08/04/04 — Former flood victim seeks relief from sagging floor

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Former flood victim seeks relief from sagging floor

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on August 4, 2004 2:00 PM

James Potter walks gingerly into the back bedroom of his mobile home, hoping that the sagging floor won't suddenly collapse under his weight.

Moving to one side of the "soft spot" that is centered around the bedroom door, Potter taps his foot lightly on the linoleum.

"This is where it's giving way, and we're scared it's going to collapse at any time," he said. "The only thing holding it up is a two-by-six" board.

Potter's mobile home off of Black Jack Church Road was a replacement for the one he owned when Hurricane Floyd ripped through Wayne County in 1999.

It was bought with state and federal money as part of the "repair and replacement" program.

He was living on N.C. Highway 111 South when downed trees and floods forced him from his home. As part of the flood buyout program, the county bought him a new mobile home.

All Potter had to do was keep up the taxes and homeowner's insurance policy, which he says he has done faithfully. He also must live in the home for at least 10 years as part of the buyout program.

"That homeowner's (insurance) isn't cheap, and all I have is my Social Security income," he said. "But I've kept it up."

But the insurance isn't covering the sagging floor, because the insurance company says it's a defect in the mobile home.

Potter said he lived in the home for almost two years before the floor began buckling underneath him.

He first called the county Inspection Department.

"He came and looked at it, and said that it was a problem with Quality Homes," he said. "Quality Homes is where we bought the home."

Potter said that workers from Quality Homes have come out three times in the past year to fix the floor, but nothing has worked.

The problem is "underneath the trailer, where the boards are supposed to go together," he said. "They don't fit, or meet in the slots, so there's nothing there to support it."

Potter said that the defect is grows worse because of weight on the floor. C&S Home Repair Co. estimates that it will cost $1,250 to repair. The repairs would entail taking the floor out to put cross joints under the mobile home, and placing additional floorboard with new linoleum in the home.

Quality Homes has said it's a problem for his insurance to pay for.

Potter says he just wants his mobile home fixed.

He filed a suit in small claims court against Gene Daley, an owner of Quality Homes.

The News-Argus left a message for Daley at his business, but the call was not returned.

The suit went to court Tuesday, but lawyer Glenn Barfield recommended that the suit be dismissed because it was against an individual, instead of the corporation.

Wayne County Magistrate Allen Jones said that Potter could refile the suit, against Quality Homes, instead of the individual.

Barfield said he didn't mind if the suit was refiled, because he would like to argue the case on its merits, rather than having it dismissed on a technicality.

Potter went to the clerk's office Tuesday to refile the complaint.