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Cibolo Mayor and council seek to reign in shoddy homebuilding
Saturday, 13 October 2012

Raising the roof over homes
For months, several homeowners in the Falcon Ridge and Bentwood Ranch subdivisions have claimed the home builder sold them defective houses, and already the City Council has taken steps to protect its residents by drafting a stricter building code. Since the beginning of the year, the city of Cibolo has put in place code that requires home builders to conduct more soil testing and that requires engineers to certify a building's design fits with the soil test results, Mayor Pro-tem Stever Liparoto said. Cibolo Mayor Jennifer Hartman is one homeowner whose house has foundation issues...  “There seems to be a big difference between the home builders and the engineers (as to) what constitutes a failure,” Liparoto said. “My thought is that if it costs the homeowner money or decreases their value, it's a failure.”

Raising the roof over homes
By Valentino Lucio
  
                  Cracks in the foundation of the DR Horton built home of Jushua Sanchez in Cibolo
                        on October 4, 2012.
Photo: Tom Reel, San Antonio Express-News

    

CIBOLO — Cracked foundations, collapsed driveways and busted plumbing are just a few issues several residents here are encountering with their D.R. Horton homes.

For months, several homeowners in the Falcon Ridge and Bentwood Ranch subdivisions have claimed the home builder sold them defective houses, and already the City Council has taken steps to protect its residents by drafting a stricter building code.

Since the beginning of the year, the city of Cibolo has put in place code that requires home builders to conduct more soil testing and that requires engineers to certify a building's design fits with the soil test results, Mayor Pro-tem Steve Liparoto said.

Cibolo Mayor Jennifer Hartman is one homeowner whose house has foundation issues.

Hartman and Liparoto have met with homeowners from Falcon Ridge and Bentwood Ranch about their problems.

It's unclear how many homeowners have issues with their foundations or if neighborhood homes by other home builders have been affected.

“There seems to be a big difference between the home builders and the engineers (as to) what constitutes a failure,” Liparoto said. “My thought is that if it costs the homeowner money or decreases their value, it's a failure.”

Dozens of homeowners have made repairs themselves or have used their home warranties for most fixes.

Although no one has officially made that request, homeowners want more than a fix. They want D.R. Horton to buy back their houses.

“Why is this happening? There's so much stress from purchasing this home, physically and mentally,” said Jushua Sanchez, who bought his home about a year ago. “They need to buy it back. This is supposed to be our retirement home, but it's just a bust.”

About two months after Sanchez closed on his home, he started noticing doors sticking and cracks in
the floor and along the walls. He has had D.R. Horton patch cracks about three times, but the problems continue to mount, he said.

The cracks, which are wide enough to fit a quarter, are causing leaks and allowing insects access into the house.

In August, about a month after she closed on her home, Elaine Pennington heard the sound of what she thought were fireworks coming from inside her house.

As she searched for where the sound was coming from, she realized the noise was her home's foundation cracking. When the ruckus stopped, she noticed cracks inside the home in her floor, walls and ceiling. From the outside she could see cracks in the brick, foundation and the street.

“I was speechless,” she said. “I'm beginning to wonder if there is something wrong with the ground. I can't afford to have the home fall down on me.”

An official statement from D.R. Horton mentioned that the builder has been contacted by only 10 homeowners in the Cibolo market about foundation questions or concerns.

“For each homeowner that has contacted us, we requested the opportunity to inspect their home to evaluate its condition and determine any necessary repairs,” the statement reads.

D.R. Horton has built more than 1,000 homes in the Cibolo area, the statement said.

Earlier this year, Pulte Homes came to terms with homeowners in the Fairhaven neighborhood in Schertz after they complained about issues such as cracked foundations.

Pulte didn't buy back homes there, but the builder has been making house-specific repairs and is rebuilding homes that have required more comprehensive work, James Zeumer, vice president of investor and corporate communications for Pulte, said in an email.

Homeowners whose homes are being rebuilt have been placed in temporary housing. Their homes should be complete by year's end.

At this point, the residents of the affected homes in Cibolo are still working to form an official group. They hope soon to file a formal complaint and buyback demand with D.R. Horton.

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http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/article/Raising-the-roof-over-homes-3943961.php#ixzz29CGMjR80

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jimwinslow_saen

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jimwinslow

9:17 AM on October 15, 2012

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The right thing is for D R Horton to buy back your house. Short of that, they need to demolish your house, design it correctly and rebuild. Short of that, they need to repair the foundation and all damage, and refund the depreciated home value to you. All owners will have to disclose this defect when they sell their house; I would not buy it unless you sold it for pennies on the dollar...It is wrong on so many levels that this builder intentionally builds substandard homes and gets away with it.

 
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greenspan_saen

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greenspan

8:07 AM on October 15, 2012

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D.R.Horton is doing the right thing but they need to do more. Homeowners with foundation issues should be able to sell as well and D.R. should give them the differenc if there is a loss.

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satx123_saen

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satx123

7:42 AM on October 15, 2012

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why don't builders use pier and beam foundations? We know that soil in SA moves. On pier and beam, you can shim it and level it if you need to. With a slab, the ground moves, the slab cracks, and in many cases you're done.

Most older SA homes are built this way, and have been standing for 50-100+ years.

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satx123_saen

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satx123

7:35 AM on October 15, 2012

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Wh Hn will people learn that you're much better off buying an existing home in an established neighborhood?

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kisara_saen

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kisara

10:46 AM on October 14, 2012

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Didn't D.R Horton have this problem before? I could have sworn I read this same article at least five years ago.

 
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retiredinlavernia_saen

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retiredinlavernia

4:54 AM on October 14, 2012

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I am sure there are some corners cut by the contractors but a foundation that does not move would cost more than the home sells for for just the foundations - Foundations sitting on soil move - It is a fact of life - A crack that a quarter fits in is not a failure - When you can stick your fist in the crack than you have a failure.

A foundation that does not move at all would cost more to just design than the cost of the foundation construction in a typical residential home. If no movement is required drill piers 35-40 feet deep every 10 feet or so and separate all structural members a minimum of 2 feet from any surface soils. Then a $250,000 home turns into a $750,000 home. Heck the design fee alone would be 40-50k including the inspections required. No one would purchase the homes!!
It would be interesting to look at the fire stations and police stations in the same area -They are typically built for little or no movement and the costs show it.

 
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tireswingws_saen

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tireswingws

7:24 AM on October 14, 2012

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I just don't understand this kind of attitude here that you can just EXPECT your house to shift, crack, and move. In 7 states, I've never heard of anything like this . If this is truly the case, why would anyone buy a home here? I wish I hadn't.

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bnkeymo_saen

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Bnkeymo

7:39 AM on October 14, 2012

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My biggest regret was purchasing a home in SA in 2006. This is when ALL the builders were throwing up homes daily. Junk is what they are and junk is still what they are building. I'm now forced to be a long-distance landlord, and things are needing repaired that should not be showing wear. The builders in our neighborhood- Armadillon, Highland, Lennar, and Pulte all build junk.

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jc_dufresne_saen

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JC_Dufresne

10:47 AM on October 14, 2012

I spoke to a reputable civil engineer with no axe to grind and he told me that a crack in your slab that you can drop a quarter through is a failure because the slab is no longer under the tension it takes to remain stable. If it hasn't already happened you'll soon see walls leaning in or out, ceilings pulling away from walls, doors and windows that don't close etc. That is a foundation failure.

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greenspan_saen

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greenspan

9:06 AM on October 15, 2012

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That is just crazy, what it boils down to is having a poor design and not enough soil samples. You can not take one soil sample and expect to build 20 homes on it. A foundation should be a able to flex as the soil shifts just like a bridge with flex when 18 wheelers drive over it. You don't see cracks the size of a quater's width on the entire bridge...if it occurs expect it to grow. It does not take a lot of concrete and rebar to make it super strong if it's done right. An engineer can easily do this. Paying a little more for a foundation that will not break is really not a deal breaker like "Retireinlavernia" is suggesting. The same goes to pier and beam.

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retiredinlavernia_saen

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retiredinlavernia

4:54 PM on October 15, 2012

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Interesting comments - Explains why 99% of Structural Engineers, including this poster, avoid residential work unless it is for a commercial client (and then do the work for free as a marketing effort only) and why Liability Insurance can not be purchased for anyone who does more than 5% residential projects.

A Home Owner wants to by a bicyle and then wonders why it does not perform like a Lexus. They both will get you were you want to go. You get what you pay for.

Comparing a bridge foundation to a residential foundation is like comparing apples to elephants. The support for just one column on a freeway cost more than what an ENTIRE house costs and consist of several deep piers to bedrock and very expensive pier caps - There is not a single member supported at grade.

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jms_saen

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JMS

11:42 PM on October 13, 2012

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I feel for the homeowners who are going through this headache. A word of advice for prospective homeowners, whether a tract or custom home: Check on your contractor and visit the homesite frequently. Check the walls, the lumber being used, the stability of the stairway, etc. Also, after move-in, water the foundation weekly, especially during a drought. The caliche in this part of the state is murderous on foundations. If one can, build in the hill country on rock and check out the builder's other models/ other homesites to get a better picture of who & what the builder is/ does. If one finds things they don't like about the house, voice the concerns to the contractor/ sales office or take the complaint higher up the chain of command. These people usually are trying to build a good product because if they don't, social network sites as well as message postings like this site can easily kill a reputation.

 
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JC_Dufresne

5:30 PM on October 14, 2012

The only point I disagree on is watering your home weekly. I've spoken to engineers about this and they tell me that you can't reasonably pour enough water into the soil around your home to help. The water is just pulled away to surrounding dry soil and down below. It would take a swimming pool worth of water every week to stabilize just one home and that's just not practical.

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john123_saen

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John123

10:28 PM on October 13, 2012

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I live in Falcon Ridge and have seen the problems that these house have. Half of the houses on my street have had problems. My own house has had several issues as well. Two weeks after we closed, I had to file a claim. I had a huge crack running through the living room. I'm not a contractor. I don't know what or how many short cuts they took.

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Name withheld

JC_Dufresne

9:19 PM on October 13, 2012

I met couple this evening who live in Saddle Creek Ranch near Steele High School, Medallion was their homebuilder and they and several others on their street are suffering similar problems.

 
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bigdfrombigd_saen

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bigdfrombigd

7:24 PM on October 13, 2012

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Pulte has not "come to terms" with all of the Fairhaven homeowners. There are a number of homeowners who are not satisfied with Pulte's supposed/proposed fixes. Shooting epoxy into foundation cracks is not an acceptable fix.

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janetahmad_saen

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janetahmad

7:11 PM on October 13, 2012

These are theproducts of the Real Estate Boom developed by builders that jumped into the frenzy of the greedy mortgage business, with little care to details or quality of their products. From my prospective throwing up houses overnight produced carelessly constructed houses that continue to diminish in value and will not last the life of the mortgage.

 
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tireswingws_saen

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tireswingws

7:26 AM on October 14, 2012

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Sadly, you're right. I wish we hadn't bought one. When we had our one yr. inspection, right before the warranty expired, the inspector told us these houses won't be standing to pass down to generations like the older homes. We tell anyone military coming in not to buy here.

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robertaa_2000_saen

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robertaa_2000

4:55 PM on October 13, 2012

This type of problem is so widespread in our area. If a home was custom built to high standards or the foundation by a stroke of luck is sitting on bedrock, the owner may not have these issues. But anyone living in a subdivision where the developer removed old topsoil and replaced it with caliche may not be so fortunate. That stuff is harsh on plants and trees turning leaves yellow due to iron deficiency, and too much clay under a home makes the ground more prone to expansion and contraction during cycles of drought followed by period where we receive more frequent heavy rain. Like for example the sustained drought we had last year followed by the more frequent heavy rain we've had this year.

 
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mattiandmom_saen

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MattiandMom

4:17 PM on October 13, 2012

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I just want to know why someone would think that they are intelligent and blame the homeowner for something done by a careless and greedy builder? These builders are dishonest in their dealings, they do not care about the unsuspecting buyer. You have retired military/veterans having to fight in wars to keep this country (that you live in safe) and then to have to fight yet another battle with builders who so call claim to support the troops. So the homeowner is at fault? I do not think so. Blame the builder--from D.R. Horton on around, Pulte, Centex, Ryland, etc.... they are all doing the same thing because they DO NOT CARE.....For every homeowner that is dealing with this issue, or may have the issue and think that it is covered by their warranty.....I say....TAKE ACTION NOW!!!!!

 
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letdownagain_saen

Name withheld

letdownagain

3:44 PM on October 13, 2012

I think it's all over this area... we have friends in Wildhorse (far westside) and they have cracked walls in a 4 yr old house. The builder keeps blaming them.

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jc_dufresne_saen

Name withheld

JC_Dufresne

3:25 PM on October 13, 2012

I live in the area, I've seen the homes, my friends live in them, some of these homes are truly frightening. Even if a home doesn't suffer from the foundation failure the neighboring home values are affected. This is wrong and we can not let it stand. Texas needs a home Lemon Law and we need it now.

 Recommend (13) Disapprove (0) 13
why_don_t_we_all_just_use_common_sense__saen

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Why_don_t_we_all_just_use_common_sense_

3:11 PM on October 13, 2012

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The pictures here are misleading. Although I believe their are likely issues these photos simply show a house settling. I've been a home owner since 1994 and a Home Owner in Cibolo for years. Show me the broken pipes, broken door ways etc. Cracks in cosmetic cement and separating tiles (at a seam) do not indicate anything more than an aging home. People need to educate themselves before freaking out!

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jc_dufresne_saen

Name withheld

JC_Dufresne

3:30 PM on October 13, 2012

You haven't been in some of these homes, I have. There are homes in which all the doors and most windows won't close properly. There are cracks you can drop a coin through all the way to the soil below. Even the mayor's house is sliding toward the street and has started to crush the sewer line. The city has started action due to the damage caused. Some homes are missing structural elements allowing hot air to vent into the space between the first and second floors causing higher than normal A/C usage and thus higher electric bills. The list goes on and on.

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mattiandmom_saen

Name withheld

MattiandMom

4:06 PM on October 13, 2012

I agree with JC, and if you would use common sense and before you speak, look, and think, then maybe your comment would be a little more respectful to those that are actually having to live in these POORLY CONSTRUCTED HOMES. How can a home at such a young age be considered aging. You sound like an employee of a builder. Educated or not, these homeowners trusted that they would be paying for a stable product, not something that would be falling apart around them. So while you criticize them, think on this: It could happen to you, your friend, your family, wonder if you'd be saying the same thing. These builders are short cutting and the homeowners are the ones that are suffering. Bad Building seems to be the epidemic in this area, it is time for a change!!!

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jay66_saen

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Jay66

7:27 PM on October 13, 2012

There is a difference between "settling" and a bad foundation. When you see cracks that split through the brick itself, not just the mortar, there is a serious problem.

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rgt95_saen

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RGT95

2:28 PM on October 13, 2012

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I disagree that ALL chain builders construct cheap houses. I'm 9-1/2 years in my house and it's in great shape. I found some minor deficiencies when I first moved in and they were taken care of right away. About a year later the house settled a bit which caused a drain line to leak but that was taken care of too. The house has a 10 year warranty so last month I reviewed the warranty and inspected everything it covered. I found one problem so I submitted a warranty repair request on the builders web site and the repair was made within a week. I'm satisfied and would recommend this builder to anyone.

Having said that, this is a buyer beware situation and it's up to the buyer to perform due diligence and check out the builder before they make the largest purchase of their life.

 
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mattiandmom_saen

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MattiandMom

4:09 PM on October 13, 2012

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You reviewed your warranty because you were having a problem or it just so happened that you wanted to see what it said?

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rgt95_saen

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RGT95

4:59 PM on October 13, 2012

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Reviewed it because I knew it would expire soon and I wanted to get the most out of the warranty. The repairs were minor. I advise all homeowners to do the same since you're paying for the warranty and it's your last chance to get the builder to fix things at no additional cost.

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tireswingws_saen

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tireswingws

7:29 AM on October 14, 2012

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We've had ours inspected three times over five years and what really gets me: all three inspectors found different things. It's crazy- who do you trust? I wish we had never bought here; it's not holding it's value due to the short-sales around us anyway.

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girlygirl_saen

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girlygirl

11:50 AM on October 13, 2012

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It's wrong to sell cheap homes for high prices, even mobile homes are built better

 
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nowintx_saen

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nowintx

10:37 AM on October 13, 2012

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Developers don't give a damn about the buyers, let's face it! Buyers who think they can buy an "affordable" home on a hill or get something where the developers have put ten homes on an acre need to rethink the purchase. And ask a LOT of questions. Ask to see the soil reports. Developers should be required to produce a report that says the ground is sound.

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loneOwl

10:37 AM on October 13, 2012

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This is what happens when cheap labor and unlicensed contractors are used. More profit for the company and headaches for the home owners.

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aftrike_saen

Name withheld

aftrike

10:11 AM on October 13, 2012

Just a reminder you are prohibited from using your uniform in any type of media unless you get approval from public affairs. Obviously the man has been in the Air Force long enough to be a Senior NCO or Major or above, shame on you.

MSgt Retired, USAF

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letsbereasonable_saen

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letsbereasonable

10:11 AM on October 13, 2012

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If there were cracks in the street, I wonder if there was a very small earthquake.

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aipenasr_saen

Name withheld

aipenasr

8:14 AM on October 13, 2012

Bought my new Ray Ellison home in 1978. Have had a string of problems ever since. Forget about your home insurance providing any relief. The most any insurance policy will do is to send amateurs to "patch" the damage caused by the primary problem. Cracked foundations, not caused by broken plumbing lines in the concrete slab are a problem for the homeowner, not the insurer. Good luck.

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tireswingws_saen

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tireswingws

7:18 AM on October 13, 2012

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That's just ALL the chain builders around here: throw up junk in a month and move to the next one.

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ARIZONA REGISTRAR OF CONTRACTORS
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Pulte Homeowner Survey
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Tort Reform Feature
Texas Monthly
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Special Money Report
Big Money and Shoddy Construction:Texas Home Buyers Left Out in the Cold
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Read Report: Big Money…
Home Builder Money Source of Influence

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