EAST MANATEE -- Manatee County building inspectors deemed two homes inside the Willowbrook condo community in East Manatee unsafe Friday, affirming the residents' claims of deteriorating infrastructure.
And more could be ruled unsafe by next week.
Several homeowners from the 270-unit gated community, which is located at the north end of Town Center Parkway just north of Lakewood Ranch, have spoken out concerning unsafe infrastructure and construction flaws. The residents claim the flaws have led to water damage inside their homes and on balconies, which has led to mold and sagging floors.
The residents have requested KB Home, a California-based home-building company, to buy back their units. At 11 a.m. today, roughly 100 residents are expected to visit the Lakewood
Ranch Post Office with 50 to 60 letters each addressed to the CEO and board members of KB Home and government officials.
KB Home released a statement this week saying the company was aware of the situation and had received a claim from the Willowbrook condo association. The details of that claim have still not been made available.
The frustrated group of homeowners said KB Home has not communicated with them, and attempts to fix damages were negligible.
"I think there are structural defects we don't know about," said Sally Urbaniak, one of Willowbrook homeowner whose deck was ruled unsafe by inspectors Friday. "Something is not right."
"It's more frustrating because we've already done this," said Armando Oyola-Delgago, the second homeowner to have his home deemed unsafe. "How many times do we have to do the same thing? It's such a cluster here, the same over and over again."
The inspectors cited loose hand rails and a sinking balcony floor on Urbaniak's balcony. There are also signs of separation along the balcony door frame and the carpet in the corner of the floor by the balcony was removed due to water intrusion. Delgado's home was deemed hazardous, as entry to his balcony is nonexistent because of the missing floor on his balcony.
The community is managed by The Continental Group, a Florida-based company that manages and maintains 1,500 associations and more than 310,000 residential units across the state. The management company is responsible for advising the condo association board members on specific problems on the property, according to Yaneisy Blanco, a spokeswoman for Howard Miller, a communication group representing TCG. Blanco said the association then decides on what actions to take.
The Willowbrook condo association is responsible for structures outside the living area of the condo.
Calls made to the association were not returned. Blanco said TCG would not comment further because KB Home is negotiating with the association. Sanjay Kurian, an attorney representing Willowbrook's association, did not return messages left at his office.
KB Home also did not return calls made Friday.
John Barnott, director of the county building and development services department, said the responsible party will have to submit a permit to the county to have the structures repaired.
Manatee inspectors have eight confirmed appointments Monday to survey homes inside the community and at least three for Tuesday. They expect the number to grow.
"We'll try to schedule as many as we can," said Job Betcher, the county's inspection manager.
Nicole Camann stays a few units away from Urbaniak and lives with her parents and 4-year-old daughter. Her condo, which she said has similar damage, will be one of the units inspected Monday.
"It's controlling our lives, that's what it's doing," she said.
Camann said her home has signs of mold due to water damage.
"It's not healthy for us and it's not healthy for my daughter," she said.
"This is my parents' retirement home."
The Better Business Bureau in Colton, Calif., reported KB Home has had 65 complains in the past three years.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.