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05-24-2007, 05:02 AM #1
Altered special inspection reports/suspicion of forged documentation
Yuba probes Horton homes
Builder cooperating as paperwork on its foundation bolts is doubted by officials
By Jim Wasserman - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Thursday, May 24, 2007
Story appeared in BUSINESS section, Page D4
Texas-based home builder D.R. Horton Inc. said Wednesday it is cooperating with Yuba County officials after the county halted construction at two of its subdivisions near Olivehurst.
Building officials are investigating "irregularities" in at least six home inspection reports from the builder, said Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown.
"A mistake was made. We just don't know what it was at this point," he said.
The county ordered construction stopped last week at Horton's Prairie Meadows and Prairie Trails subdivisions in a community called Plumas Lake about 30 miles north of Sacramento.
Brown said construction was halted on 43 homes after a third-party inspection firm used by Horton denied producing the reports the builder sent to the county. The reports involved the placement of "lag bolts" that connect a home's wooden frame with the concrete foundation, he said.
"All we know is we have these reports that were supposed to come from the inspection company that did not come from the inspection company," said Brown.
He said it's the first time in years the county has taken action on this scale.
Martin Griffin, the county's chief building official, advised Horton in a May 17 letter he was taking the action because of "altered special inspection reports/suspicion of forged documentation."
In a statement Wednesday from Stacey H. Dwyer, Horton executive vice president and treasurer, the firm expressed "regret." The statement said the builder was taking "appropriate action to insure that these homes meet D.R. Horton's high quality standards."
"We are actively working with the Yuba County Building Department to correct the irregularities, and our structural consultants are retesting the homes in question to ensure they meet all applicable building code standards," the statement said.
Publicly traded Horton was the Sacramento region's top builder last year with 1,163 sales, according to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence of Costa Mesa. The Fort Worth, Texas, firm ranked No. 1 nationally, as well, with 53,410 sales.
The two Yuba County subdivisions have a total 240 homes, with 177 already sold through the end of March, according to Hanley Wood. Prices range from the low to upper $300,000s, Horton says on its Web site.
The construction delay "could take a couple of days or it could take a few weeks," Brown said.
"It's not our desire to see these held up too long," he said. "It's now in the court of D.R. Horton."
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