Florida's home-building market has bounced back from the last recession, but problems dating from the state's earlier boom times continue to nag at big builders in the state. In Jacksonville, a court has found builder DR Horton negligent in a case brought by a condo association, TV station WTLV reported in May (see: "DR Horton negligent in Jax condo case, jury awards $9.6 million," by Anne Schindler). And in February, the Florida Attorney General's office announced a $17 million settlement with KB Home, with the builder promising to improve its stucco practices, and to pay millions in consumer restitutions, West Palm Beach station WPTV reported (see: "KB Home settlement with Attorney General shines light on Florida's stucco problem," by Jenn Strathman).
The Horton case, WTLV reported, has an unusual wrinkle: "The case is an extremely rare airing of structural defect claims. Virtually all new home contracts require that defect clams be handled in secret arbitration proceedings. In this case, the Condo Association rather than the individual homeowners sued, contending it isn’t bound by contracts signed by homeowners."
The KB case also has an unusual legal context, WPTV reported: "The Attorney General said there is a four year statue of limitations under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The office said they got relief for homeowners far beyond four years which the Attorney General does not believe would have been possible with a lawsuit."
The Horton case and the KB case are unrelated, but at least one thread ties them together: stucco. Allegations of faulty stucco were central to both cases. "KB Home says stucco is an industry challenge in Florida," the station reported. "It's working on improving standards. The Attorney General said KB will spend $17 million over the next five years to improve construction techniques, train subcontractors, and use improved materials in new construction. The company's new construction will also be reviewed by a third-party inspector."
The Florida Attorney General's office has posted details of its settlement with KB here (see "KB Home Settlement Website").