Investigation: New Home Heartbreak – ABC News

In Seattle, the walls were literally melting.

In Birmingham, the floors bounced and creaked as they were walked on.

In Tampa, bricks fell from the chimney, preventing anyone from parking in the driveway.

In suburban Washington, D.C., holes in the foundation led to an infestation of rodents under the house — and at least one large snake.

Homeowners say it’s problems like these that are turning American dream homes into nightmares, and that builders are slow or flat out refuse to fix the problems they created, as found in a recent ABC News “Nightline” investigation with over a dozen local ABC affiliates.

A snake peeks out through a hole in a home’s foundation in Washington, D.C.

“You continue living in something no one can give you answers for. No one’ll fix it,” Jennifer Wyton told ABC News’ Chicago affiliate WLS after she said her family discovered in their new home that the window seals were misaligned, there were cracks in the ceiling, the front door had to be replaced and house, built in northern Illinois, was missing insulation.

“We had ice that formed on the inside of our house. So all of our electrical outlets and light switches on the West side of the house were covered with like a half an inch of ice. The wood floors along the West side had ice going along the whole side of them,” she said. “It was our house. It was where we lived. And we just had to walk away from it.”

Tune in for more on this Brian Ross investigation on “World News Tonight With David Muir” followed by the full report on “Nightline”.

The U.S. has recently seen a home building boom, with tens of thousands of new homes going up every year. The big national builders, including the biggest, D. R. Horton, promise high quality.

But ABC News found an industry also inundated with complaints, so much so that D. R. Horton told investors in its latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it has set aside some $400 million in each of the last two years to deal with hundreds of construction defect claims in its brand new homes. The company said in filings that this was the “ordinary course of business.”

It’s not so ordinary for the homeowners like Jackie Walker, a freelance makeup artist who works for ABC News and other media outlets in Washington, D.C. After D. R. Horton built her home, she said the house experienced “nail popping,” where nails literally pushed back out of the walls. She marked hundreds of them with blue tape.

“My house looks like it has the measles,” Walker said. “I mean, it’s literally every nail. And every beam, there’s a seam. Every crack, every molding around the stair, the trim around the walls, everything is cracked… It was very upsetting because it’s the most expensive purchase any of us are going to make.”

ABC News
Freelance makeup artist Jackie Walker put blue tape where she said nails have popped back out from the wall in her new home.

Bill Loden, a former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, said…

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