Manatee County official vows to improve home inspections

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Manatee County’s director of building and development services, John Barnott, says he is taking steps to beef up home inspections so the kind of code violations uncovered by 8 On Your Side in 2012 don’t go unnoticed again.

“They should not have had to go through what they’ve gone through,” Barnott told 8 On Your Side.

Our 8 On Your Side investigation found moldy, rotting balconies and water intrusion in the Willowbrook Condominiums, after dozens of homeowners called about problems builder KB Home refused to fix.

The state Attorney General’s Office took notice and started its own investigation. The office recently announced a multimillion-dollar settlement with KB that requires repairs to homes and condos throughout the state. The attorney general is also requiring KB to have third-party inspections on any new home construction.

Barnott said what happens at Willowbrook has kept him awake at night and he wants to figure out what went wrong. He said his office is going through the Attorney General’s Office report, investing in more training for inspectors and adding inspectors.

“I’m sure there are folks in Willowbrook that are not happy with the situation, rightfully so,” Barnott said. “The quality of construction there was not very good.
We’re working very hard to regain that trust if it was lost at Willowbrook.”

A complaint filed simultaneously with the stipulated consent judgment alleges that KB Home and its subsidiaries violated the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act by:

  • Failing to disclose to purchasers the homes being constructed violated applicable building codes;
  • Failing to disclose the homes being constructed did not conform with the original building plans and specifications;
  • Denying certain consumers’ warranty repair requests because they purchased short sales or from banks after foreclosure proceedings, not proper exclusions under the KB Home warranty; and
  • Refusing certain consumers’ warranty repair requests due to a lack of maintenance by the homeowner when the structure’s problems were attributable to defective construction.

To seek repairs, homeowners should contact KB Home to arrange an inspection.

For homeowners in the Tampa area, call KB Home at (813) 387-9600 or send an email to TampaClaims@kbhome.com.

For homeowners in the Orlando area, call KB Home at 1-800-305-2246 or send an email to OrlandoCustomerService@kbhome.com.

For homeowners in the Jacksonville area, call KB Home at (904) 596-6690 or send an email toKBJaxCustServ@kbhome.com.

For locations outside of these regions, contact the closest region above for repairs.

To apply for restitution, homeowners may download and complete a claim form found here or may contact the claims administrator, A.B. Data, Ltd. at 1(888) 210-5486.

<< READ MORE 8 ON YOUR SIDE INVESTIGATIONS HERE >>

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