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    Discrimination?

    I finally found a new home that looked promising. It is brand new -- hasn't even been built yet. The floor plan has already been established, though. This house would be perfect with minor modifications: no sunken living room, no step down to the deck, sloped entrance instead of steps.

    Through my real estate agent, I contacted the broker/developer for the property. My agent explained what I wanted, and he said (through his secretary) that he didn't build custom homes -- just spec homes. Period. When she finally was able to speak to him, he repeated that story and claimed that he now had another buyer.

    This sounds like discrimination. He refused to return phone calls or meet with me. It sounded like he didn't want to be bothered with making these modifications. I wasn't asking for a custom home -- just modifications as described above. Do I have any legal rights here, even though I never signed anything?

    #2
    I don't think it's discrimination. I've had the same happen to me numerous times when house hunting. Inventory home builders aren't requuired to customize or make any changes to the existing blue print. Of course they could bend the rules a little if they wanted to but they're not required to. If you want even the most minor changes made, you'll probably have to find a custom builder.

    Comment


      #3
      Are you a HUD loan? They have specific guidelines for purchase, even for new homes. MD has laws the lay out modifications to apt complexes but I am not sure it crosses over to single family homes.

      "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
      It's already tomorrow in Australia!"----- Charles Schultz

      Every day I wake up is a good one

      Comment


        #4
        Hi Clipper,
        You are a protected class in Real Estate sales. I would contact an attorney specializing in discrimination cases. Contact H.O.M.E. or Fairhousing in your area, as they can help you with this. They have the ability to set up a "testing" situation to determine if he does alter his home designs for other clients, or if he responds to phone calls differently than he did yours. They may be able to establish a case against him.
        If this property is listed with the Multiple Listing Service I suggest contacting your local Board of Realtors to file a complaint. If he is a member of a Homebuilders association file a complaint with them. Your realtor can provide you with these numbers. Kathy

        [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 13:13.]

        [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 13:15.]

        [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 17:59.]
        Kath

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          #5
          Clipper,

          I did call and read your posting to my best friend who is a very successful realtor in our area. She said that while county codes do require certain standards in homes builders are not required to make alterations to plans. She told me that your best bet is to raise your issues with the builders at the onset of negotiating a contract. She said that some of the things would make the home to expensive, such as raising a whole room. She said that the rest of the items past appropriate width doors and such should be added on later privately. I am not an expert but she is and knows all the local builders. She will help out if you want to have a chat with her... e-mail me...

          Cheers and good luck..

          Mary

          ...and she lived happily ever after...
          1FineSpineRN

          Comment


            #6
            Take a look at this site. It may help answer your questions and will guide you toward making the first step toward resolving this issue. www.fairhousing.com/101/

            Federal Fair Housing Laws are a completely seperate issue from Building Codes. These laws were designed to prevent what just happened to you.

            [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 18:23.]
            Kath

            Comment


              #7
              Clipper,
              If you are building a home designed to meet your needs the additional cost should be minimal. The most expensesive item was creating a stairless entry from the garage in a house with a full basement, as this involved the addition of a shelf in the foundation wall ($1000). You will still have a 2 inch difference and will need a 2 ft. long ramp. The only additional expense to wider doorways is the larger doors and this is minimal ($200 for whole house). The shower design is determined by your special needs and cost accordingly. A highline commode is only $15 more. The charge to rough in support for grab bars is minimal. You may need to pay a kitchen designer to alter a standard design. Anything else I can help you with please let me know. Kathy
              Kath

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Clipper,
                I was wondering if you pursued reporting this builders actions.
                Kathy
                Kath

                Comment


                  #9
                  The builder continued to be a royal ass to deal with, so I decided to pursue other options. I figured that I didn't want to deal with his attitude throughout the building process. Also, I'm dealing with all this from across the country (though my parents live there and I make trips as needed). Thanks for all your help. I'm applying your advice to my current hunt.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Clipper,
                    I copied this from the fair housing Act. As you can see, if the builder has more than 5 new structures, he is obligated to provide the necessary midifications. Recourse can be done Federally with the DOJ or through private legal action.

                    Fair Housing Act

                    The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing
                    discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability,
                    familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private
                    housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State
                    and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any
                    aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or
                    renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual
                    associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to
                    live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example,
                    financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

                    The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make
                    reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people
                    with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord
                    with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this
                    rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the
                    residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants
                    with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to
                    their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The
                    landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The Act further
                    requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be
                    designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This
                    includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for
                    wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a
                    wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.

                    Complaints of Fair Housing Act violations may be filed with the U.S.
                    Department of Housing and Urban Development.

                    For more information or to file a complaint, contact:
                    Office of Program Compliance and Disability Rights
                    Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
                    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
                    451 7th Street, SW (Room 5242)
                    Washington, D.C. 20140

                    You may also call the Fair Housing Information Clearinghouse at:
                    (800) 343-3442 (voice) (800) 483-2209 (TDD)

                    Additionally, the Department of Justice can file cases involving a
                    pattern or practice of discrimination. The Fair Housing Act may also be
                    enforced through private lawsuits.

                    "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
                    It's already tomorrow in Australia!"----- Charles Schultz

                    Every day I wake up is a good one

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Counties tend to have certain building codes that builders must meet to pass their regulations. In my county garages must have a step up into the house if it is a closed garage. I'd check with your area's of interest head housing inspector on what are considered "mandatories" and have him write up and notarize an exception to regulation that you can show builders.

                      I also saw the coolest custom built house on The Learning Channel a few years back. Wish I had ordered the tape immediately because I can't locate it on their site. They had everything fixed for a paraplegic mom and AB dad and baby. Things I never thought of like how to make an at grade garage to house possible even on basements, lowered windows that work for everyone, pocket doors (with windows for the baby's room from the hall), built in microwave with pulldown door and built in pullout shelf underneath, swing away boiling water tap at one kitchen sink and the thing that made me drool...a ceiling lift equipped jacuzzi/soaking garden tub in the corner of the master bath. Oh, and side by side dishwasher unit so there is minimal leaning to stow and pull out dishes. If you can find that program it might give you some things you'll want built into a non-custom home solely by having a few more weight bearing studs in certain walls and ceilings for future lifts or swing away cabinetry, etc.

                      Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
                      Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

                      Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        We built a new home this year that has a full basement and attached garage. Creating a zero step entry was easily accomplised at all entrances. The exception was the garage which normally has a minimum 11 inch difference (a step). Utilizing a design that requires "the step" be built into the foundation does cost an extra $800-$3000 and the resulting difference at the threshold is 2 inches, the minimum allowed by code to allow for carbon monoxide in the garage.

                        Funny thing about our builder (we chose them because they were developing the property we liked and so had to select one of their designs ) is how frustrated they were with implementing our requests. We had discussions about all the extra design fees they were incurring to accomodate us. My viewpoint was that we should not be charged for their learning curve, as they would be able to market themselves as "expert" in accessibility issues, yet pass the charge onto us. They are now building another wheelchair accessible home and guess whose design they are using?
                        Kath

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