Everyone can agree, buying a home is a massive financial commitment. In fact, it’s likely the single largest purchase most people make in their lifetime. So, when Christine Hom purchased her dream home from Woodside Homes of Nevada in May of 2018, she never would have guessed that once it was built, the home builder would then develop a mirrored floor plan of her home on the adjacent property, effectively removing all privacy she was verbally guaranteed by the local seller.
By developing a mirrored floor plan, that means that the builder created an exact mirror image of Hom’s home by flipping it right to left. By then placing it next door, the private courtyard, balcony, and all the windows exactly match up and face each other, dramatically reducing privacy. Possibly the most egregious part of this act is that the home next door was a “spec” house, meaning that the builder built a speculation house hoping to find a buyer after it was already built.
After contacting a local law firm, Morris Law Center, Hom learned that due to the disclaimer hidden deep within the purchase agreement, she had almost no rights in relation to her complaint about the new construction project.
“This is a common issue when it comes to new construction,” says Brian Morris, Partner at Morris Law Center. “New home contracts almost always contain extensive language giving new home sellers protections and discretion in this case. If you’re dealing with new home contract, it is critical that you consult with an attorney or real estate agent not affiliated with the home builder.”
According to Morris, although there are jurisdictions across the US which do support claims of easements for light, air and privacy to the extent of providing remedies for new construction which limits such easements. Unfortunately, the state of Nevada does not recognize the foregoing easement as grounds for a strong legal argument; thus, there are very limited compelling legal arguments to support a claim for damages and/or modification to Hom’s contract.
“This company charged me $15,000 for a private balcony and promised me a secluded courtyard,” said Hom. “It only seems fair I would be reimbursed for that cost considering I didn’t get what I paid for.”
Unfortunately, the law leaves Hom with few options.
“In some cases, a buyer can attempt to cancel the contract entirely, which may be achievable either through the court system or by using legal arguments as leverage for cancellation. But, that’s far from guaranteed; the attainment of such an outcome may be time consuming and expensive if the seller decides to contest,” explains Morris. “From a practical standpoint, following through with the sale of the property is often the most efficient outcome with the least amount of complications.”