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ABC Special Report
Investigation: New Home Heartbreak
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Houston Chronicle Readers Respond to: Owners stuck with flawed homes
Sunday, 27 April 2008

Owners stuck with flawed homes
Families' costs mount, but state, builder give scant help, files show
By LISE OLSEN
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

     Return to original article

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Charli wrote:
""To the extent there are builders who are gaming the system and preying on consumers we need to have significant reform," said Alex Winslow, of Texas Watch."

Don't expect reform while Rick Perry is still in office and Bob Perry continues to buy the Republican Party as well as Democratic legislators who have consistently voted for his version of "tort reform" which comes down to forcing homebuyers to "mediate" with homebuilders rather than sue them.

It is next to impossible to sue a builder in Texas thanks to the Perrys and apparently next to impossible to have a builder charged with fraud which gives new meaning to "buyer beware."


"But the builders have never paid Fogal and her husband the $37,308 that an arbiter awarded in October 2006, according to the Fogals and their attorneys."

And they probably never will pay them. The laws are such in this state that people waste their money on lawsuits in order to obtain judgements which their attorneys never bother to tell them they may not collect.

"But Lee Parsley, an Austin attorney for Texans for Lawsuit Reform, said, "Lawsuit reform is not related to the problems people may be having collecting judgments or arbitration awards, and it has nothing to do with whether the district attorney can attempt to punish a person or company that refuses to pay.""

It has everything to do with it. Tort reform has merely futher legalized both civil and criminal fraud in the state of Texas. Which was the intent.
4/27/2008 1:10 AM CDT
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rednose wrote:
kind of like living in mexico
4/27/2008 1:10 AM CDT
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miss_msry wrote:
As long as Houston and Texas politics is run by "developers" like Mayor White and every other Houston mayor and governor in this fine state, there will be not reform and no recourse for homeowners. Developers oppose any type of zoning and safeguards against shoddy construction because they are greedy. Capitalism is killing itself.
4/27/2008 1:34 AM CDT
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The builders in the Houston area use illegal aliens to build. As my city boss used to say, "They are building some dog @$$ condos and townhouses on___."

Ah yesssss! Now pro illegal alien lobby and illegal aliens, try to tell me how much y'all are needed by us bad old gringos to do the work we will not do ourselves. These folks are only needed by the developers and construction companies who want to line their pockets and rip off workers, and the illegals are sucker enough to believe they are actually "needed" by us and these unscrupulous businesses/corporations. What kind of emotional pap is that?

When we bad ol' "nativist" (substituted for the word racist by the media) American citizens of all colors, ethnicities, and religions, did the job, we worked for a paycheck and for the pride of building our country, the best in the world.

Go back home and build your own countries. We need to drag these developers and builders down a notch or two hundred. The legislature needs to act American again, by the American citizens and for the American citizens.

Good comment Charli. Miss_msry, I got news for you, the developers and the builders run, Houston, every other city in Texas, the state of Texas and probably every other state in the union--that's politics of today.

Runaway capitalism is not only killing itself, it's dragging our country down to a third world status. This is what brings about government regulation--terminal greed of businesses and corporations. We are at the tipping point, we must act now.
4/27/2008 1:57 AM CDT
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trinity71645 wrote:
Lay the blame at the proper doorstep. The Texas Legislator. The Legislature commissioned Texas A&M University to do a study to come up with a way to regulate Residential home construction. The study adopted by the Legislature allowed for the creation of the “Texas Residential Construction Commission” It is a total disaster. What it did was allow builders to regulate construction in Texas. Against the advice of the Texas Real Estate Commission, Independent Professional Home Inspectors, and Realtors across the state, the fox was put in charge of the henhouse. The TRCC allowed for binding arbitration clauses to be inserted by builders into new home contracts. It also says that the consumer must identify all defects at the walk through at closing. The consumer has been left completely out in the cold. Since both sides must pay for arbitration, the builders can say that most all defects are lack of maintenance on the owners part. So no matter what the issue, they are able to argue in arbitration. Additionally the Builders has the say yea or nay, as to who the arbitrator is. Arbitrators can only find middle ground and therefore do not assign fault. Bottom line just Google TRCC. And see for yourself. It is much too long a story to go into here but suffice it to say the Texas Legislators have put Builders in charge, and consumers have had their right to have their case heard in court severely curtailed. Tort reform is not for consumers, it helps to remove them (consumers)from the legal system, while allowing Business, insurance companies and big money to do as they wish, and manage their risk regardless who gets hurt or suffers. Welcome to the real world.
4/27/2008 2:00 AM CDT
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UrCluless wrote:
I hope the people who got screwed voted for the republicans who are responsible for taking away from the consumers all their rights to help self righteous people like Bob Perry who has all republican politicians in Austin in his pocket (I am afraid some democrats too). And for you people who become jurors and screw the little guy because you think he has a frivolous lawsuit, wait till your turn comes to get screwed. VIVA Texas!
4/27/2008 2:02 AM CDT
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Philosophy wrote:
The fact that there are very few and weak consumer protections here in Texas is a consequence of our one party state. With no competition for the Republicans then they will do as they please. Developers know this and that is why they have no qualms about bribing them. Nor do the Republicans have any qualms about taking the bribes. People always criticize trial lawyers and tort laws until it happens to them. We need laws to maintain a quality civilization, and if we keep buying the crap that we need to weaken or eliminate the laws that protect us from what the people in this article are experiencing, then we get what we wrought.

Something else that we should worry about is that as the stories of this goes national, then Houston will develop a reputation for low quality of life. That could discourage quality employers and talented people from moving here. Why come when you could face what these people face and have no recourse.

Another point is why is house building stuck in the century that it is in. There are a lot of new technologies that need to be deployed. Robot, have been developed that can build houses better than Mexicans can. New materials make them look stylish and energy efficient. Factory built homes shipped to the site is also an option, that reports (on Discovery and Science channel) are showing have better quality the on site built homes. We have to change our thinking and accept the new aesthetic and ideas.
4/27/2008 2:07 AM CDT
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Any flat roof over a patio or balcony, with a living area below will eventually over a period of time get some water penetration to the rooms below and the property should definitely be avoided.

I have seen it with happen with a commercial grade hot tar roof that had a wooden deck built over it and a utility room below. It began to leak within 4 years of the life of the roof.

The 3-story townhomes that are being built inside the loop and are so architecually popular these days with the patio on the roof, may look appealing in the beginning but are nothing but trouble as many unsuspecting buyers have found out the hard way.

To think that you just invested $ 300,000 on your new residence and the builder cannot figure out how to keep the water out.

Water will eventually find a crack or crevice to seep into especially in a driving rain.

Your best bet is to go back to yesteryear in the roof design with a sufficiently sloped (the higher the better) hip or gable roof with a soffit extending 18" or 24 " past the vertical walls. This will help ensure a water tight home.

It's so easy to point the finger and lay the blame with construction workers/contractors as was pointed out in a earlier post, but, in reality they are just building according to the blueprints created and signed by an architect that is licensed here in the state of Texas.

These drawings are signed off by city of Houston inspectors before construction can began and at the very end when the certificate of occupancy is released. Consider also that these inspectors are approving and signing off on building materials specified and techniques used to construct these problematic townhomes.

4/27/2008 2:13 AM CDT
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PowerBarDC wrote:
Contractors, home builders, etc... they're almost all CROOKS!

http://acadiana.myminicity.com
4/27/2008 2:14 AM CDT
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In retrospect everybody is now so quick to point the finger.

Who's to blame ?

Which of the the following is primarily at fault for the shoddy construction and the consumer being taken advantage of ?

The greedy builder, the state Legislature, the architect, the homebuyer for not hiring a professional inspector before closing, the city inspector, the Hispanic contractors who built it, The manufactures of the stucco and roofing materials, The builders agent for not advising the buyer, and finally The TRCC. a.k.a. Texas Residential Construction Commission

Looks like everybody played in a role....
4/27/2008 2:33 AM CDT
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I've owned a few houses over the last nearly 20 years and one thing that I've noticed is that there is a definite lack of attention to deal in home construction, especially the newer development. A good way to tell is to just go in the attic of the house and see if they took pride in the framing of the house or if they just slapped everything together up there. Too many of the builders go by the philosophy of "out of sight, out of mind"...
4/27/2008 3:12 AM CDT
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This is why you hire a third party inspector to survey any home you're about to invest in. These people losing their homes to repairs have nobody to blame for their lack of due diligence but themselves.
4/27/2008 3:18 AM CDT
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techbrat wrote:
We are on our way to being a third world country, wheter you want to believe it or not. Welcome to Gobal Economy 001.
4/27/2008 3:46 AM CDT
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ricerkt wrote:
TexasNana wrote:
I've been watching townhomes being built in the Heights...all by hispanics and I wonder where they get their training since most of them came from villages with houses built of plywood. This story is just the beginning of the compaints we are going to hear about these hispanic-built homes, just you wait and see.

--I get what you're saying but you're missing the bigger picture, or it sounds like you are. Those "hispanics" are not the ones selling those homes. The heart of this problem is in bad developers and the politicians who have been serving the interests of developers instead of the people they represent.
4/27/2008 4:38 AM CDT
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It USE to take time to build these houses and now its done over night mostly.
Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..I wonder why we have all these building flaws when we pay top dollar for these less then a dime stuff going into them.
LOCATION, you want it, you pay for it, but you didn't look into the builder or the houses first.
Take them to small claims for each problem then you can get your money. Going after for the big prize isn't going to happen.
4/27/2008 5:52 AM CDT

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People were initially too easily fooled in supporting tort reform. Tort reform hurt many. The insurance companies and other backers even forced their little puppet defense attorneys to go out and strongly announce their support while knowing full well that even they could suffer in the long run. Add that to the fact that you have federal and state judges eager to do favors at the drop of a hat and you end up with the wonderful legal process of our state.
4/27/2008 5:59 AM CDT
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ShanaPunim wrote:
Stucco
4/27/2008 6:01 AM CDT
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CAD1936 wrote:
This is what happens when you deny citizens the right to the courts as they have in Texas due to the Republican control of the governorship and legislature.
4/27/2008 6:32 AM CDT
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kenyon wrote: When you read how people have no recourse and have been forced into bankruptcy with their retirement funds gone, THEN you see why people commit violence.

I don't know how these builders sleep at night. They are no better than the local scumbag who holds up a "Stop and Rob"!
4/27/2008 6:38 AM CDT



Axel wrote:
When you read how people have no recourse and have been forced into bankruptcy with their retirement funds gone, THEN you see why people commit violence.

I don't know how these builders sleep at night. They are no better than the local scumbag who holds up a "Stop and Rob"!
4/27/2008 6:38 AM CDT
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Axel wrote:
Where are the Prosecutors here? Criminal Activity is still a Crime. Other Laws can be used against them. They may have their protection with those Laws they helped pass but they are still Criminals.
4/27/2008 6:38 AM CDT
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seabrook7 wrote:
come on, be honest.
you as well as everyone else who watched these contraptions being built could tell the were poorly constructed, and ugly.

4/27/2008 6:42 AM CDT
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seabrook7 wrote:
oh and, blaming republicans, which I doubt any live in montrose, is just stupid.
4/27/2008 6:44 AM CDT
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babydolly wrote:
A brand new home with mold already? What kind of inspection was done prior to closing? I would have never purchased it. Just because you can build a fence, does not mean you can build a home!

With the names of the company in this article coming to light it certainly warns prospective buyers. I often wondered about the homes you see being thrown up by Hispanic work crews and wondered what experience they have in home building? I guess it is all about how fast the homes can be thrown up and how much profit can be made. If the builder, like most home builders do, charges 20% more for building materials than he really needs and has that amount left over, then every fifth house is all profit! Very sad that these people have no recourse or protection in TX to have their largest asset protected. Time for MANY changes in the TX Legislature.
4/27/2008 6:50 AM CDT
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JR3 wrote:
You people are nuts ! If Hispanics werent building these homes , they wouldnt get built ..Who else is going to build them .. Thats why you have a qualified inspector from the get go . Unless youre buying a tract POS , then you get what you pay for . What an uneducated racist comment Texasnana !
4/27/2008 6:52 AM CDT
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ManlyWeasel wrote:
JR3 wrote:
You people are nuts ! If Hispanics werent building these homes , they wouldnt get built ..Who else is going to build them .. Thats why you have a qualified inspector from the get go . Unless youre buying a tract POS , then you get what you pay for . What an uneducated racist comment Texasnana !
=================
Dumb. The answer is : Americans making a living wage. Just like up north where legal Americans build great houses. Might might to get out of Texico every now and then.
4/27/2008 6:57 AM CDT
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ManlyWeasel wrote:
seabrook7 wrote:
oh and, blaming republicans, which I doubt any live in montrose, is just stupid.
========================
You got a 200 on the Verbal section of the SAT, no doubt. Or maybe you're one of those sad souls that if GWB puked, you'd grab a spoon and enjoy a hot meal.
4/27/2008 6:59 AM CDT
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ManlyWeasel wrote:
IllegalSpaceAlien wrote:
This is why you hire a third party inspector to survey any home you're about to invest in. These people losing their homes to repairs have nobody to blame for their lack of due diligence but themselves.
========================
Thanks, GOD, for the information. The story doesn't say that, but you are sure of it. Are you a doctor, by chance?
4/27/2008 7:00 AM CDT
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ratfink wrote:
Thank our wonderful politicians for siding with homebuilders like Perry. What a crock, and now with subprime problems the Feds want to step in and help the homebuilders, ha ha they already have helped themselves to millions in profits.
4/27/2008 7:01 AM CDT
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eclipse wrote:
Don't make the mistake of assuming homes build in Houston are a good bargain because of "cheap immigrant labor". I have it on good authority that the savings, as they say are passed on to you is not what happens. Cheap labor merely translates into higher profits for the home builder.
4/27/2008 7:02 AM CDT
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DonutMuncher wrote:
As long as the governor and legislators are in the pockets of the big builders, Texans will continue to get screwed. The TRCC is a toothless baby paper tiger, created as a sideshow to distract people while their rights to sue in court were being taken away. Citizens have always had a remedy to go after frauds and promise breakers: civil lawsuits. The powers that be decided however, that accountability, product safety, contract enforcement, and reasonable precaution were standards that were just too high for them, and paid off our great legislators to do away with the civil justice system in the name of "tort reform."

Now if you've been harmed by a builde, Good Luck. Doctor committed malpractice and left you weakened/disabled/in paid/dead.... here's $250k, don't spend it all in one place. Might as well just file in JP court, results will be the same and its a whole lot quicker.

In the meantime, at least everyone's insurance is getting cheaper, right? Oh wait, I forgot to mention our esteemed leaders being in the pocket of the insurance lobby too.

Don't worry though, Perry and his cronies are going to roll back taxes, so things will be so cheap you'll be afford everything on your own, which is what you'll have to do, because there won't be any infrastructure or services. Except the privatized stuff, like foreign-owned toll roads. And foreign-owned ports. But at least stuff will be cheaper like, food, gas, and medicine. Hmmmmmmm. Well, hey, at least kids toys are as cheap as they can be. Just don't let your kids mess around with them for too too long, with the lead paint and all........

4/27/2008 7:05 AM CDT
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earth56 wrote:
Long live the capitalist market. Buyer Beware.
4/27/2008 6:14 PM CDT
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twobe wrote:
"This is a very poorly written article. It wreaks of propaganda and probably was planted in the Chronicle right before some sunset legislation committee meeting. It describes the plight of some very unfortunate homeowners, states "Texas laws offer minimal recourse for homeowners" and never mentions the existence of the Texas Residential Construction Commission. The TRCC runs a very public website and if you go there, you can see that >>. You can verify this at http://www.trcc.state.tx.us/. Casimiro is unregistered and Thomas Thibodeau is the only one who registered with the state. But he has no complaints against him!"

I beg to differ as I believe this article reeks of truth, not propaganda.
We have several months to go before Sunset so I do not believe the timing has anything to do with it.
Were you sir or madame at the State Affairs testimony for homebuilders in Austin?
This is not an isolated case. One of the state reps. herself was taken by a contractor and if not for her status as a state rep. the contractor would still be ripping people off, not serving 99 years.
A builder is just a name. You have people of all levels of competence.
For instance, the kid who supervised my house didn"t know what he was doing and all the subcontractors that worked on my place are all defunct, nice huh? No wonder I ended up with a lemon.
...and if you are a member of greater homebuilders why don't you make recommendations to change things? When I pay a builder to build a house for me I would assume he knows what he is doing. Am I supposed to check credentials as well?
I would be glad to meet with the HHB. I know others that would as well.
4/27/2008 6:15 PM CDT
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CK2795 wrote:
miss_msry wrote:
As long as Houston and Texas politics is run by "developers" like Mayor White and every other Houston mayor and governor in this fine state, there will be not reform and no recourse for homeowners.
---------------------------
Oh, I just love it when people comment about stuff they know absolutely NOTHING about!
4/27/2008 6:48 PM CDT
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frank03 wrote:
Hispanics have brought their culture of corruption to Americas construction industry and as all things corruption touches, it destroys.
4/27/2008 7:24 PM CDT
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twobe wrote:
I believe missy_msry knows exactly what she is talking about.

Read about TRCC. By the way State Rep. Alan Ritter that is mentioned in the article and filed HB 1038 on behalf of the homebuilders, well just to let ya know his family owns a lumber company and guess who they sell the lumber to?
Wouldn't you almost say there is a conflict of interest in that rep. who owns a lumber com. and filing a bill for the homebuilders?
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2501
4/27/2008 7:30 PM CDT
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EStreet wrote:
TexasNana wrote:
"I've been watching townhomes being built in the Heights...all by hispanics and I wonder where they get their training since most of them came from villages with houses built of plywood. This story is just the beginning of the compaints we are going to hear about these hispanic-built homes, just you wait and see."

oh please...give it a rest with the "hispanics are ruining everything" already. what about the DIRTY DEVELOPERS who hire them illegally and ho are in bed with the Perrys? please.
4/27/2008 7:37 PM CDT
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twobe wrote:
One more link, pretty comprehensive too.

http://www.hobb.org/content/view/588/312/
4/27/2008 7:40 PM CDT
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tiponeill wrote:
I don't live in Houston any more so this is the first I've heard of this, although I'm not surprised. I worked part time in the on-site office at Hyde Park Crescent when it was being built and sold. I'd love to know more about what has happend - This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it if anyone has info
4/27/2008 7:41 PM CDT
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Buyer beware. Have an inspection done by a qualified company. And hope that all the work was done properly. Or hire a "white Hat" to oversee the entire project. There is no way I would drop $350K on a house without these basic things being done. Your builder is not your friend. He's a vendor like all the rest. Why would you drop $350K and not spend an extra 10K for second opinion. And listen to the posts on this article...blame the republicans? What kind of crap is that? Blame the builder, blame the city inspector, blame yourself for buying garbage. You were taken in by a fraud...I'm very sorry, I hope the builder gets what he has coming to him.
4/27/2008 8:02 PM CDT

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