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ABC Special Report
Investigation: New Home Heartbreak
Trump - NAHB Homebuilders Shoddy Construction and Forced Arbitration

Organizing your community to bring public attention to builder’s bad deeds and seeking assistance from local, state and federal elected officials has proven to be more effective and much quicker for thousands of families. You do have choices and alternatives.  Janet Ahmad

Special Report, Dallas - ABC's WFAA-TV
Friday, 03 December 2004
Homeowners: We're tired of builder inattention
  Video: Byron Harris reports 
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
By BYRON HARRIS / WFAA-TV
Find a homeowner, and there's a good chance you'll hear a complaint about a homebuilder...Waterford Oaks East in Cedar Hill is just such a place, though, and buyers are angry about the workmanship and business practices of builder Legacy Homes... Ahmad sees similar problems among many Texas builders. "We find a pattern of structural defects; we find a pattern of sloppy work," she said. "It's the problem of getting the builder to address the issue whether it's minor or whether it's major." ... Ahmad said Texas warranties are designed to protect the builder rather than the homeowner. Until that changes, she said the only solution is to stay vocal and be persistent. ... Until we can regulate the industry, homeowners have only one choice, and that is to be very public about their problem and to make a pest of themselves." 

Homeowners: We're tired of builder inattention
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
By BYRON HARRIS /WFAA-TV
Find a homeowner, and there's a good chance you'll hear a complaint about a homebuilder.
When it comes to a purchase as big as a house, buyers are easily upset. But, it's extraordinary to have a neighborhood full of upset homeowners - many with the same complaint.
Video: Byron Harris reports

 Waterford Oaks East in Cedar Hill is just such a place, though, and buyers there are angry about the workmanship and business practices of builder Legacy Homes.
Homeowner Monique Schoby has multiple places in her new home where water from one room drips into another.
"If we turn it on and sit down on the shower seat, it leaks down there," Schoby said, standing in her bathroom and pointing towards the kitchen.
And that's not all.
"I have leakage over my bay windows," Schoby said.
That sounds familiar to her neighbor Felicia Swanks.
"This is the leak we've had for a very long time. And it runs down," Swanks said, pointing along a wall in her home. "I had to put a big bucket, a wash-a-car-bucket, to catch that."
The leak happened in the same place in Diane Welch's kitchen, too. Not little leaks or new leaks, either. They and other homeowners moved into their neighborhood at Waterford Oaks near Cedar Hill 18 months ago. They said they've been complaining to Legacy nearly that long - and they're all furious.
Corrine Brown is angry about the messy brickwork the builder won't clean up.
"It looks like it was laid by the three blind mice," Brown said. "The walkup appearance is awful."
Claudia Hubbard has been frustrated by a cracked window.
"I was told that if every last one of them cracked, I was responsible for it because of settlement," Hubbard said.
Joyce and Jose Gonzalez selected one kind of brick for their home, but got another.
"I said, 'you know, you put the wrong brick on our home,'" Joyce Gonzalez recalled. "And he said, 'wow, I did?'"
But what upsets some of these homeowners the most is this: Several selected their lots, put down their money and built their houses expecting their backyards to be a certain size. Then Legacy said they'd be smaller.
"This is the yard that I can't have, and I'm missing out on because Legacy lied to me," Schoby said. "I thought I was buying all that land behind my fence, but I can't use that property."
Legacy officials said a utility easement required the builder to shrink the lots of one entire block, and said every buyer knew about it when they signed at closing.
The homeowners said that wasn't the case.
"One day we had it, the next day it's gone, and my husband said 'are you all gonna compensate us?'"
Legacy did give the Swanks family a refrigerator and a garage door opener as compensation. But three other homeowners who complained to News 8 about their lots did not even get that.
Legacy officials said they did not do on-camera interviews. However, President David Rich said Legacy did respond to calls from several homeowners in this story. He said records show their problems were fixed, and some homeowners said Legacy did fix their problems.
Since then, Rich said, "we have not been contacted directly by anyone" News 8 talked to.
But that's not what the residents said.
"They don't respond," Welch said. "They don't answer. I've got fed up with them trying to get in touch with me."
Janet Ahmad founded Homeowners for Better Building, a statewide organization dedicated to helping homeowners solve problems with builders.
"The homeowner has got to say, 'I'm gonna fight this,'" Ahmad said.
Ahmad sees similar problems among many Texas builders.
"We find a pattern of structural defects; we find a pattern of sloppy work," she said. "It's the problem of getting the builder to address the issue whether it's minor or whether it's major."
The key tool for all parties is the warranty. The Legacy warranty requires all complaints be filed in writing, and it's only good for a year - a standard practice in Texas.
Ahmad said Texas warranties are designed to protect the builder rather than the homeowner. Until that changes, she said the only solution is to stay vocal and be persistent.
"Put it in writing," she said. "Make notations of every time the builder was called, and how many times the builder doesn't come out. Until we can regulate the industry, homeowners have only one choice, and that is to be very public about their problem and to make a pest of themselves."
Legacy defends itself with its records of complaints and service, which officials said are meticulous - but that's up for debate.
Legacy officials said the company quit dealing with one of the complainants News 8 profiled because she's suing and has a lawyer. However, none of the people we talked to are suing, and none have a lawyer.
 
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