MANATEE -- Manatee County government building inspectors will survey the Willowbrook condo neighborhood in East Manatee today to determine if structures are unsafe.
The inspection comes on the heels of a county building inspector's visit to the property Wednesday, where he noticed signs of deterioration and water intrusion on balconies and surrounding areas.
Residents of the 272-unit condominium have already asked KB Home, a California-based home building company, to buy back their units, citing construction flaws. Some of the issues inside homes of the neighborhood include mold, water damage and balcony floors that are sagging or have fallen through.
"We've been out and visited the place," said John Barnott, director of the county Building and Development Services Department. "We've asked KB Homes to be more open."
No recent paperwork has been filed by the Willowbrook condo association to receive a building permit to repair or have construction done on property it owns, said county spokesman Nick Azzara. The association is responsible for structure outside the living residence.
If the inspectors deem structures unsafe, they will post an unsafe notice and a letter will be mailed to the condo association giving it 30 days to repair the damage.
Armando Oyola-Delgado, a homeowner in Willowbrook, told the Herald an emergency, closed-door meeting was held Thursday morning between condo association members and the property management company.
Details of the meeting were not immediately available.
KB Home released a statement Wednesday stating: "KB Home is committed to customer satisfaction and has been working diligently to resolve the issues. The Willowbrook Association recently presented KB Home with a claim on behalf of its members and we have worked with the Association to inspect their concerns and look forward to fully and fairly resolving the homeowners' concerns."
Willowbrook was KB Home's first project in Manatee County. The company announced plans to build the community in 2005 and models opened in September of 2006. When the community was constructed, Manatee inspectors approved a certificate of occupancy, certifying the condos met Florida building code requirements.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, dozens of Willowbrook 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.
In 2007, KB Home entertained the idea of selling the community to an apartment developer, but decided against it after home buyers expressed displeasure with the idea.
"Clearly, this is a builder issue with their customers," said Alan Anderson, executive vice president of the Manatee-Sarasota Home Builders Association. "It sounds like there are some construction defects that not have been addressed."
Oyola-Delgado said he had to purchase another residence for his family because the residence in Willowbrook was unsafe. Willowbrook condo owner Roxanne Miller said mold in her home led to her having breathing issues.
"KB needs to buy back my house and pay me for everything I lost," Miller previously told the Herald.
Anderson said before reading the Herald's story in Thursday's edition, he had yet to hear a negative complaint about KB Home from a Manatee customer.
If a homeowner or Manatee resident suspects a health or safety issue within a home or neighborhood, they should call the Manatee Building Department at 748-4501, ext. 3800 or call the Citizens Action Center at 747-5800.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.