FORT MITCHELL, Ala. (WRBL) – Several retired military families were looking forward to building their new homes in Fort Mitchell. However, as the pandemic hit, their builder faced several roadblocks on the way to getting the job done.
James and Americus Washington were looking to build the house of their dreams. The couple wanted to settle down and be close to family in Fort Mitchell.
They used Kim Hyers with United Liberty Homes, LLC. as their builder. Hyers’ team laid the foundation in April and began the framing in May… but then, according to Washington, things came to a halt.
As rainstorms fell through Fort Mitchell, the Washingtons say the incomplete house stood unprotected from the elements. Windows weren’t installed upstairs, which allowed rain to get inside the house.
“Water [was] running all in the building and all in the house,” James Washington said. “It’s like ‘Come on guys get plastic over it, over the windows to prevent the water from going in rotting upstairs flooring out.’ Constantly asking them to do this and still nothing. No doors on the house, no doors on the garage. The house is open.”
Washington says this lack of protection has damaged the flooring inside his future home. He and Americus are concerned that this could lead to mold and unsafe living conditions.
Hyers gave the following statement:
“Unfortunately everyone has had a lot of problems since the Covid pandemic started, I am no exception. We have had problems getting materials, such as, windows, bathtubs, electrical wire and many other products. I have ordered specialty windows from 2 different companies and are still waiting for them. Getting people to work with all the government handouts has been difficult for all my subcontractors. We have had sheetrock crews, painting crews, landscape crew and trim crews out with Covid for weeks at a time. We try to build a well-builtquality home for all of our customers and I will not short cut on anything so that means sometimes we have to wait a little longer for products or subs. I understand the frustrations of all of our homeowners right now and we are trying our best to get to everything that is needed for everyone. I want all of our jobs completed as quickly as possible for both of us.”Kim Hyers, United Liberty Homes, LLC.
Reggie Nash is also retired military and used Hyers to build his home in Fort Mitchell back in 2019. He has lived in his house for a year and a half, but within months of moving in he had new issues.
“The first couple of months we were here, my grandkids came by and they took a shower upstairs,” Nash said. “The seal on the tub wasn’t set so our entire kitchen flooded. So they sent somebody out here to patch it and clean up the water, but they never sent anyone back out to paint it… so I had to paint it myself. Master bathroom floor is cracked all the way from the tub to the shower. They never did anything about that.”
Nash says there are gaps in the concrete where the building has settled. Nash hired someone to come in to fix the problem, but he says it was supposed to be covered under the warranty for the house for the first year.
“It’s an arduous task trying to deal with the builders out here,” Nash said.
Takara Caldwell is a Fort Mitchell homeowner who faced similar problems. It took nine months to get into her home and, when she finally moved in, she says she was unable to get many issues with the home fixed by Hyers.
“I did ten extensions to get into my home,” Caldwell said. “I failed the inspection on my home several times. It was because a lot of things were trying to be shortcut. When I moved into my home my A/C wasn’t properly installed, so I had a major water leak into one of my kids’ bedrooms coming through the ceiling fan area. She was supposed to come and replace that ceiling fan but she never did.”
Caldwell says she has water damage on her back porch and sinkholes in her driveway. Like Nash and Washington, Caldwell is retired military. She is disabled and has breathing issues, which has made the problems with her home especially frustrating.
“I have mold in my house because they didn’t correctly install the dryer vent, the pipe that goes outside for the dryer,” Caldwell said. “So it was building up all that condensation inside of the home and so mold was growing inside my home. I have kids with bronchitis and one has asthma, so it’s been an emotional wreck.”
The three families say they never could have expected the complications that arose throughout their homebuilding process and after.
“I love my house,” Nash said. “But I’ve got to take care of it myself.”