EAST MANATEE -- Several Willowbrook town home residents refused to let a subcontracting company hired by KB Home, the developer of the community, perform repairs on their homes Thursday.
The stance reaffirms the homeowners' request that the California-based home building company buy back their units.
Since Aug. 3, 20 of 27 homes in the community inspected by Manatee County inspectors have been ruled unsafe. The homes have sinking floors, loose rails and separation of window frames on the balconies and interior damage to floors and walls, including mold.
KB Home issued a statement Wednesday saying it was working with Manatee County government and Willowbrook condo association to resolve the matter within the next few days.
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"It's a Band-Aid repair and they try to do it as cheap as possible," said Amanda Dillon, who lives in one of the units ruled unsafe.
She refused repair on Thursday. "We're smarter than that," Dillon said.
During a meeting with State Sen. Mike Bennett of Bradenton at the Willowbrook pool area Wednesday night, dozens of residents voiced their displeasure with the repairs KB Home had made. The residents are concerned the values of their homes will diminish due to the constant repairs and some said their health is in jeopardy because of the mold.
Bennett drove through the community late Thursday morning to observe the workers from DriRite. He said the residents will have to continue to make their voices heard through the media and elected officials, but was hesitant to offer assurance that KB Home would buy back their homes.
"What is going on more than likely is they are out there boarding up the access to the decks," said John Barnott, director of the county building and development services in an email to the Herald. "KB Home told us last night they would do whatever is necessary to fix all of the problems out there. The first thing they were doing is making the deck access safe by blocking it off. They don't need a permit for that."
Once the unsafe structure notice has been posted, the property owner has 30 days to respond before the county takes steps to abate the unsafe conditions (i.e., board up the doors or windows), said county spokesman Nick Azzara.
On Saturday, an estimated 50 Willowbrook homeowners will protest in front of a KB Home sales location.
"Our goal is to inform other people not to fall into the same scam," said Armando Oyola-Delgado, a Willowbrook resident who has been battling with KB Home to buy back his unit for six years. Delgado said subcontractors have been to his house five times for repairs. His residence has also been ruled unsafe. He refused the most recent offer of repair.
"I'm not saying all (KB Home) products are like this, but if this is a sample, why is the county still giving them permits?"
KB Home is selling new homes in two other locations in Manatee, Sterling Lake in Bradenton and Sheffield Glenn in Palmetto.