Policy committee discusses challenges facing new homeowners in Pennsylvania

PHOENIXVILLE – May 10, 2024 – State Senator Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks), Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined Senators Nikil Saval (Philadelphia) and Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) today in Phoenixville to co-host a public hearing regarding the challenges facing owners of newly constructed homes in Pennsylvania and the lack of protection for these residents in state and local law.

“As a new homeowner living in a newly built neighborhood, being a first-time buyer and homeowner was challenging and very eye-opening. I learned that this fight extends far beyond my neighborhood to other residents of SD44 and across the state who are experiencing similar or even worse situations,” Muth said. “So many Pennsylvanians invest their savings in what they think is their dream home, but it ends up being a very expensive and very stressful nightmare for them. Today’s hearing highlighted many consumer issues and how a lack of enforcement and accountability harms residents across the state, as well as weaknesses in state laws that allow builders and developers to financially defraud buyers. Governments at all levels must step up and make the necessary changes to laws and regulations to ensure consistent supervision and enforcement. “Furthermore, it is clear that a skilled workforce and skilled workers are key to ensuring high-quality homes are built.”

The hearing, held at the Phoenixville Borough Building in Chester County, included two panels of testimony. The first panel featured two affected residents, each of whom was dealing with several construction and water issues in their newly built homes. The second panel focused on enforcement and inspection issues in the construction industry.

“As a real estate broker, I understand the devastating impact it can have on a family when a new home construction or remodeling project is not completed as expected or promised,” Fontana said. “This hearing provided me with valuable insight into what works and what requires some adjustments regarding licensing, Pennsylvania regulations and the roles that various state agencies play.”

According to testimony given by Marc Faulkner, a trained electrician and owner of a certified inspection company, there is no requirement for a contractor to be licensed in his chosen industry, and the state does not require licensing for plumbers, masons, HVAC or even electricians.

“Housing stability impacts all aspects of our lives – our families, our jobs, our health and our communities. Many people consider owning a home to be the best way to achieve the stability they need, only to find that the new home they have spent all their resources purchasing puts them at risk,” Saval added. “As we begin to seriously address the real and pressing supply problem in Pennsylvania’s housing industry, we must also protect residents from unsafe practices that add stress to our lives and destroy community cohesion.”

The Committee also continues to seek input from residents and asks Pennsylvanians living in any county in newly constructed homes to complete a tiny survey about their experiences as owners of a newly built home in Pennsylvania. Survey responses will remain anonymous and will be used solely to inform Committee members about the challenges faced by so many Pennsylvanians who have been sold on the promise of a newly constructed home only to be faced with problems of destitute workmanship and unreliable contractors The survey results will also confirm that the proposed policies address all the challenges associated with new home construction across the state. The survey can be obtained at bit.ly/SenDemPolicyHomeSurvey.

The hearing included two former Philadelphia residents, Megan Murray and Peggy Jackson, who had major problems in their newly built homes; John Abel, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office; Marc Faulkner, Faulkner Inspection Services; and Warren Obenski, Honey Brook city manager.

Senator Tim Kearney (D-Delaware) and Senator Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) also participated in the hearing virtually.

The Political Committee invited several construction contractors to testify at the hearing, but all of them refused to participate.

For more information about this policy hearing and to access all testimony submitted and the full recording of today’s hearing, please visit www.SenatorMuth.com/policy.

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Panel 1: Homeowners

Panel 2: Code Enforcement


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