Cny Home Builder Agrees To Fix Shoddy Work

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with a prominent Central New York home builder to remedy numerous consumer complaints about the quality of its work.

Ryan Homes of New York and its corporate parent, NVR Inc. of Virginia, resolved an investigation by Spitzer's office into allegations of false and deceptive advertising, shoddy workmanship, failure to follow manufacturers' instructions, failure to meet code requirements, and failure to comply with architects' plans and building permits.

"This settlement sends a message to the home contracting industry that shoddy work and disregard of building standards will result in enforcement efforts by this office," Spitzer said.

Spitzer's office began investigating after receiving numerous complaints from homeowners mainly in two Baldwinsville developments, Canterbury Ridge and Park Ridge. In total, more than 60 homeowners complained about various problems pertaining to the construction of the homes, including:

  • shoddy workmanship and improper installation of roofs and siding;

  • failure to follow manufacturer instructions for roofing products to protect against ice damming;

  • failure to properly install windows, resulting in water penetration;

  • insufficient and inadequate application of insulation and other code violations such as insufficient fire separation, insufficient/improper firestopping, and inadequate attic ventilation; and

  • improperly anchoring of the home, and in some instances failing to install support columns.
In settling the case, Ryan Homes agreed to inspect the houses of all homeowners who complained to the Attorney General's office and to:

  • install an ice and water shield, which is a rubber-based underlayment, under roof shingles and replace all affected shingles or offer the homeowner $2,500 in lieu of these repairs;

  • take steps to ensure that attic insulation is sufficient and brought to required levels;

  • remedy code violations, at no cost to the homeowner; and

  • extend warranties on windows and house-wraps for up to four years and for the siding for seven years from the date the homeowners closed on their homes.

Ryan Homes also agreed to construct homes in strict compliance with architects' plans and building permits.

It is estimated that the cost to Ryan Homes to fix the homeowners' roofs or to provide refunds to consumers for repairs will exceed $150,000. In addition, Ryan Homes will have to cover the costs of fixing any code violations and remedying the insulation, siding and flashing problems.

Ryan Homes agreed to pay $75,000 in costs to the state.

In addition, Ryan Homes agreed to remedy similar problems incurred by additional consumers who come forward with complaints. Individuals interested in filing a complaint against Ryan Homes are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line by December 3, 2002 at (800) 771-7755 or the Syracuse Regional office at (315) 448-4800.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith C. Malkin under the supervision of Winthrop H. Thurlow, Assistant Attorney General In Charge of the Syracuse Regional Office.

TIPS ON BUYING AND BUILDING A NEW HOME

  • Choose your builder carefully! Selecting the right builder may be the most important decision in the home-building process


  • For the names of builders who construct homes in your area, contact your local builders' association, real estate agents, friends and neighbors, and look in the real estate section of your local newspaper


  • Do your homework! Ask about a builder's reputation and the quality of his work by visiting homes he has built and speaking with homeowners. Ask the builder for references and for the addresses of recently built homes and subdivisions. Also, contact the Better Business Bureau for a reliability report


  • Shop around. Obtain more than one formal bid


  • Get help! Consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney before signing any contract. Building a home can be an enjoyable experience, but it is not a do-it-yourself project and can be a complex transaction


  • Remember, the attorneys for the bank and the builder do not represent you. An experienced real estate attorney can protect your interests and guide you through the building process


  • If you sign a contract before hiring an attorney, be sure it contains an attorney's approval clause which will allow you to cancel


  • You may require the builder to deposit your initial down payment in an interest bearing escrow account, and the contract must inform you of this right


  • If you already own the land on which the home is to be built, the builder must deposit all payments received prior to substantial completion in an escrow account and advise you of the name of the bank. Withdrawals can be made as the work is completed. In addition, you have a three-day right to cancel the contract


  • Document in writing all non-routine problems occurring during construction and give the contractor a copy


  • All new single family homes, condominiums or cooperatives are covered by a new home warranty. The minimum coverages are one year for defective workmanship, two years for defects in plumbing, heating, electrical, cooling and ventilation systems, and six years for material defects in structural or load-bearing portions such as foundations, floors, walls and roof framing systems


  • Warranty claims should be submitted to the builder in writing within thirty days after the expiration of the one, two or six-year periods referred to above, or in accordance with the procedure specified in the warranty


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