Really, this should not be difficult at all. Your county website should have the builder’s company right there for you to find (and ours kind of does, after all), but it’s a process to find out who built a home you bought, not to mention trying to find out what model you have from that builder.
You might wonder why I would want to find out who built our house. For starters, there are some pretty weird things in the house that I believe were a result of shoddy building techniques, so I mostly wanted to see who was responsible. At some point, you stop blaming the previous owner in order to move onto someone else to blame.
Specifically, a window and sliding door recently leaked in. Lisa had thought the stains near the window were from the previous owner spilling soda and never cleaning it up, but the rusty water that came in with the rain proved it wasn’t that. However, it did prove that the previous owners probably knew about the fault, especially since two windows had been replaced. I wanted to know if it was poor maintenance or poor workmanship that caused the leaks, so I started to look into who built the house.
It might have helped to go right to the bill of deed, but I started with Google. When I didn’t get very far with my HOA website, I actually got a lucky break. I found a key fob with “D.R. Horton Builders” stuck on it. When I looked up D.R. Horton, a lot more made sense. The company is currently getting sued by a local community for leaky roofs and windows, as well as poorly-done stucco siding. Sounds about right. I tried using more specific search terms, but I still could not tell for sure that Horton built our house, though I did get it down to two builders for the entire subdivision, one being Horton. Then I remembered to look at the county website’s copies of receipts, and I saw that the original owner had purchased the house from Horton. I figured the evidence was pretty certain, but that’s where it got even more difficult.
I could not find any plans for the house with any of the search terms I thought to use. There are DR Horton plans online, but these are mostly new or popular ones. I even refined the search to only show websites from the time period, and all I got was a few communities that were still trying to sell new construction homes a decade late, as in defunct websites. But those did not hold the key for our model.
OK, I know someone out there is screaming at me to just contact the builder. That’s not the point. I could do that, and I probably will, but I figured a fancy new neighborhood with top-of-the-line houses would have a website describing each house and its features, even a decade later. Maybe not if those houses have leaky windows, cracking stucco, and other weird stuff. For example, we had a kitchen faucet with hot and cold reversed. And the garage door opener seems to have been made for a small shed. And the dishwasher did not drain to anywhere, meaning the drain was hooked up to the disposal but the plastic plug was still in place. We learned that the previous owner had never once tried the fireplace, and it seems they may have only tried the dishwasher once.
Anyhow, I have a builder to work with, but no information as to the model of the home. I thought I was being ultra-clever when I searched the entire country for a house selling with the exact same square footage and built within two years. I found about 50 homes that matched on Zillow, including one down the block, but the one down the block was the only similar model built by the same builders, and I already know about my own area. I figured finding a similar neighborhood could help with identification, but it appears to be a plan unique to northern Florida (four on our block). Don’t get me wrong, this is no custom architect-designed home. That’s why it’s frustrating to not be able to find archived ads for the place. I understood more with our last house, built in 1978, but this house was built in 2003.
Maybe it has something to do with a builder not wanting to take credit (or responsibility) for the past, or maybe there are just less homes of any given design than I had imagined. I figured when I saw home ads in the newspaper for the Windsor III, there’d be thousands of those exact homes scattered about the country. That does get me to wondering if maybe I can find my model in a local newspaper ad from the time period…
I realize that discovering the house model won’t fix window leaks. Caulk seems to have done that. However, I might be able to learn where I can put a laundry chute with a decent set of blueprints. And it might be nice to see which features were a selling point--perhaps the bedroom on the main floor without a closet. Or the garage just big enough to fit two cars and thin drivers. It just feels as if cookie-cutter homes should come with some kind of owner’s manual, like a car. And some of the cheap add-ons should be identified so that I can replace them with exact-match cheap replacements so that I can at least match those items to the rest of the house. Again, I’m sure nobody really wants to reveal which cut-rate builder-grade windows were tossed on this house, so I guess we’ll continue to build houses so new owners remain in the dark.