Tip List: Homeowners say Ranchwood work is shoddy

This column usually takes a look into broken sidewalks, dirty alleys and infrastructure in the public realm that isn't working.

But in Monica Gallagher's case, it's her house that's broken.

In 2008, she moved to Los Banos with her husband and their two children to buy their first home, which was built in 2004. They used her husband's VA loan and got a deal on a formerly bank-owned home, she said.

Immediately things started to go wrong. First, there was a leak from the air conditioning unit. Holes that should have been punched out had never been removed, and water filled up in the unit until it leaked, soaking through their ceiling. Then a water line burst in their wall and flooded their kitchen. "I have absolutely no kitchen," she said. Mold and mildew have grown on the walls.

While their insurance has paid for much of the roughly $19,000 in damages, the homebuilder has been of little help.

When she called the homebuilder, Ranchwood Homes LLC, about the air conditioning leak, someone was sent out to fix the problem. But after the employee discovered the leaking pipe in their kitchen's wall, Ranchwood was no help, according to the homeowners.

Gallagher was told that the company wasn't responsible for the leaking pipe, recalled Gallagher. Since the Gallaghers weren't the first owners of their relatively new home, the warranty had expired.

Ever since the problems began, Gallagher has been filled with questions. "Do I have bigger problems in my home that I don't know about?"

Her home isn't the only one in the neighborhood with problems. Gallagher's neighbor, Luis Estineira, has had issues with his house, too. Ranchwood has been remiss in fixing his problems, he maintains. "They try and do everything they can to get out of their warranty," he said.

Similar problems abound. A 2007 lawsuit filed by 59 homeowners in a Ranchwood development in Gustine claimed their homes were shoddily constructed.

Ranchwood did not respond to questions on the matter.

What is wrong: New homes in Los Banos have problems that the builder won't fix.

Who is involved: Ranchwood Homes.

If your home was built by Ranchwood and is having problems, call Ranchwood at (209) 826-6200.

If you see something broken or in need of repair in your neighborhood, call the Sun-Star Tip List reporter, Jonah Owen Lamb, with your tips at (209) 385-2484 or e-mail jlamb@mercedsun-star.com.