Fort Mill Times

Lake Wylie homeowner protesting until builder fixes problems

Lake Wylie, SC, resident shows yard drainage problems

Rodney Robinson of Lake Wylie, SC, closed on his house in March in Somerset at Autumn Cove. He said he has had flooding issues.
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Rodney Robinson of Lake Wylie, SC, closed on his house in March in Somerset at Autumn Cove. He said he has had flooding issues.

Ray Scott said he won’t wait or be walked over, so he’s taking issues with his home outside and in the open.

The disabled Marine veteran and father of four spent time Thursday afternoon pacing with an American flag in front of the Eastwood Homes model unit in his Somerset at Autumn Cove neighborhood. He returned Friday. Scott is protesting what he says are shortcomings the builder left residents to fix.

The company disputes those claims, saying the main issue described by residents — drainage problems — aren’t Eastwood’s to remedy. The builder and other builders in the neighborhood follow a York County grading plan the companies can’t change.

“In no way is this an Eastwood Homes matter, and legally it can't be,” said Allen Nason, counsel for Eastwood.

Nason said on Friday the county inspector confirmed there are no erosion issues violated. He has requested the county homeowner’s association hold an informational meeting with the community.

Scott said he and neighbors are planning to continue protests through the weekend. They also plan to protest other Eastwood communities in Fort Mill, Indian Land and Charlotte.

"They're building these houses with the exact same materials and the exact same problems," Scott said. "I don't think they're trying to screw people. However, when it falls on deaf ears continually and they won't listen to me, then I wonder what their motivation is."

Scott says sub-par materials were used on his Lantana Lane house and others in the Somerset at Autumn Cove neighborhood. He points out the PVC trim around his garage and on his front porch that is warping and cracking, as well as the cracked trim inside along the back door. He said his garage door wouldn’t shut because of the trim.

“It’s not a big problem yet, but needs to be fixed,” he said.

Scott says many homes have drainage issues leading to yards washing away. He said the builder hasn’t been responsive to calls for help.

"I've nothing but rocks left in my back yard," Scott said.

Nason, himself both a Lake Wylie resident and veteran, said efforts were made to fix the relatively minor home repair Scott requested and the company offered to bring two loads of dirt to help with Scott’s back yard. Nason said the company wasn’t allowed access to the home either time.

Scott said he hasn’t turned away help. On Friday morning, Scott called Eastwood customer service to tell them he didn’t want anyone on his property until he speaks with a lawyer next week, but the homeowner said he hasn’t denied access before then.

"I never kicked anyone off my property,” he said. “It never happened."

As for home materials, Nason said builders can’t legally sell homes unless they meet county building codes. Eastwood is a local, veteran-owned company that thrives in the area because of its quality of work, he said. Nason also points to March pre-sale and May service visit documents, both signed by Scott, indicating only minor items in need of correction.

Scott said he paid a premium for his $300,000 house because Eastwood promised a full warranty.

“I love my home. We picked out everything,” he said. “But what goes on in two years if they haven’t responded to me now?”

According to the company website, “Eastwood Homes was built to exceed strict quality and craftsmanship guidelines. We are so confident in our product that we provide every homeowner with a 10 year limited structural warranty, facilitated by Bonded Builders Warranty Group.”

Nason said the company responds quickly to warranty issues and makes every effort to get the job done quickly and correctly.

"It's not an issue where Eastwood Homes is not trying to do great service," he said. "Our service has always been better. We're beating everyone on service."

The drainage issues aren’t related to warranties. But they are concerning residents. Rodney Robinson closed on his house in March, the same day Scott did. Robinson had flooding issues. He previously resorted to posting a sign on his door warning people not to buy in the community.

“We’re all having some trouble in the community, and they’re all blowing them off,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he initiated a warrranty request through an online system, but issues weren’t addressed after flooding, clogged storm drains and related issues.

“A few weeks after moving in we had a rainstorm and my yard flooded all the way up to my back door,” Robinson said. “This has happened five times since we have been here.”

Another resident, who didn’t give his name due to businesses agreements with Eastwood, said his yard wasn’t graded properly and now water runs through the back picking up rocks and grass, creating “a mud river in my back yard.” The company hasn’t removed a dead tree by his house, and a corner of his deck also sunk into the ground.

"It's a structural issue, and they won't do anything about it," he said.

Residents say there are other problems. Scott said about a dozen residents will protest in shifts through the weekend. He already has spoken with an attorney, he said, and will meet with another on Monday to discuss possible legal action.

"We’re not going to be quiet,” Scott said. “We're not going to quit until they listen."

Residents say some issues could be larger than just their neighborhood. Flooding and drainage problems lead straight into nearby Lake Wylie.

“You can visually look at the yard and see it does not have the proper fall,” Robinson said.

Since Scott began protesting, rain and runoff issues are the main concern residents have contacted him about.

"I had neighbors all over telling me about the drainage," he said. "It's a mess to say the least."

Nason said builders in the subdivision — Eastwood is one of several in recent years — don’t approve grading plans. The county must approve plans for a developer, then a builder works to the specifications. No house can be sold, Nason said, until the county signs off on the builder meeting its requirements.

"At the moment that a house is sold, the landscaping and all that is done, and the county has approved it," he said.

A builder has “no authority to change” a county grading plan, Nason said.

"It's nothing that a home builder controls," he said.

From the company’s perspective, everything Eastwood is required to do is being done and — in the instance of offering loads of dirt — more.

"There really are not warranty issues that need addressing," Nason said.

According to the Better Business Bureau website, Eastwood Homes is accredited and has an A-plus standing. There have been 36 complaints in three years, 21 closed in the past 12 months. Of those, 11 complaints were warranty issues, and one review was negative about the warranty.

John Marks: 803-831-8166

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