Owners of rotting homes take fix-up deal

May 24, 2013
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Owners of Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC)-constructed homes on the Back of the Hill that were considering legal action against the developers have decided to take the JPNDC’s offer of repairs.

Homeowner Sergio Morales told the Gazette that the homeowners have decided to accept the JPNDC’s offer to replace the substandard wood trim instead of suing the developers. The JPNDC has secured $250,000 for the purpose.

“We’re obviously pleased,” JPNDC Executive Director Richard Thal told the Gazette. “We’re working with people to try and resolve the situation as best and as amicably as we can.”

“The JPNDC has agreed to pay” to replace the wood trim, Morales, owner of 171 Heath St., told the Gazette. “That’s going to be the end of it.”

Thal said he hopes to have the work finished by June. He added that most of the homeowners have already signed up for the work.

The 24-unit Back of the Hill Community Housing Initiative Phase III affordable homes were built in 2003 and 2004 along Heath, Lawn and Wensley streets by the JPNDC and the Back of the Hill (BOTH) Community Development Corporation (CDC).

Twelve Phase III owners are facing leaky roofs and rotting external wood trim as well as heating issues, drafty windows and poorly-installed kitchen counters, homeowners told the Gazette. The issues began within a year of the houses’ construction and have gotten worse, homeowner Corrinne Kelton previously told the Gazette.

According to Morales, his roof was “misconstructed” from the beginning. He has called the roofers back for warranty-covered repairs, which he called a “Mickey Mouse job,” claiming that the roof still had leaks even after the repair work.

The wood trim used has now been recognized by the developers to be of a lower standard of quality than normally used. That has to do with the growing conditions of the pine trees, which resulted in a softer-than-usual wood that is prone to faster water damage.

On March 22 of this year, homeowners received a letter stating that the JPNDC had secured funding to replace the damaged external wood trim with new cedar trim.

However, if the homeowners accepted the offer, they would “release all the parties involved in the original development from any claims [the homeowners] may have related to conditions other than those that [the JPNDC] are able to offer to repair,” the letter states.