35 Florida homeowners have sued their builder, accusing Orlando-based KB Home of leaving them saddled by “defective” stucco construction and water construction, problems only exacerbated by the recent ravages of Hurricane Irma. The lawsuits focus on three neighborhoods near Orlando, Click Orlando reports. Most of the homes are located in the Stratford Pointe community, a residential development about 25 minutes outside the city.

35 Families File Construction Defect Lawsuit

German Rodriquez and his family live in the Stratford Pointe community, right behind the home of Jordan Potter. When Hurricane Irma hit, both owners say the water started seeping inside their homes. While Irma was fairly sedate on Florida’s terms, the homeowners’ stucco-clad homes are marred by large external cracks.

Hurricane In Florida

“When you walked in the room,” Rodriguez told reporters at News 6, “it was already smelling like humidity.” The father says he spent $2,000 of his own money having the house re-painted, but after realizing that most of his neighbors had experienced the same problem, another option appeared. Alongside 17 of their neighbors, Potter and Rodriquez decided to sue KB Home, claiming the company had failed to build the homes according to Florida building codes.

Builder Violated Florida Building Codes, Lawsuit Says

Independent home inspections, the homeowners’ lawsuit says, found evidence that the stucco used to plaster their homes was too thin. Staples used in the construction were shorter than required by Florida regulation, the complaint continues. These defects, the lawsuit explains, allowed large cracks to form in the stucco, ultimately leading to water infiltration and mold growth.

Some families in the Stratford Pointe neighborhood have already undertaken total remediation projects to replace the stucco on the outside of their homes. Jordan Potter hopes to do the same thing, but she doesn’t want her family to have to pay for it. “We’re hoping to get enough money to do that to our house,” Potter says, “so that it’s done correctly.”

Florida Sued KB Home Over Construction Defects

When asked for a comment, KB Home declined to speak with News 6, but Florida court records show that the developer has filed suit against its stucco contractor.

The company isn’t a stranger to legal trouble. In 2016, KB Home entered a settlement agreement with Florida’s Attorney General, after nearly 2,000 of the developer’s homes were found to be “built wrong,” an ABC-affiliate in Tampa reports. The company set aside $6.5 million to reimburse homeowners for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred in repairing their poorly-built homes. KB Home had already spent $77 million fixing homes in Florida.

Stucco Failure Goes Way Beyond Florida

Families across the country are facing a similar problem. Stucco-clad homes are failing at an extraordinary rate. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, where the issue is particularly acute, construction inspectors blame the construction failures on a boom in the residential property market that gripped the building industry through the 1980s and 1990s.

Developers were quick to capitalize on their good fortunes. Suburban developments cropped up across the country, amplified by new demand for so-called “luxury” homes. Many of these luxury neighborhoods were constructed using primarily stucco, a temperamental material, on home exteriors.

Homeowners May Be Able To Secure Compensation

Nearly thirty years later, it’s becoming increasingly clear that developers, in their zeal to cash in, left out one crucial ingredient: quality construction. As home inspectors have now found, thousands of stucco-clad homes were built with major defects. Home exteriors were plastered with the wrong thickness of stucco. Window flashings, which could divert rain water from infiltrating beams and insulation, were forgotten.

It’s not surprising that hundreds of homeowners have already stepped forward, reporting widespread water damage, toxic black mold and stucco remediation projects climbing into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But like the families in Orlando, many of these homeowners are refusing to pay for their own repairs. The builders should be responsible, families claim in numerous construction defect lawsuits, since they made the mistakes in the first place.