On October 12, 2017, a Pennsylvania-based home builder was found liable for building a new home that could not withstand even one month of average rain levels. A jury trial held in Montgomery County concluded after two days of court proceedings that the David Cutler Group, a “luxury” development company working around Philadelphia, owed a family over $161,000 in remediation expenses.
Family Wins $161,000 In Cutler Group Lawsuit
The family purchased a Cutler-built home in Montgomery Township, attorneys said, relying on the developer’s promise that their new property had been constructed by “skilled tradesmen,” Norristown Patch reports. The home, which sold for $646,500, began to leak water only thirty days after its new owners had moved in, their legal team claims.
And when the family complained of the problem to the Cutler Group, the developer ignored them. Soon, the family reported their situation to State authorities and filed a civil lawsuit against the company in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
Legal Protections For Pennsylvania Home Buyers
At a jury trial that began on October 10, 2017, attorneys for the family argued that expert inspections had discovered that the home’s exterior was built using out-dated construction methods. The entire house, lawyers say, failed to meet “basic township building code requirements.” An estimate from a water damage remediation company put the cost to fix the problems at around $161,700.
In their complaint, the family accused the Cutler Group of violating several warranties, both express and implied, that protect Pennsylvania families from substandard construction:
- Implied warranty of habitability – a new home will be fit for human habitation
- Implied warranty of workmanship – a new home will be built in a diligent and reasonably skillful manner, free of major defects
These are “implied” warranties, promises by which home builders are bound regardless of the explicit warranties made in a construction contract. Established by Pennsylvania’s consumer protection laws, people who purchase new residential properties in the State are always covered by these two implied warranties.
The builder of a new home owes a duty to build a house that can actually be lived in for normal residential purposes. Likewise, home builders owe their customers an implied duty that the construction was performed in a sufficiently skillful manner.
Held Liable For Breach Of Warranty
In the October trial of the David Cutler Group, a jury found sufficient evidence to conclude that the “luxury” residential developer had violated both of these implied warranties, along with an express warranty, outlined in contract, that the Montgomery family’s home was built to an acceptable standard. The Cutler Group was ordered to pay the family a total of $161,700, an amount equal to the remediation expert’s estimate for repairs.
Cutler Faces Dozens Of Homeowner Claims
The David Cutler Group is the largest privately-owned residential developer in the Delaware Valley. Founded in 1980, the builder specializes in single-family homes and residential communities, focusing its efforts in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware Counties.
State Alleges “Improper” Construction
Though the Cutler Group has now built thousands of homes throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, the company is on the back-foot, after being sued in October 2016 by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General. In a lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Court, the State’s Chief Deputy Attorney General, Sarah A.E. Frasch, accused the Cutler Group of violating building codes and well-accepted industry standards in constructing stucco-clad homes throughout Pennsylvania. Dozens of families have brought their complaints to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“Some of these homeowners have damage costing $100,000 to correct,” Frasch told reporters in October. “The main point of the suit is not that damages occurred over time,” the attorney, who heads the State’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, continued. “It is that the houses were built improperly, and there was misrepresentation that they had been built to industry standards.” The David Cutler Group failed to provide weather-resistant properties to new home buyers, the suit claims. In the wake of these accusations, the company’s website has been taken offline.
Private Lawsuits Pile Up
Alongside the State of Pennsylvania’s case against the Cutler Group, the residential developer is also being sued by a number of individual homeowners over stucco-related issues. Our own experienced stucco damage attorneys are currently representing over one dozen clients in cases against the David Cutler Group, including groups of families who purchased homes in the company’s Providence Lea and Estates at Warwick Lea communities. To learn more about our active cases, click here.