Daily Journal 05-20-2006 (2) (House Mold)

Daily Journal 05-20-2006 (2) (House Mold)

Troubles take toll on homeowners

Bourbonnais developer vows to address matter

By Robyn Monaghan
Their troubles began before the Recchia family’s moving van pulled up in the driveway of their new home in Bourbonnais’ Eagle Creek Estates last November.

During a walk-through inspection, the Recchias saw a basketball-sized hole in the garage. The backyard was under water.

But the couple signed off on the deal anyway, after Kennedy Homes promised they’d fix the problems later, Kelly Recchia said.

When the Recchias called during the winter to report icy water streaming down their garage walls, they say representatives from Kennedy Homes, the company that build the house, told them it was “new house condensation.” After months of calling back and forth, the company this spring patched the broken board, but didn’t replace it.

“They tell you to go ahead and sign, so you can get moved in,” Recchia said. “Then, when it comes time to fix it, they say there’s no problem.”

Once the new neighbors began visiting one another, they started to see a pattern of problems, said Recchia and Latanya Rafe, another homeowner with unresolved problems.

It galls them to see new houses going up before their houses are repaired.

“They ought to fix the ones we’re living in before they build new ones,” said Scott Kravat, who lives next to the Recchias.

It’s not that Kennedy won’t ultimately stand up to their warranties, they say. But the company’s “stall tactics” drains the delight out of being a new homeowner, disgruntled homeowners said.

“They try to make it seem like it’s just you that has a problem, like your expectations for your perfect new home are unrealistic,” Recchia said. “It’s like a game to see who will wear out first.”

Agitation inside, outside

The Recchia’s backyard, improperly graded, is still a giant puddle, holding 2 inches of standing water in a moderate shower like Thursday’s rain. Like at least three of their neighbors on the north side of Patriot Way, they deem their backyard unusable. The Recchias would like to put up a swing set so Kelly can watch her young children while they play out back, but the brown sod is far too soggy.

The Rafes can’t use their backyard, either. Neither can Scott Kravat, who lives on the other side. Kravat, 59, a life-long Bradley resident, finally slapped down $250,000 to buy his first new home. Kravat, disgusted with the drainage problems, put the home up for sale not long after moving in. he hasn’t had a single offer in six months, he said.

The problems don’t stop at the front door, the homeowners say. The beige carpet in the Recchias second-floor foyer is two different shades. A beam is sticking through the Rafes’ basement wall. And “new house condensation” wasn’t isolated in Recchia’s garage. A 12-foot crack, which Kennedy after months of calls finally glued together with epoxy, mars the basement wall. Cracks with water droplets surround several basement windows. The windows in the master bath had to be replaced after mold infested the frames.

When the Recchias complained to Kennedy crews that the sump pump constantly pulling water from their basement to plow through her year wasn’t hooked up to the storm sewers, Kelly Recchia said Kennedy workers told her there is no storm sewer. It wasn’t until Recchia learned that Bourbonnais village codes requires storm sewers and physically dug it up that Kennedy workers acknowledged it.

Storm sewers are required in Bourbonnais subdivisions, Village Administrator Frank Koehler said, but they may not necessarily be positioned near enough homes to hook up a sump pump.

Spring promises improvements

Bill Gronow, Kennedy spokesperson, said that’s not the way his company is supposed to work. It is not company policy to ask buyers to sign off on inspection items that are unresolved, he said. He isn’t familiar with problems other than grading issues. But if homeowners feel their concerns aren’t being taken seriously and addressed quickly, it is something he “needs to look into right away,” Gronow said Thursday. He vowed he would.

Kennedy bought the subdivision of previously improved lots about a year and a half ago, Gronow said. Now that spring has come, the company will finish grading improvements. Bourbonnais and Kennedy engineering crews pow-wowed at Eagle Creek Thursday afternoon.

Officials at the Bourbonnais inspection department did not return several calls from the Daily Journal Thursday and Friday.

The Rafes and Recchias aren’t sorry they moved to Bourbonnais. They’re in love with their new town, teachers and neighbors. They don’t want to see their homes or move back to the city.

“We love Bourbonnais,” said Latanya Rafe, who moved from Dolton last fall to the house next door to the Recchias. “We love the community, the kids love their schools, we love our new friends, our neighbors.”

But all the hassles have taken a lot of the fun out of building the home of their dreams.

“It’s not just our house, it’s our home,” Recchia said. “For us, this is not a business. It’s our life.”

Note: Attorney Thomas Zimmerman filed a lawsuit against Kennedy Homes on behalf of the Recchias.

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