HILLIARD, Ohio — You build a brand new home hoping very little will go wrong in the beginning, but new homeowners in Hilliard say their concrete driveways are not holding up as they should.
Kevin Friend in the Heritage Preserve neighborhood reached out to ABC 6 On Your Side for help after he said his concrete driveway started to crumble. Ten other families have since spoken up to ABC 6 On Your Side about their driveways. Most of the families say they also reached out to their builder, Fischer Homes.
These are homes that cost anywhere between $350,000 to more than a half million and they’re not that old - from nine months to just over three years.
“The first areas we started noticing, if you see here on the lines,” Friend said as he pointed to his driveway.
Friend has a sign on his front door that reads “Happy Everyday”, but it doesn’t reflect how he feels about his driveway.
“Yeah, it makes me frustrated that I’m sitting here not even 18 months a little bit more into owning a brand new house and my driveway looks like I’ve been here 15 years,” said Friend.
Friend moved in October 2016. He says he built with Fischer Homes after being drawn to the look of the concrete driveways in Heritage Preserve. At the end of this January, Friend says his started to crack and crumble.
“You can really every day just come by and scrape it right out,” said Friend.
It’s not limited to Friend’s house.
“Although mine’s bad, I think my neighbor’s might be worse,” said Friend.
His neighbor across the street says his concrete driveway was poured in April 2016. While Friend did not use a sealer, his neighbor says he did and was meticulous about it right down to using the brand recommended by the builder. The neighbor says he parks in the garage and not the driveway, which started breaking up this past winter.
“I noticed when he uses his blower or hose or whatever you can just pick the driveway right apart,” said Friend.
ABC 6 On Your Side cataloged driveway after driveway in Heritage Preserve with varying age and degree of deterioration, visiting 11 homes total.
Jeff Mymo settled in last September.
“As soon as we moved in the approach was already crumbling. They said they were going to fix that piece of it but progressively throughout the course of the winter it started to move up the driveway and then our sidewalk started to crumble as well,” said Mymo.
We wanted to find out what could be happening at Friend’s house.
“This is either they overworked the concrete or they added too much water to the concrete and now it’s delaminating,” said Karin Cash, construction professor at Columbus State.
Cash sat down with us for a demonstration with a sponge, water, and frosting.
“We’re going to pretend this sponge is our concrete,” said Cash.
Concrete is a mixture of aggregates, sand, Portland cement and water. Cash says it’s important the concrete dries evenly.
“Just like this icing is the top layer wants to dry first and when this top layer dries too quick what happens is underneath does not dry quick enough and the aggregates as we saw up here become exposed as this top layer chips or delaminates,” said Cash.
The builder’s homeowners guide warns against using a deicer and recommends applying a sealer and to remove any winter road chemicals that drip off cars. Mymo says he solely parks in his garage, didn’t use a deicer either and sealed his driveway.
“We put a lot of money into this house and we spared no expense building it and this is a huge ticket item I’m very concerned something will come out of pocket because this would be a very expensive fix,” said Mymo.
Friend says he only parks one car on his driveway, but on the side that’s not damaged.
“I have a snow blower so I didn’t feel like I needed the deicer and I haven’t used it before because we have a pet I didn’t want it to burn his feet,” said Friend.
ABC 6 On Your Side pressed Fischer Homes for answers. Columbus Market President, Jon Jasper, sent us an email stating evaluations are being done case by case. It also states corrective action is being taken or has been for homeowners with driveway construction issues within the agreed warranty period.
Friend received a letter from Fischer Homes stating his issue is outside of his one year limited warranty coverage.
“Saying they weren’t going to do anything with the driveway that this is how concrete acts when salt gets to it or weather gets to it and that they weren’t going to cover it as part of any warranty,” said Friend.
The same letter also states Fischer Homes does not warrant exterior concrete from deterioration and spalling from freeze and thaw cycles.
“This isn’t freeze and thaw because this is on the surface this is going to get warm quickest,” said Cash.
One couple says they were also told concrete wasn’t covered but just got word from Fischer it plans to replace seven sections of their driveway this summer. They moved in last October.
Friend says he doesn’t have the money to pay out of pocket and isn’t backing down.
“I think they should replace from here to the driveway to the garage,” said Friend.
So far, Friend is the only homeowner who has filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s office about the concrete driveway, and is waiting for Fischer Homes to respond to that. His limited warranty paperwork does list mediation as a way to resolve construction defect claims but Friend says mediation wasn’t offered.