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The dream house from hell

I’m sure that many building inspectors don’t give themselves enough credit for the important job that they do, making sure that structures meet the standards of the building code.  Because of this important task, homeowners don’t think much about the safety of their homes. A couple in Southborough, MA weren’t so fortunate.  The Metrowest Daily Newspaper reports that after buying their dream house they discovered that:

The garage was too small to fit their car. Weeks later, water began flooding the basement. Over time, doors couldn’t be shut, and floors started creaking. The Culleys didn’t know it, but their house was shifting.

Now the couple and their lawyer, Michael McLaughlin of Boston, say the house was built illegally on top of poor-quality fill material, and because the soil is shifting unpredictably, the structure is sinking into itself. To make matters worse, a retaining wall they say used to run in a straight line along the rear of the property is failing, slithering across the edges in serpentine fashion.

The builder didn’t even own the land when he took the couples’ deposit.  The couple contended there were never any real building plans.  The state Department of Public Safety’s Board of Building Regulations and Standards, found 22 building code violations.  A temporary certificate of occupancy was obtained fraudulently.  The engineer who signed a statement which said that the house had been built properly reportedly received $100 to do so but had nothing else to do with the project. There was no permit for the retaining wall.  In a deposition, the building inspector admitted that he didn’t issue a cease and desist order when he discovered work had been done without a permit and he admitted he was never given any building detail design data.  While a jury awarded the couple $1 million in damages, the judgment was set aside by the judge.  It appears that the couple will be appealing.

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