LATHROP – It was supposed to be one the happiest purchases of Brandon Sandifer’s life.
A new house – the place that he was going to raise his family – that he would be able to make a home. A place where he could make decades worth of memories. The biggest, and by far most important, investment that he had ever made.
But in the three years that he has been a Lathrop resident, Sandifer says that he’s been fighting an ongoing battle with the developer of his neighborhood. He worries that he’ll be forced to watch what he says is subpar construction deteriorate his proudest purchase.
A cracked foundation. Bubbling vinyl floors. Skimped insulation. Waves in the ceiling.
As time goes by, Sandifer says that more and more problems are starting to surface in his KB Home. It was built by the Los Angeles-based company that started as Kaufman and Broad. He claimed repeated attempts at getting them repaired have resulted in only more shoddy work.
And he’s doing something about it.
He’s outfitted his car with decals declaring that “KB Home-Sucks” and has since started a website that documents his experiences in both a written diary and a series of YouTube videos.
“I’ve lost all hope of getting these issues resolved,” Sandifer said. “They’ve told me that everything is within standards and normal, but you can just look at it and tell that isn’t the case.
“They’ve even come out and replaced the drywall and there are still ripples and waves in the ceiling. I trusted the company – I trusted the name brand and expected that there would be quality construction and customer satisfaction and the peace of mind that comes with that. That’s not what I got.”
Several calls to KB Home by the Bulletin weren’t returned.
According to Lathrop Community Development Director Glen Gebhardt, residents like Sandifer typically go through the warranty process – new homes are guaranteed for 10-years – before taking more drastic measures like filing complaints with the city or moving up the ladder.
A City of Lathrop inspector, Gebhardt said, signs off on the work performed on every aspect of new home construction. Something that emerges after the keys are turned over, he said, typically doesn’t have anything to do with what the city accepts as standard.
“It’s an ongoing inspection, and things are picked up throughout the process,” Gebhardt said. “If there were a problem like that it would be – workmanship maybe. But when it comes to new homes, things are typically pretty good.”
What irked Sandifer more than the problems that he discovered was the fact that the company, he said, seemed less than enthused about coming out and looking at any of the issues that he had raised. When he told them about the crack in his foundation – which runs all the way through – the inspector that visited his home told him that the company wouldn’t pull any carpet to see how far it stretched through the house, and said that it was “cosmetic.”
The bubbling on his vinyl floor, he said, seemed to be a sign that something wasn’t right, especially in a home that was less than three years old.
“They sent out a floor guy that told me that this kind of thing was normal – that these houses had cracks everywhere,” he said. “That just wasn’t acceptable to me.”
Several of his neighbors had told him that they noticed several things that didn’t seem right in their homes, but that they didn’t want to go through the hassle of fighting with the company to get it repaired.
Neighbors that had called to complain said they had been told that there wasn’t anything structurally wrong with the house or the construction.
But what concerns Sandifer the most is the not knowing what other structural deficiencies might exist in his home and how much more prevalent they will be in the future.
“I just think that most of them fell for the tactics that they used, and they’re not pursuing anything further because of that,” he said. “I can’t do that. If this house is like this now, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like in 10 years.”