By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Have you noticed a pattern with widely publicized media reports of construction defect settlements? They almost always seem to involve high end condo associations, with owners that can afford to hire the best attorneys to go up against prominent developers and architecture firms.
Settlements in the millions create good publicity for construction defect attorneys, after all.
But what about owners of modest means, or low-income owners of affordable housing? How well do they fare when they discover their homes and common areas are defective, possibly even posing health and safety threats?
Let’s take a look at two recent reports on opposite ends of the spectrum.
L.A. Condo Association receives more than $8M from developers, architects to settle claims of defective plumbing and leaky windows
Yet another group of luxury condos plagued by construction defects. Attorneys have recently worked out settlements with developers and architects for more than $8 million.
Barker Block HOA is a 6-building, 310-unit complex of loft style condos in converted warehouses in Los Angeles’ Art District. The Kor Group completed most of the units in 2006. City View developed the final phase of 68 units, which opened in 2014.
Beginning in 2013, owners and residents noticed water leaks from common plumbing and leaky windows. Notice that it took more than three years to obtain a financial settlement from developers. That is a long time to live with water leaks, especially considering that some units exceed $1 million.
But at least these owners were able to make temporary repairs, and obtain a substantial settlement to offset their costs to repair and rebuild as necessary.
Condo HOA Gets More Than $8 Million for Building Defects
Barker Block Residents Complain Building Had Plumbing and Other Deficiencies
By Nicholas Slayton Jan 18, 2017 Updated 3 hrs ago
DTLA – Residents of the Arts District condominium complex the Barker Block have received more than $8 million to settle lawsuits that allege construction defects. Building occupants had long complained of problems including leaks and plumbing shutdowns.
The first settlement, of $7.3 million, comes from insurance companies representing project developers the KOR Group and City View.
“We resolved the installation issue with the builder and insurance companies,”said Thomas Miller of the Miller Law Firm, who represented the plaintiff, the Barker Block Homeowners Association. “Our goal [was] to resolve this before it goes to trial so that the association can make the repairs it needs to and move away from this.”
Owners of Jacksonville homes built by Habitat for Humanity still seeking justice, as their homes continue to sink into soft soils, possible site of former landfill
By contrast to Barker Block, Fairway Oaks is a community of small, modest cottages. They were constructed by Habitat for Humanity volunteers at the turn of the century, on cheap land, and with cooperation and grants from the City of Jacksonville.
Owners did not receive free homes – they are still paying small mortgages, as well as HOA fees.
Within a few years, homeowners noticed large cracks in their concrete slab foundations, and soil movement beneath and around their homes. For nearly a decade, both Habitat for Humanity (known as HabiJax) and City of Jacksonville Housing Authority have been denying problems and pointing fingers at the homeowners for failing to maintain their properties and common areas.
Francesca Amiker of News 4 Jax began delving into the matter in 2016. Her investigative reporting has finally led to some movement by the City of Jacksonville, HabiJax and Jacksonville Legal Aid to look into apparent defects at Fairway Oaks. According to the most recent report, each group agreed to hire engineers to evaluate the homes, and then try to hammer out a compromise to resolve the problems.
But the City and HabiJax still refuse to test the soil upon which 85 homes have been built. So progress remains stalled.
Why won’t the City and HabiJax agree to soil testing? Is it because they do not want to uncover any inconvenient facts, which just might confirm that owners of Fairway Oaks have been living on top of contaminated soil?
Yes, Legal Aid has been helping owners, but their funding is very limited.
Where is the high-powered, pro bono legal assistance for disadvantaged owners who really need it?
Fairway Oaks residents finally get answers, but questions remain
For years, residents have begged for HabiJax-built homes to be repaired
By Francesca Amiker – Reporter, News 4 Jax, Investigations
Posted: 12:05 AM, January 19, 2017
Updated: 12:05 AM, January 19, 2017
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents of the Fairway Oaks neighborhood who have been fighting for years to get repairs to what they call “poorly built HabiJax homes” are finally seeing results, but one issue still remains.
For months, the News4Jax I-TEAM has been digging into reports that show the area in Northwest Jacksonville, in which HabiJax chose to build the 85 homes in 2000, is located near a landfill that may not have been lined in the 1950s.
Within five years after the homes were built by HabiJax and 10,000 volunteers in 17 days, residents said that they noticed their homes were shaking and unsettled, and homeowners also began complaining about cracked slabs, sinking, mold and termites.
Read more, see VIDEO:
About Barker Block condos
Barker Block HOA official website
Recent sales, upwards of $800K to more than $1 million
Fairway Oaks, Jacksonville Housing Authority
Legal Assistance for the Poor in Florida