TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced his office has reached an agreement with Tampa-based Jim Walter Homes, Inc.
addressing misleading representations about the length of the construction process for new homes and the builder’s unresponsiveness to several consumer complaints. The company, a leading builder of new homes, agreed to modify their sales practices and procedures for handling consumer complaints.
“Construction companies must be responsive to their customers,” said McCollum. “This agreement is an important step toward keeping customers fully informed about the length and nature of the construction process as well as the specific terms of the contracts they are signing when purchasing their new homes.”
The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division began investigating the builder in April 2006 after receiving numerous consumer complaints that primarily focused on claims that new home construction had not been completed in the time frame represented. Jim Walter Homes fully cooperated in this investigation. The builder has resolved most of the complaints and is in the process of resolving the remaining issues.
Under the agreement announced today, the builder will modify its sales practices to disclose conditions that delay construction or that may impact the construction process. Additionally, salespersons will no longer quote construction start or completion times for the home during the sales process.
The agreement also provides that if a construction contract is delayed past a certain length of time, which may vary on a case-by-case basis, consumers will be furnished with written updates addressing the current status and a timetable of future construction tasks. The company will reimburse the state $45,000 for the costs of investigation, which revealed that the builder was impacted by the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons and other factors, which combined, increased the average construction completion time to approximately 18 months from the contract date.
Jim Walter Homes, Inc. will maintain its toll-free hotline number, 1-800-925-8374, to address customer service inquiries. Any consumer lodging a complaint through this hotline is entitled to a response within three business days.
A copy of the agreement with Jim Walter Homes, Inc. is available online at: