Action 9: People report cracks in foundations in neighborhood

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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DALLAS, N.C. - People in one neighborhood are having a major problem with their foundations cracking right through the middle of their houses.

Action 9 Investigator Jason Stoogenke found out how to save your home and who picks up the tab if it happens to you.

When Elaine Holcombe bought a house in Dallas, N.C. in 2002, she said she noticed cracking right away.

She assumed it was just the settling homeowners expect.

As years passed, she saw hairline cracks and then a bigger one running down the center of her house.

Doug Banks is a lawyer who's worked for builders and homeowners.

He said as soon as you see a problem, if the builder won't cooperate and you sue in in North Carolina, you have to do it within three years of finding the problem and within six years of the house being finished.

In South Carolina, you have eight years. After that, you may have a home warranty to pick up the tab.
If not, the bill is on you and the first step is usually to hire a structural engineer to diagnose the problem.

"You can spend a couple thousand dollars just out the gate to have a structural engineer and then depending on the work that's needed, it can be extremely expensive," Banks said.

You may need soil testing or even piers under the foundation, frustrating for Holcombe, especially when she goes to sell.

"No one's going to want (my problems), inherit my problems," Holcombe said.

The lawyer also said just because there are cracks doesn't mean the builder did a bad job, especially with Charlotte's soil and climate.

Liberty Home built the home in the Holcombe’s story. The company is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau with an A-plus rating and only one complaint against it the last three years.

If you've been ripped off, overbilled or misled; or if you see something that is hurting all consumers, contact Action 9.