Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why we need a Homeowner's Bill of Rights: Stories from Washingtonians (Part VI)

Welcome to the sixth installment in our special series counting down the hours remaining until Friday evening's 5 PM bill cutoff deadline, when this year's Homeowner's Bill of Rights legislation will expire unless voted on by the state House of Representatives. Each post in this series features stories from homeowners who have been victimized by negligent construction.

These are stories of Evergreen State families who have, through no fault of their own, lost their life’s savings, their health, their ability to finance their children’s college education, and their prosperity because there was a defect or problem with the workmanship of their home.

Countdown Clock: 17 Hours, 38 Minutes Remaining Until Cutoff

Senate Bill 6385, if enacted, would give the same rights that condo owners already enjoy to homeowners. It provides families with a recourse if their most valuable investment is damaged by contractor negligence. Under current law, homeowners get stuck with the bill for shoddy workmanship. There is no warranty, no protections in place to help those who have been victimized.

We urge you to join us in calling on House Speaker Frank Chopp to bring SB 6385 to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. If SB 6385 gets to the floor it is sure to pass - and Governor Chris Gregoire is ready to sign it.

But it has to make it out of the Rules Committee first.

We continue our countdown with Terry's story.
I am pleased to see this bill has been drafted and hopeful that [the Legislature] will pass it! Although it will not help me with June 1st, 2006 Reality Home purchase or my daughter and son-in-law who had a Reality Home built near mine and took occupancy June 1, 2007 too. Or those who complained in the KING5 Reality blog post.

As far as the defects I am currently dealing [with], Reality is slowly, slowly fixing some of them. Others I cannot wait any longer for and have taken out a second loan on my home so I could hire a contractor to make the corrections.

Like I said, Reality has made a small attempt to correct defects, but they insist on sending out the same subcontractor who does not want to replace defective doors, windows, and carpet which cannot be stretched to quality wall to wall because it was to cut too short to begin with. I am learning live with and correct as my finances will allow.

I [finally] realized I was in trouble and asked for advice from [an attorney I know], who recommended after reading the contract that I cut my losses and pay the $10,000+ penalty to Reality. She said I had no rights with the contract and it was going to get ugly before it was over.

If I was to keep building I would have to be on top of them every day. I felt I had too much invested, I had purchased the parcel, and could not afford to make payments on the building site, and make payments on my current home of twenty nine years, and at my age I would never recover.

Thank God I had my daughter to watch them like a hawk. In combining our attention to Reality and both homes we were able to stop them many times from inflating building costs. Like when the foundation forms were built and there was as much as 2.5 feet of open space under the forms.

I could have crawled under the forms...they only touched one corner to the ground. They had three feet either way to build the foundation.

They chose a high spot to place the foundation and leveled off of it so when they came with the cement truck the cement would just pour out until it hit its level and cement would stay in the forms.

We spent two full days and time off from work, based on the recommendation of a Grays Harbor building inspector, who said he had never seen foundations built like that before, packing sand under and around the forms to hold the cement in.

We estimate from talking to other customers of Reality that we saved $2,000 on extra cement costs by spending $800 each for material and truck charges to bring sand to each building site. We received our first of two price increases totaling more than $2,000 in my case and $4,000 in my daughter's soon after.

We each decided to have a heat pump and forced air installed in our homes. We chose a local company rather than use their substandard Heat Pump and Furnace. Reality allowed us to have a [third party] contractor do the work, if we paid for the heaters which would have been installed in our homes, which they kept to sell and install in future Reality construction.
Here's how to get in touch with Speaker Chopp:

District Office:
444 NE Ravenna Blvd, Suite 106
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 729-3223

Olympia Office:
339C Legislative Bldg.
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7920

Toll-free Hotline: 1-800-562-6000
TTY (hearing impaired): 1-800-635-9993
Email: chopp.frank (at)


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