• $6K down the drain: Homeowners blame builder for expensive repair for rotten decks

    By: Jim Strickland

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - A Channel 2 Action News consumer investigation uncovered nearly two dozen floating decks that are falling apart due to water damage in one Brookhaven neighborhood.  A gutter contractor hired by the homeowners’ association is pointing the blame at gutters installed by the builder, Pulte Homes, that are too small.

    “As the water gets into it, it just chips it away,” said repairman Robert Valentine, who has been hired to repair many of the decks. “They’re just falling apart from the inside out,” he said.

    Nearly two dozen decks need to be replaced at the Views at Lenox Crossing. Channel 2 Action News spotted water dripping out of a big hole in one deck.

    “To me it looks like it could start falling apart at any moment and that’s not a good feeling,” said homeowner Candace Goldberg.

    She bought her townhome directly from Pulte Homes eight years ago.

    “We can see ours falling apart from the outside and it’s not very old. It’s not even ten years old,” Goldberg said.

    Homeowner Zach Smith is one of the residents getting a volume discount of $6,000 a piece on his deck repair. Pulte Homes offers a 10-year structural warranty, but Smith told us it doesn’t apply. “With the decks specifically, you know they said it was a separate deck company that actually handles that and unfortunately, they went out of business so we’re kind of out of luck as a result,” Smith said.


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    Pulte Homes sold more than $8 billion worth of housing in 2017, with 21,000 closings.  The company’s Buckhead headquarters are only three miles away from the Views at Lenox Crossing, yet the company refused to grant Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Jim Strickland an on-camera interview.

    Goldberg said they met with her two years ago. “They just kind of hemmed and hawed and said, 'Yeah, OK, we’ll be in touch,' and that’s it,” said Goldberg.

    “Didn’t think that I’d be replacing my deck within two years of buying this home,” said homeowner Erin Whitlock.

    Her problems go beyond the deck. The door from her deck to her kitchen is rotted through.

    “You don’t know what it is, so your immediate thought is, oh my gosh, how much damage is here?” Whitlock said.

    “How much damage is here? Do you even know?” Strickland asked Whitlock. “I don’t, no,” Whitlock answered.

    Strickland found a Pulte inspector on site, but he packed up when he saw the Channel 2 Action News camera. 

    Pulte Homes emailed Channel 2 Action News this statement:

    “Since being made aware of your story, we have been contacted by two residents of the community. When we responded to the first inquiry and attempted an onsite assessment of the homeowner’s deck, our customer service representative was interrupted by a WSB-TV videographer and unable to complete his work; he later returned and completed the inspection.  The other resident’s deck was also inspected. The condition of both decks indicated a lack of preventative maintenance, not an issue relating to the original construction.

    We have explained to your news organization that, but for the two calls noted above, our service tracking system does not show any deck-related inquiries since 2014.  As demonstrated by these most recent customer calls, we do stand behind our homes and will send a customer service representative to assess a home’s condition and the root cause of an issue.  If it is determined that the underlying issue stems from the original construction, we are prepared to take corrective action.”

    Goldberg doesn’t buy Pulte’s explanation.

    “Do you hold Pulte responsible for this?” Strickland asked Goldberg. “As all the other decks started deteriorating the same way, yes,” she answered.

    So where is the water coming from? Channel 2 Action News obtained an email alert sent out by the homeowners’ association. Its gutter contractor has advised: 

    “A number of units have a ‘waterfall’ effect coming from the rear gutters (over decks) during rain. This overflow of water has contributed to water intrusion into homes and deck rot for some owners. During the annual gutter cleaning we asked the company to assess the cause, and were told that the gutters installed by Pulte are too small for the volume of water. The solution is to install larger gutters, which can appropriately catch and route the water to the ground without overflowing.”

    Channel 2 Action News sent that email to Pulte Homes along with a list of questions, many of which they did not answer.

    “For Pulte to sell us something that was shoddy, that’s really frustrating and makes us mad,” said Goldberg.

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