I had a problem with a residential deck that Knats Creek Nursery constructed.  Ultimately I had to sue them in North Carolina Courts.  The complaint below is self-explanatory.  




STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA          IN THE GENERAL COURT  OF JUSTICE

COUNTY OF MOORE                                 DISTRICT COURT DIVISION

 

RUSSELL WALKER                            )
                   Plaintiff                        )
                                                      )
vs.                                                  )       
                                                      )        C.A. No.  16CVD01065
KNATS CREEK NURSERY, INC.          )
                                                      )            JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
and                                                 )       
                                                      )
BUILDERS FIRSTSOURCE,                )
       Southeast Group, LLC               )
                                                      )
                   Defendants                  )

 
                                                                       COMPLAINT

Summary -  

This is a complaint for breach of contract, negligence, lack of due care, breach of warrantee and punitive damages.

 
Venue and jurisdiction –

Venue is correct because Knats Creek Nursery Inc., a domestic corporation, hereinafter called “Knats”, has its primary office in Moore County.  Richie Cole is the registered agent for Knats and its principal office is located at 1015 Jackson Springs, Road, Jackson Springs, North Carolina 27281

Builders Firstsource – Southeast Group, LLC  Inc. is a foreign corporation hereinafter called “Builders”  and also has an office in Moore County.   CT Corporation System, is the registered agent  with its office at 150 Fayetteville St., Box 1011, Raleigh, NC 27601-2957

Builders is only made a party to this action for purposes of Discovery and to prevent a Rule 19 defense.  Because Tim of Builders has been so cooperative in furnishing wood, screws and admitting that the wood was improperly weatherproofed, no damages, either actual or punitive are sought from Builders.

Moore County District Court has jurisdiction over all persons found to be within its presence.

                                                                  ALLEGATIONS

In or about 2012 Plaintiff Walker and defendant Knats agreed that Knats would build  a residential wooden deck for Walker. 
 
The agreed price with modifications was approximately $7700.  Knats performed the work and Walker paid Knats for it.  Knats used   2 ½” coated steel screws for the entire deck.

Walker painted the deck and noticed in about 2013 that the paint continually peeled off.  Walker complained to paint supplier Lowe’s Home Improvement.  Lowe’s Home Improvement sent out a PPG factory representative to inspect the deck and to take samples of paint chips.  PPG later reported that the paint was made to specifications.  Regardless PPG returned Walker’s payment for the paint.

Walker and Lowe’s worked to try to get new paints to adhere to the wood.  At least twice Walker scraped the deck and applied new paints or stains.  To this day the paint is still chipping off and the wood is bare in certain spots.

In or about 2014 Walker noticed that fascia wood for the deck was cracking.  Richie Cole and the Builders representative inspected the deck.   Builders took samples of the cracked wood.  Later Builders admitted that the wood was improperly weatherproofed and offered to supply all wood and new screws to remedy the problem.

About two months after this inspection, Builders  supplied new treated fascia 2x10 boards.  Knats removed the old defective wood and installed the new wood.  Walker later painted the new fascia boards.

In about 2014 Walker noticed that certain deck boards were splitting at the ends of the boards.  Builders gave Walker new deck boards and a box of coated stainless screws.  Walker replaced about 10 boards with new wood and coated stainless screws.  Walker did not want himself or any visitor to hurt themselves on the deck. 

In about 2015 Walker fell through a deck board and hurt his leg.  Walker removed that deck board and noticed that it was deteriorated through and through. 

In about June 2016 Walker also started to notice that many other deck boards were “soft” and had excessive deflection when he walked over them.  It was then that Walker realized that all of the deck boards were defective and would eventually rot.

Walker again went to Tim at Builders Supply and told him.  Builders supply offered to resupply all wood for the deck and all screws as necessary.  Tim at Builders told me that their supplier would not supply nor pay for the labor however.

Walker called Knats at the office (673-3588) phone and Richie Cole on his cell (315-5476) phone at least 10 times.  No call was ever returned.

Walker went to visit Richie Cole at his house on Sunday 28 August 2016.  Richie was not happy to see Walker.  Richie admitted that he was avoiding  Walker  and point blank asked me, “Could you not tell that I was avoiding you?”  Apparently not because Walker assumed that Cole was reasonable and reputable.  Cole and Walker discussed the matter including the danger of a defective deck.  Cole eventually indicated that he was not going to provide free labor and told Walker to leave his property.  Walker promptly left.

On Monday 29 August 2016 Walker visited Tim at Builders and told him of the incident at Cole’s House.  Tim told Walker that there were at least two other customers of Builders who had the same problem.  The difference was that the contractors for the other two customers fixed the problem and Knats refused.

Walker noticed that after he removed the 2 1/2” ceramic coated deck screws, that they were rusting or had rust stains on the top 1” (board thickness) or so of the screw.

When the deck screws were inserted they rubbed the wood and the ceramic coating must have been breached.  Walker believes that the copper coating wood preservative attacked the ordinary steel screws and allowed water and air to come into contact with the steel screw metal causing the steel to rust. 

From Wikipedia -- On December 31, 2003, the U.S. wood treatment industry stopped treating residential lumber with arsenic and chromium (chromated copper arsenate, or CCA). This was a voluntary agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. CCA was replaced by copper-based pesticides, with exceptions for certain industrial uses.

2012 International Building Code – Fasteners – Section       2304.9.5

Fasteners and connections in contact with preservative-treated and fire retardant-treated wood.   Fasteners, including nuts and washers, and connectors in contact with preservative-treated and fire-retardant-treated wood shall be in accordance with Sections 2304.9.5.1 through 2304.9.5.4.   The coating weights for zinc-coated fasteners shall be in accordance with ASTM A153. 2304.9.5.1 Fasteners and connections for preservative-treated wood. Fasteners, including nuts and washers, in contact with preservative-treated wood shall be of hot dipped zinc coated galvanized steel, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. (emphasis added)

From the iccsafe.org website

Based on the 2009 International Codes®, these new and improved regulations lead the way to safe and efficient construction in North Carolina.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE BUILDING CODE: BUILDING CODE

The North Carolina Building Code apparently follows the ICC Code.

Knats used screws that were not acceptable to the International Building Code for exterior treated wood.  Knats used screws more suitable for arsenic treated wood.  Apparently the copper in the new preservative attacks ordinary steel.  Based upon information and belief stainless screws are more expensive than ordinary steel screws, regardless of size or shape.

Richie Cole knew that the value of the house was diminished, the danger to people using a dangerous and substandard deck,  refusing to remedy the situation and for using less expensive screws which were in violation of the North Carolina Building Code qualifies for punitive damages.

                                                                             PRAYER FOR RELIEF

Considering the premises, Walker demands $10,000 in actual damages and $4,000 in punitive damages from Knats Creek Nursery Inc.  plus costs of this action.  Walker also prays for all further just and equitable relief as appropriate.

All factual averments herein are signed under penalties of perjury to be true.

Respectfully submitted,


Russell Walker

September 6, 2016


KNATS CREEK FARM