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'It smelled like death,' Port St. Lucie man says of methane gas-filled home

John Lockett living in limbo, trying to get out from under his own roof
Posted at 11:41 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 00:08:39-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Port St. Lucie man claims his dream home has been a nightmare for more than two years.

He's been fighting for months to get out from under his own roof.

John Lockett planned to put down roots at a home not far from where he grew up. But within the first few weeks of moving in in the fall of 2018, there were problems.

"I open the door, and I get hit in the face," Lockett told WPTV. "It smelled like death."

Besides the odor, there were electrical problems and water intrusion, which Lockett claims led to mold issues.

An engineering representative for the builder, D.R. Horton, tested for levels of methane gas in and around the house.

"And the readings for the methane gas were hazardous, like, 'Get out of the house now. It's dangerous,'" attorney Gerald Herrmann said.

'And the readings for the methane gas were hazardous,' Gerald Herrmann says of client's Port St. Lucie home
"And the readings for the methane gas were hazardous," attorney Gerald Herrmann says of his client's Port St. Lucie home.

But Locket did not have the money to rent another home, so his family has been living in limbo for two-and-a-half years.

"Me sleeping just doesn't happen in this house, at all," he said. "We're all up all night long."

Lockett's family has bought a number of devices to try to keep them safe when they're inside the home. They bought an air purifier, as well as a gas detection device.

Lockett and his attorney said the gas continues to come up through the foundation.

"It's frustration. It's hurt that people would do this -- not do anything to solve the problem -- especially when it's a gas that could potentially kill us," Lockett said. "We don't know."

gas detection device used at Port St. Lucie home
John Lockett bought a gas detection device, which he uses to monitor for the dangerous methane that he and his attorney say is coming up through the foundation.

Lockett and his attorney said efforts made by the builder so far have been Band-Aids.

"At which point do you say, 'That's enough. You've had every effort to try and repair this. It's time to take the house back. Do the right thing?'" Herrmann said.

A hearing was held last month when attorneys for the builder were granted a 60-day stay to respond.

"We have and continue to actively work to reach a resolution with this homeowner to resolve the concerns with his home," Bethany Carle, a spokeswoman for D.R. Horton, said in a statement. "The homeowner has been mandated by the court to go through the Florida Construction Defect Alternative Dispute Resolution Process, which should allow D.R. Horton to complete its own inspection of the home and propose a solution to repair it. We are ready and willing to work toward a mutually agreeable resolution with the homeowner."

'This house shouldn't be here,' John Lockett says
"This house shouldn't be here," John Lockett says of his Port St. Lucie home.

It's a resolution that Lockett said can't come soon enough.

"This house damaged us," Lockett said. "This house shouldn't be here. It should not. It should be bulldozed down."