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A Warranty War That Has Homeowners Stuck In Limbo

10:08 PM, Dec 30, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- "It's at least 9 to 10 feet," says Ram Kirsn. 

"It's been repaired once, and then it came back," Lizzy Javier says.

"I'm over here two years, and it's still here," says Lucy Paone.

These retired homeowners all have something in common.  They are fed up each time they look at the ceiling in their half million homes.

Homeowner Jeanne Holland says it is hard to look up at her ceiling.  She and her husband, Bill, thought they'd found carefree living.  Until, they had to face a reoccurring problem.

"How many ceilings do you have up there?, asks 9 News Now anchor and consumer correspondent Lesli Foster.

"Well, there are three layers," Jeanne says.

The cracks appeared six months after moving into their brand new home back in 2007.  They figured if there was a problem their warranty would protect them.

"Everybody in the same model has the same problem, says homeowner Sherrill Fields.

Pulte says it has built 900 homes in the Potomac Green subdivision so far. 

But, 70 homeowners say they have been dealing with constant cracks and repairs in the drywall.   Some residents even hired their own engineer's to find answers Pulte couldn't give them.

And, by a show of hands, they all say they feel let down by Pulte.

These Leesburg homeowners believe the problem is caused by the roof supports and should be covered by the builder's 10 year structural warranty.

Pulte acknowledged the problem, but says it's not structural.  And in a statement says, "The company has repaired 50 percent of the homes and is working to schedule repairs for the remaining homes."

According to a Loudoun County memorandum dated in April of this year, the builder outlined a specific plan to correct the cracks.

"There are no structural issues.  But, there's certainly an issue somewhere that's causing their drywall problem," says Loudoun County Deputy Building Official Dennis Mitchell.

The problem is a real mystery. But Loudoun County building and code official says a design flaw may be to blame.

"There's some type of disconnect between the architectural design and in the engineering of the roof trusses," Mitchell says.

Essentially, the people who live the Potomac Green community are in a warranty limbo.  Pulte and the county both say the problems with their homes aren't structural, so they aren't covered by the builder's structural warranty.  So, if they aren't happy with the company's fixes, they may have to take legal action.

Homeowner Ronald Levine says, "We want it fixed.  We want our investment protected.  And, we want them to comply with what they promised."

Pulte says they take the homeowners' concerns seriously. 

Loudoun County has strongly encouraged the builder to get to the root of the problem. 

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