Q: I bought a brand new, 3-story townhouse in Sonoma County for $460,000, after the builder had to push back the closing date several times. We even had to live in a hotel for two weeks, which the builder paid for.
We moved in three months ago, and since then our master bathroom bathtub leaked and water damaged the ceiling above the kitchen. The ceiling and leak were fixed, but the ceiling does not look like it did when we moved in, so the builder is going to fix it again.
The sliding glass door in our master bedroom has never closed right and will not lock. The builder fixed it, kind of. It locks and slides, but not like a new door should. After the first rain we found that the sliding glass door was leaking water and soaked our carpet underneath it.
Recently, we left for the weekend. We came back to find that the ceiling in our master bedroom was leaking in four or five places. Our bed was soaked as well as our carpet. Currently, we have our bed in our living room and there are four large holes in the ceiling of our bedroom, there is plastic laid down and buckets to catch the water.
The builder is in the process of fixing the roof and the sliding glass door. These are just a few of the issues we have had with our brand new town house.
What I don’t understand is what went wrong with our house. Our neighbors’ homes seem to be fine. Is there such thing as a “Lemon Law” for new homes and should the builder be compensating me for all the hassle involved with this purchase?
A: Although home buyers and sellers typically do not use attorney to close residential deals, you are a perfect example of what can go wrong in a house deal and why you need someone watching out for your legal rights when it comes to the contract.
Please talk to a real estate attorney who has had plenty of experience in new construction. You need to put some pressure on your builder to make the required repairs in a timely manner. Clearly, you are having some major issues that should be covered under your builder’s warranty.
As far as compensating you for the hassle, a typical builder’s contract probably doesn’t cover that. So unless you had a real estate attorney help you with the document and make modifications to the document that would require the builder to reimburse you for these expenses, you may be out of luck.
It does sound like the builder is trying to rectify the problems you’re having. My issue would be that a patchwork of repairs doesn’t mean the whole house is fine. In fact, the kinds of issues you’re having indicate a poor level of quality control. Perhaps the foreman was off the day your house is built.
You might want to find out the name of the company that installed the roof and find out if the roof warranty is through the installer or the manufacturer. If the roof warranty is through the manufacturer, you might be able to call the manufacturer and have them inspect the roof to make sure that it was installed properly.
Likewise, you might be able to get additional information from the manufacturer of the sliding door to see what can be done and to determine if there is a defect in the door or in the installation. You may also be able to find out if the installation was poor and whether the problem with the installation still exists.
I wish you luck. It’s not easy when new construction goes wrong. Having an attorney on hand might help.
Jan. 7, 2007.
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