Most people are excited with the idea of purchasing a new home. It gives people a sense of accomplishment, a testament to their hard work. But one womans shot at the American Dream turned into her worst nightmare.
Bennett said she has been in an ongoing battle with Lennar Homes Inc. and
Texas Residential Construction Commission about her home she purchased
brand-new in 2004.
Jeryl Bennett purchased her brand-new three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in August of 2004. The home, located in Hanover Forest subdivision near Interstate 45 in Spring, was built by Lennar Homes, Inc. and was documented to be worth $134,000 when Bennett bought it. But in October of 2007, the Appraisal Review Board of Harris County Appraisal District said the home was worth $70,000.
Bennett believes poor construction by the builders is the reason for the drop in value of a home that Bennett now refers to as a piece of junk.
The ceramic tile in my floor began to crack two weeks after I moved in, Bennett said. Lennar has repaired the floor 18 times.
Bennett said in addition to the cracks in the floor, the kitchen has dips in it, the doors are warped, hairline cracks are located throughout the house, there are weeping holes in the bricks directly above the front door, rafters in the roof have broken causing large concave dents and the foundation was poorly constructed, causing the house to shift.
Bennett said she contacted the Texas Residential Construction Commission and began the state-sponsored inspection and resolution process. Bennett was told by a TRCC engineer in August of 2006 that none of her complaints were structural and her home was in compliance. In a recent inspection by TRCC in June of 2008, a different engineer reported that Bennetts roof complaint was structural and not in compliance.
Bennett said shes been in a battle with Lennar and TRCC since she purchased her home and said Lennar has given her the run-around and taken advantage of her.
I do not want this home. Once it loses value, I cant sell it, Bennett said. I want Lennar to buy this home back from me. Ive been deprived of pure enjoyment of a home that I had built. Ive been going through hell since Ive been here, constantly fighting with Lennar. Im fighting for a stable, livable home to stay in.
Frustrated with how things were going, Bennett sought legal counsel and began contacting her state representatives and local media. Bennett said State Rep. Debbie Riddle came to her home twice.
Do you think Lennar cares about me? Theyve made billions, Bennett said. But I will fight them any way I can.
Bennett said she was grieving over the death of her mother when she made plans to purchase a home. After narrowing it down to four home builders, she said she fell in love with the sales consultants at Lennar and the woman who handled her closing.
I felt they were so genuine here, she said. I asked God if this was the right choice for me and I put it in his hands. This is where my heart led me.
Bennett said she loves her neighbors and the Spring-area she lives in just not the house.
The hardest thing will be packing up and finding another neighborhood. Its a hurtful feeling so Im still grieving. Im not stable and I still havent found any peace, she said.
Bennett said her biggest mistake was trusting the company.
I purchased this house in good faith and Lennar let me down, she said. If a consumer purchases a home from a builder, they should have a safe and stable dwelling.
Lennar Homes, Inc. built most of the buildings in Bennetts neighborhood around the same time and several neighbors are experiencing the same problems with their homes.
Marianne Searcy lives with her husband and son in a home across the street from Bennett. Searcy said there is a large crack separating her kitchen cabinet from the wall, cracks in her tiled floor and a leaky windowsill that Lennar came and fixed.
My husbands had to repair the shower and there was no return air duct for the air conditioner vent upstairs, Searcy said. We are starting to wonder did Lennar do this to all homes (they built here).
Tony Romeo and Linda Tilotta also live in a Lennar Home near Bennett. Theyve experienced the same problems in their home as Bennett, but said their major concern is the foundation.
I was trimming the grass and got close to the foundation of the house, Romeo said. It was like sawdust. The side of the concrete was like powder. Olshan (Foundation Repair) came out and said we probably need to have the cement tested and that our foundation might not even hold up.
Tilotta added theyre tired of the poor repairing Lennar does.
This is after four years. Whats it going to be like in five or six years? Tilotta said. Im tired of messing with it. We feel this just isnt right.
Lennar customer care manager Daris Horn said Lennar is still looking into Bennetts ceramic tile floor and the multiple repairs. She said representatives from Lennar met with Bennett as recent as August 21.
Horn said Lennar works to address problems homeowners may have with the company.
We have a customer care coordinator that takes telephone calls and emails, and our customer care department comes out to look at every item, Horn said. If we find it is a construction issue, we address it.
Horn said she didnt know why Bennetts home was appraised at $70,000.
I dont know how the appraisal district arrived at that information. I dont understand how that process works, Horn said.
Bennett said during the meeting August 21, she told Lennar representatives she no longer wanted the house.
I told them we are going to end up in court if they dont buy this house back, she said.
Bennett said she, Lennar president Don Luke, Horn another Lennar representative were present at the hour-long meeting.
He (Luke) said he really didnt know what had been going on (with my issues), but that he is going to be fair, Bennett said. I gave them a time frame of 30 days.