Neighbors say homes are being damaged by sunlight reflected from low-energy windows

CHARLOTTE — Charlene Watkins and Mary Baldo say they bought their houses brand new in the Caldwell/ Stafford Community in northeast Charlotte in 2018.

Cut to 2023, and the siding looks like it’s melting.

“When I saw it, I was like, ‘What is going on?’” Watkins told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke as they looked at the warped siding on her home.

The builder used low-energy windows. They keep the houses cooler, but they can reflect the sunlight onto the house next door and warp the siding.

Stoogenke has covered cases like this for years.

Both Baldo and Watkins say the clock is ticking, adding that their HOA plans to start fining them soon for the way their siding looks.

“They can fine us up to $100 a day,” she said.

They say they contacted the builder, D.R. Horton, but the company said their warranties had expired. They told me they asked their homeowners insurer for help, but that insurance won’t cover it either.

So they may end up having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

“There’s no if or buts. We have to take care of it,” Baldo said.

“Here I am, a widow. I am retired. And I don’t have that kind of money,” Watkins said.

Both homeowners say their neighbors were nice enough to put a film on their windows to at least prevent more damage.

D.R. Horton emailed Stoogenke it takes “great pride” and is “thoughtful in the design” of its communities, but that it can’t “predict the angles of sunlight each day on each lot and how the sun may reflect off neighboring home windows.”

Both homeowners told Stoogenke that two days after he contacted D.R. Horton, the company went out to inspect the siding. They’ll see where that goes.

No matter who your builder is: if you buy new construction, ask the builder -- in writing -- if the siding will hold up against the low-energy windows. That way you can deal with it before you close and at least have some ammunition if the problem happens down the road.

If you do have a warranty or homeowners insurance, here’s when they can help:

  • Builder warranty: Usually only lasts one year.
  • Siding warranty: Usually has limits too, limits based on time and limits based on what caused the warping.
  • Home warranty: May cover, but a lot of people don’t get that on new construction.
  • Homeowners insurance: Probably covers damaged siding, but read it carefully. It may have to be from wind or other storm damage.

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