A local builder is involved in a dispute over a property that the owners contend has water drainage problems and an improperly installed furnace. The owners have asked for a jury trial in Cumberland County Superior Court, and seek compensatory and punitive damages from the builder.

In 2001, KTO Builders, Inc. of Windham sold a ranch style home on a piece of land behind the Mayberry Farm on Route 302 to Hope and Lawrence Guidi. KTO Builders, Inc. is owned and operated by Anthony Vance and his sister Kristine Vance.

According to the lawsuit, the Guidi home, located at 6 Prairie Way, Windham has been plagued with “routine and severe flooding,” and severe “ponding” of standing water around the property. The suit blames the problems on “construction of the foundation at too low a level and improper grading and site work.”

The suit further contends that the builder installed a “deficient heating system” and used “an unlicensed employee or subcontractor, resulting in a heating system which fails to meet applicable building codes, requires frequent repairs, and whose performance is completely inadequate.”

The Guidi suit states the homeowners “have incurred substantial expenses to repair and remedy these problems, and have and will continue to suffer diminution of the value” of the property.

When Kristine Vance sold her adjoining property she approached the Guidis to seek permission to pave a driveway, leading from Route 302 to the abutting homes. Hope Guidi contends that she did not give permission to Vance for the driveway, because of “concerns about the impact it would have on existing water runoff, flooding and ponding problems.”

In a telephone interview, Anthony Vance said, “We disagree with the Guidis on this situation. We are working to try to get on the same page, which has been difficult. The home was built and sold at cost, because at the time he worked for a friend of mine. It was built in good faith to help them get their home. KTO has a great reputation, and we have built homes in the area for 20 years now.”

Vance also mentioned that another abutting landowner, Rachel Fisher, approached him during the construction of the Guidi house. Vance says that in an effort to be accommodating to a 20-year resident of the neighborhood, he gave Fisher eight-feet of land to help her with a buffer to the new home, and the subsequent construction of the second house. The builder estimated his cost of the land gift to be $2,000.

Fisher confirmed the land deal, and said she paid $700 in legal fees to have the property deeded in her name. The neighbor said she had tended the strip of land for 25 years and felt she had some rights to the strip.

“We had a business arrangement, and Tony was very cordial to me,” said Fisher. “He gave me a quit claim deed. He planted seven hemlock trees to help with the buffer. He even asked me exactly where I wanted the trees planted.”

Vance complained that he has offered a couple of solutions to the Guidis, but none were accepted. He proposed using a 500-gallon tank and drainage ring in the driveway to get rid of the ponding water, and repairs to the furnace by his father, Ralph Vance, a master oil burner technician with 35 years of experience.

“The problem is that you propose a solution and Hope doesn’t want to be part of the solution. She wants to complain about the problem,” said Vance.

The suit also states that while selling her property next to the Guidi house, Kristine Vance “demanded” a 20-foot easement on the Guidi land for access to the Vance house. The easement had not passed with the recorded deed to the Kristine Vance property. When the Guidis did not grant permission for the easement, the suit alleges, KTO brought in a bulldozer and removed existing paving and “caused damage to the underlying gravel roadbed.”

Rob Ruesch, an attorney with the law firm of Verrill Dana representing the Guidis, would only say, “Anytime there is a lawsuit, it is part of the public record. We are involved in discussions to try to resolve this suit. I am reluctant to say more.”

“We had to have the fire department come out in the winter, because of heating oil fumes,” said Hope Guidi, adding, “They made us shut it off. We needed an emergency service call at one in the morning.

But the main problem, according to Guidi, is the ponding water.

“The water gets about 10 to 12 inches deep in the driveway. The water sat there for three to four weeks and just kept getting bigger. My cousin came to visit, and she had water coming into her car around the door opening,” said Guidi. “One of my many large concerns is mold, because of the health threat to my two children, ages six and three. Another problem is whether emergency vehicles can reach my house for my father who has been very sick lately.”

“I have always been open to any solutions that would tend to the problems appropriately,” Guidi added.

Hope Guidi manuevers her SUV through water in her driveway.The photograph was taken on March30, before the heavy period of rain in early April. The Windham woman and her husband are involved in a lawsuit with their builder over the “ponding” water and a faulty furnace.

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