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Pulte Homes Under FBI Investigation
Wednesday, 01 August 2012

FBI looking into Fairhaven
An FBI official said it has begun a probe into whether Pulte Homes intentionally concealed information about unstable soil conditions in the Fairhaven subdivision on Builder's Certification forms. The forms must be filled out by the home builder when a home buyer applies for a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage. “This is a preliminary inquiry to gather facts to see if it warrants a full-blown investigation,” said Special Agent Erik Vasys, spokesman for the San Antonio FBI office. The inquiry is being conducted by both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the Federal Housing Administration.

FBI looking into Fairhaven
By David DeKunder

The FBI is looking into whether a homebuilder falsified information about soil and ground conditions in a Schertz subdivision.

An FBI official said it has begun a probe into whether Pulte Homes intentionally concealed information about unstable soil conditions in the Fairhaven subdivision on Builder's Certification forms. The forms must be filled out by the home builder when a home buyer applies for a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage.

“This is a preliminary inquiry to gather facts to see if it warrants a full-blown investigation,” said Special Agent Erik Vasys, spokesman for the San Antonio FBI office. The inquiry is being conducted by both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the Federal Housing Administration.

Fairness for Fairhaven Now, a group of homeowners whose homes have cracked foundations and various structural problems, sent a letter to HUD in March requesting an investigation of Pulte. In the letter, the homeowners said Pulte responded “no” to questions on the Builder's Certification form, known as HUD 92451, as to whether there were expansive soil conditions under the home sites.

Janet Ahmad, president of Home Owners for Better Building, said Pulte's responses on the forms contradict their explanations to home owners who have cracked and other problems with their foundations.

“Once those foundations started failing, (Pulte) always blames it on expansive soil,” Ahmad said. “Yet the document (forms) says no expansive soil.”

Ahmad is helping approximately 40 homeowners who want Pulte to buy back their homes.

Under provisions of the Builder's Certification form, if a builder states that there are possible hazards or adverse conditions on the home site, such as expansive soil conditions or high water levels, it must sign a statement that they have come up with specifications for mitigating any foreseeable hazards or adverse conditions when building the home.

Home builders who file false claims or statements on the form could face criminal or civil penalties, or both.

Melinda Ruiz, who has experienced foundation problems since she moved into her home in 2009, said she feels Pulte has deceived her in concealing expansive soil conditions underneath her home.

“I'm angry,” Ruiz said. “I don't trust Pulte for a lot of reasons. I feel lied to.”

Ruiz said the home builder has been coming into her home the last two years trying fix things up, including replacing all of her tile. But she said the problems persist, including a crack in her foundation that goes from end of her home to another.

Dan Hollestelle said an engineering report done before his home was built recommended that the foundation be reinforced, but that was never done.

“(The foundation) wasn't engineered properly to withstand the expansive soil,” he said.

Hollestelle said the same report mentioned ground water on his home site. Yet he said Pulte indicated nothing about expansive soil or adverse condition on the Builder's Certification form.

In a written statement, Pulte spokeswoman Valerie Dolenga said the home builder is cooperating with the FBI and federal officials in the inquiry.

“Representatives of our company contacted and met with (U.S. Department of Justice) representatives and reiterated Pulte Homes' commitment to standing behind the quality of homes and community of Fairhaven,” Dolenga said. “Pulte Homes continues to work closely with the residents of Fairhaven to correct outstanding issues in a timely manner.”

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Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/community/northeast/news/article/FBI-looking-into-Fairhaven-3714329.php#ixzz22RvA3o42

 
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