Builder promises to fix erosion, but homeowner says it never followed through

INDIAN LAND, S.C. — Lisa Goodlett says she bought her new house in Indian Land in 2022. She says all went well until last year when rain washed away part of her backyard.

Her hill caved in, and her fence ended up mangled.

She says there’s a storm drain to relieve runoff, but that’s a casualty too.

The builder warranty had expired, so Goodlett says she tried to get it resolved on her own, but couldn’t.

So, Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke contacted the company, M/I Homes.

One week later, the company’s president emailed him that the business was going to “repair the issue as soon as possible” and at “no cost to her.”

But Goodlett says M/I Homes never followed through.

Goodlett says the company’s lawyer emailed her saying the business wouldn’t fix the yard and gave her reasons, including M/I Homes didn’t grade the yard. The parcel was like that when the company built the house.

Stoogenke reached out to the business again, asking whether the president still intended to resolve this.

The next day, Goodlett says the company texted her, saying, it would “fix the erosion,” but never did and it’s been more than two months since the president emailed Stoogenke.

“It’s just really sad because you know, again, we really love this area, really love the neighborhood and everything,” she said.

Goodlett hired a lawyer and is thinking of suing.

The lawyer for M/I Homes says the company is trying to “reach a resolution” with them and because of that didn’t have any other comments in the meantime.

When is a promise legally binding?

If Person A makes a promise (even in writing) and Person B doesn’t give anything up for it, it’s probably not legally binding.

But, if Person B relies on that promise and takes some action or gives something up because of it, it may be legally binding. A judge may force Person A to follow through or make Person B whole some other way. The legal term is promissory estoppel.

Example: Kim emails Melissa, “I don’t need my car anymore. I’ll give it to you Friday and you can keep it.” If Melissa sells her own car because she assumes she’s getting Kim’s car and doesn’t need two cars (and then ends up with none), Melissa may have a legal case.

What options do you have if you bought new construction and the builder warranty no longer applies?

In South Carolina, the law says once the builder substantially completes a home, the state can still inspect the home for eight years for major structural damage and buildings that are unsafe or unsanitary, but not for grading, fill, or other site work.

North Carolina doesn’t have a similar law.

If all else fails, your best bet may be to talk to a lawyer.

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