says he moved into the Morse Glen subdivision in November 2005.
It is a Drees Homes neighborhood, a builder based out of Kentucky.
Norman says less than two months after moving into the new
neighborhood, he started to notice things out of place.
At first, he says he spotted a threaded rod, which should not be
visible. The rod is responsible for anchoring the house down.
"I damaged my foundation with a weedwacker. I cracked the
foundation and exposed another threaded rod. At that time, I
discovered the rear wall of the house was overhanging the
foundation," says Norman.
The wall hangs over its foundation by two and a half inches. It
should be flush to the slab.
Contractors, who Norman hired, noted there is a "lack of
support" for that wall.
"I think the mentality was get her done, paint it and it will
be fine, nobody will know. I didn't know at first," says
Norman says his neighbors didn't notice either. A trip down the
road, Norman says he found even more threaded rods exposed.
Several can be found right by the front door of one home. An open
gap between the frame and the foundation was found at another
Some foundations are cracking. Norman says he also spotted another
home where a wall also hangs over its foundation by several
The homes did go through inspections and passed. "Where this
rod should be is embedded in the foundation. If we have a storm
come through it will save the house from having the roof torn off.
It's a very critical situation," says Norman's attorney, Jay
Howanitz is now investigating the problems found at Morse Glen.
He says inspections are being done on 34 of the more than 50 homes
in the neighborhood and a number of problems have been found.
Howanitz says the concern is a number of the homes do not meet
Florida's strict building code.
"The inspector needs to catch it and that homebuilder also
should be the one to make sure it gets done the way it should have
been done. This was a situation where a lot slipped through,"
Howanitz says he believes there are several factors in the
One... Drees homes bought out the company that originally started
building the homes.
The other factor, Howanitz says, may have to do with a law change
that happened about four years ago.
Legislators changed the law regarding building inspections. Where
city inspectors used to do site inspections, the job has now
turned over to private inspectors that arehired by the property
new subdivisions, the builder is the property owner until closing
The City's chief building inspector, Tom Goldsbury, says he
doesn't whole heartedly support the change.
"Then and now I've had mixed feelings. If it's done right I
don't have any problem with it... when not done right, there's
problems," says Goldsbury.
Goldsbury says he has a team that makes random checks on private
as well as public inspectors routinely to make sure they are doing
their jobs right.
Goldsbury says he has also investigated John Norman's complaints.
"It (flaws) should have been caught," says
Goldsbury.Drees Homes declined to talk on camera but did give
First Coast News a letter stating it is aware of Mr. Norman's
Drees says it contacted other homeowners asking if they had any
problems. The company says it is, "unaware of other
dissatisfied homeowners" in the neighborhood.
Drees says it has a 98 percent approval rating from those who
bought their homes in Jacksonville.
The company also noted it has tried to make repairs to Norman's
home, but he will not allow "further access to his
Norman says Drees did come out and make some repairs.For the
exposed rod in the back of the house, "Put iron on it and
it's fine." Norman says he doesn't think the fix will hold in
As for other repairs done to his neighbor's homes, "All they
did was set up form board and fill the area with quick crete...
you can tell it's not from a concrete plant."
Norman says the load bearing wall is starting to sag and that is
why he's stopped Drees from doing any other repairs.
"I have zero confidence in the builder to make me whole at
this point," says Norman.
As for the inspector, the owner of BPS says he inspected Norman's
home and failed it. He also says the next day another inspector
from his company went out to the house and passed it for the final
BPS says that inspector no longer works for them.
The City says it's done its research on Drees Homes and it is not
considered a problem builder.
First Coast News has learned the state's Department of Business
and Professional Regulations is investigating the situation.
No lawsuits have been filed. Attorneys say they want to finish
inspections on all 34 homes before paperwork is filed.