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Hutto Lennar Homes: Some homes reeling on expansive soil
Thursday, 26 June 2008

Shaky ground
Some say homeownership is at the heart of the American Dream — a symbol of family, success and security. For most people, buying a home is the biggest investment they’ll ever make. Getting what they pay for is a value probably as important to Americans as homeownership. Unfortunately for dozens of homeowners in Hutto, expansive soil and questionable building practices have combined to create a perfect storm of discontented residents asking construction companies to right shaky foundations...Janet Ahmad, president of Homeowners for Better Building, a San Antonio-based organization devoted to defending homeowners’ rights, said homebuilders Lennar and Centex did not sufficiently inform homebuyers of the possible problems.

Shaky ground
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Some homes reeling on expansive soil
By Traviss Thomas

Some say homeownership is at the heart of the American Dream — a symbol of family, success and security. For most people, buying a home is the biggest investment they’ll ever make.

Getting what they pay for is a value probably as important to Americans as homeownership.

Unfortunately for dozens of homeowners in Hutto, expansive soil and questionable building practices have combined to create a perfect storm of discontented residents asking construction companies to right shaky foundations.

The source of the problem is a rich, black soil that is excellent for farming, but prone to expand when exposed to moisture and contract in its absence. Much of the former farmland on which Hutto’s new subdivisions have been built is this type of soil, which can cause problems for foundations.

Janet Ahmad, president of Homeowners for Better Building, a San Antonio-based organization devoted to defending homeowners’ rights, said homebuilders Lennar and Centex did not sufficiently inform homebuyers of the possible problems.

“They didn’t tell the people,” she said. “The city has a requirement of [the homebuilders] disclosing to owners that they know about the expansive soil.

“With rain, there is expansion and contraction of soil. People have been told this is normal.”

Hutto’s expansive soil does not preclude home construction, but special precautions must be taken in order to prevent structural problems. Specifically, foundations laid in expansive soil must be deeper than typical foundations in order to prevent shifting and the subsequent warping of walls that can occur when the soil naturally expands and contracts.

 
 

Particular problems can arise when the soil under one part of a foundation gets wet while another part remains dry, causing rifts in the foundation.

“If you haven’t constructed the foundation to withstand it, it cracks,” Ahmad said.

Foundations are expected to move, but the degree of movement under some Hutto homes has been so great it has caused walls to detach from roofs. In part, this is caused by a construction flaw when the nails attaching roofs to drywall are placed so close together that they do not allow for movement in the foundation.

The HuttoParke subdivision has witnessed the greatest number of construction-related complaints. Lennar Corp. is the company that built homes in that subdivision.

Ahmad said a common problem of Lennar homes is that builders strayed from blueprints in some cases.

“Engineered trusses on the roof don’t fit, so they cut them,” she said. “That’s when you’re going away from plans.”

Many new homes in Hutto have undergone repairs to correct problems caused by their foundations.

“I will tell you they’ve made some changes in Hutto,” Ahmad said. “They fix it after the fact.”

Centex Homes has also been the target of several complaints about faulty construction practices, Ahmad said.

Editor’s note: If you have a personal story about construction problems at your home you’d like to share, contact The Hutto News at (512) 759-1420 or e-mail new?sdesk@thehutto?news.com.

http://www.thehuttonews.com/articles/2008/06/25/news/news03.txt

 
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