COLORADO SPRINGS — Our News 5 investigative team is tracking a pattern of complaints against a Colorado home builder.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple homeowners have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau with one common problem---they say they builder won't honor its warranty.
It's no secret---new home construction is popping up everywhere in Colorado Springs.
William Sawvel recently purchased a house from CreekStone Homes on the northeast side of the city.
He says since he moved in, his family has experienced nothing but problems.
"Every 3-4 months we have lights pop in the house and we have to replace all of them," he said.
Sawvel had no issues demonstrating electrical problems for our cameras. For example, every time he turns on the vacuum, the lights in the basement flicker.
If you take a walk on the treadmill in the basement, the light also flickers.
Initially, William says this wasn't a big concern since his home came with a 1-year warranty.
“With all of the problems we were having, my wife and I decided it would probably be a good idea to get an inspector to come in before the warranty is up and have him look through the house and tell us everything that’s wrong with the house that needs to be fixed so that we could send it to Creekstone," he said.
In an inspection report obtained by News 5, an inspector found cracks in the concrete, overdriven nails in the siding which could lead to water damage along with electrical issues deemed as a "safety hazard."
Sawvel says before he reached out to News 5, he tried multiple times to get the builder to fix the problems.
I ended up sending three emails," he said. "I'm just reminding them these are warranty issues and we'd like these things fixed. They never responded."
The paper trail:
March 17, 2020: CreekStone Homes sent a generic message to homeowners notifying them that in-home warranty appointments were suspended immediately due to concerns surrounding COVID-19
April 22, 2020: CreekStone sent another email out saying that all warranty work on completed homes is temporarily suspended due to the Governor's "Stay at Home" order
However, News 5 Investigates found a potential issue. If you look at the actual order from Gov. Jared Polis, we noticed an exemption for services related to construction, housing, and work performed by electricians and plumbers.
On top of this discovery, William says as he and his wife were taking a walk in the neighborhood, they came across a CreekStone model home. On the door of that home was a note that lists a phone number to set up a showing appointment.
Online, William said CreekStone Homes noted their models were "open" and appointments for in-person tours were available.
William asked, "How are you having open houses and then telling people who own these homes that we can't fix issues with homes we already sold? Something didn't seem right."
William says after months of no progress, he decided to finally make repairs on his own.
He then filed a lawsuit against CreekStone Homes to help recover repair costs.
A judge awarded him more than $2,000. However, court records show CreekStone Homes has not paid this judgment.
News 5 Investigates later uncovered CreekStone Homes has filed an appeal to overturn the judge's ruling. Court documents filed by CreekStone question whether the courts should have had the authority to intervene in this case. They cited a "Purchase and Sale Agreement" which reportedly states that disputes should be handled through mediation and arbitration.
"There are other families having the same problems (with warranty issues)," Sawvel said. "They're not responding or they're coming up with excuses to not fix issues."
We verified William's claim through the BBB's own records.
Since anyone can leave a bad review against a company, News 5 decided to only focus on the 8 formal complaints the BBB has on file within the last 3 years against CreekStone. However, it appears all 8 complaints were filed after the pandemic began.
"Larger problems have been ignored by the builder," one complaint said.
Another complaint indicated "warranty work was note done."
News 5 Investigates reached out to CreekStone Homes for comment on William's case and to further discuss the BBB complaints.
Perry Cadman, VP of Operations did not address the BBB complaints, but did issue a statement about William's court case.
"Regarding the matter, Creekstone Homes has filed an appeal of a verdict in El Paso County District Court involving a home buyer who originally filed a claim of less than $7,500. It is our company’s policy not to comment on pending legal cases," Cadman said.
News 5 also asked whether CreekStone Homes would be willing to sit down and discuss processes and procedures for handling warranty claims. Cadman declined that opportunity.
“At Creekstone Homes, we are proud of our A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we respond to issues and complaints on a timely basis, with the customer’s best interests in mind," he said. "We have been in business for 27 years, and we eagerly look forward to the next 27. Regarding a conversation on the topic of our warranty policies, we will respectfully decline to participate because they are so standard and hence, in our opinion, not newsworthy."
William says he still doesn't have the electrical issues in his home resolved and CreekStone Homes offered no resolution in either statement issued to News 5.
We'll keep tracking the builder's appeal through the court process.
Tips for working with home builders:
Communication is key---both before and after the closing process. It's okay to seek clarification and ask questions about a builder's process for handling warranty issues.
Similar to working with contractors, always document problems and issues in writing. This creates a paper trail.
Even if you're moving into a new home, it may be worth getting an inspection prior to closing. Also, be present for that inspection so you can bring up any issues you may notice.
If you feel complaints or warranty issues aren't being handled appropriately, you can file formal complaints with both the Better Business Bureau and the consumer protection division at the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
Have an issue you'd like News 5 Investigates to look into? Email us: News5Investigates@KOAA.com