WESTFIELD, Ind. — A group of Westfield residents are fed up with delays and what they consider poor workmanship on their new houses. Some of them have even shelled out more money on top of their contracts for repairs.
“I’m missing screws from hinges,” Lou Shlensky told CBS4 Investigates.
The more than one dozen neighbors we spoke with all own homes in Westfield’s Kimblewick by Del Webb neighborhood.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, they don’t finish,” homeowner Marta Brown said.
All of the residents said they experienced numerous delays in closing this year. Homeowners Richard and Linda Russell said they even felt pressured to close. “We felt pressured to close because it was costing us over $3,000 a month between apartment rent and storage fees to sit there and wait,” Richard said.
Richard said working with the particular builder has been “a colossal headache.” For example, the Russells paid hundreds of dollars to have a gas line put in for their dryer. “The outlet they put was behind the drywall under the molding,” Richard explained. “So I tore out the wall, tore out the drywall, tore out the trim, redid the plumbing.”
The couple spent thousands above their contract, they said, to fix the issues left behind by the builder and its contractors. The Russells explained they even had to clean up the mess left behind by the company’s contractors. “So, two 75-year-olds are on their hands and knees taking all the spots off the floor after the other people had left,” Linda said. “That’s how it got cleaned, Richard and I did it.”
The Russells and their neighbors pay nearly $300 per month for access to amenities that won’t be finished until at least next year and lawncare for yards that were not completed until after we interviewed the couple.
“None of us that moved in months ago have sprinklers or grass or anything,” Linda said at the start of June. “But all of the people that are getting ready to move in have grass and sprinklers.”
The City of Westfield requires lawns to be completed within days of closing, except during the months of November through May 15. The city requires all lawns to be completed by May 15. This is according to the city’s 2022 Inspection Requirements and Procedure. Westfield confirmed it has fined the builder.
“We should have grass before the people who have not moved in yet,” Linda said.
While we are not naming the building company, it did send us this statement:
“We recognize that the home building process has been longer than expected due to ongoing global supply chain issues, and we appreciate the frustration that some residents may feel. Our Customer Care team is working diligently to address the concerns any homeowners may have. As of June 17, more than half of the homes with outstanding landscaping issues have been resolved. Weather permitting, we plan to complete the remaining homes and have all landscaping matters closed by the first week of July. We take pride in our reputation in the building industry and remain committed to delivering high-quality homes that exceed buyer expectations.”
Lawyer’s advice for consumers building a home
Environmental and construction attorney Melissa Hamer said the contract sets the project’s expectations.
“Who’s going to do what, what timeframe are they going to do that work on, who’s paying for what,” Hamer listed.
Hamer said it is not uncommon for houses to have issues that need to be addressed after the owner moves in, but the house should be habitable. Residents can create a punch list.
“Whether it’s repaint this section, straighten this fixture, fix a crack in drywall,” Hamer explained.
Hamer said it is important to get everything in writing, especially these days.
“That’s where the contract is really crucial in how the parties are going to communicate those issues and how they’re going to resolve those problems as far as timing, the money,” Hamer explained.
The Indiana Builders Association also lists resources for those interested in building a home on its website, https://buildindiana.org/homeowners/.