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Rotting trim on newer homes costing homeowners

Homeowners are left with costly repairs after rotting wood trim was found deteriorating and disintegrating on the outside of their houses. (WSYX/WTTE)

Some homeowners are left with costly repairs after rotting wood trim was found deteriorating and disintegrating on the outside of their houses.

A trim product called hardboard has become an expanding problem after moisture works its way in causing peeling paint, crumbling fiberboard and mold.

Disabled veteran Charles Likens is frustrated after seeing some of his New Albany home’s trim falling apart.

“It’s junk, total junk,” Likens said. “It’s coming apart. It’s ridiculous.”

Likens added, “I would like for them to have this stuff removed and replace it.”

He learned after numerous calls that the builder, M/I Homes, does not intend to fix the problem. The trim is no longer under warranty.

“There is no warranty on the trim after the first year or the first two years,” an M/I Homes representative told Likens. “At this point there’s nothing we’ll do about the trim. It doesn’t have a warranty.”

ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates called the manufacturer of the hardboard and were told typically these products have a 10-year warranty, however, it does require painting every five years.

Records show hardboard manufacturers faced class action lawsuits in the late 1990s for the fiberboard products prematurely deteriorating.

“We’ve been using that since the early 1990s,” an M/I Homes representative said. “It does require caulking and painting on regular intervals.”

M/I Homes told Likens hardboard was used on his home in 2004. The manufacturer explained the product was not changed until 2008 when an additive was developed to better prevent rotting wood.

“Oh, that just made my blood boil,” Likens said.

It’s a sight often seen by handyman Fred Moore.

“Once it gets water in it, it swells up and just deteriorates,” Moore said.

It’s a problem that’s not limited to a single neighborhood. Homeowners in the Landings subdivision in Grove City complained to 6 On Your Side about the same thing. They too are M/I Homes with hardboard trim.

Likens called 6 On Your Side after seeing our investigation into a similar product. It was used on the exterior of condominiums in Reynoldsburg. Those homes were built by Casto and in that case, the product was marked “for interior use only.” In the end, those condo owners were left footing the bill for someone else’s mistake. Casto never did respond to ABC 6/FOX 28.

After seeing that report, others noticed issues with trim on their homes, like Pam Harman in Gahanna who’s now shelling out thousands to replace what’s left of the trim.

“I’m going through the same thing,” Hardman said. “For what I paid for the house, I’m sick to my stomach.”

Stuart Koble and his crew have been making the rounds in Gahanna to many M/I Homes and he said every summer the list grows.

“You can just see it had disintegrated to the point that it looks like potting soil,” Koble said. “I would never use it on my own home if I as building it.”

M/I Homes declined an on-camera interview but the company said it no longer uses this hardboard product.

In a statement, the company said: M/I Homes values our relationships with our customers and takes great pride in the homes that we build. We welcome the opportunity to speak directly with our customers to assess the situation and determine the appropriate next steps.”

Koble said he has made a business on repairing homes that have this rotting trim. He uses cedar wood priming and painting all sides and then sealing up everything with caulk.

At Likens’ home, an alternative, waterproof product got cut to size to with guarantees of no rotting, molding or wearing out.

If you have questions about your home’s trim, call the builder first to see if it will be covered by the warranty.

Manufacturers can also be contacted for potential payouts and settlements of defective construction materials or those that don’t live up to their warranty.

ABC 6 On Your Side found typically homes have a 10-year warranty and anything beyond a decade becomes the homeowner’s responsibility, regardless of when the home was purchased.

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