Looking forward to the future of journalism

Award-winning story shows how homeowners lose disputes with builders

Jennifer Hiller
Jennifer Hiller
Not that I’m biased or anything, but my girlfriend Jennifer Hiller won two awards for a story she wrote about the Texas Residential Construction Commission, a state agency ostensibly created to help homeowners resolve disputes with homebuilders.

In reality, the agency was often powerless to help consumers and it’s going to be dissolved.

Jennifer spent months digging into this story. Here’s the lede:

Hoses twist and snake through Jonathan Steiner’s home.

The makeshift plumbing lines run beneath furniture, across the living room and into the garage, where they block that door from closing completely. Air conditioning leaks out while bugs crawl in.

The hoses were supposed to be a temporary fix when the plumbing system failed and sprung leaks all over the house.

That was more than two years ago.

Related: Top five books every student journalist should own right now

After plumbers told Steiner the entire system needed replacing, the physical therapist couldn’t get his builder to make repairs in his four-year-old brick home, located in the Woodridge neighborhood near USAA. So Steiner turned to the state agency the Legislature created to resolve disputes between homeowners and homebuilders.

It didn’t help.

The Texas Residential Construction Commission agreed the builder is responsible for the plumbing fiasco, but the agency can’t force the company to fix it.

Jennifer uncovered some outrageous details, check it out.