KB Home settlement with Attorney General shines light on Florida's stucco problem

KB Home spending $17 million to improve its work

VERO BEACH, Fla. - Abby Dozier gave up beach life for lake life.

"I wanted to get away from the Coast. We lost a house in the hurricanes," Dozier said.

Her water woes continue in her new neighborhood, Carriage Lakes, in Vero Beach.

"I'm leaking here again," Dozier said pointing to a water spot in her garage. "I don't know how many times that's been repaired."

She's not the only homeowner with water issues.

"There's water," explained Gail Taglione. "I'm very disappointed. I didn't expect to see that."

Taglione is the second owner of her home and says she had no idea about the water issues.

Dozier is the original owner.

"I watched the whole neighborhood leak and deteriorate. And I watched people just walk away," Dozier explained. "I didn't have a choice. I couldn't walk away at my age."

The Consumer Watchdog first exposed the water problems with KB Home in 2014.

This spring, the Florida Attorney General finished its 3.5-year investigation into the company. KB said it still is working on warranty claims, including Dozier's, in accordance with the state agreement.

KB had no heard from Taglione prior to our calls.

Dozier was surprised by the settlement.

"I think it's unfair. I don't see what it's going to do or whose house it will fix," explained Dozier.

The settlement to fix leaky homes only covers those purchased after April 17, 2005.

"50 percent in this neighborhood are excluded just by the cutoff date. I make it by a few days. Others miss it by a few days, and the Attorney General knew the houses were fixed wrong. I never expected this at all," Dozier said.

The Attorney General said there is a four year statue of limitations under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The office said they got relief for homeowners far beyond four years which the Attorney General does not believe would have been possible with a lawsuit.

"Homeowners who do not qualify for relief under the settlement may have the ability to assert a warranty claim or file a construction defect lawsuit," the Attorney General's Office wrote.

Click here to see the terms of the settlement

During the investigation, KB Home spent $71 million on water and stucco repairs at 1,688 homes.

Dozier's home was repaired, but that hasn't stopped the worries. She says she took video of repairs in her neighborhood. We showed it to stucco expert Mike Starks, President of the Florida Lath & Plaster Bureau.

"He wouldn't work for me," Starks said. "He's using the wrong tools."

And it's not just in this neighborhood or with this builder.

"KB Home is getting the headlines, but how many other builders does this really effect?" Strathman asked.

"Almost all of them," Starks said.

"They know they are doing it wrong and do it anyway because its faster cheaper and easier. That I don't like," Starks said.

That's why Starks is making it his job to fix Florida's stucco problem.

"It's given us a black eye," Starks said.

He says the stucco is  not applied right and the weatherproofing is often wrong.

"Nobody is watching them," Starks said of the work.

A largely unregulated industry, and even when agencies like the Attorney General do watch out for the consumer, their settlement may not go far enough.

"It's buyer beware," explained Dozier.

KB Home says stucco is an industry challenge in Florida. It's working on improving standards. The Attorney General said KB will spend $17 million over the next five years to improve construction techniques, train subcontractors, and use improved materials in new construction. The company's new construction will also be reviewed by a third-party inspector.

"KB Home continues to work in collaboration with the Attorney General’s office to address residential stucco performance, including homes in Carriage Lakes with open warranty claims. This is an industry-wide challenge in Florida, and we share their interest in improving the standards and implementing new comprehensive stucco applications.”
 

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