Favorite

Empty house, full court 

Builder sues and homeowners sue over poor construction in The Ranch.

click to enlarge UNOCCUPIED: New home in The Ranch.
  • UNOCCUPIED: New home in The Ranch.


Renaissance Homes Inc. finished construction on a 5,424-square-foot home in The Ranch subdivision in January 2005. But no one has ever lived there. Instead of moving vans, litigation ensued.

The driveway has collapsed into airspace below the foundation and the garage, according to a structural engineer, will not support the weight of a car. The city refused to issue a certificate of occupancy after its inspector’s notices of framing and foundation code violations were disregarded.

The builders, who deny the city’s claim and say the owners of the house owe them money, filed a foreclosure suit shortly after completing the house. The owners countersued for breach of contract and negligence. The city ducked out when the lawsuits were filed, letting private engineering experts take over.

The case comes hard on the heels of other high-profile residential construction projects that have been completed or virtually completed while in violation of code or contracts. Most recently, the city discovered that contractors putting a $1 million roof on University Plaza and doing concrete work never took out permits. They then underestimated the value of the work and the city tripled their fees, the city code office said.

Inspectors go to building sites when contractors call them in; if work is completed without the proper inspections, the city can deny a certificate of occupancy to force corrections.

Renaissance filed its foreclosure suit against Raymelle and Philip Greening in March 2005, two months after finishing work. The company says the contract price for the home was $377,241.85 and that of that amount, $61,059.07 (plus $2,997.22 in interest) is due.

In April 2005 the Greenings countersued, demanding “recission” — that the money they’ve paid be reimbursed, the house torn down, and the lot returned to its original condition, creating a clean slate at 67 Ranch Ridge Road.

A four-day trial has been set to start Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Construction on the house started in 2003. Renaissance Homes’ filing says the Greenings stopped paying in July 2004, but the company completed the house anyway. Its lawyer maintains that the builders did everything the city asked it to do and that the case has come down to engineer disagreements on issues not covered by code.

City code manager Chuck Givens said, however, that there’s no record that Renaissance corrected deficiencies found by its inspector. Code violations included problems in the garage slab, the garage retaining wall, the driveway and first floor framing.

Engineer Edward Grubbs of Grubbs, Hoskyn, Barton and Wyatt engineers dug test pits at the Greenings’ expense and reported a crushed joist and problems with other joists and piers. The Greenings claim that doors and windows in the house do not open and close properly and that there’s damage to appliances. They say in their filing that they had to hire other contractors to tear out work done by Renaissance and rebuild.

That the driveway concrete has collapsed is not disputed; only the party at fault is. Grubbs found fill dirt had settled as deep as 7 inches beneath the driveway slab. Grubbs also found vertical cracks in a retaining wall and footings that may shift in case of frost heave. Renaissance Homes said it did not pour the concrete for the driveway.

Engineers have also noted that the foundation for the house, which is built on an angle of 24.7 degrees, is sloped, rather than stepped, which could make the house slip down the ridge it occupies. Though city code has required stepped foundations on slopes greater than 10 degrees since 2002, the rule wasn’t enforced during what code manager Chuck Givens called a “transition period” that covered Renaissance’s footing work.

Givens said it was “pretty rare” for a residential contractor to finish out a job without making fixes to problems found by inspectors.

The Greenings have also filed a complaint against Renaissance with the state Contractors Licensing Board.

The Greenings’ is the only complaint pending against Renaissance Homes, board records show.


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The assault weapon open line

    The open line. And report of the arrest of a man with an AR-15 who threatened to shoot people at a Springdale business.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A primary challenger for Rep. Laurie Rushing

    Blue Hog Report has some news on a Republican primary challenge of an incumbent legislator, Rep. Laurie Rushing, by Ernie Hinz of Hot Springs.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A common-sense gun measure draws no sponsors from Arkansas

    Republicans, including at least one from Arkansas, are talking about repealing the Dickey Amendment which prohibits gun research from a public health perspective. But none of them are yet willing to DO anything about it.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Asa on pre-K

    • Aug 17, 2016

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

  • Historian out

    Another DAH defection.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • DYS to keep youth lockups

    Will do further study before seeking private provider.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • ADC can't retain guards

    More than a third of new hires in 2017 left before the year was up. The culture is the problem, former guards say.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Locked away and forgotten

    In 2017, teenagers committed to rehabilitative treatment at two South Arkansas juvenile lockups did not receive basic hygiene and clothing supplies and lived in wretched conditions.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation