EAGLE MOUNTAIN When Katie Shinkle and her family moved into their new Eagle Mountain home less than two years ago, they were excited about being in what they felt was a step up from the first home their young family had purchased.
A little more than a year after moving in, they began to notice some problems that would scare any homeowner. There were the little things here and there that were normal, but for the Shinkles it was the exterior concrete, especially on their front porch and steps, that gave them a touch of buyers' remorse.
"You pay for a new house, but it feels like you didn't really get it," Shinkle said. "It has been frustrating. Our home shouldn't have problems for a long time."
It started with the spalling of their front steps, then some of the corners falling off, and slowly but surely, cracks near the bottom of the steps led to the bottom two steps eventually separating completely from the rest of the porch.
The entire cul-de-sac that the Shinkles live in was developed by the same builder, and at about the same time, several neighbors also noticed problems with the concrete on their driveways.
For the past few months several of the homeowners on Clark Circle have been contacting their builder, Greg Hansen of Trade West, and asking questions about why the concrete is already crumbling and why it's not being replaced.
"Concrete is always a builder's and a homeowner's nightmare because it is so hard to understand," Hansen said. "Concrete is very complicated. Typically on exterior concrete, because it is exposed to the weather and elements that are beyond our control, it is not warrantied at all."
Hansen said that interior concrete and foundation work is different, and it is almost always part of a new home warranty, but the exterior concrete on driveways and front porches isn't. Hansen says that if the problems on the exterior concrete come to be because of negligence on the part of the concrete layers, then that would be a different story. He said he plans to visit the Shinkles' home to see the problem, and he plans to replace the bottom steps that separated.
"There is a standard that has to be upheld for the protection of the homeowner, builder, subcontractor and supplier," said Hansen. "A lot of homeowners don't agree with that standard, but this is not a warranty that I came up with; it is fairly similar nationwide."
Representatives from Ivory Homes and Trophy Homes, two Utah builders, both confirmed that their new home warranties don't cover spalling or small cracking of exterior concrete either. In both cases the two builders will send out employees to inspect the site and determine if it was caused by defective materials or workmanship.
Hansen says that spalling and cracking can occur because of a number of different influences having to do with the freeze-and-thaw cycle that is seen each winter. He also said that ice melt, street salt and driving on the concrete before removing snow can all cause concrete to deteriorate.
Jesus Martinez, of Maple Ridge Contracting, has spent more than 12 years in the field. He said he finds many more concrete problems in Utah than he did in California, where he spent the early part of his career. Martinez says that while warranties are tricky, there are some things that homeowners can do to avoid problems in the future."Homeowners can seal (driveways), and that will help protect them from the winter weather, and I truly think that you should not put ice melt or salt on your concrete for at least a few years because it can eat into the concrete," he said.