On May 28, 2005, we entered into a contract with Chesapeake Homes to purchase a new house, to be built on a specific piece of property, in the Shawnee Ridge development, in Easton, PA. We also contracted for specific modifications to be made to the base design of the house.
First off, during contract signing, we were provided with a builder disclosure which indicated that Chesapeake Homes had not been a party to a lawsuit within the prior 5 years with any of their developments. We later found out that this was not correct, and had in fact been a defendant in a lawsuit from 2000 through 2003.
Within a few weeks into the process, we started experiencing problems with Chesapeake Homes when we questioned some pricing they provided to us for certain custom work we wanted performed. Instead of discussing alternative modifications that we inquired about that would be less expensive, they responded that the prices are not negotiable, and if we didn't like it, then we could get our money back and leave. Great idea, except we already accepted an offer to sell our current house.
In September 2005, during the framing of the house, we discovered that the builder had made two large deviations from the contracts and blueprints. We contracted for the roof height over the garage to be raised approximately 2 feet to match the height of another peak over the front door. We wanted this raised so in the future we could convert the unused space to living space. The builder also knew this as they recommended moving the location of the access panel to a location that would be easily modified from an access panel to a full size door. As we contracted for 2 feet, at a cost of $3000, the total increase in height was only about 10 inches.
Upon further inspection, we also noticed that they omitted the floor in the space above the garage that was not finished living space, which contradicts the plans, and their knowing we had intentions of converting the space. They constructed a 2 foot knee wall to raise the roof, only they now started 14 inches lower. Now not only do we lose the roof height and potential uses of that space, the space will now never be usable, as the builder only used ceiling rafters to suspend the garage ceiling.
We notified Chesapeake Homes of the errors, and in an attempt to keep the process going, as we were selling our other house, asked that they credit us back the $3000, which would be in accordance with the contract as they did not perform the item, but that they install the floor trusses, as it would still be easy to do in the framing stage, and they belonged there anyway.
In early October, 2005, instead of Chesapeake Homes corrected these errors, they informed us that not only would they not credits us back ANY monies, that they would return our deposit money, and would not sell us the house now. This occurred 2 weeks after selling our house, and moving our belongings into storage.
We have since filed a lawsuit in the Northampton County Court of Common Plea's, in Easton, PA. The builder will not acknowledge that they have any liability for their errors, or their breach of contract. They believe they can walk away from the contract by returning deposits, even if a buyer has suffered financial damages as a result, such as storage costs, alternative housing costs, legel expenses, change in interest rates from what we would have had. This is also not to mention that housing prices increased in this area from the time of contract signing, through the date of their breach.
In an attempt provide the truth to anyone we can, we also started our own website so people can keep track of any new developments, or the status of our case.
It's now November 2006, and 13 months after we were supposed to be in our new house. We've been living like gypsies now, with most of our belongings in storage, and moving twice since. We've been making settlement offers to the builder, however they only now acknowledge that they'll credit back the amount for not performing the roof height, and they installed the floor trusses, as they were supposed to. We are anticipating getting a trial date of either January or February 2007.
Lords Valley, Pennsylvania