Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pulte Homes: "Normal Settlement"

The following post was my reaction to a few problems in getting some Warranty work done on our home in 2011. At that time I was having little to no luck in achieving that. So, basically I just waited a bit and this January; almost 3 years later; I began again to request the repairs which had not been done. I expected a long and protracted battle.

I am happy to report that, as of this writing, on April 3, 2014 all the outstanding items have been addressed in a perfectly acceptable way. The brick is back in place, and more importantly the drainage issue has been resolved with the installation of a hydro-static sub-drain system. The interior work in the bathroom has been repaired and now we are ready to paint the interior, which we had been holding off on doing until the repairs were made.

Sometimes it takes a while to get what you play for, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the speed and willingness which went into making these repairs after so long a period of time. Thanks, David, for restoring my faith in Pulte Homes!

I don't know about you, but when I buy a home I at least expect the bricks to stay put. According to both Pulte Homes, and their engineers, this is an example of "normal" settlement. Sue and I bought this home less than 2 years ago from them, and it is falling apart, as plainly evidenced in this photo. And that's just the outside! Inside the house, there are more "wall Pops" than at the time of last years 11 month walk through. The interior stairway is particularly impacted, with bowing moldings and shifting walls. This is AFTER the repairs were done last year. Obviously, this house is still "settling."

This is the left rear portion of my yard, clearly showing the inadequate drainage and standing water. It should be noted that this photo was taken AFTER the area was regraded last year! Although an underdrain is clearly needed in this area, Pulte Homes has already informed me that this is as good as it gets! I'm thinking this is the Community Swimming Pool which was promised and never delivered. Proper drainage on any home is a must in order to avoid interior damage, which results from the stresses on the structure, and in some cases the undermining of the slab.

This is the Master Bath vanity as it separates from the wall, which is directly in line with the photo of the standing water above. That water infiltrates the soils underneath the home- and has caused several problems. Soils that are "marginal" can also cause this type of problem, and indeed the soils report done for Pulte Homes by Shield Engineering indicates "marginal soils" in the front left corner, as well as the other 4 borings which were taken around the exterior of the home. In other words, my home sits on "marginal soils."

"Marginal soils" are defined as "loose sands, soft clays, and organics are not adequate materials for construction projects. These marginal soils do not possess valuable physical properties for construction applications. The current methods for remediation of these weak soils such as stone columns, vibro-compaction, etc. are typically expensive." (Ref: Carreon, Delfin G.,"Stabilization of marginal soils etc" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2473. http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/2473)

One of the least expensive ways to alleviate standing water is the use of a sub-drain system, which at about $8 a linear foot, offers the best relief from inadequate grading in areas with little to no "fall." Apparently this is too much for Pulte Homes to spend in order to fix the root of the problems.
Pulte Homes has, apparently abandoned us in regards to their responsibilities regarding the repair of our home. All I can say, at this point, is that if you are buying a new home from Pulte Homes it's a case of Buyer Beware! I'll let you know if things change!

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