Pulte Homes settles construction complaint with Florida attorney general

Photo (c) Tzogia Kappatou - Getty Images

State regulators charged a builder of unfairly denying warranty coverage for construction defects

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has reached a settlement with Pulte Homes that resolves mounting complaints about residential home construction at several developments in the state.

The consent decree resolves Bondi’s two-year investigation that resulted in the state charging the homebuilder with violations of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. According to the complaint, Pulte didn’t make required disclosures to homebuyers and denied warranty coverage that should have been provided.

Pulte, in fact, has spent a lot of money repairing Florida homes in recent years. Bondi says that  the company spent at least $64 million to correct a wide range of defects before and during her investigation.

In her complaint, Bondi charged that Pulte failed to disclose that some homes contained elements that did not meet applicable building codes. In some instances, she charged that Pulte denied warranty coverage by blaming lack of maintenance for the damage, when it was in fact attributable to improper construction techniques.

Orlando condo owners take action

In November, the Orlando Sentinel reported a dispute by homeowners in a Pulte townhome development in Central Florida resulted in an independent inspection before the case went to arbitration.

The newspaper reports the inspectors documented construction defects in at least 70 of the development’s 140 homes. A spokesman for Pulte said the builder will work toward resolving all homeowner disputes.

As a result of the settlement with Bondi’s office, Pulte has agreed to repair homes that are up to 10 years-old and meet the criteria set out in the consent decree. In addition, the company has agreed to pay $4.7 million to homeowners to compensate them for out-of-pocket expenses for repair work.

Bondi says that as her investigation unfolded, Pulte spent $10 million to upgrade building materials, improve building techniques, and increase training of its employees and subcontractors in Florida.

The complaint puts the total of Pulte spending to provide relief to homeowners at $78.7 million.

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