Qaurter 2 (April - June) 2004 Archive

Wednesday, June 30, 2004. NJ: New Home Construction Investigation from state of NJ [From PDF file on site, in Closing Statements:] It is inexcusable that unsuspecting buyers, already saddled with the effects of shoddy construction in their own homes, must bear the additional burden of searching for redress in a system that seems

designed to work against their interests.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004. IL: New Homes Irk Owners The 26-home Lincolnwood Estates subdivision is barely 2. It's one of the first west-side housing developments in decades. Billed as one way to revitalize the west side, the project became a reality with $1.6 million in city, state and federal money.

Today, homeowners are complaining about the construction quality. Leaking basements, sinking and cracking driveways, and yards of rocks and gravel rather than the expected green grass top the list of problems.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. MA: Builders forced to share profits The lawsuit hinged on an agreement the two parties signed three years ago, which stated that if the developers' profits exceeded 20 percent of total development costs, the excess profits would be returned to the town, which would use that money to build more low-cost housing. Although the developers had filed a certified report showing a 13 percent profit, a town auditor said the developers earned a 45 percent profit.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. CO: Building suit battle brews "This is supposed to be a government for the people by the people, and unfortunately when big money gets in these campaigns, legislatures forget about (the people).

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. IL: New Charges Lead to Revoked Bond A prominent real estate developer already under indictment for bank fraud was ordered held in custody Wednesday after he was charged with a weapons offense and prosecutors alleged he had committed other frauds while out on bond.

Prosecutors also played in court snippets of secretly recorded conversations during which Jeffrey Grossman recounted how he had discussed having an employee beat up someone with whom he was having a business dispute.

"You personally make my family unhappy. ... There's nothing else I can do but retribution," Grossman was heard saying on the tape.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. MS: Land developer and two others plead innocent to charges A 41-count indictment accuses Lucas, his daughter, Robbie Lucas Wrigley, an Ocean Springs real estate agent, and M.E. Thompson, a professional engineer from D'Iberville, of selling lots in a wetlands area with unworkable septic systems.

Two corporations, Big Hill Acres Inc. and Consolidated Investments Inc., both controlled by Lucas, were accused of conspiracy and mail fraud.

Thompson is accused of falsely certifying to the Jackson County Planning Department that his designs for septic tanks were in compliance with state Health Department regulations.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. IL: Developer Faces a Gun Charge (Chicago Trib, registration required to read) CHICAGO -- A prominent downtown real estate developer under federal indictment for bank fraud was arrested Tuesday after authorities said a disgruntled business associate led them to his illegally held handgun.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. FL: Lawsuits pile up in Boynton condo project The developer, convicted nearly 10 years ago in California for diverting construction money, came to town with promises and slick drawings of pricey condos. He walked away with investors seeking more than $1 million from him and without laying a single brick, according to lawsuits filed in state and federal courts.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. NJ: FBI investigating possible political corruption in Marlboro MARLBORO| A raid by federal agents on the home of a former mayor is the latest move in an expanding probe into whether developers influenced local politicians to get projects approved, according to a published report.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. IN: Valpo plans to toughen building code enforcement VALPARAISO -- With problems like what one resident called "the Arbordale Horror" to deal with, the city plans to make an announcement in the next week on how it will increase enforcement of the building and zoning codes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004. MI: Berz site feud continues--Developer, Macomb Township locked in zoning fight MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A legal cloud still hangs over the former Berz Macomb airport, even as construction crews begin to remove trees and prepare the land for a controversial housing development.

Monday, June 28, 2004. National interest: Court to hear case on stucco The siding - an innovative and less-expensive form of stucco - was designed to look solid and to provide permanent protection. But after cracks, chips and splits developed, moisture seeped in that could rot the wood supporting the whole structure. Similar problems were affecting houses with artificial stucco throughout the South.

Monday, June 28, 2004. PA: Developer is repeat rules violator--T.H. Properties has had eight infractions since 1997 in Bucks, Montco. ''I'm not sure if this was a business decision on their part or due to an inexperienced site foreman or the inability to follow through on approved plans,'' said Adam Bram, an attorney with the DEP. ''But it's the constant inability to comply with the commonwealth's rules and regulations that finds so troubling.''

Monday, June 28, 2004. CA: Commissioners Trade Charges of Ethics Breaches Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson went on the offensive Friday, calling revelations that his daughter-in-law works for a home builder that benefited from his votes "political bull crap."

Monday, June 28, 2004. MI: MICHIGAN CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT NOW APPLIES TO RESIDENTIAL BUILDERS In Forton v Laszar the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled, for the first time, that a licensed residential builder may be sued under the Act. The Court concluded that the Builder violated the Act by unilaterally deviating from the blueprints approved by the Homeowners, and awarded the Homeowners damages and attorneys fees pursuant to the Act.

Monday, June 28, 2004. IL-MO: Builder Fights City Hall Instead of the $80,000 aldermen thought they were approving, the city's true cost for the DonnaLynne Legacy subdivision is nearly $1 million, according to a federal lawsuit alleging racketeering.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. National: Lenders, insurers ignor property condition The lack of apparent concern for property defects is a transparent oversight of the mortgage loan business. In the same way, it is a shortcoming consistently practiced by the homeowners insurance industry.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. OK: Real Estate notes: Predatory loan relief offered Oklahomans can get out of predatory home loans and refinance at more affordable rates under a $2 million antipredatory lending refinance effort involving Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, First Mortgage Co. LLC, and Fannie Mae. ...............People who believe they may be victims of predatory lending should contact a participating agency:

Tulsa Housing Authority, (918) 581-5907; Neighborhood Housing Services of Oklahoma City, 231-4663; Oklahoma City Housing Authority, 239-7551; Great Plains Improvement Foundation in Lawton, (580) 353-2364; Community Development Support Association in Enid, (580) 242-6131; Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, 424-5243; Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City, 232-0199; Northeastern Homeownership Consortium of Oklahoma City, 235-1212; Little Dixie Community Action Agency in Hugo, (580) 326-5201; Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation in Hugo, (580) 326-7521; Chickasaw Nation Division of Housing in Ada, (580) 421-8817; Housing Authority of the Western Delaware Trine in Anadarko, 247-2448; Ki-Bois Community Action Foundation in Stigler, (918) 967-9050.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. MI: Cash, gifts galore for officials Whether he's considered businessman who got caught up in wrongdoing or a scheming crook who bribed those in power to make money, the government's star witness in the school corruption case testified Friday he provided more than $1 million in cash, vehicles, jobs, down payments on houses and even a wedding to top school officials and their families.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. MI: $36 million condo project rejected in Clinton Township A builder whose $36 million plan to develop vacant property on a two-lane road in Clinton Township into attached condominiums has been rejected may instead construct a "lower quality" housing plan.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. NJ: Corruption Probe Expanding MARLBORO -- The FBI is investigating whether developers have received favorable treatment in their attempts to build housing projects and strip malls in this growing suburban township.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. NJ: FBI, IRS agents search ex-Marlboro mayor's home Agents are examining the ties between developer Anthony Spalliero, who has built several hundred homes in the township, and Scannapieco, the sources said.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. NJ: Ex-Asbury mayor to be sentenced July 8 for bribe plot, tax fraud ASBURY PARK -- Former city Mayor Kenneth "Butch" Saunders is set to be sentenced in federal court in Newark July 8 for conspiring four years ago to bribe a city councilwoman for her votes on redevelopment so that he could get his own corrupt payments if a deal went through.

Sunday, June 27, 2004. Texas : One tough grandma, one tough fight You may recall, for example, Gov. Rick Perry's appointment last year of an executive of Houston homebuilder Bob Perry's company to a new builder oversight commission -- less than one month after the governor received a $100,000 contribution from Bob Perry. Two years before that, he appointed an Enron Corp. executive to the Public Utility Commission, one day before then-Enron Chairman Ken Lay gave him $25,000.

Saturday, June 26, 2004. AZ--This is a PDF file; you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it: DEPARTMENT OF REAL ESTATE ASSESSES CIVIL PENAL TIES AGAINST KB HOME FOR REAL ESTATE VIOLATIONS KB Home was found to be in violation of real estate subdivision laws including a failure

to timely disclose the existence of a former crop dusting airport (Three Point Airport) in

their application for public report; failing to disclose to some purchasers the existence of

a special assessment district; marketing six and selling three lots owned by another

company.

Friday, June 25, 2004. MI: Testimony: Lupo, Contesti used to channel money to the mob The head of a construction company at the center of the Clintondale/East Detroit public schools corruption case paid a portion of his earnings to the mob via two of the defendants charged in the scandal, a prosecution witness said Thursday.

Friday, June 25, 2004. National Interest: Builders And Insurers Are Placing "Mold Clauses" In Their Contracts Why not simply build a better home? That's a new thought. Eliminate the ongoing water sources. I would be concerned about a home being sold with a mold clause. Maybe the builder lacks confidence in his own ability or that of his subcontractors.

Friday, June 25, 2004. OH: Would-be Warren builder sues over no-growth block A developer whose planned subdivision in booming Hamilton Township was blocked has filed a legal challenge to Warren County's effort to slow growth.

Thursday, June 24, 2004. HI: High Rise Alert: There's a Fungus Among Us Only a year after it opened in 2001, the 25-story, 453-room Kalia Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki was shut because of a persistent mold problem. The tower cost $95 million to build, and the Hilton Hotels Corporation spent $55 million on the cleanup, which lasted 13 months. Hilton has sued two dozen companies and individuals, including architects, construction companies and engineers, saying they were responsible for construction defects that allowed the gray fungus to flourish.

Thursday, June 24, 2004. NJ: Builder admits paying bribes for help getting loans, grants NEWARK -- A developer whose firm is responsible for a share of the Long Branch waterfront redevelopment and who has ties to a Spring Lake project pleaded guilty yesterday to paying nearly $115,000 in bribes to the ranking Hudson County politician for help in obtaining federal and state grants.

As part of his plea agreement, Joseph Barry, former president of Hoboken-based Applied Development Co., is to repay $1 million to the funding agencies. He faces two to 2 1/2 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 6, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said.

Thursday, June 24, 2004. VA: Lawsuit filed against local contractor Carrie Jefferson knows she made a costly mistake. And she doesn't want others to do the same.

Jefferson, a Fairfax County resident, claims that carpenter Jay Meyers, who owned a Catlett-based business called Custom Carpentry, misused a $40,000 advance she gave him to build her home last year.

Thursday, June 24, 2004. National: Tales from the Construction Crypt Part 1 [Remodeling series from Inman and Mortgage 101] "I can't recommend anyone," an acquaintance who had been living in her house during a remodel for much of the past year told me when I asked her to name a good contractor. She shuddered. "I really can't."

Thursday, June 24, 2004. National: Tales from the Construction Crypt Part 2 Even recently, however, he's found himself in absurd financial positions: "I recently put in some double French doors into a basement, and I bid $5,000 on the job. I had an employee at the time, and so by the time I paid him to do the work, I had paid out $5,002 in wages and materials. That didn't count insurance or workers' compensation insurance, or the rent on my workshop or the depreciation of my tools." He also spent another day cleaning up after his carpenter. "In the end, I paid $2 plus all my overhead for the privilege of doing 10 hours of free labor," he adds.--[Editor's comment: Simple math skills needed by contractors appear to be lacking in this case.]

Thursday, June 24, 2004. KY, OH: People's Bankers Led Life of Luxury Just three years ago, bankers John Finnan and Marc Menne were living lives many people can only dream about.

They were the top executives at a successful Northern Kentucky bank, raising their families in homes that cost more than $600,000, driving luxury automobiles and enjoying status in the community.

But Tuesday, they pleaded guilty to federal charges for their role in the financial scandal that destroyed the Erpenbeck home-building company and Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. NJ: Bilked by builder, residents turn to council Several of the parties who say they were swindled by Socha filed complaints against the builder, and then began meeting with the county prosecutor’s office, where they were assured that the situation would be investigated. Socha has declared Sterling Builders bankrupt, which could leave the neighbors he is accused of bilking unable to collect any reimbursement for his unfinished work.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. AL: Brian Fall Illustrates Value of Title Policy Owned by Michael Lawson of Capshaw, Brian Homes was at one point the biggest homebuilder in North Alabama. According to subcontractors, the company sold 300 houses a year — most in Morgan, Limestone and Madison counties — at its peak.

What began as a cash flow problem in late 2003 and early 2004 snowballed into a financial crisis by April.

Lawson is out on bail after being charged with 10 counts of theft by deception.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. OH, KY: Bankers' pleas put them with infamous By skirting the law to help a financially teetering home builder, John Finnan and Marc Menne assured themselves of a place in the Tristate's annals of rogue bankers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. National, Inman News, article only available for free for a short time: Real Estate Fraud Haunts Convicted Felon Barnes and the builder – whose name he won't divulge – began figuring out ways to close loans that couldn't be closed based solely on the information provided. It started with simple cutting and pasting or other alterations of documents. They'd then sometimes float money into applicants' bank accounts and keep the money there until after lenders verified the accounts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. NJ: Builder admits payoffs to ex-Hudson exec Joseph Barry, a politically active builder whose luxury homes and shopping complexes have reshaped towns throughout New Jersey, admitted yesterday paying nearly $115,000 in bribes to win government financing for a project on the Hoboken waterfront.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. NJ: Roselle Contractor Arrested on Theft Charges Borough police have charged Roger Hemhauser, 54, of Roselle, with theft by taking. He is being held in the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick in lieu of $150,000 bail, Ferraro said.............According to Ferraro, one victim said she gave Hemhauser, trading as "Homes by Lisa" of Piscataway, a $16,000 deposit for an addition to be built on her house.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. NJ: Contractor accused of bilking clients SOUTH PLAINFIELD: A Woodbridge man hired a building contractor in late March and put down a $30,000 deposit. In South Plainfield, a woman hired the same builder and paid $16,000 in advance. Neither person saw any work done on their homes, and they weren't alone.

On Sunday, South Plainfield police charged the contractor, Roger Louis Hemhauser, 54, with nine counts of theft for allegedly bilking borough residents out of approximately $200,000 since November. He took at least $98,000 more from residents in Edison and Woodbridge, according to police in those townships.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004. OH, KY: Bankers Fall Started Years Ago Bill Erpenbeck's moment of truth came in 1999 when his company's bills had piled higher than the money the homebuilder was taking in. He saw a solution and took it -- stealing from his customers and the banks who had loaned him money.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004. OH and KY: Former bank exec's plead guilty to fraud "The bottom line here, I think, appears to be greed," U.S. attorney Greg Van Patenhove said. "They had a sweetheart deal with the Erpenbecks that allowed them to line their pockets and what also looked like a kickback to Bill Erpenbeck, and they had a huge incentive in the midst of this company that was crumbling around them to keep it propped up."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004. CANADA: New local lobby group pushes for safe, well-built homes A new not-for-profit organization was officially launched Tuesday by an Ottawa couple eager to educate Canadians about the hazards of poorly built homes and the pitfalls of buying or renovating.

Monday, June 21, 2004. FL [shoddy construction in schools too, one of many articles that turns up in our list of articles on shoddy home construction.]: Shoddy Work Hits School Hard ...this school year came to a close, the community learned that the newly constructed cafeteria and media center were missing most of the steel and grout they needed for strength and wind resistance. The roofs aren't properly attached. The walls aren't connected to one another. Support beams are too poorly put together to support anything.

Monday, June 21, 2004. MI: Residents want developer to prevent future flooding problems Homeowners in an upscale New Baltimore subdivision say flooding last month that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage could have been prevented by the subdivision's developers and government units.

Monday, June 21, 2004. NJ: Receiving his sentence Greenaway sentenced Farinola for bribing numerous North Bergen township officials with money, free construction work at their homes, and other services.

Sunday, June 20, 2004. National: IAQA Seeks to Correct Misreporting on Implications of IOM Mold Report Media Misinformed Public on Health Effects of Mold in Government-Sponsored Report / "IAQA believes that confusion over this sensitive topic could either prolong mass hysteria or lead to an unduly apathetic attitude. Either approach is counterproductive to the common good. "

Sunday, June 20, 2004. MA: [Town of] Washington builder files suit against rival PITTSFIELD -- A town of Washington builder has filed a defamation suit against a competitor for distributing an allegedly libelous "newsletter."

Sunday, June 20, 2004. FL: WPEC sued over report on bias A home builder with operations in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties has filed a lawsuit in Martin County Circuit Court against WPEC-Ch. 12 and one if its reporters, accusing the station of using a news story about a Port St. Lucie couple to suggest it discriminates against minorities.

Sunday, June 20, 2004. OH: Incomplete Homework One of the owners, Harpley's 26-year-old nephew Jeremy Harpley, accuses his uncle in a civil suit of submitting forged signatures on Valley Savings construction loan disbursement documents, giving him access to tens of thousands of dollars. Another property owner is suing, claiming breach of contract, negligence and fraud.

Sunday, June 20, 2004. MO: Democrats seek veto of builder's bill "This bill - if you’re a homeowner, and you’re trying to remedy some defect in your home - creates a nearly nonnegotiable labyrinth of hoops you have to jump through," said Johnson, D-High Ridge. "It’s a homebuilders protection act."

Saturday, June 19, 2004. MI: Novi OKs homes for Liberty Park New homes are planned for a former park nearly 10 years after a developer sued over a failed housing project and won one of the largest municipal court judgments in Michigan history. Pulte Homes this week won some minor concessions from the Novi City Council to clear the way for the construction of 113 homes at the 87-acre site, now called Liberty Park. City officials traded the pristine wooded acreage — a sizable chunk of North Novi Park — in 2002 rather than pay a $73 million court judgment.

Friday, June 18, 2004. Colorado, National interest: Troubles follow Englewood homebuilder Ashcroft Ashcroft Homes, honored just last year for its custom home designs, is behind in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, has been hit with dozens of mechanic's liens and lawsuits, and lost its membership in the Better Business Bureau..............A review of Colorado court records showed 28 lawsuits have been filed against Ashcroft Homes, Ashcroft Homes Inc., Ashcroft Homes Corp. or Ashcroft Homes of Colorado Inc. in 2004. Many of these suits were over unpaid bills or breach of contract.

Friday, June 18, 2004. National: Customer Surveys' Dark Side Can you really cheat at J.D. Power or any other third-party survey? You can sure try, and depending on how cooperative your customers are, you just might be able to pull it off. The easiest way, of course, is to mess with the database, culling out the "problem customers," preventing them from ever receiving a survey at all. J.D. Power eliminates this by generating its survey lists from public records. So presuming you don't have the skills to hack into the J.D. Power computers and change the data directly, the only other way to artificially change the outcome is to influence, coerce or bribe your customer into letting you "help" with their survey.

Thursday, June 17, 2004. MS: Big Hill's developer, two others indicted Cease and desist orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency in 1999 seemed to evaporate into the air as lots continued to be sold, even as the complaints of raw sewage leaching to the surface, into homes and local groundwater supplies began bubbling up.

Thursday, June 17, 2004. From Inman News...article free to public for a short time: Real estate appraisal licensing faulty The three appraisal organizations have concluded that the mortgage fraud in the Poconos is evidence of a national problem involving the entire appraisal regulatory structure and the real estate finance markets, and is not at all unique to the area. "After reviewing the activities in the Poconos and having witnessed other mortgage fraud schemes throughout the country, we are here to alert Congress that the licensing system it created for appraisers is broken, is not up to the requirements of the changing market demands in the 21st century, and needs to be fixed if we are going to avoid such situations in the future," Taylor said.

Thursday, June 17, 2004. From The Huntersville Herald: Some Crosswinds residents left high and dry by builder It's called a bait and switch. A salesperson rolls out a glitzy piece of merchandise and tells his prospective customers that this is what he's selling, and at such an unbelievable price! The customer signs on the dotted line, only to soon realize that what sounded too good to be true was, in fact, too good to be true.

Thursday, June 17, 2004. National interest: Officials, Residents, disagree on cause of flooding Rain was not their enemy, they said. Shoddy housing construction and insufficient county code enforcement were the culprits.

Thursday, June 17, 2004. CO: Activist Works for Home Buyers Poundstone, 77, a force in Colorado politics for 36 years, has re-entered the arena by championing a ballot initiative she says will restore homeowners' rights to hold builders responsible for defective workmanship.

Thursday, June 17, 2004. KY and OH: Erpenbeck Brothers Likely to Face Charges All three siblings of convicted bank fraud schemers Bill and Lori Erpenbeck are likely to be prosecuted for falsifying federal housing documents, according to a source familiar with the ongoing home building scandal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004. IL--National: Building Codes Coming to Jersey County in Near Future A contractor is building a new home in Jersey County that looks from the outside to be of the highest quality. What lurks inside the walls, between the bricks and drywall, however, could become the homeowner’s worst nightmare.

To save time and money, the contractor decides to cut a few corners, skip a few steps and use low-quality materials for the parts of the house that aren’t immediately visible. He gets the job done quickly, and the new family that moves in is pleased with their new home.

A few years down the road, the house starts to show some minor problems -- the walls have shifted a bit, the roof has developed a few leaky spots, and the siding has bowed in a few places. The quick, shoddy work the contractor did on the house has started to unravel, and the homeowners now are left to clean up the mess, spending thousands of dollars to correct mistakes made during construction.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004. PA: Shattered Dreams are Recounted Mr. Wilson said that until law enforcement agencies begin prosecuting those who use deceptive practices in real estate transactions, the foreclosure rate will continue to skyrocket.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004. OH, KY: Bankers to Plead Guilty The other shoe has fallen in the Erpenbeck home building scandal with news that former Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky leaders John Finnan and Marc Menne have agreed to plead guilty to crimes related to falsifying federal real estate documents.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. Utah--National: Lenders Grouse over Builder Financing Buy a new home and most likely you will be offered a loan that is hard to refuse.

No closing costs. Maybe even no payments for several months.

Perks such as these often are available to buyers who elect to obtain their mortgages from a lender affiliated with or owned by the builder.

Doling out freebies is nothing new for builders, but only recently has the practice caused an uproar in Utah. Once quietly accepted as industry practice, a growing number of Utah lenders not affiliated with builders say it is in violation of RESPA -- the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act -- and are threatening to take action.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. FL: State uncovers mortgage scheme A North Lauderdale man was arrested Thursday for allegedly orchestrating mortgage fraud schemes that netted him more than $1.2 million.

Paul Anthony Small, 43, of North Lauderdale, was charged with two counts of first-degree grand theft after he posed as a potential buyer of two Lake Worth homes valued at $825,000 and $875,000, according to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. DC: Minority Homebuyers Sue Countrywide Home Loans for $50 Million WASHINGTON, May 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Andrew Grosso & Associates, a District of Columbia law firm, tomorrow will file a lawsuit on behalf of a condominium association and about thirty (30) minority and low-income individuals against fifteen (15) defendants, including Countrywide Home Loans, alleging Countrywide and the other defendants conspired with a local developer to sell defective condominiums to first-time homebuyers through fraud and predatory lending. The lawsuit states that the developer, Eric Fedewa, performed substandard work on the condominiums with an unlicensed contractor and without construction permits. Cost for repairs is estimated to be $7.3 million.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. TX, National interest: Home on the Bombing Range Southridge Hills, a 127-acre housing development in southeast Arlington, Texas, features 10 floor plans, prices ranging from $108,000 to $135,000, and a nearby golf course and lake. But Southridge Hills, built by KB Home, is not your typical residential project.

The housing development site was formerly home to a U.S. Naval Air Station bombing range, and the decades-old legacy of its military use has resurfaced in the form of controversy, lawsuits and a large-scale cleanup project.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. National--Some homeowners wtih severely defective, even uninhabitable, new homes, or those who are victims of loan fraud, may be facing foreclosure, and hopefully this article will be of interest to them.: Fending off foreclosure: You don't have to lose your home Curing a foreclosure is a little like curing cancer -- the sooner you catch it, the better your chance of survival.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. OH: Local Home Builders Arrested For Alleged Corrupt Activity Authorities said the construction company owners allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Central Ohio businesses and residents.

Officials believe more than $280,000 is involved in the investigation, which is based on both consumer and contractor complaints.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. NV, National: Get Pre-Approved When House Shopping It turns out the builder and others in town can suggest you go with their lender, even offer incentives to go with their lender. But according to Scott Bice, Commissioner of the Nevada Mortgage Lending Commission, that's all they can do. "The builder has a right to or the seller of a property has the right to require some form of certainty to know they have a legitimate buyer and they have a certainty of close date, but they can't force or require them to use a specific provider," he says.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004. IN, National Interest: Class Action Lawsuit Targets Builder A lawsuit alleges that an Indianapolis homebuilder led customers to believe a down payment "gift" went toward reducing the price of homes, but that the money was added to the price of the homes and financed in their mortgages.

Arbor Homes counters that it complies with the terms of the Nehemiah Program and other down-payment assistance programs and is following common practices among builders. FHA and conventional loans permit down-payment gifts from charitable or nonprofit organizations such as Nehemiah. Builders often present the gift option to buyers who don't have enough money for a down payment.

Monday, June 14, 2004. National interest--Title Insurance: Home Buyer Policy Pushed Fewer than two thirds of home buyers in Greater Cincinnati are insured against flawed titles. State Rep. Michelle Schneider wants future home buyers to think twice about going without the coverage.

Monday, June 14, 2004. NV: Beazer Homes Could Face Another Lawsuit The lawsuit, which is pending clearance for class action status, alleges Beazer knew about the defects and in many cases, failed to act.

"Nobody wanted to sue them. We asked them time and time again to fix things and they wouldn't do it. "

Monday, June 14, 2004. OH: Home Builder Sues in Lead-Cleanup Case LIBERTY TWP. - Ryland Homes has filed a federal lawsuit against the developers and environmental engineers for lead-contaminated Lexington Manor, charging that they lied about the land that was declared a U.S. EPA Superfund site last year.

Monday, June 14, 2004. AL: Brian Homes builder hasn't lost Alabama certification Arrested, charged with 10 counts of theft by deception, owing money to hundreds of people, accused of selling homes with undisclosed liens, Michael Brian Lawson is still a certified builder in Alabama.

Saturday, June 12, 2004. Colorado: Mold repair tab grows "Congratulations to Richmond on voluntarily fixing their homes," Sullan said. "A lot of home builders haven't taken the approach that Richmond has and have left the homeowners holding the bag." On the other hand, Sullan said Richmond's attempt to recover three times actual damages is over the top. He noted that parent company MDC spearheaded the lobbying effort last year that led to a $250,000 cap on triple-damage judgments against home builders. "Clearly they are going for the big bucks," Sullan said. "Isn't it amazing that when I file one of those cases, I'm abusing the system, and when they do it they are seeking justifiable

Thursday, June 10, 2004. Missouri: Shoddy repairs should be fixed. Bill would limit homeowners' ability to sue contractors in Missouri Homeowners faced with shoddy repair or construction work sometimes turn to the courts when they get no satisfaction from those who did the work. But legislation on Missouri Gov. Bob Holden's desk would make it difficult to sue builders or contractors. The governor should veto it.

Thursday, June 10, 2004. National: Home sweet crooked house New home buyers and builders bicker about leaky roofs, cracked patios and other building defects. Homeowner advocates say homeowners don't need to be required to go to the builder first. That's what they've been doing. "Tens of thousands of people have contacted us because they have attempted, for a year or longer, to get their builders to do proper repairs," said HADD's Seats. "Do you think anyone buys a house with a lawsuit in mind?" she added. "No. They just want a house they can enjoy."

Thursday, June 10, 2004. National: Home sweet crooked house New home buyers and builders bicker about leaky roofs, cracked patios and other building defects. Homeowner advocates say homeowners don't need to be required to go to the builder first. That's what they've been doing. "Tens of thousands of people have contacted us because they have attempted, for a year or longer, to get their builders to do proper repairs," said HADD's Seats. "Do you think anyone buys a house with a lawsuit in mind?" she added. "No. They just want a house they can enjoy."

Wednesday, June 09, 2004. Colorado: Builders on notice Freda Poundstone loads petitions into her car Tuesday from her home in Castle Pines. Poundstone plans to deliver the petitions to the secretary of state today for a November ballot issue that she says will restore the rights of home buyers to sue builders in workmanship disputes. In the background is Poundstone's daughter, Dawn.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004. California: http://tv.yahoo.com/news/ap/20040603/108632628000.html " target="x">Ex-'NYPD Blue' Star Settles Mold Case Actor Nicholas Turturro has settled a lawsuit against a man who sold him a home in 2002 allegedly infested with toxic mold, lawyers said.

Turturro, who played Detective James Martinez on ABC's "NYPD Blue" from 1993-1998, claimed in the suit that Steven A. Berman of suburban Woodland Hills knowingly sold him a house in nearby Tarzana that had mold problems and "numerous material defects."

Wednesday, June 09, 2004. Nevada: Beazer Homes Ripped Apart To Support Defect Claims In a story you'll see only on News 3, it's raining inside some Summerlin homes. Whether it's a rain shower or a tub shower, the water's coming in, and that's why some Summerlin residents want Beazer Homes out of southern Nevada. News 3 Investigator Darcy Spears show us why residents are ripping their homes apart. A gaping hole underneath a living room window was made on purpose to demonstrate just how defective residents say the Beazer home is.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004. California: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=99&e=3&u=/ct/20040604/cr... " target="x">Los Angeles homeowners recover $1.32 million for hearing neighbors snore (Court TV) — A Los Angeles developer who failed to soundproof a modern loft building has agreed to pay residents $1.32 million after they complained they could hear neighbors using the bathroom — and much more

"They complained to the builder for all that time, but he simply refused to negotiate," said Thomas Miller, one of the lawyers representing the loft owners. "They gave advance notice of the problems, asked to sit down negotiate, but in the end, it turned out they had to sue."

Tuesday, June 08, 2004. Missouri : Home Repair: Booby-trapped IN THE NAME OF LIMITING LAWSUITS, the Missouri Legislature wants to plant paperwork booby traps between buyers of defective new homes and the courthouse.

Monday, June 07, 2004. Colorado: Group targets homebuilder protection law DENVER - A group opposed to a new state law protecting homebuilders and home-repair companies from homeowners' lawsuits plans to petition onto November's ballot to overturn the law. Approved last year by the Legislature, the law made it more difficult for homeowners to get compensation for shoddy work from their builders or remodelers.

Friday, June 04, 2004. Nevada: Teamsters Call on Las Vegas Homebuilders to Hire Qualified Workers LAS VEGAS, June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Teamsters Local 631 is calling on the Las Vegas home-construction industry to improve its workforce through training and hiring of qualified homebuilders. Local 631 is working in conjunction with the Raising the Standard of Living (RSL)labor union coalition to tackle the growing problems in the Las Vegas homebuilding industry.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004. Texas: Charges dropped against home construction watchdog Tarrant County officials said Tuesday they dropped the charges last week against Janet Ahmad, National President of HomeOwners for Better Building.

Saturday, May 29, 2004. Colorado: Colorado passed on pollution case against Wal-Mart As a result, the state will join the EPA on another set of similar cases against several other large companies, including Home Depot and KB Homes, that also could net significant penalty dollars, he said.

Thursday, May 27, 2004. Texas: Commentary: A close-to-home issue The Texas Residential Construction Commission that Mr. Cauduro mentioned in the article may be new to Texas, but according to these long-standing consumer advocacy groups, it has many shortcomings and may well be another obstacle in the path for homeowners to resolve construction issues with builders.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004. Texas : Arbitrator really on 'home' team Houstonians Bill and Jennifer Falbaum are like everyone else who buys a new house these days. When they bought their $130,000 home from Houston Village Builders, they signed a contract providing that any dispute would be settled by binding arbitration. Most major home builders won't sell you a home unless you agree to binding arbitration. Their sales staffs often make it sound like an added benefit. Arbitration, it is sometimes suggested, is faster, fairer, simpler and cheaper than going to court. Despite signing the contract, the Falbaums sued their builder, but they found out that the arbitration clause was sturdier than the foundation of their home.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004. National: Home Wrecked. An Investigative Story on Fox29 Life-threatening construction defects in homes valued at a half-million dollars !!! These are the findings of a Fox 29 Undercover investigation into shoddy home construction. Fox 29 Undercover begins a series of reports over the next few months. We begin our "Homewrecked" series in New Jersey . For some it's not a " Garden State .

Monday, May 24, 2004. Ohio: Inspectors look at themselves Eager to market his business, home inspector Stephen Gladstone attempted to leave a stack of business cards at a real estate office, only to be asked to pony up.
"They told me the only way I could leave them is if I paid $100," he recalled.
"If the consumer doesn't know an inspector is paying for a place at the table, they might believe the person is completely independent," said Mr. Gladstone, an inspector in Stamford, Conn., who is president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Sunday, May 23, 2004. Texas : Frisco family working on rights for new-home buyers David and Carol Becka and their daughter, Carolyn, want homebuilders – before contracts are signed and money exchanged – to file documents with the city that are signed by new homebuyers that says they are aware that they cannot sue builders if they agree to binding arbitration. They also want homebuilders to post a surety bond up to $2 million before building permits are issued.

Saturday, May 22, 2004. Texas : HIGHER FUEL COSTS MAKING HOMES MORE EXPENSIVE "Just the cost of fuel alone has probably affected the cost of lumber or wood-related products or wood byproducts, I would think, a minimum of 3 percent, or in some cases as much as 7 percent," Mahaffey said.

Saturday, May 22, 2004. texas: Builders thrown for a loss (requires free registration) Builders are being hammered by skyrocketing prices.
Costs of lumber, steel and concrete are surging, which adds thousands of dollars to the price tags of homes, apartments and commercial buildings.

Thursday, May 20, 2004. Texas: DR Horton Lemon Home "This is what happens when they build a house in 58 days..." - Mom

Tuesday, May 18, 2004. IN: Homebuilder Earmarks $24M To Resolve Complaints INDIANAPOLIS -- A company that owns an Indiana homebuilder has set aside $24 million to pay for repairs in connection with hundreds of complaints, Call 6's Rafael Sanchez reported Monday. Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA Inc., which owns Carmel-based Trinity Homes, said in a recent report to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it faces 759 homeowner complaints, mostly from Indiana.

Saturday, May 15, 2004. Texas KB Home: Gonzalez raps Mirasol audit A San Antonio Express-News analysis of profits, calculated from SAHA documents and city building permits, shows a likely profit of 40 percent to 86 percent on construction costs went to the Mirasol Joint Venture Team. The group was led by local developer Rick Rodriguez and included KB Home, one of the largest home builders in the country, and its subcontractors

Saturday, May 15, 2004. MN: Minnesota Home Watch MNHomewatch.org consists of homeowners who have experienced dwelling problems in
new home construction and remodeling. We are actively working to educate the public about
the issues surrounding this topic. We provide a variety of links in the areas of legislative
action, government affairs, environmental health concerns, construction and insurance
information and related updates.

Friday, May 14, 2004. Texas : Grassroots effort demands builder reform in Frisco Texas Frisco, Texas – When Frisco voters go to the poles this Saturday a local grassroots consumer group "Take Back Your Rights," http://www.TakeBackYourRights.com/ headed by Dr. David Becka, along with HomeOwners for Better Building members will be circulating petitions calling for a City of Frisco Charter Revision Election to regulate homebuilders.

Friday, May 14, 2004. Texas KB Home: Bridgewater Community. (KB Home Subdivision) At this point, no further information is available. No information regarding whether or not there will be fencing around the pond just like the Lakes of Bridgewater Duck Pond as promised by KB Home salespeople to 57 homes (per signed petition) within Enclave in 2002 & 2003. During that time, KB Home salespeople described the future Enclave duck pond to be "just like the one at Lakes of Bridgewater" with iron fencing. An iron enclosure would help prevent young children from accessing this area unattended.

Friday, May 14, 2004. California: Supreme Court to Decide Whether Waivers of Implied Warranty Bind Homebuyers The California Supreme Court yesterday agreed to decide whether waivers of the common law implied warranty of quality, set forth in home purchase contracts before the state’s current law on residential construction defects took effect last year, are enforceable. Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justices Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn M. Werdegar, and Carlos Moreno voted at yesterday’s conference to review the Jan. 22 decision of Div. Seven of this district’s Court of Appeal in Hicks v. Superior Court (Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation), B167843

Friday, May 14, 2004. Texas : Weekley Calendar, Agenda Will Still Run the Court The alliance that remade Texas’ high court in the 1990s had a public and private face. Behind the scenes, business interests led by homebuilders Dick and David Weekley and their Texans for Lawsuit Reform bankrolled justices who favor business interests. Out front, the chief advocated reform to dispel public concerns over the business contributions behind the curtain.

Thursday, May 13, 2004. OH: Home inspection policy put on hold Balsinger borrowed the tough language from Warren County, which has enforced such a policy for two years. It has reduced uninspected installations from 50 a year to about one, says Jerry Spurling, chief building official.

Thursday, May 13, 2004. OH: Barnesville family files suit over home Michael and Joan McGilton are currently engaged in a civil lawsuit against Albert J. Webb Jr., 60, former manager of Kingdom Homes in Marietta. In 2001, the McGiltons placed an order for a prefabricated home, paid in full to Webb, and never received their home.

Thursday, May 13, 2004. Missouri: Bill would build many obstacles for homeowners But Nancy Seats, president of Homeowners Against Defective Dwellings, with headquarters in St. Louis, said frivolous lawsuits are a myth: “Every homeowner who calls me with a complaint has been waiting for at least a year for a builder to fix the defect. ”She contends that the way the law is written, builders can offer superficial proposals that fail to remedy any problems and delay making substantive repairs. “We call it the builder protection bill,” she said. “There are all these steps homeowners must follow, and if they miss one, they lose their right to sue. Who will make sure the builder makes proper repairs in a timely manner?”

Tuesday, May 11, 2004. FL: Home Dreams is a Nightmare for Customers Bankruptcy court records show Your Home Dreams owes customers more than $300,000. The showroom closed in November, leaving projects uncompleted. Others were never started.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004. NATIONAL: Risk Retention Even those in the industry admit their policies are limited. "Most construction defect lawsuits don't fall under warranty protection," says Wallace "Em" Fluhr, CEO of 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty (HBW) in Atlanta, which leads the industry with a 22-year history and more than a million homes currently enrolled.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004. OH, KY, from Cincinnati Enquirer business briefs: Scroll down to: "Erpenbeck Asks for Legal Aid" Bank swindler Bill Erpenbeck is asking taxpayers to foot the bill for an appeal of his 30-year prison sentence.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004. MI: Tenants say they traded votes for rent Six people told State Police they took free rent or other favors in return for votes -- votes that could have paved the way for a $2-billion development that was overwhelmingly opposed by Bloomfield Township officials, according to a Free Press review of police investigative files.

Monday, May 10, 2004. CT [Home Warranty and arbitration article]: Owners seek probate ruling The New Milford couple that has been fighting their home warranty company after the northern end of their house sank in, Kim and Kim Willis has lost another battle, but they intend to fight on.

Monday, May 10, 2004. MI: Cleveland suspends two home repair programs CLEVELAND -- The city of Cleveland has suspended two taxpayer-financed home repair programs amid questions about shoddy work and pressure from contractors to do unneeded repairs.

Monday, May 10, 2004. MI: Investigator Finds More Remodeled Homes Demolished AKRON, Ohio -- Chief Investigator Duane Pohlman found one person who had a newly remodeled home demolished by the city.

Now, he's found a few more who say that their homes were demolished by the city, too.

Monday, May 10, 2004. National interest: Trial Lawyers Claim Shoddy Repairs by Builders It look lawsuits to get homebuilders to respond to homeowner complaints about construction defects -- and the fix is often a patch instead of a cure, trial lawyers say.

Monday, May 10, 2004. OR: Homeowner's Nightmare Elmira -
An Elmira family on the brink of bankruptcy wants justice for what they call shoddy construction on their home.

Monday, May 10, 2004. MA--Boston Globe article: Head of home inspectors board faces complaints from consumers The chairman of the state board that regulates Massachusetts home inspectors is in danger of losing his license and being ousted from the board after repeated consumer complaints of shoddy inspections that resulted in expensive nightmares for homebuyers, the Globe has learned.

Friday, May 07, 2004. CA: Burchell Hill Saga Continues Claim sparred against counter-claim in a verbal contest Monday night as a group of Burchell Hill residents aired their complaints regarding Lakemont Homes builder at the city council meeting over what they consider poor workmanship in their new homes and builder reluctance to honor warranty claims.

Friday, May 07, 2004. National: Homestore Reports $5.1-Million Loss in 1st Quarter Homestore operates Realtor.com for the National Assn. of Realtors and HomeBuilder.com for the National Assn. of Home Builders. It also operates an online apartment listing service and produces software for the real estate industry.
The once highflying company ran into trouble in 2001, and several of its executives and business partners were later sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused them of inflating revenue by $160 million through fraudulent transactions during the dot-com boom. Last year, seven former employees and business partners of Homestore settled charges relating to those transactions. Four financial officers pleaded guilty to fraud.

Friday, May 07, 2004. Kentucky: Lawsuits mount over septic systems About 15 families have now filed suit against La Vista subdivision developers James and Fred Bramblett, claiming the developers are to blame for leaking septic tanks turning residents' back yards into sludge.

Thursday, May 06, 2004. Texas: House Bill 730 framed as double-edged sword “This act probably has more irony associated with it than anything that’s happened by the Texas Legislature in many, many years,” says Smith. “We have a Republican governor, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House … and they passed an act regulating an entire industry that was previously totally unregulated.”

Thursday, May 06, 2004. National: Construction Defects ...failed attempts to remedy the problem amounted to giving the buyers the "run-around,"...... the court seems to be punishing the owners for being non-litigious folks oriented toward working problems out. After this case, Wisconsin lawyers will advise their clients to "sue first and ask questions later."

Thursday, May 06, 2004. National: Home Inspectors, Home Builders Consider Construction Defects [IF LINK DOES NOT TAKE YOU DIRECTLY TO ARTICLE, CLICK ON "PREVIEW ISSUE," THEN "NEWS."] Improperly installed flashing is a pervasive problem. Almost a third of respondents reported that needed flashing was often not installed at all. Of nine common flashing applications listed, chimneys, roofing, wood decks, and windows were identified as particularly troublesome by more than 50% of survey participants.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004. CT: Contractor paid wife of Conn. gov. $15K HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The wife of embattled Gov. John G. Rowland was paid a $15,000 speaking fee last year by an insurance company with a multimillion-dollar state contract, newly released documents show.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004. FL: Bankrupt Spring Hill home builder accused of fraud BROOKSVILLE - A bankrupt home builder, who reneged on contracts to build custom homes, was charged with defrauding 10 customers of more than $160,000.

Hernando County detectives issued an arrest warrant for Eric J. Ludwig on Feb. 23. On Monday afternoon, Ludwig, 31, of Wernersville, Pa., turned himself in at Hernando County Jail, a sheriff's report said.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004. CA: Trial lawyers claim shoddy repairs by builders Some homebuilders have shifted their strategy over the last year, seeking to cut lawyers out of the loop by going directly to homeowners to resolve problems and then asking them to drop legal action (see companion story...

Wednesday, May 05, 2004. CA: Homebuilders fighting defect lawsuits get aggressive The attorneys counter that if builders don't want to be sued, they should build better houses (see story below). It took lawsuits to get builders to pay attention to homeowners, they claim, and there are more Band-Aids than permanent fixes in the new strategy to go directly to homeowners to get lawsuits to go away.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004. Ohio: EPA will explain Liberty cleanup Soil samples analyzed after homeowners sued Ryland last year showed toxic lead levels of up to 10,000 parts per million. The federal standard for residential land is 400 parts per million.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004. Texas: Hunt for World War II bombs to begin at subdivision After a six-month delay, the search will begin this week for World War II practice ordnance at a former Navy bombing range that is becoming a 500-home subdivision, federal officials said Tuesday

Tuesday, May 04, 2004. AL: Not much state help for buyers of Brian Homes State agencies will not provide much help to home buyers stung by the collapse of North Alabama building magnate Brian Homes Inc.

Monday, May 03, 2004. national interest: Fast-growing Pulte's strategy: Dominate home-build market Such growth may sound impossible, but Dugas believes the home-building industry will continue to consolidate, mid-level players will be squeezed out and a handful of large companies will dominate the industry.

Monday, May 03, 2004. NJ: Court pours cold water on developers' plans Borden said the state Appellate Court dismissed the suit Monday because the builders association had failed to file briefs arguing its points. The suits had already been dismissed by a trial court.

Monday, May 03, 2004. National interest: Councilman working as paid consultant for home developer Milpitas City Councilmember Bob Livengood disclosed in reports earlier this month he has worked as a paid consultant for developer KB Homes since early 2003.

Monday, May 03, 2004. National interest: Researchers show chronic sinusitis is immune disorder; antifungal medicine effective treatment BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers at the University at Buffalo and the Mayo Clinic have shown that chronic sinusitis is an immune disorder caused by fungus, opening up a promising new avenue for treating this ubiquitous and debilitating condition, for which there is no FDA-approved therapy.

Monday, May 03, 2004. MI: King of the Wind faces fines Dolores Michaels maintains there's an easy explanation for allegations against her farm: Residents and township leaders are trying to drive her out so developers can build homes on her land, and generate tax revenue.

Monday, May 03, 2004. NJ, [regarding code enforcement--relevent to residential construction too]: Four contractors cited in casino collapse MARLTON, N.J. -- The collapse of an Atlantic City casino garage that killed four construction workers was blamed on contractors and inspectors who didn't adequately secure floors to walls, ignored warnings and failed what one official called "Engineering 101."

Monday, May 03, 2004. MN: Ruling gives homeowners latitude in confronting defects "It protects the homeowner from the situation from where they discover the damage but the builder leads them on, saying `We'll take care of it, we'll take care of it,"' he said. "The two years doesn't start running until the builder says `I'm not going to fix it."'

Monday, May 03, 2004. National: Warranties can give new home owners some peace of mind Builders say, with thousands of parts, they simply can't build a perfect house.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004. NJ: Monroe Residents Sue Builder The builder of an age-restricted development in Monroe constructed faulty homes, then failed to correct major defects after being cited by the state, residents contend in a laws

Wednesday, April 28, 2004. National: Mortgage market 'driving blind' on defect disclosure The lack of apparent concern for property defects is a transparent oversight of the mortgage loan business. In the same way, it is a shortcoming consistently practiced by the homeowners insurance industry. Mortgage loans and homeowners insurance policies are customarily written on residential properties, without any knowledge of or attention to conditions affecting foundations, site drainage, roofing, plumbing, heating, electrical violations, fire safety, and so on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004. Texas : SAHA faces giving back fed funds The report's most serious charge is that SAHA adopted procedures that "limited competition" for the Mirasol contract. In 1997, two years before the Mirasol contract was signed, "SAHA's vice president of investment initiatives contacted KB Home and initiated a standing commitment to construct homes" at the Menchaca subdivision

Wednesday, April 28, 2004. TX: SAHA faces giving back fed funds The San Antonio Housing Authority must repay $1.86 million to the U.S. government and could be charged an additional $2.02 million, according to a federal audit of the Mirasol Homes public housing project.

Details in the report released Tuesday suggest there was a sweetheart deal between SAHA and builder KB Home that went back to 1997, two years before the Mirasol contract was signed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004. OR: Asbestos turns neighborhood into nightmare KLAMATH FALLS -- For residents of North Ridge Estates, spring arrived with all the familiar signs -- melting snow, blooming flowers and shards of asbestos knifing up through the earth.

From Our Advertiser

The families of this wooded subdivision say that when they moved in they didn't know the developer had buried tons of asbestos-laden debris here and left more on their land.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004. NY, National interest: Probe Nearly a Year Old In some cases, sources say, the builder offers a bribe, seeing it as "the cost of doing business." But in other cases, it's the public official who solicits the bribe.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004. TX: Local Builders Slow to Register with State The Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) reported that far more builders statewide have complied with a new law requiring most construction-related businesses to register with the agency than have not. An exception is Brown County, where an agency official said just 40 registrations were filed by the March 31 deadline.

That number falls far below the number of companies and individuals TRCC officials estimate are conducting new construction or renovation type businesses in the county.

Monday, April 26, 2004. TN, National interest: Buying a house, building up the tension ''I wish with all my heart I would have walked away from it,'' said Victoria Abretske, who purchased a $198,000 home in Spring Hill's Wyngate Estates built by Keystone Builders.

Monday, April 26, 2004. National: Leading Public Homebuilding Companies Launch the Public Home Builders Council of America The Public Home Builders Council of America was officially formed at the NAHB's International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The PHBCA will be led by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board comprised of CEOs from the member companies. Serving as co-chairmen of the PHBCA Advisory Board are Ian J. McCarthy, President and CEO of Beazer Homes USA; Timothy Eller, Chairman and CEO of Centex Corporation; Stuart Miller, President and CEO of Lennar Corporation; Richard J. Dugas, Jr., President and CEO of Pulte Homes; Stephen J. Scarborough, Chairman and CEO of Standard Pacific Homes; Robert I. Toll, Chairman and CEO of Toll Brothers; and Alfred Hoffman, Jr., CEO of WCI Communities.

Monday, April 26, 2004. National: Rising Water Damage Erodes Home Values "You can have just as much damage from a plumbing leak as a hurricane," said Charles De Smet, president of Raleigh, North Carolina-based FloLogic (http://www.flologic.com), which makes a water-leak detection system. "Water will go wherever it wants and will saturate the wood, walls, can short circuit electrical system. It's a formidable opponent."

Monday, April 26, 2004. NATIONAL--FREE SPEECH ISSUES: Appeals Court Protects Right to Gripe Online In a victory for free speech on the Internet, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today reversed a district court decision restricting the ability of a homebuilding company's customer to air his dissatisfaction on a gripe Web site.

Sunday, April 25, 2004. Texas: Perry
privately pushing tax plan
Investment banker Jodie Jiles, the partnership's
vice chairman, was invited to the Houston meeting. So was Houston homebuilder
Bob Perry, who is not related to the governor but is one of his and the
Texas Republican Party's biggest financial contributors.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004. National interest: Guilty
plea in Brookhaven corruption probe
Asked why Rickman took the
bribes, his attorney, John Ray, said Rickman believed he "was in an atmosphere
and culture in which that behavior was accepted. It is the culture in what
is known as 'Crookhaven.'"

Monday, April 19, 2004. National interest: Courtland
Foes Challenge Wetlands Permit; Federal Lawsuit Aimed At Blocking 277-Unit
Development
The suit seeks to overturn a wetlands permit that would
allow construction of the subdivision÷the first to be approved under
the countyâs Rural Village ordinance÷in a rural area that
includes the Loudoun County landfill, the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve,
the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation area and the Oatlands Historic
District.

Monday, April 19, 2004. National, from Realty Times:
Why
you must read your sales contract
New construction sales contracts
are traditionally one-sided. I have often joked that if there is anything
in those contracts which protects the consumer, it is because the builder's
attorney forgot to take it out of the contract.

Monday, April 19, 2004. OH, KY: Erpenbeck
part II
"There was collusion in an agreement between the defendant
(Bill Erpenbeck) and John Finnan, the president, and Marc Menne, the executive
vice president at Peoples through JAMS, which is a partnership that the
bankers and their wives had to buy model homes from the Erpenbeck Co. at
below cost, with no money down, using false HUD-1 closing documents to
finance those purchases, to take cash out of the closings, pay kickbacks
to the defendant (Bill Erpenbeck), and then to lease those models back
to the Erpenbeck Co. at above-market rates."

Monday, April 19, 2004. TX: Mirasol
pays off for San Antonio Builders
Of $20 million in tax money spent
to build the Mirasol Homes public housing project, private builders took
as much as $9 million in profit, a new analysis shows. In return, taxpayers
and residents received 247 houses that critics say failed to meet federal
standards. Claims that the houses were poorly built using cheap materials
prompted U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, to request a federal
audit of the project. That audit is expected out this month.

Sunday, April 18, 2004. CA: Homebuyers
were not told of water contamination
Wild Horse Estates -- built
by the Curtis Development Corp. -- sits off Fifth Street and Hillside Avenue
adjacent to Wyle, a testing facility for the U.S. Department of Defense
and various aerospace industries since the 1950s. It is known to have used
cancer-causing agents and various other chemicals that have been found
on the property and in soil tests performed on Hillside Avenue near residential
neighborhoods.

Sunday, April 18, 2004. CA: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/national/8441104.htm?1c
Wild Horse Estates -- built by the Curtis Development Corp. -- sits
off Fifth Street and Hillside Avenue adjacent to Wyle, a testing facility
for the U.S. Department of Defense and various aerospace industries since
the 1950s. It is known to have used cancer-causing agents and various other
chemicals that have been found on the property and in soil tests performed
on Hillside Avenue near residential neighborhoods.

Friday, April 16, 2004. CA: Riverside
official loses early round in building dispute
Melgarejo alleged
that a number of defects in the two buildings emerged after construction,
including improper plumbing that caused sewage to back up into sinks, toilets,
bathtubs and the yard; water seepage through window frames, sliding doors
and the roof; the growth of mold; and cracking in the buildings' drywall
and stucco. Another allegation was for fraud - for building aguesthouse
behind the main house without obtaining the proper city permits for it
and for its sewage system.

Thursday, April 15, 2004. FL, National interest:
Hope
for those who want homes of quality
Inspections of 406 randomly
selected homes built during 2001 found widespread defects. Eight in 10
of these Central Florida homes had at least one serious problem......Across
the Atlantic, England has been dealing with quality issues since 1936.
That's when the nonprofit National House Building Council was created to
issue new-home warranties and push for high quality. The council, which
is not affiliated with any British government, includes consumer groups,
builders, material suppliers, mortgage providers, architects, engineers
and trade unions. It was formed because of complaints about shoddy construction.
The council inspects new homes that carry one of its warranties, said Roger
Courtney, a quality consultant and retired council executive. Inspectors
refer to manuals outlining technical specifications on materials, workmanship
and design during their checks. These regulations are more exacting than
the government-backed building codes, which are concerned mostly with structure
and safety. When the inspectors find problems, Courtney said, the builder
must fix them -- or get out of the program. Just since 1965, the house-building
council has placed more than 5 million homes under warranty. Nearly 19,000
builders are enrolled with the council and use the program as part of their
marketing, Courtney said.

Thursday, April 15, 2004. TN: 2
arrested in alleged theft, sale of flooring that may have been used in
area new homes
The stolen hardwood flooring, with a wholesale value
of more than $232,000, was allegedly purchased and used by building contractors
in Shelbyville and the Bedford-Coffee County area who had no idea that
it had been stolen, according to Shelbyville Police Sgt. Jason Williams.
Michael Todd Smith, 35, of Shelbyville, is charged with theft of property
over $60,000, Williams said. Smith, a bondsman and homebuilder, is free
on $100,000 bond pending an April 13 appearance in Bedford County General
Sessions Court.

Thursday, April 15, 2004. AZ: ROC
busts unlicensed contractors through undercover stings
The Arizona
Registrar of Contractors (ROC) is conducting statewide undercover sting
operations to catch construction, repair or remodeling companies doing
business without a license. Penalties for unlicensed contracting could
include civil citations issued by the ROC or criminal complaints filed
with local prosecutors.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. OK: Home
repairman charged in fraud
Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed
additional charges Monday against a home repairman charged with consumer
fraud last week. Scott Robert Ducharme, 45, was charged in Cleveland County
District Court with two additional felony counts of home repair fraud.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. NJ: New
Code for Home Repairs Wins OK in New Jersey
The New Jersey Senate
gave bipartisan approval Monday to a bill that would, for the first time,
regulate home building contractors in the state.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. MN: Home
Warranty lawsuits widened
Homeowners would have more time and broader
grounds to sue contractors for failing to honor new-home warranties under
a ruling Thursday by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. CT, National interest:
Owners
seek probate ru
The New Milford couple that has been fighting their
home warranty company after the northern end of their house sank in, Kim
and Kim Willis has lost another battle, but they intend to fight on.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. MN, National interest:
Fraud-fighting
Web site goes online
The FraudTracks Web site also provides information
on 16 types of fraud, including: vacation fraud schemes, construction fraud...

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. National interest: HomeBanc
Discloses RESPA Probe
HomeBanc Mortgage Corp. has disclosed that
it is the subject of a government inquiry into possible violations of the
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act involving its alliances with nearly
100 real estate brokers and homebuilders.

Monday, April 12, 2004. National: BUILD-PAC
Fundraising Heading for a Record [Building industry money supporting candidates]

BUILD-PAC, NAHBâs political action committee, reached a key milestone
earlier this month when it surpassed $2 million in its fundraising efforts.
That amount represents 71% of its $2.8 million goal for the 2003-2004 election
cycle. The mission of BUILD-PAC is to help elect pro-housing candidates
to federal office and it is on pace to set an all-time record, reaching
the $2 million mark nearly five months earlier than in the past election
period. ãIn this presidential election year and with control of
both chambers of Congress hanging in the balance, Novemberâs elections
are very important for the home building industry,ä said BUILD-PAC
Chair Barbie Wickman-Byrd.

Sunday, April 11, 2004. MI, National Interest: Salvaging
a Dream: Recycled Materials help Michiganders create affordable dream home

when they started talking costs with contractors, it looked like the
dream would shatter. Logs alone -- no land, no roof, no excavation -- would
cost $285,000, the Hannahs were told. For an auto mechanic and a clerical
worker, it seemed impossible. Fast-forward to today, past four years of
sweat equity from the Hannahs and their family and friends. On Saturday,
their dream home, a 2,500-square-foot log cabin east of Traverse City on
Five Mile Road, will be showcased on a unique home tour in the area.

Sunday, April 11, 2004. PA: Law
Sets new Standards for Construction
This story is the first in
a series on the statewide Uniform Construction Code and how local officials
plan to enforce it, how local contractors plan to follow it, and how those
planning to build or renovate a home will be affected by it.When Elam M.
Herr's home was being built 12 years ago, an inspector found a soft spot
in the foundation and recommended reinforcement bars to help support the
groundwork. It was a move that might have saved Herr thousands of dollars.

Saturday, April 10, 2004. National interest: Blue
Skies and Green Yards, all lost to Red Ink
the national foreclosure
rate has tripled over the last three decades. Experts say mortgage fraud
is on the rise in the United States and is now evident in as much as 25
percent of the loans that falter. And what happened in the Poconos is a
disturbing glimpse of how a worthy goal ÷ helping more middle-income
Americans own their own homes ÷ can sometimes produce disastrous
results.

Thursday, April 08, 2004. MD: Curran
files order against builder
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.
(D) said yesterday that he issued a cease-and-desist order against Jeffrey
Bryant and his companies, including Precision Group Inc. of Bethesda and
Advanced Building Solutions Inc. of Beltsville, barring him from acting
as a home builder in the state.

Thursday, April 08, 2004. NJ: Council:
Keep an eye on Burt
Burt, of 99 Sunnyside Ave., is the son of Frances
and Walter Burt, who were jailed in July 1993 after pleading to a litany
of charges, among them, deriving income from racketeering, arson, extortion
and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004. OH, KY: Tape,
Keep it all hush-hush
A newly disclosed tape of a phone message
left on Bill Erpenbeck's answering machine by the former leaders of Peoples
Bank of Northern Kentucky further demonstrates the group's frantic attempts
to keep the massive bank fraud scheme a secret from restive homebuyers.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004. CA, National interest: California
Bills Target Costly Lawsuits on New-Home Defects
Roseville attorney
Robert Haney has represented homeowners in construction-defect lawsuits
for nine years. Before that, he defended home builders for the same amount
of time. "The real problem in my book is the lack of old-fashioned craftsmanship,"
Haney said. Often the homes go up too fast for the work to be adequately
supervised, he said, and shoddy workmanship is the result. By the time
clients come to him, they are fed up with trying to get the builder to
fix the home, he said.

Monday, April 05, 2004. DC: Complaints,
Suits, mount against builder
It was more than a week later, after
no follow-up calls from Precision Group, that Ha said he learned that Precision
Group lacked a license to build in Montgomery County. He also learned that
Precision Group didn't own the land in Potomac, or have the rights to try
to sell it.

Monday, April 05, 2004. IN: Uproar
growing over mold in homes
"That shows just how widespread it really
is," he said. "Basically, about anywhere Trinity has a subdivision, we
are seeing mold."

Monday, April 05, 2004. NJ, National interest, re:
SLAPP suits and activism: Bracing
for an environmental slapdown
A bill (A1076) is pending before
the Legislature that would allow judges to toss out lawsuits that arise
from a defendant's exercise of freedom of speech or freedom to petition
the government.

Monday, April 05, 2004. Texas: Foreclosures
Rise
Foreclosure postings for April are up in Dallas County, while
three of four counties in the Dallas area are experiencing record numbers
of homes headed for the auction block. There are three postings in Highland
Park, and one in University Park for April.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. National: Homeowners
Should Expect Some Defects, Real Estate Experts Say
He believes
part of the problem is caused by builders who rely on "just enough design"
with no reserve capacity. "Fifty or 100 years ago, houses were built stronger.
Some houses going up today may not even outlast their 30-year mortgages,"
he said.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. OR: Vista
Grande Developer Under Investigation
The police department received
a complaint regarding Saunders, and Detective Barbara Palicki is investigating
charges involving aggravated theft by deception and racketeering. The department
is seeking assistance from the Department of Justice and the enforcement
unit of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Division
of Finance and Corporate Securities.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. OH, KY: Cash
Buyers Lack Settlement
Many of the cash buyers are retirees who
sold their homes and bought Erpenbeck condominiums with the proceeds. Erpenbeck
Co., through a scheme led by its president, Bill Erpenbeck, knowingly failed
to forward proceeds from the cash transactions to the banks that financed
construction of those homes and condominiums. Instead, that cash went into
the home building company's accounts.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. OH, KY: Erpenbeck
Hopes to serve Sentence in FL
Erpenbeck was sentenced Thursday
on charges of bank fraud and witness tampering. He diverted $34 million
from home buyers and contractors into company accounts, rather than to
banks, and then tried to pressure his sister into taking the fall for him.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. National: Early
Detection Of Mortgage Fraud
Even when the conspiracy involves loan
brokers, appraisers and others in the lending process, she emphasized,
it's usually one person -- perhaps a builder or remodeler -- who runs the
show, according to the Freddie Mac executive.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. FL: Slow
change for Tampa housing
Tampa's housing scandal was always about
more than the story of wheeling-dealing Steve LaBrake. While LaBrake, the
city's former housing chief, is facing federal bribery charges, this month's
disclosure that a construction firm at the center of the scandal had continued
to receive city business points to the difficulty of changing what's wrong
with the entire bureaucratic culture. The staff still has the power to
frustrate Mayor Pam Iorio's ethics reforms.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. PA: $1
lawyers may aid D.A. in fraud probes
The state Attorney General's
Office hasn't done nearly enough to prosecute Poconos real estate fraud,
says Monroe County District Attorney David Christine, who promises prosecutions
of his own.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. CO: Home
Builder Sues Feds over Clean up Costs
Home builder Lennar Colorado
LLC on Wednesday sued the U.S. government and three branches of the armed
services in an attempt to recoup the cost of cleaning up parts of the former
Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range....Lennar, the parent of U.S. Home, bought
the High Plains Country Club and Beacon Point development sites at Lowry
in 1999 and 2001, respectively, without knowing that the military had left
hazardous substances, such as unexploded ordnance, on the site, the lawsuit
claims.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. OH, KY: Erpenbeck
gets two 30-year terms
A federal judge sentenced former home builder
Bill Erpenbeck to 30 years in prison Thursday for bank fraud - the harshest
punishment prosecutors can recall in a local white-collar crime case.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. NJ: Marlboro
council declines to release builders bond
A performance bond is
money posted by a developer with a municipality while he completes a project.
When the project has been completed to the satisfaction of municipal officials,
the money is returned to the developer. In some cases, the townâs
officials can use the money to complete outstanding issues if the developer
refuses to address them.

Sunday, April 04, 2004. NJ: Builder
threatens suit
Local builder Dan Werbler has threatened to sue
Marlboro. On Feb. 26, Township Councilman Barry Denkensohn invited Werbler
to come before the Township Council to discuss allegations that two developments
he built have triggered drainage problems in the vicinity of Tennent Road.

Saturday, April 03, 2004. National: AP
Investigation: Loopholes allow millions in land-preservation tax breaks
to go to developers
Millions of dollars in property tax breaks
intended to preserve farmland are going instead to companies that bulldoze
farms to build housing subdivisions, malls and industrial parks, an Associated
Press investigation has found.

Thursday, April 01, 2004. NJ: Bill
tightens regulation of home-repair contractors
Homeowners in New
Jersey would get new protection from unscrupulous or incompetent contractors
under a bill awaiting the governor's signature.