KING COUNTY, Wash. — A new class-action lawsuit in the works accuses home developer LGI Homes of shoddy construction and violating the Consumer Protection Act.
Casey Law, representing homeowners, hired an inspector who discovered major problems in parts of the build after a February storm damaged dozens of homes in Enumclaw. The homes impacted are in the Suntop Farms neighborhood.
“It’s very frustrating. Brand-new house, a half-million dollar house,” said one homeowner who didn’t want to be identified. He said he is weighing his options and considering joining the lawsuit.
Many of the dozens of houses damaged are under warranty; but two months later, roofs are still covered in plastic, siding is still missing, and homeowners say LGI is refusing to step up.
“They were still claiming the ‘act of God,’” said homeowner Dave Baldwin, who is considering joining the lawsuit.
The architecture inspector hired by Casey Law found that if installed properly, the shingles and siding on the homes would withstand winds of at least 116 miles per hour. The highest recorded wind speed the night of the storm was just over 50 miles per hour.
“If it happened on one or two homes, that’s a bad day. But it happened on 24 homes. That’s more than a bad day. That’s clearly cutting corners,” said Chris Casey, an attorney who specializes in construction defect law.
The law firm said inspector William Martin has reviewed about 10 homes in the neighborhood so far, and in every home he found improper installation. A full report for one of the properties said, “The siding and roofing were installed in a defective manner that caused it to fail under conditions substantially below that prescribed by applicable building code for Enumclaw, Washington.”
Casey Law said in some cases, the nails used were too small, so the siding blew off during the “vanilla storm.” In other cases, not enough nails were used. Sometimes the nails were not in the studs. The inspector also found cases where the shingles were not properly sealed.
The inspector said as pieces of the homes ripped off, it also tore holes in the weather-resistant layer underneath. It means homes will need the roofing and siding completely removed and then reinstalled. The repairs are estimated to cost $140,000-$160,000 per home.
The damage also led to snow inside some homes, as well as leaks and water damage.
“We (have a) brand-new baby just born two weeks ago. My wife, my mother, my teenage daughter is there. It’s very heartbreaking to know my family is not in a house that’s safe — just very frustrating,” one homeowner said.
Casey Law says so far, 40 people have signed up to be part of the class-action lawsuit. The suit says LGI Homes has violated the Consumer Protection Act by promising quality homes, then failing to deliver.
Attorneys suspect all of the 288 homes in the area may be improperly built.
“If that’s true on every home, then every home is eligible (to join the suit),” said Wesley Higbee, who works with Casey Law. Higbee said they would have an inspector come look at the homes without cost to the homeowners to see if they are eligible.
Attorneys say the home purchase agreement contracts also stripped the homeowners of the right to take LGI Homes to court. However, the Consumer Protection Act still presents a way to pursue legal action.
“These contracts ... leave these homeowners essentially to deal with this on their own. We had to think of a way to get around these contracts,” Casey said.
While the legal battle is just beginning, families with money tied up in their new homes have nowhere else to go.
“I worry about my family’s health with the water damage, I pray there’s no mold. I’m very worried,” one homeowner said.
Casey Law said it notified LGI Homes of the lawsuit on Friday and will be able to formally file after 21 days.
KIRO7 reached out to LGI Homes both in February and for this story requesting comment, but received no response.
Cox Media Group