Surprise, surprise, Republican state representative John Kuempel, HD 44, has no interest in protecting his constituents or serving their needs but he is worried about dogs and cats.
All over Texas and for that matter much of the U.S. big home builders are getting away with building homes that literally tear themselves apart in as little as two years. In Cibolo and Schertz , suburbs on the northeast side of San Antonio, builders like DR Horton and Pulte have been slapping up new houses by the hundreds for over a decade and many of them have broken foundations, broken pipes, roof leaks, mold and more problems you'd expect in 50 year old homes.
Families in my neighborhood spent $110,000 to $200,000 to purchase these homes and you'd think we could expect they'd be reasonably trouble free for at least the first 20 years. Instead we've found that our foundations are failing leading to cracks in the slab that are wide enough and deep enough to drop a coin down to the dirt below. When your slab cracks like that it tends to bend in and out as the moisture content in the soil changes with rain and drought cycles and that makes the walls pull away from the ceiling so you stick your fingers through the gap. It makes doors not stay close or prevents them from closing, it makes windows not close letting rain in. Your roof starts to leak and your walls stay wet so mold begins to spread leading to health problems in your family.You'll say “Well that's what a warranty is for”, but all they do is put bandaids on the problem by covering the cracks they don't, because they can't, fix the broken slab so the next year the same thing happens all over again. I'll be you're thinking “then just sue them”, what you don't realize is that every major builder in Texas includes a “Binding Arbitration clause” as part of the purchase contract and Texas courts won't hear your case.
If you follow through on arbitration guess who chooses and pays the arbitrator. Arbitration rarely goes against he builder as you may now imagine so the home buyer is left with a broken home which can cost upward of $40,000 to repair and even if it is fixed properly they must disclose the problems it has had if they choose to sell it later which of course reduces its value. I'll bet you didn't know that if the builder is somehow forced to buy it back they don't have to disclose the same problems when they resell it.
A friend introduced me to Janet Ahmad, President of Homeowners for Better Building, and she has helped us organize our neighbors, many of whom are either veterans or active duty military, and provide recommendations to our City Council on measures to protect future home buyers here. Our terrific mayor and city council have passed many of those recommendations and are still studying more of them.
In the mean time our mayor, a wonderful woman named Jennifer Hartman, who also suffers from a poorly constructed home by one of these big builders, contacted our state representative John Kuempel and along with our neighbors asked him to file a bill that would require builders to buy back homes they have tried and failed to fix. Kuempel met with us and expressed sympathy for our plight and said he would consider filing the bill.
As the filing deadline approached the mayor and members of our group continued to contact Kuempel about filing the bill then on the day before the deadline he refused to meet the mayor or his other constituents. While roaming the halls contacting other legislators about this bill and others to protect home buyers one of our group found the following sign on two legislators' doors.
Do you have a last minute bill that needs to be filed?
Please go to Rep. John Kuempel's office, located in
He said he'd file any worthwhile bill, which we're
certain yours is.
Through the efforts of Janet Ahmad and Mayor Hartman the bill, HB 1887 Texas Veteran Homebuyer Protection Act, was filed by Rep. Joe Farias. Mrs. Ahmad was also instrumental and getting the Bexar County Commissioners to unanimously pass a resolution in support of this and the other bills submitted to protect future home buyers.
Kuempel filed HB 1449 “Relating to licensing and regulation of dog and cat dealers; providing penalties and imposing fees.”
We've got an uphill struggle against well funded opposition in the form of home builders like Bob Perry, one of the Governor's major donors, and it's made all the harder by the failure of our own representative to support his constituents many of whom are veterans or active duty military.