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Victory for Lemons and Homeowner
Saturday, 02 July 2005

Angry resident paints giant lemons on her condo's windows in protest
— A homeowner has found an unusual way to speak out against her homebuilder...Heather Michelson headed to court over large yellow lemons painted on the window of her quarter million dollar Montrose condo. It was art -- and a statement. "The only voice I had," she said. "I put lemons up and I moved out." ... "I had bloody noses at night, nauseous, dementia," recalled Michelson. "I was fatigued. I'd sleep for 18 hours a day." The symptoms, she says, disappeared when she moved out... Janet Ahmad with Homeowners for Better Building explained, "Anyone can be a builder in Texas. But only in Texas are the home builders unregulated and the buyer is regulated."

Angry resident paints giant lemons on her condo's windows in protest

Angry homeowner
Heather Michelson claims faulty construction allowed moisture and mold in her condo's bathroom, making her ill.

— A homeowner has found an unusual way to speak out against her homebuilder.

ABC13 report


Homeowner associations taking homeowners to court is not unusual - certainly in Harris County. This story has a different twist. It's a condo board taking a condo owner to court. They were seeking an injunction against a large window display, but the case goes deeper that what's visible to the eye.

Heather Michelson headed to court over large yellow lemons painted on the window of her quarter million dollar Montrose condo. It was art -- and a statement.

"The only voice I had," she said. "I put lemons up and I moved out."

On Wednesday, a county court judge ordered the offending lemons removed. They'd been scraped off already. It's a moot point in more ways than one. Michelson has moved out. She says the condo had mold made her sick.

"I had bloody noses at night, nauseous dementia," recalled Michelson. "I was fatigued. I'd sleep for 18 hours a day."

The symptoms, she says, disappeared when she moved out. Tests which she paid for indicated mold in the bathroom. When she took Eyewitness News on a tour, none was visible. But the case is touching a nerve with homeowner advocates.

Janet Ahmad with Homeowners for Better Building explained, "Anyone can be a builder in Texas. But only in Texas are the home builders unregulated and the buyer is regulated."

Michelson claims her health problems were related to construction defects that allowed moisture in and mold to develop. But she has limited legal recourse. Her condo is now in foreclosure. A year ago her life was far different than what it is today.

She said, "I had a home, a car, a phone, everything, computer. I have nothing now, nothing. I'm homeless."

Michelson is living with a friend.

The builder of Tremont Tower condominiums refutes Ms. Michelson's claims of improper construction, going on to say, "The builder's general contractor has assured me that there is no mold in Ms. Michelson's unit. No mold whatsoever."

This may not be the last time the builder and the buyer go to court.
(Copyright © 2005, KTRK-TV)

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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
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