Posted 7/14/15 (Tue)
By Nicky Ouellet
More than a dozen Tioga homeowners are back to square one following another appeal to the City of Tioga for help in resolving issues with home developer KDAK LLC.
Last week the State Attorney General informed the city the complaints about workmanship on homes is a civil matter to be hashed out between the homeowners and the company.
Earlier last week city commissioners tabled approval of a pair of building permits submitted by KDAK. Complaints against the company have arisen in the past, notably in August 2013 when commissioners received nine letters of complaint against the company. More recently, city officials received 14 letters of complaint, along with blueprints and unaddressed “punch lists.”
A punchlist is a checklist of projects to be finished by the contractor after the final sale that both the homeowner and the contractor agree to.
The latest batch of letters were forwarded to the Secretary of State, and later to the Attorney General, who initially requested the city hold off on any decision-making until the letters could be considered.
Word came after last week’s city commission meeting that the city has no standing in the dispute. Even before the decision, Mayor Drake McClelland told the commission it would be difficult to deny KDAK’s current applications.
“I can’t speak for the board, but legally there’s nothing we can do to prevent it,” said McClelland.
This is not the outcome homeowner Ronica Pederson was hoping for.
“I just want my house finished and completed like it should have been when we bought it,” she told the commission at its meeting Monday last week.
Pederson bought her house nearly four years ago and is still waiting for some of her punch list items to be addressed.
Jerome Kuechle, president of KDAK, seemed surprised by the state’s intervention, but agreed that the waiting period most homeowners experienced at the hands of his subcontractors was excessive.
“It can only go that long before somebody gets upset, and I don’t blame them. We need to get them done,” he said.
Pederson’s list includes items both cosmetic and more major, like installing handles to inner doors and access stairs to the attic. Of greatest concern is a wooden banister railing lining a second-story hallway and staircase. It seems unstable, but the subcontractor KDAK sent said it was built according to plan.
Pederson and her husband brought in a building inspector, and later a structural engineer, who found issues with the construction, only some of which have been fixed by KDAK.
Pederson said it was a long process and required persistence on her part to get any progress.
“I felt like I was being pushed to the wayside while they were continuing other projects,” she said.
Kuechle acknowledged that he’s received complaints in the past but said finding consistent workers is a challenge. And at some point, homeowners need to take responsibility for the regular upkeep and maintenance of their homes.
“I’m taking care of everything that’s come up,” he said.
KDAK will need to resubmit the two recent permit applications to the Planning and Zoning Committee and restart the application process.
Families like the Pedersons are left on their own to decide how to finish their homes, with or without KDAK.
“They build beautiful homes,” said Pederson. “I’d just love to have it finished.”