Homebuyers blame builder for ignoring their pleas for help

Problem Solvers
Residents’ ceiling after leak

DENVER (KDVR) — Water, one drip at a time, has caused the ceiling of Javier Mantilla’s new townhome to bubble.

A leak running through the vents of his new home is just one of many problems he and his neighbors shared with the FOX31 Problem Solvers.

Property owners at the corner of Julian and 17th Streets near Sloan’s Lake claim the builder did not finish the job properly.

“I was without hot water for a month and a half,” Mantilla said.

Several residents shared pictures and videos with the Problem Solvers showing leaking roofs, cracking concrete and pooling water.

At Mantilla’s neighbors’ house, pictures show the aftermath of when a worker responded to a complaint of a leaking ceiling. The homeowners said the worker cut a hole in the bathroom ceiling, pulled out wet insulation and never returned. The owners said they spent $6,000 in repairs.

According to buyers, other issues include adhesive materials failing, appliances not working and incomplete punch lists. 

Owner Alex Cheng said “18 months later and the epoxy is completely cracked.”

“There’s a leak coming out of our water heater,” owner Dean Dominguez said. “We decided to buy something like this rather than an older house so we wouldn’t have these problems.”

Builder Insignia Homes LTD nonresponsive to homeowners

Connected by concrete and now concerns, the group of neighbors say the biggest issue they all share is with the builder.

Light left unattached to wall in an Insignia Homes LTD home

“Fred, by far, we’ve had the most problems with,” Cheng said.

Fred Cooke, with Insignia Homes LTD, is named as the developer and builder of the townhomes, according to the owners and Colorado’s Secretary of State. 

“I printed all the email correspondence that I’ve had with Fred. I stopped counting after 280 pages,” owner Debbie Snider said.

“I’ve emailed Fred and Insignia I would say 50-60 times. I’ve called them just as many times, if not more,” Cheng said. 

Homeowners told the Problem Solvers the builder has not responded to their requests to fix issues that were marked with blue tape throughout their homes and listed on punch lists before closing in 2020.

“It got to the point I had to hire an attorney to send a demand letter, which Fred acknowledged receipt,” Snider said.

 An estimate for her roof deck repairs totals $17,000.

“We all feel like we are sitting on potential time bombs with our properties here not getting fixed,” Cheng said.

Problem Solvers contact the builder

The Problem Solvers called Cooke while meeting with the neighbors.  He claimed he didn’t know the residents still had issues and shared an email to connect with the owners. 

Cooke said he will review the punch lists submitted to him in a week with a plan to address the problems.

Cracking on roof top decks in an Insignia Homes LTD home

The contractor told the Problem Solvers on the phone he has been building homes in Colorado for years and that this is all a misunderstanding.

“I just replaced the warranty manager,” Cooke said.

“He says, ‘Give me seven days.’ It’s been a year and a half. I’ve been giving you seven days,” Snider said.

The Problem Solvers connected the homeowners with Denver’s Building Department for possible home inspections.  An inspector who examined one home said the residents’ concerns are not regulated by code and that the buildings passed inspection. 

However, after hearing complaints from homeowners, Denver placed Insignia Homes’ license on hold and will not issue additional permits until Cooke confirms he remains as the supervisor certificate holder of the license.

Denver residents with building code concerns can dial 311 or go to pocketgov.org to report a problem, and inspectors will respond. 

When buying property, experts recommend hiring a real estate agent who is an expert in the market where you’re buying and has a history of writing solid purchase contracts. While this may not prevent a builder’s mistakes, it may give you options.

Insignia Homes provides statement

Cooke, with Insignia Homes, provided a statement on Wednesday. Here it is in full.

Recently, Fox31 notified me that some of Insignia Homes’ residents at our 17 Julian Townhomes project had not had all their warranty issues addressed. Insignia had hired a warranty technician to perform the valid warranty work or schedule the responsible subcontractors for the work. It has been brought to my attention that this did not occur to the satisfaction of the homeowners.

As it is our goal to deliver the highest quality home and most responsive customer service to our homebuyers, we were disappointed and surprised to hear that their issues lingered, and are working to fix every valid warranty concern as quickly as possible. Given the current labor shortage in Colorado and the issues with COVID, social distancing requirements, and safety of our homeowners, we are finding this process may take longer than we or our customers like, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

For our clients that have not yet sent their “punch list” of incomplete issues, as I have requested when I was made aware of the circumstances, please email to me personally at fgcooke@insigniahomesltd.com. While we are distraught that we have disappointed these homeowners, we are committed to making this right correcting all valid warranty issues as expeditiously as possible. We are dedicated to our clientele and look forward to serving the Colorado housing market just as we have for the last 30 years.

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