MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) WMBF News has been staying on top of an investigation into complaints against a major builder on the Grand Strand. We were first contacted months ago after a Carolina Forest homeowner noticed a big crack in her home's foundation.
Margaret Lynch wanted to get the word out about her bad experience with Centex, her home's builder. She told WMBF News about the foundation crack and the poor customer service she received from Centex.
"They don't want to help you. They don't answer calls. They don't send you emails. They don't come back with their word that they say," Lynch told us back in July.
Jurgen Zimmer was watching WMBF News that night. He says his home in Carolina Forest's Berkshire Forest community has the same cracking issue in the foundation.
"When we pulled up the carpet, we saw several cracks underneath," Zimmer recalls. "Some were up to one inch or a little more."
Zimmer says he called Centex and the company assured him the cracking wasn't affecting the structural strength of his home. Zimmer says Centex representatives told him not to worry since there wasn't any cracking on the outside part of the foundation. That explanation, however, wasn't enough to convince Zimmer, because two years ago a Centex rep laid new concrete over the outside part of the foundation due to cracking.
"If I was the contractor, I would [have] opened up the concrete floor to see underneath," Zimmer says, to check "if the dirt had settled quite a bit, if it had an air pocket underneath the concrete."
Zimmer says the company did fill the cracks with an epoxy, like they promised Lynch, and tried to level out the floor so he could put tile and wood flooring down.
"Even with the self-leveling compound, it didn't take out the waves in the floor, it was really a waste of time," Zimmer says. "Two weeks after the floor was down, we had nothing but squeaking and cracking in the hardwood floor because of the concrete being so uneven."
Just like Lynch, Zimmer says he doesn't think Centex is listening to his concerns. Both of them believe there are a lot of other homeowners stuck in the same situation.
"People need to be very cautious, especially with a high ticket item like a home," cautions Kathy Graham, president of the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina.
Graham says homeowners have options when they feel a big name company is ignoring them.
"If you have a builder and feel the work has not been done properly or find out through an inspection, try to make restitution with the builder. Then contact us," Graham says. "If we can't do it, we will certainly get you to the proper agencies that can."
Graham says she always tells people to investigate before investing.
"In this economy, no business can afford not to provide good customer service. This is someone's home and investment, for them to be unresponsive is just unacceptable," states Graham.
Lynch and Zimmer agree, and consider the experience a lesson learned the hard way.
"I don't believe in anything that comes from Centex anymore. They have to make some big changes and they have to change my attitude," Zimmer says.