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Homeowners requesting that the homebuilder buy back their homes
Wednesday, 01 February 2012

Schertz residents appeal, ‘Buy back our houses'
Several homeowners in a Schertz subdivision whose homes have various structural problems, including cracking foundations, are requesting that the homebuilder buy back their homes. Homeowners who live in the Fairhaven subdivision off Interstate 35 and FM 1103 want Pulte Homes to buy back 55 homes. In a show of unity, all the homeowners will mail their letters, requesting a buy back from Pulte, on Saturday at the Schertz Veterans Post Office.

Schertz residents appeal, ‘Buy back our houses'

By David DeKunder, Staff Writer

Several homeowners in a Schertz subdivision whose homes have various structural problems, including cracking foundations, are requesting that the homebuilder buy back their homes.

Homeowners who live in the Fairhaven subdivision off Interstate 35 and FM 1103 want Pulte Homes to buy back 55 homes. In a show of unity, all the homeowners will mail their letters, requesting a buy back from Pulte, on Saturday at the Schertz Veterans Post Office.

Bruce Touve said he and his wife, Faye, are requesting that Pulte buy back their home because their foundation is beyond repair. He said his foundation is so tilted that there is a 4.5-inch drop between the front and back of his home.

“You can't fix a broken or tilted foundation,” Touve said. “Repairs haven't fixed the problem.”

The homeowners believe shifting soil beneath their homes is causing various structural problems — cracks in foundations, slabs, walls, ceilings and floors, and sticking doors and windows.

A steering committee, co-chaired by Ian McIntosh and Bob Faust, will represent the homeowners in dealing with Pulte. McIntosh said the committee will also be involved in pressing for stringent regulations of homebuilders in Schertz, such as requiring that homebuilders be bonded and licensed and denying permits to homebuilders who have problems with homes in other parts of the city.

“This would stop Pulte, or any builder, (from) building (more) subdivisions that will fall apart in a matter of years,” McIntosh said. “It's something we need to work toward with the city, to stop this from happening to other people.”

At a meeting Monday in a Fairhaven subdivision home, Janet Ahmad, president of Home Owners for Better Building, said the homeowners need to stick together if they are to get Pulte to buy back their homes.

“One thing I want to instill in you is do not get discouraged over the process,” Ahmad said. “It doesn't happen overnight.

“I'm not going to get your houses bought back for you. The steering committee is not going to get it done. But they're going to give you the best we got in seeing to it we stay focused on what needs to be done. You're the ones who are going to do it.”

Pulte spokeswoman Valerie Dolenga last week said the homebuilder doesn't buy back homes except in rare cases — such as when it offered to buy back homes in the Hills of River Mist subdivision in northwest San Antonio in 2010. Several of those homes were damaged by a collapsed retaining wall and had their certificates of occupancy revoked by the city.

“We are standing behind our homes,” Dolenga said. “We are going to fix and repair them.”

Some homeowners went before the Schertz City Council Jan. 3 asking for the help and support of the city.

Mayor Hal Baldwin told the homeowners the council is behind them, but that the city is limited in what it can do to help.

“We're working very closely with our staff and our attorney on just exactly how we can put some pressure on Pulte without infringing on any areas we can't really get into,” Baldwin said.

“It's a tough thing,” the mayor added. “I want you to know that this council supports your positions and we will do anything that we can do within our power, but our powers in this situation are limited. (Pulte) holds all the cards and we don't hold any.”

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