Arlington, Texas-based homebuilder D.R. Horton recently found itself embroiled in a legal maelstrom, culminating in a substantial $16.1 million settlement.
Originating from the Rose Hill subdivision in Easley, S.C., this case provides a comprehensive exploration of the challenges homeowners confronted and the subsequent legal proceedings.
The Heart of the Dispute
The class-action lawsuit encompassed the owners of 220 single-family homes, all constructed by D.R. Horton between 2012 and 2017. Central to the homeowners' complaints were alleged defects in various components of their homes, from foundational issues to concerns with siding, framing, windows, doors, and veneers. Notably, homeowner Natalie Zitek's 2019 complaint spotlighted water intrusion and the ensuing damage, problems that recurred annually since the homes' completion.
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A Unique Legal Landscape
Representing the homeowners, South Carolina attorney Justin Lucey highlighted the distinctiveness of this lawsuit. While class-action suits typically center on townhome or condo developments, this case was groundbreaking for addressing a multitude of issues within a single-family home community, potentially paving the way for similar future lawsuits.
Settlement Details and Defense Strategy
The legal journey saw most of the case resolved after a mere week and a half of trial. Although homeowners did not secure their entire repair cost, which could have ranged from $136,000 for the majority of homes to $250,000 for intricate cases, the settlement was significant. The precise amount each homeowner will obtain remains to be determined but is projected to hover around $100,000 before accounting for attorney and legal fees.
Lucey's commentary on D.R. Horton's defense was illuminating. The builder's argument that the homes' deficiencies were either trivial or so prevalent that all developers commit them was a point of contention. Drawing from his extensive experience in construction litigation, Lucey observed that challenges frequently emerge when site superintendents lack adequate training to oversee subcontractors effectively. He expressed concern over the industry's shift, where homebuilding has transitioned from a respected profession to a mere business.
The Role of Inspections
One of the most significant takeaways from this case is the importance of professional inspections. Lucey's advice for homebuyers to ensure a professional inspector examines their home is equally pertinent to real estate agents. Agents should always advise their clients to get a thorough inspection, and if there are any concerns, to consult with an engineer. This not only protects the buyer but also shields the agent from potential future disputes.
In wrapping up, the D.R. Horton settlement stands as a vivid reminder of the responsibilities and potential challenges in the real estate domain. By staying informed, prioritizing quality, and championing thorough inspections, real estate professionals can optimize their service to clients and safeguard their industry standing.
What inspections do you recommend for client's purchasing new construction homes? Leave a comment below or discuss with a colleage in an upcoming CE Class!
Parton, M. (2023, September 19). Homeowners strike $16.1 million deal with D.R. Horton over claims of faulty construction. The Dallas Morning News.