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New Legal Snags For Pulte Homes

Posted on | October 22, 2012 | No Comments

Pulte Homes Corporation, a major community and home designer/builder in the State of Florida, is involved with serious legal issues brought on by “Mountain House”, a condominimum homeowners association near Stockton, California. The lawsuit, filed October 2 in San Joaquin County Superior Court by Cambridge Place Association, claims that the condominium complex has major water intrusion damage caused by stucco cracks, faulty trim installation, and failed or absent sealant. Plumbing leaks, including leaking valves, water mains, irrigation pipes, wax toilet rings, and shower enclosures are also a problem, the suit said.

Pulte Homes operates in 51 markets in 26 states and has built over 500,00 homes during its 57 year history. The company boasts of being the “largets home builder in the United States”. It also builds and sells homes in Mexico, Argentina, and Puerto Rico. It has subsidiaries that include Del Webb, which builds retirement communities and Palm Beach Gardens-based Divosta Homes which is a pioneer in the mass-market construction of cast concrete houses. William Pulte built his first home in Detroit in 1950 and incorporated his business in 1956 as William J. Pulte, inc. Originally, a builder of high-priced, single-family homes, Pulte began expanding into the midrange and affordable housing market. The company changed its name to Pulte Homes Corporation in 2001. In 2010, founder William Pulte retired from the company and from its board of directors. He was named chairman emeritus.

Prior to this legal action an orgainization called “Poorly Built By Pulte Homes” – a website run by Building Justice, a Washington, D.C. based group, compiled an extensive three year report covering nearly 900 Pulte and Del Webb homeowners from the company’s three biggest US markets. This report covers extensive dissatisfaction and poor ‘fixes’. “We are very saddened that our ‘dream home’ has become a nightmare. It is unfortunate that so many problems have occurred, but even more disappointing that we are left to deal with them, no recourse at all. This house was built very fast, and it is showing over the years. I would NOT recommend a Pulte home to anyone, and I am embarrassed to say that I own one.” as quoted by a Pulte “Heritage at Tartesso” homeowner, Buckeye, Arizona.

Caryn Kiebba, a spokesperson for Pulte Homes says the company is aware of such web sites. She responds that though such complaints do occur nationwide, there is no textbook plan for responding to localized issues like the ones in Sun City, Hilton Head, or the Hills of Rivermist. “But”, she says, “Pulte always immediately reaches out to homeowners, tries to accommodate them in the short-term and works with them to fix the long-term issues”.

This most recent legal complaint in California also claims there are malfunctioning electrical circuit breakers, breaches in fire-proofing between units, and insufficient fireplace vent clearance throughout the project. In addition, the project has corroded painted metal railings on balconies, exterior metal doors, and hinges and hardware, as well as excessive cracking in gypsum wallboard finishes, failed grout joints in tile flooring, and open miter joints in doorway trim throughout the project.

Additional problems at the condos at “Mountain House” include defective, vinyl garage doors that appear have been distorted by the extreme heat of the valley where the project is located, said Thomas E. Miller, “Mountain House” association’s attorney.

A dissatisfied Pulte home onwer, Jeffrey Perkins from Alpharetta, Georgia weighs in with “I’ve been trying for almost two years to get Pulte to take care of some defective carpeting they put down in my townhouse. It is amazing how they managed to keep stalling until after the warranty period expired. Now they are telling me that the warranty has expired and they don’t “have any record of my complaint” while it was under warranty. After reading many of the other postings here it seems like I may be lucky to get away with just some lousy carpet. Sorry to hear of everyone elses troubles. When I bought my townhouse, Pulte conveniently didn’t mention they were building another 5,000 units in a 10 square mile radius. We now have such a glut of inferior townhomes that I may never be able to sell.”

The currnt California lawsuit also says the homeowners association expects to find problems with the design and construction throughout the project as the investigation continues. It’s the project’s water meters, whch make it impossible to determine each unit’s use for proper billing, that sparked the homeowners association’s decision to hire an attorney to address all the grievances, said Miller. He goes on to report that Pulte has been “extremely responsive to the association’s building defect notice.” And that he expects the issue to be resolved within 18 to 24 months. Expectations such as these are likely with a long standing company such as Pulte Homes. In 2002, Pulte Homes was honored as “America’s Best Builder”, named “Builder of the Year” by the “Professional Builder” magazine and in 2003, ranked 19th among the “Top 50 Best-Performing Companies” in “Business Week’s” performance rankings of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index..

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