Originally Posted By: rbracklow
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.
Here is an interesting article that was sent to me, that you ALL might find interesting!!
As anticipated for the past 4 years, the State Commission of Investigation has begun to expose the failure of the state to regulate the homebuilding industry. Things are unraveling in New Jersey - Keep an eye on Texas...
New Jersey Buyers of 'Dream Homes' Relate Their Nightmares
"The citizens who testified before the State Commission of Investigation said they had been burned not once, but twice -- first by greedy builders who did shoddy work and refused to make repairs, and then by the state's own clumsy bureaucracy, which failed to come to their rescue. By the end of the day, SCI Chairman Francis E. Schiller was shaking his head in disbelief."
Because of builder influence the New Jersey process has failed miserably. The State of New Jersey is supposed to administer the warranty process however, in the past six years the state has not awarded a single warranty claim to homeowners with defective homes.
TEXAS BEWARE - The worse is yet to come! The new Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC), the best bill homebuilder money could buy, is patterned after the New Jersey law. The Texas Commission is comprised of 9 members, all with ties to the homebuilding industry.
HomeOwners for Better Building
San Antonio, Texas
New Jersey Buyers of 'Dream Homes' Relate Their Nightmares
By Richard Cowen, The Record, Hackensack, N.J. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 22 - For some homeowners, New Jersey's housing boom has been a bust -- and some of them went to Trenton on Wednesday with tales of new homes filled with cracked walls, flooding basements, and broken dreams.
The citizens who testified before the State Commission of Investigation said they had been burned not once, but twice -- first by greedy builders who did shoddy work and refused to make repairs, and then by the state's own clumsy bureaucracy, which failed to come to their rescue.
By the end of the day, SCI Chairman Francis E. Schiller was shaking his head in disbelief.
"It is unconscionable that in this, the 21st century -- an era in which the mere flick of a switch brings us crystal-clear, close-up images of Mars -- that hardworking, law-abiding citizens here at home are victimized by a system that often cannot decipher and implement the simplest features of a warranty," Schiller said.
"Something must be done, and through this process, by publicly exposing and examining the extensive flaws of that system, we have taken an important first step."
The warranty on newly constructed homes is one of many documents a buyer picks up at the closing -- and is so thick with legal terminology that many people don't know where they stand until something goes wrong with the house.
And as the SCI investigation found, the warranty system is both confusing to homeowners and fraught with abuse by builders.
"A nightmare" is the way Graham Fill of Butler described his life since January 2001, when he bought a new house in the Hemlock Estates development. Shortly after moving in, Fill noticed water running down the walls of his basement.
Fill figured his warranty was strong enough to force the builder, Majestic Homes of Boonton, to fix the problem. But despite the warranty, the builder refused, Fill said.
Fill had hired his own engineer, who determined that a 30-foot patch of brick facade would have to be removed to install flashing to protect the inner walls. When the builder refused to do the work, Fill had two choices: sue the builder in state Superior Court, or submit to binding arbitration, a system run by the state Department of Community Affairs. He chose arbitration.
"I thought it would be quicker and cheaper," Fill said. Three years later, the repair hasn't been made, Fill testified before the SCI on Wednesday.
Fill said he made a videotape of the damage and submitted other documents to the arbitrator, Steven Rapp, appointed by Construction Arbitration Services Inc. of Dallas, Texas. Fill told the SCI he got the immediate impression that Rapp wasn't impartial. He said Rapp didn't think the submitted evidence was enough to warrant replacing the brick facade.
Fill then hired an attorney and threatened to sue. It was only after Rapp agreed to review his own arbitration decision that he made a startling admission, Fill testified.
"He came by [the house] and said that he had a business relationship with the builder," Fill told the SCI. "He said he and the builder had done some land acquisition."
Neither Rapp nor anyone from Majestic Homes could be reached for comment Wednesday. But a lawyer for Construction Arbitration Services, Marshall Lippman, said Rapp should have disclosed that information to the company, which would have recused him from the case.
"That was information that should have been disclosed before he took the case," Lippman said.
Fill said he lost all faith in the arbitration process at that point.
"I just about exploded," he said. After waiting three years and spending thousands of dollars on legal and expert fees, Fill said, he appealed the initial arbitration ruling and won. Majestic Homes is supposed to replace the facade when the weather warms up, he said.
The SCI plans to hold more hearings in coming months. Homeowners who have had problems with their warranties can contact the SCI at (609) 292-6767 or online at www.state.nj.us./sci.
SCI investigators who testified said they uncovered many examples of homeowners getting burned by municipal inspectors who didn't ensure houses were satisfactory before the buyers moved in. They also said they found that only two weeks ago, a builder treated workers in the Building Department in Manchester Township to a catered lunch -- just days after the mayor had warned the workers against accepting such gratuities.