‘This is totally unacceptable’: Homeowners frustrated over new home warranties

OCOEE, Fla. — Action 9 investigates new home warranty complaints against one of the area’s biggest builders.

A local homeowners association claims dozens of homes have serious drainage defects, but the builder has not fixed the flooding problems.

Larry Newton said the yard on the side of his Ocoee home floods when it rains, and water even reaches his sliding glass doors.

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Newton bought his new home from Pulte Homes three years ago.

“So if we had a heavy summer rain, there’s water in your house?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“Yes, every time. Not even a heavy summer rain, the last rain we had, water came into the house,” Newton replied.

Newton claims it’s a drainage defect the builder is responsible for fixing as part of his new home warranty.

Despite documenting the problem with pictures and emails, Newton said Pulte kept delaying repairs. “I was extremely frustrated.”

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“Not what you expected buying a new home?” Ulrich asked.

“No, not from a company like Pulte,” Newton replied.

Last month, a crew from Pulte dug a swale between his home and his neighbor’s to divert water to the street. Newton said the builder’s repair created a big ditch that’s become a swamp, and now he can’t access his side yard.

“I’m partially disabled. I can’t put my trash can over there because I would fall, and an unlevel surface is dangerous to me,” Newton said.

Pulte’s track record for repair warranties is distressing.

Three years ago, the company settled with the Florida Attorney General following an investigation into construction defects. The multi million-dollar settlement required Pulte to resolve claims with thousands of homeowners who had serious stucco defects.

This year, Pulte Homes told the Better Business Bureau it was creating a customer care program to resolve a serious pattern of complaints involving warranty repair delays.

Ulrich asked Newton about his Ocoee neighborhood. “How many homeowners have flooding issues?”

“We have 45 homes, and I would say at least 44,” Newton replied.

Newton is on the homeowners association board for Crown Point Cove. The association contacted Pulte about defective drainage.

One of the homeowners complaining is Newton’s neighbor Devesh Singh, who claims his side yard floods all the time.

“This is totally unacceptable. Paying $370,000 for this home four years ago, it’s unacceptable,” Singh said.

Three days after Ulrich contacted Pulte Homes, the builder said it would install a French drain, an advanced drainage system at Newton’s home that would level the lawn and eliminate flooding.

Pulte said all other issues in the neighborhood have been resolved.

The Pulte Group has agreements with the Florida Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau to improve responses to repair complaints, so send any defect complaints to both organizations.

PulteGroup response:

We stand behind our home warranty and have worked in good faith to address Mr. Newton’s concerns including installation of an advanced drainage system to effectively manage rain and irrigation water on his property. Service requests do not show any other drainage issues in the community, so we believe the situation has been resolved.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.