State Finishes Investigation on Builder and Homes With Major Flaws

Article Courtesy of First Coast News -- NBC 12

By Jackelyn Barnard

Published August 28, 2007


JACKSONVILLE, FL-- There's a back wall hanging over its slab by more than two inches. Threaded rods that should be hidden in the foundation are exposed. When concrete from the slab was tested, it failed two of the three pressure tests.

All those problems are found in John Norman's home, which is less than two years old.
The home passed inspection. The builder, by law, is allowed to hire private inspectors. That is what Drees Homes did.

City inspectors now say the flaws should have been caught.

The state's department of Business and Professional Regulations has been investigating the situation at least since January of 2007.
Last week, the DBPR said its investigation was complete.

"I thought the evidence was overwhelming and they'd find some fault with builders' actions," says Norman.

The DBPR says that's not the case. In a letter to Norman, the department says,"....the evidence is not sufficient to support a disciplinary action...(under)Florida construction industry regulatory statutes." "....this decision in no way indicates that your complaint is not valid....."

The letter also says, "Building code violations are not within the jurisdiction of the department...(and it should be)addressed by the local building department."

"It shows me there are very few consumer protections for homeowners in the state of Florida," says Norman.

The local building department is aware of the issues and now so is State Senator Stephen Wise.
First Coast News has learned the Senator has contacted Norman.

Wise was unavailable for comment on Monday, but his staff did tell First Coast News Wise is aware of the investigation results and he is disappointed.

Drees Homes declined an interview on camera, and released a statement saying, "While Drees acknowledges the fact that Mr. Norman's case has been dismissed....we continue to hope that he will give us permission to address his concerns.... We stand ready to make the needed repairs on his home just as we have agreed to do all along."

Norman says he won't allow Drees back at his home. He says he tried to work with the company for a year and a half and was not happy with the results.

The DBPR letter also tells Norman to contact an attorney in order to receive civil remedies. Norman has and some of his neighbors have as well.

Norman also says the DBPR says it is still investigating the inspectors who passed Norman's home and his neighbor's homes.