Local News

Rules Say Burned-Out Residents Must Rebuild, Not Move From Townhouses

Posted March 14, 2007
Updated March 15, 2007

— Some victims of the recent townhouse fires in Raleigh are fired up about being told they have to rebuild.

A massive blaze last month, one of the largest in Raleigh history, destroyed or damaged 38 homes at Pine Knoll Townes. After they lost so much, some residents say, the homeowners association has delivered another blow.

Some of the people who lost everything would rather move on than rebuild. However, the development’s homeowners association is not giving them that option. According to the master covenants, conditions and restrictions for Pine Knoll Townhomes, homeowners have no choice but to rebuild.

"The fire came up from the back, went up the side of the house and up through the attic," Gene Johnson said Wednesday as he pointed to what's left of his roof.

Tarps cover the holes, but there is no hiding the damage inside. The ceiling in his master bedroom collapsed. The rest of the house suffered mostly smoke and water damage.

“We really are lucky in some respects that we didn't lose everything," said Johnson. He and his fiancé plan to rebuild from the ground up.

Others feel differently.

The rules state, "In the event of damage to an owner's property, the owner shall contract to rebuild or repair.”

"I guess that it could be a real traumatic experience to come back into a house that you know, even though it's brand new, was once ashes," Johnson said.

The developer, Bill Spang, acts as the board of directors for the homeowners association. He says he's not in any position to buy out any of the residents. And if the homeowners don't comply with the rules, it may delay reconstruction.

"I would think that as neighbors, you would want to work together and rebuild the community and not hold up the process,” Johnson said. But others would rather carry on with their lives elsewhere and forget all that was lost here.

The developer says the builder, Beazer Homes, is ready to start construction immediately, but homeowners must sign off on the project first. The developer says the town homes can rebuilt in 100 to 120 days.


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  • mrcrosby Mar 15, 2007

    a townhouse is very similiar to a condo in the fact that tere is a master insurance policy. it will pay to rebuild and the owners will own wjat they did before, (the space between the walls). They can always sell, before they are rebuilt, if they want. fact is, they own it, it will be rebuilt. Don't really see where anybody could think that there is a profit to make here. Even if they did not rebuild (if these were individual houses), the mortgage would still have to be paid off. Since this was a new community with little time to appreciate in value, where is the profit??? Especially with all the 100% LTV loans being done now.

  • Nibor Mar 15, 2007

    I agree with "The Dude"
    I would assume each unit was insured. So they will be rebuilt. If you want to leave then sell and leave.

    I now see that is a big difference between a house on a lot and a Townhouse. Townhouse you own a "share" of the lot.

    With a townhouse your idiot neighbor could set theirs on fire and ruin yours. Now your drug into this.

    Simple solution,,,,, don't buy a townhouse.

  • damfrisky33 Mar 15, 2007

    I was just wondering if they can sell the lot space and have someone rebuilt there. I guess a lot has to do with the obligations to HOA.

  • Politically Honest NOT PC Mar 15, 2007

    The Dude or is it "The Dud" I sure as hell hope you never lose all you have in a fire or other catastrophe. If you do, I hope you will not "remove yourself from the grown up world" Too late,
    sounds like you already did.

  • jeneric43 Mar 15, 2007

    TheDude, my comment wasn't about rules, policies, just resepect for not making commens such as "they want to take their money and run". Stick to what I said and don't type a whole commentary to get away from what I was addressing to you.

  • seeingthru Mar 15, 2007

    Sorry when my house burnt we had to rebuild. You cannot just walk away from your responsibilities.

  • The Dude Mar 15, 2007

    I'm sure this was a very traumatic experience for all of them, but that doesn't remove them from the grown-up world. They still have responsiblities and obligations. They can't expect the builder/developer/etc. to pick up the slack and excuse them from their responsibilities because they don't want to live there anymore. This story is strictly news in an attempt to drum up public sympathy and force the builder/developer into taking it on the chin for these people. That's not their problem. From what I have seen, nothing suggests that these houses were built in violation of any codes or that one of their employees caused the fire. Rebuild and sell if you want to. Don't play the trauma card to get out of your property duties.

  • 2little2late Mar 15, 2007

    Follow-up to what was somewhat harsh sounding..
    An idea: while the townhome is being rebuilt, put it on the market...potential buyers will be able to do at least a little "choosing" as far as colors/finishes/upgrades etc..since the family won't be able to live there during the re-build anyway, it's possible that they can move on with their life to some degree...between the insurance company wrestling with the builder and homeowners, it could be months to a year before the "new" townhomes are ready for anyone to move in..might work

  • damfrisky33 Mar 15, 2007

    I live in single family home in HOA and I have my regrets. One of our neighbors, who is renting, has like 6 cars parked around the neighbours drive-way. Some of their cars don't have insurance, the police marked it, but they just parked it into their drive-way. The HOA just told us that they cannot do anything to them because they rent and are considered visitors. I have noticed that the woman living next door to them must be very frustrated. Never HOA again!

  • 2little2late Mar 15, 2007

    Sad as the fire is, owning a townhome/condo/anything is no different than owning a detached house out in the country. The article's headlline is very emotionally misleading against the HOA-makes it sound like the people are renting and forced to stay. Try telling your mortgage company that, after a fire at your "country house", you want to "get paid" and move on with your life due to trauma(real as it may be). They will refer you to a builder and a realtor that will help you in that direction and as long as someone is paying the mortgage, they couldn't care less who lives there . Landowners and developers can attach any sort of restrictions they want to the property that THEY OWN, before selling it to you with those restrictions/provisions in place. Your decision to buy a piece of property in a subdivision should be based in those restrictions, already in place and legally binding, before you make an offer..don't like them?..don't buy there..