Major Flaws Found in Home Now Part of State Investigation

Article and Video Courtesy of 

First Coast News


By Jackelyn Barnard


Published August 7, 2007

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A First Coast News Investigation, last week, showed how a number of homes in a Westside neighborhood are under inspection to see if the houses meet state requirements.

More than 50 homes make up the Morse Glen subdivison. First Coast News has learned that inspectors hired by a local law firm are re-inspecting 34 of those homes for structural problems.

Our investigation found walls that hang over foundations by several inches. We found threaded rods, that should be embedded in the foundation, are visible.

John Norman's home is one of those being re-inspected to see if it meets state code. He says it does not.

First Coast News has learned Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation has been in contact with Norman since January over an investigation into the builder, Drees Homes, and the alleged problems in the neighborhood.

Since our first story aired last week, Norman says that investigation has gotten bigger.

"He said I'm sitting here looking at the news story," Norman says that is what a state investigator called and told him after our story aired.

Norman says state investigators called him asking questions, this time about the private inspectors hired by the builder to check Norman's home.

"Brian Vaesa with the DBPR called me saying they've opened up an additonal investigation into BPS, the private provider inspection firm.

The DBPR told First Coast News it cannot confirm or deny an investigation because of state confidentiality laws.

The DBPR says a case won't be made public until a decision is made.

BPS, the inspection company, told us its attornies have told them not to talk with us.

In our investigation, First Coast News uncovered a state law that changed four years ago, allowing builders to hire private inspectors rather than city inspectors to check homes.

Norman believes that law change played a role in his problem.

Norman says he's done a little investigating on his own and has turned over results to state investigators.

Norman says he paid engineers to pull three samples of concrete from his foundation for a pressure test.

Two of the three cores failed and were nowhere near the building code requirement.

"There's one(core) we don't have a sample of anymore because it was in pieces when we got done," says Norman's attorney Jay Howanitz.

A third sample did pass the pressure test and went beyond state requirements.

Norman says he wants an answer as to why his home, less than two years old, passed an inspection.

First Coast News has also learned that after our story aired, Drees Homes sent letters to those in the neighborhood and made door to door visits. The company says the purpose was to let neighbors know if they had a problem the company is there to help.

Drees Homes says it's too early to tell if any neighbors want repairs made.

Both Drees Homes and the inspector, BPS, were investigated on the issue last year. State investigators cited that there was not sufficient evidence of a problem and the case was closed.

However, a new investigation started in January and is still incomplete.