Skip to comments.Cracked Houses: What the Boom Built
Posted on 07/01/2009 8:16:43 AM PDT by BGHater
Robert and Kay Lynn lay in bed shortly after closing on their new home in the Blue Oaks subdivision in Rancho Murieta, Calif., abutting an 18-hole golf course. They were listening to the pop, pop, pop of what they thought were acorns falling onto the roof.
The Lynns soon realized those were not acorns dropping on the roof.
Little did we know it was the house cracking, says Mrs. Lynn, 67 years old. Mr. Lynn, 68, says they bought the property in 2002 for $357,000 as a weekend home and an investment. The stucco house was moving and shifting, with part of it subtly pitching toward the golf course, resulting in cracks and fissures in the walls, ceiling and floors, the couple says.
Many of their neighbors say they had similar problems. In the Sacramento Valley subdivision of about 250 houses, more than half the residents have reported some type of flaw. The Lynns and dozens of their neighbors last year filed construction-defect lawsuits against the builders, and the lead case is expected to go to trial next week. They are seeking enough money to permanently repair the houses, a figure expected to total millions of dollars.
A spokeswoman for the builders, Reynen & Bardis Development LLC, said they would have no comment pending litigation, but a response the companys attorneys filed with California Superior Court said time limits for some of the plaintiffs claims had run out.
Whatever the outcome of the case, hundreds of thousands of people from California to Georgia say their almost-new homes need costly repairs because of construction defects. The furious pace of home building from the late 1990s through the first half of the 2000s contributed to a surge in defects, experts say.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
I do hope amnesty is passed so we can get this problem to spread across the nation!
Crap homes built by cheap illegals. Thank God my home was built by “rednecks” who knew what they were doing.
They spent $357,000 for a weekend home in their late sixties. God love ‘em
The builder will declare bankruptcy leaving the owners to twist in the wind. Six months later the builder will open a new business on the other end of town and continue his shoddy workmanship under a new name. Been there.
A friend bought one of these badly-built McMansions. Shortly after they moved in, the rooms started to separate from the house. Floods followed, roof destruction, cracking foundation, daylight through the walls. They tried suing the builder. He laughed at them and moved back to Russia. They ended-up paying an additional 50% to get the house repaired by someone competent. However, this had nothing to do with a housing boom and everything to do with how we license builders.
One wonders where the building inspectors were during this time. That is why they exist.
At the height of a bubble, everyone is embezzling from everyone else- in this case, inspectors, bankers, homeowners, homebuilders, investors. That is the nature of a bubble. Eventually the players notice the inherent mendacity and the bubble pops.
While I would love to agree with you, look at the “defect” THE HOUSE IS SHIFTING!!!!. In California this is common. We have land that is almost always on the move. If you want a house that doesn’t settle or slip you have to be careful where it is built.
When my last house was 9 months old, it went through a fairly substantial earthquake (2001). The floor in the bathroom shifted almost an inch on one side, and a crack developed in one of the walls. My current house was built in 1972. It went through the same earthquake and a couple more. It has none of the same damage. After the old (new) house, my requirement for my next house was either 1- old construction or 2- custom construction that I personally oversaw. Since #2 wasn’t going to happen, I went with #1.
If the inspectors are good we do not need builder licensing. Let the buyers seek a good inspector.
Tell me about your friend’s house. What did the foundation consist of? Was there a basement? Were proper footings installed?
Homes slapped together by clueless nonbuilders with no knowledge or experience that fall apart in 20 different ways a few years down the road...
I have no idea.
We live in a tiny little house that was built sometime before 1940, and it has a pier and beam foundation, so that when the soil shifts (and in South Texas, you know it will), it can be re-leveled without a lot of hassle. It's creaky and drafty and apparently haunted, but I'm glad we didn't end up in one of the mid-boom houses.
My first house was built in 1870. Every system — electrical, plumbing, etc. — had been a retrofit. But man! Was that house solid! The foundation was of huge granite blocks cemented together.
Well, it makes a BIG difference. I have no experience with California building techniques. However, if the house was built on a concrete slab, you are asking for trouble. If there is a proper foundation or a basement with proper footings, unless the ground was shifting, there should have been no problems.
“Sorry senor - inspector and workers no speaky gud english I don’t theeenk.”
This type of contruction is more than adequate for shanty towns outside Mexico City and Rio. This is where the workers learned their “trade.”
$350K in my neck of the woods buys you 550 sq. ft. in a middling to bad neighborhood far from the train. Don’t count on having a washer/dryer in your unit either. This is all at the bottom of the real estate market, btw.
“The builder will declare bankruptcy leaving the owners to twist in the wind. Six months later the builder will open a new business on the other end of town and continue his shoddy workmanship under a new name.”
You know my builder!
Actually, mine was caught trying to cross the border into Canada under an assumed name...
I did all my own contracting and inspections during the construction of my home. I ensured that EVERYTHING was up to code.
When you had Americans building the homes in CA they usually knew how to compensate for it. Commercial construction in CA uses higher quality workers in most cases. For example - in Nor Cal the Costco uses wood roof trusses to flex for earthquakes. In Florida they use steel roof trusses.
Pedro “ain’t” slap dashing commercial buildings in many cases because if it falls down - a lot of people could get killed and sued.
Yep. Exactly the problem. Personally, I’ve sued builders on behalf of clients who are the victims of this scam.
Cheap illegal labor equals bad craftsmanship. The builders declare bankruptcy to deflect any lawsuit damages and the buyers are left holding the bag.
For an ordinary house (in Californica $357,000 is “ordinary”), I don’t believe they ever hire an actual civil engineer to do an actual soil analysis and foundation design. It’s pretty obvious that many entire subdivisions are built without any input from a licensed civil engineer.
Umm, I take that back. With the environmental laws we now have, they need to hire tons of engineers and other researchers to make sure that there’s drainage, and to make sure that the underground blind newts don’t get drowned by the new landscape. Just no effort expended on the actual houses, though.
2002 is the "late sixties?"
If the soil is that bad, drive pilings and then put the footings and foundation on top. Spend an extra $20,000 now or $100,000 later. But still, where were the building inspectors??? What the hell is their function anymore except to get a paycheck and run up the cost of building???
No the people who bought the house are in their Late Sixties. ‘
They are 69 and I think 67 years of age. I just thought that it was a large amount of money for people to spend on a second home when they are in there LATE SIXTIES and are not living there full time.
Did you read the article?
One of my apartments is an interesting case. The original builder saved $3000 on the plumbing job--well, actually, closer to $2900.
Proper piping would have cost him $3000 in materials, but he got his daughter to steal soda straws from the neighborhood McDonalds' for a month, and that did the job.
He did have some out-of-pocket expenses though. $50 to his daughter for all those McD's visits, and another 50 to her for that wild weekend with the building inspector.
must be 0bama’s fault.
It is not a soil issue. When the plates shift on a pretty much continuous basis ( you have heard of earthquakes I take it) you need to build differently.
I’m a private, state licensed property inspector, working in an area where new McMansions are being built next door to 125 year-old properties, so I see the full range of construction mistakes from several eras of building technology.
The big problem with most modern construction is it leaves little room for error - it’s assumed for example that the interfaces between various materials will be performed according the manufacturers installation instructions, however given the build schedules and the quality of the labor available there are defects admitting water in around a third of the newer homes I inspect.
Over the course of their lifetime, water will get into the structure in most older properties as well, but in many cases this can go on for decades without seriously degrading the structure. OTOH the materials and construction techniques used to build the typical McMansion in my area can result in significant damage to the structure when there is water intrusion for periods as short as a few months.
The bottom line is that unless the people building a modern house achieve something close to perfection (which seldom happens) it’s often going to degrade a lot more quickly it’s much older neighbor unless someone is watching for and quickly correcting problems as they develop.
Are you saying that OSB doesn’t like to get wet??
California has hidden faults in almost every location. Shifting is standard for houses here
I still gotta think that there’s an engineering solution that isn’t being used because the upfront cost is deemed too expensive. Pay me now, or pay me lots more later.
A friend of mine went to look at a home in a McMansion subdivision in Phoenix and since she had been an office manager in a construction company for many years before retiring she knew what questions to ask. There was very little footing under the houses, and when she told the salesman that was not enough footing for even a small one story much less a 4000 square foot 2 story- he said in the desert where the ground doesn’t get much moisture they really didn’t need any footing!! Needless to say she didn’t buy. Contractors with pride in their work used to build great homes- not just meet the barest standards of code. This cracking of the house sounds to me like not enough footing and support structure for the house to begin with.
Oh yeah. Sometimes it is as simple as don’t build there
And sand with salt in it. Use it to make cement, water gets in the cement later, salt dissolves...cement falls apart.
I see it everyday. Brick walls built 3 yerars ago that I can push over with my foot. (And I don’t mean some super-powerful gung fu push either...8-)
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