The owner of a Gold Hill Mesa home filed suit this month against the builder, saying the home is not as energy-efficient as the builder purported.
Further, the builder knew the home wasn’t as energy-efficient during the sales process, said homeowners Hannah Polmer and William Robert Rudge in their lawsuit against Hi-Point Home Builders LLC, Wayne Intermill, G.J. Gardner Homes and M. Brook Swientisky.
They bought the house partly because of the touted energy efficiencies, which include photovoltaic solar panels and ground-source geothermal heat, Polmer said.
“I was very excited to be part of the green movement.”
– Hannah Polmer
A net-zero energy home consumes as much energy as it collects from solar panels. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and LEED certification is obtained through the U.S. Green Building Council.
The home, at 1561 Gold Mesa Drive on Colorado Springs’ Westside, has a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating of 13 on a scale of 1-150, making it a “near-zero” rating, Intermill said. The HERS index is the industry standard to measure a home’s energy efficiency.
The 3,900-square-foot home was in the 2011 Parade of Homes. Literature for that year’s Parade of Homes, still on the Internet, says the house is LEED-certified.
Hi-Point Homes has built five homes at Gold Hill Mesa and has six under construction now.
The 2013 Parade of Homes has another home built by Hi-Point. The website for this year’s Parade of Homes says, “Hi-Point made a commitment several years ago to position the company at the forefront of Colorado builders by building new homes to LEED and WaterSense certification requirements.”
“I thought this was going to be so warm and I won’t have to shiver anymore,” Polmer said. “I decided to go to a new house and be warm. I was following the American dream.”
She toured Intermill’s houses, and “he was very sweet, very charming,” Polmer said. “I was very excited to be part of the green movement. I really embrace the whole lifestyle. It started out pretty blissfully. I was extremely happy.”
Polmer became initially concerned after she received her first utility bill, she said.
“The utility bills were fantastically high. It was not what he quoted,” said Polmer. She would not disclose how high the bills were, saying the numbers will come out during court.
The suit said the builder touted the house’s energy efficiency, which would “limit Plaintiffs’ average energy costs to around $55 per month.”
“That’s an average,” Intermill said. “In the winter, those numbers will be higher.”
Intermill said the Denver firm Energy Logic did environmental testing for the house.
Polmer said she had the systems inspected after the couple had moved in; they did not inspect the home prior to moving in.
The home is not LEED-certified, Intermill said, because “we just didn’t feel we needed it. It’s registered LEED. If the homeowner wants to get it certified, there’s a fee. It’s registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, but it’s not certified.
“I don’t believe we misled her,” Intermill said. “She’s got a very high-performing house.”
Intermill said he was surprised by the suit.
Polmer said she and her husband are inexperienced home buyers; they moved from a home built in 1929 that they’d lived in 20 years. Polmer said she looked forward to living in a new, warm house.
The couple bought the home for $485,000, according to the county assessor. Intermill said his company spent $80,000 on systems that make the home green.
“More investigation of the house needs to be done,” Polmer said. “I think I was misled, period.”
Gold Hill Mesa Marketing Director Stephanie Edwards said she hadn’t seen the complaint; she noted the development is not a party to this lawsuit.
“We have a very close-knit community,” Edwards said. “Our builders are involved more so than in other communities.
“We just really hope they can work it out.”