Couple afraid to live in 'lemon' home

Couple afraid to live in 'lemon' home


by BILL MCGINTY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 9 at 1:30 PM

FORT  MILL, S.C. -- It was the house Cindy Bivens and her family wanted -- until things started going wrong from day one.

Cindy told NBC Charlotte, “My husband said, 'Just do the laundry.  We’re trying to unpack and move in."  Come to find out, they had shingled over the dryer vent in the roof.”

Records show that Ryland Homes immediately corrected the over-shingling, but then a new problem surfaced.

“The first year, my downstairs commode started leaking and mold started showing up on the floor.  So year one they fixed my commode and hardwoods.  Year two they fixed my commode and hardwoods.  Year three they fixed my commode and hardwoods.  Then year four, my warranty was up.  But year four they came out anyway and replaced my commode and hardwoods,” said Cindy.

But still, the mold came back.  It wasn’t until the Bivens hired a private company at their own expense -- costing them $1,714 -- that the problem was uncovered.


“The plumber was very surprised when he pulled off the commode and the floor and found it was just sitting on a box of sand.  But it had supposedly been fixed four times in four years by Ryland Homes," said Cindy.

And outside, there were problems, too.

When it rained hard, Cindy said her back fence sunk over in the middle, and water pooled behind the house.  In response to the flooding issue, Ryland sent the Bivens a letter saying that because they added stairs and three patio stones, they voided their warranty -- which meant Ryland wasn’t responsible.

The Bivens have pages and pages of documented problems with their home since they moved in, back in 2005.  Just since January, Cindy said they hear weird bangs in the attic and nails are now bulging in the drywall along with new cracks in the foundation.  Cindy showed NBC Charlotte where cabinets are pulling away from the wall, door frames are beginning to separate and walls that are pulling apart from the ceiling, creating gaps.

And then there is the kitchen refrigerator -- their sixth since January.  Each one, they said, sparking and shorting out.

Fridges from three different stores, all replaced once.  When NBC Charlotte began shooting this story, fridge #7 was new and working.  But then just last week, Cindy said it, too, shorted out.  The backup dorm fridge plugged into a different outlet is once again the only option.

“Now it’s fear.  We’re afraid this house is going to collapse on top of us," Said Cindy.  “Insurance?  They’re done with me.  They say it's poor building.”

That’s no joke.  The Bivens were notified on March 25 by their homeowners insurance company that only when the “foundation has been stabilized” will they “consider continuing the coverage.”

The Bivens are concerned because parts of the home warranty and the total warranty will expire in just two and a half years.  They’re frightened they’ll be stuck with a $215,000 lemon they’re afraid to live in, and can’t sell.

“I wish Ryland would buy back this home.  I’m not looking for a million dollars, just want what I paid so I can move on and find somewhere safe where we can sleep at night,” said Cindy.

Ryland Homes responded to NBC Charlotte's request for an interview by saying, “Since the Bivens family purchased their home in June of 2005, Ryland Homes has continued to honor its commitment and address any and all concerns within the framework of our contract and warranty guidelines.  We continue to do so.  With regard to the ongoing structural and electrical concerns, we have continued to evaluate both issues through a rather exhaustive process that has involved outside, third party, licensed, professional geotechnical, structural and electrical engineers, as well as the utility providers.  As we have done consistently throughout the history of our company, we will continue to evaluate and repair these and any other issues consistent with our binding agreements with our homeowners.”