BRADENTON, FL (WFLA) – Jennifer Montecalvo lives in a construction zone at the Willowbrook condos in Bradenton. Plastic covers her walls and windows. She feels she has little privacy and says the noise makes it impossible to concentrate inside her home.
But it’s the dust she’s breathing in daily that really worries her.
“I had cancer a couple of years ago, and it just bothers me,” Montecalvo says.
For about a year-and-a-half, builder KB Home has been fixing extensive shoddy construction, revealed in an 8 On Your Side investigation.
Residents said they had complained for years about mold, rickety balconies and water leaking in around windows. They said KB initially did Band-Aid repairs and downplayed the problems.
After immense public pressure and amid a Florida Attorney General investigation, KB Home is now spending millions to tear out moldy wood and re-build. Residents are happy something is happening, but living here during the construction is less than ideal.
“I don’t think it’s right,” Motecalvo said. “There was a lot of money put aside to relocate people.”
There are 52 buildings at Willowbrook. The county signed off on repairs at seven. KB says three more are complete and 20 are now under construction.
The company says it’s working diligently to make repairs and understands it is an inconvenience. So far, most buildings have taken six months to fix.For Montecalvo, she’s only one month in. She and her sister work late nights but KB wouldn’t relocate them because they don’t work overnight.
Neysa Buckle says her building is almost done. She’s happy with the outcome, but says KB refused to relocate her, even though she runs a business from her home.
“They put this black tarp up. it’s like living under a shroud,” Buckle said. “It goes on for months. It’s very unpleasant to live in darkness.”
8 On Your Side took residents’ relocation concerns to KB Home. Spokeswoman Cara Kane says they have relocated about 40 residents, but they take each request on a case-by-case basis.
Kane sent this statement: “KB Home continues to make extensive progress in the Willowbrook community. We work with each homeowner individually regarding relocation requests and their unique circumstances that would qualify for temporary relocation, such as working a third shift. We appreciate the homeowners’ continuing patience during this repair process and are working diligently to complete them.”
KB says Buckle didn’t meet the criteria for relocation. So far, the answer for Montecalvo is no, too. But KB told 8 On Your Side they will test her air quality.
Motecalvo welcomes the testing, but thinks Willowbrook will never overcome its reputation.
“What happens when we want to sell it? Are people going to look back and say, ‘They had problems before, are they going to have problems again?'” Motecalvo said.