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Dream home turns nightmarish after newly built property riddled with issues

Adrienne Hawkins said she's been unable to move into a home she closed on in January because of outstanding repairs and shoddy construction.

BRANDYWINE, Md. — From the outside, Adrienne Hawkins’ newly built home in Brandywine, Maryland complements the other large, seemingly pristine homes in the neighborhood. But upon entering the house, you're greeted with a different picture.

“The moment you step-in, you realize more work needs to be done,” Hawkins said as she opened the front door to the four-bedroom house. 

Hawkins had the house constructed from the ground up and monitored the building process every step of the way.  It was in December of last year, as she was doing her final walkthrough, that she noticed the floors in the house were uneven. Concerned, she raised the issue.

“I noted it during my final walkthrough inspection," she said. "So, what they did was lift-up the floor, they sanded the subfloor, and they put down leveler." 

Hawkins eventually closed on the house but noticed the floors were still uneven. She hired a structural engineer to see what was going on. 

“The structural engineer came out, he reviewed the floor, he reviewed upstairs, everything," Hawkins said. "Because both levels are uneven." 

The report from the structural engineer found the floors on the first and second levels were uneven confirming her suspicions. The report even noted the "haphazard" attempt at correcting the problem.

“Given the construction deficiencies observed in our limited assessment, there is a concern regarding the overall construction of the property,” the February report noted.

Two additional inspections by the same engineer would find more problems with the roofing, and the trusses and ventilation. The builder, Lennar Homes, made additional repairs after the initial structural engineer's report but another inspection dated in May found, "serious problems with this home that will need immediate and potentially expensive repairs."

What followed were a flurry of correction orders from the Prince George’s Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE). One inspector called for design fixes to I-joints, the removal of a nail plate from under the steal and several other corrective actions. 

Hawkins closed on the property in January and seven months later has yet to move into her home, citing safety concerns and unfinished reformative work.

“I am stretched and stressed," she said. "I’m just really tired at this point. At this point, the builder can have the house back.”

Fellow neighbors are also frustrated. 

“Her house is totally unacceptable,” said Mrs. Bing, a neighbor a few houses down on an adjacent street. “How did the inspector in PG county allow that. How did they allow that?

Mrs. Bing noted that four new houses within the community remain unoccupied because of similar problems. DPIE explained to WUSA 9 the four, seemingly finished houses, remain vacant because corrective orders have yet to be satisfied. 

"Once the corrective actions have been taken and inspections have been conducted and approved by DPIE inspectors, the U&O's [Use & Occupancy] will be issued," DPIE said in a statement to WUSA. 

In a statement to WUSA 9, a spokesperson for Lennar Homes said they are working to address newly approved requirements and, “expect that additional work to be complete in the next few weeks.”

At least two other homeowners in the Missouri Acres neighborhood told WUSA 9 their new houses had issues with the crawl space, a narrow space between the foundation and the first floor. A March letter to homeowners from a construction training manager with Lennar Homes noted inspections throughout the community and plans to correct outstanding problems. 

While Hawkins and Lennar Homes try and resolve their dispute, Hawkins is left paying the mortgage on a new home, rent on an apartment and storage for all of her items she has yet to move into the home she owns.

“It doesn’t matter if its a $50,000 home or a $50 million home -- its your money," Hawkins said. "You’re spending it for yourself and your family and you’re expecting for it to be right."

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