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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEWORLEANS-- A homeowner living in Habitat for Humanity's Musicians' Village is still troubled by what she calls 'rotting wood' on her young home.

Eyewitness News introduced you to the Upper 9th Ward woman almost a year ago. Now she's hired a contractor to tackle rot the non-profit says it won't fix.

'I'm afraid that my house would mold. So I borrowed money from my retirement,' said Rhonda Ford standing in her yard now filled with saw dust and a crew of contractors. They're tackling bad wood.

'All the trim on the windows is rotten, the fascias, the corner boards are rotten. Pretty much all the trim is rotten,' said Christopher Simmons, with Christopher Simmons Contractors.

Ford invested in the Habitat for Humanity dream, moving into the neighborhood shortly after Hurricane Katrina.

Chinese drywall forced her to temporarily leave, and now the New Orleans native says she is living a different nightmare.

'I had to do it. I'm not sleeping. I'm having nightmares every time it rains because I'm concerned about the wood,' said Ford of finally caving in and hiring professionals to come fix her home.

'This is why, it's all rotten, just crumbling to pieces,' said Simmons picking through the old lumber.

The contractor says he's been building homes for 30 years now and that the crumbling wood used by New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) is white pine that was not pressure treated.

'This should not be used, in these conditions in New Orleans. You've got humidity and the rain,' added Simmons.

'The contractor can say it was the wrong wood, and it might not have been the optimal product, but we're trying to build decent, safe and affordable housing, which I believe we do extremely well and this was cosmetic,' said NOAHH Executive Director Jim Pate.

Pate says the organization stopped using the white pine and fur trim used in Ford's home about five years ago. Now it uses Hardie fiber cement trim which is more affordably priced.

NOAHH says it has also addressed any complaints from homeowners within their two-year warranty period.

'We went and did the repairs. In some cases, we inspected. Some of the wood was good, some of the wood was bad. We replaced the bad wood,' said Pate.

NOAHH says when building homes, including Ford's, it follows manufacturer guidelines and city building codes. Pate says this specific case is considered a 'home maintenance issue'.

'Anything that's made of wood, would rot in time. Isn't that correct?' said Pate during an interview with WWL-TV, adding that complaints on 4 or 5 year homes are outside the two-year warranty.

However, for Ford and other neighbors now paying for unforeseen replacement repairs, its damage to their relatively new homes that is hard to swallow.

'Basically what they've built is another disaster for people who bought Habitat houses,' said Ford.

The City of New Orleans requires builders to use pressure treated lumber in areas within 18-inches of the ground and unprotected locations like decks and uncovered balconies.

The local branch of Habitat for Humanity says the trim in this case is not subject to the rule.

Since Katrina NOAHH says it has built 450 homes citywide.

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