Willowbrook developer files lawsuit


Willowbrook developer files lawsuit


Date: May 1, 2013
by: Josh Siegel | Staff writer


EAST COUNTY — KB Home, developer of the Willowbrook condominium community in East County, filed a lawsuit against the subcontractors — 41 of them — it contracted with to build the homes.

Lannie Hough Jr. of Tampa-based Carlton Fields filed the suit April 23, on KB Home’s behalf, in Manatee County Circuit Court.

The 41 listed defendants include companies in flooring, aluminum, air conditioning, framing and more.
A statement from Cara Kane, regional director of public relations at KB Home, read:

“KB Home stands behind its product and warranty and requires that same commitment of those companies and individuals with whom we contract to build our homes. We are continuing to make repairs in the Willowbrook community and are taking the appropriate steps to seek reimbursement from those subcontractors who have not fulfilled their obligations in the construction of these homes.”

Since August, homeowners in Willowbrook — a 272-unit town home community — have complained of moldy ceilings, sinking floors and water-damaged walls, among other problems.

Manatee County building officials inspections confirmed the problems.

The county reported more than 24 of those homes as unsafe, and public-health officials urged Willowbrook residents to seek medical attention.

Residents say these problems are the result of faulty building and materials and homeowner have confronted KB Home with protests, letters, social-media campaigns and threats of lawsuits.

In the suit KB Home filed, the builder alleges the problems came from “defective workmanship by subcontractors and tradesmen, which, in addition to falling below acceptable standards of practice in the industry and failing to comply with the contract documents and acceptable building codes, caused property damage to the work of KB Home.”

It also says KB Home has suffered repair and remediation costs and hits to its reputation.

In August, Willowbrook residents began to pressure KB Home to correct the structural issues.

Willowbrook’s homeowners association selected DueAll Construction to complete repairs in October.

DueAll Construction did not work on the homes originally and was not included in the suit.

DueAll Construction repair work has been under way since early December, but residents have complained of slow progress, prompting Sen. Bill Galvano to visit the community in February, to speed up the process.

Later that month, KB Home agreed to pay for the temporary relocation of Willowbrook residents whose properties required repairs and were deemed unlivable.

KB Home set aside $2 million for repairs and relocation costs.

With 51 units left to fix, residents are still concerned about the pace of the work.

Some want KB Home to buy back their property for the full purchase price.

“How can (KB Home) push blame to its subcontractors when they had a project manager on-site during every day of construction?” asked homeowner Armando Oyolo-Delgado. “It sounds like KB Home was asleep at the wheel. And now they are trying to recoup their money when I can’t recover the money on my home?”

Based in Los Angeles, KB Home is one of the nation’s largest homebuilders with locations in Tampa, Fort Myers and Orlando.

Contact Josh Siegel at jsiegel@yourobserver.com.


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