homebuyer protection group. Kelly, a 50-year-old homemaker, said she knows what fixes Trenton needs to make.

For one, homeowners should not have to hire engineers and experts at great expense to prove deficiencies, Kelly said.

"If a person buys a defective home, they should be covered right away with protection from the government,'' she said.

Though a recent legal settlement with K. Hovnanian prevented Kelly from discussing what she thought was wrong with her home, it was reported three years ago that a code official who had worked on Country Meadows had falsified reports and signed certificates of occupancy without evidence of completed inspections.

The Senate committee has already held two public hearings similar to the one planned for Tuesday, but Rice said he wanted to hold one more before the committee this fall votes on his legislative remedies to the problems uncovered by the commission.

Rice said testimony to be recorded at 7 p.m. at the municipal complex … and during the other hearings in Trenton and Gloucester County … might compel him to tweak his bills.

He also said that the words of homeowners will provide fodder he could use during
negotiations with lawmakers, should his measures face criticism.

"I want to make sure, the best I can, that the legislation has as much teeth in holding the bad actors accountable,'' Rice said.

Rice has introduced a package of four bills. Together, the package would strengthen state construction codes and enhance protections for homebuyers.

Nicholas Clunn: (732) 643-4072 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200660918012

 
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