Senator tours troubled townhomes

Sen. Bill Galvano to meet with KB Home

BRADENTON, Fla. - As Ashley Delph was giving a tour of her Willowbrook townhouse, she pointed to the wood panels that were sitting in place of walls.  Her closet had a draft of cool outdoor air, and the exterior of the building was covered in scaffolding.  

It wasn't exactly the most flattering display for a state senator, but that was the point.  Delph was trying to show Sen. Bill Galvano just how bad things are at her home.

"I don't even know how safe this is," Delph said, pointing to the particle board walls.

Galvano, a Bradenton republican, was invited by residents in Willowbrook to get a first hand look at the ongoing problems the structures are having.  KB Home, the company that built the townhomes, has offered to make repairs on the buildings, but not buy them outright, as residents want.

Delph said it's been a terrible experience since she bought the home three years ago.

"A nightmare," she said.  "All day, banging.  Nail guns.  My Mom came over today and was like, 'it sounds like World War III in here' and I'm like, yeah, we have to live with this," Delph said.

Delph has a 17-month old daughter, and said the construction noise makes it nearly impossible for her to get a full nap.

"I pray that she sleeps through it and she wakes up half way through, and it's not fair.  She shouldn't have to be suffering because of this."

Galvano walked through several units and inspected the various issues, including water damage and mold.  He noticed some unusual growths in the buildings as well.

"Fungus," Galvano said.  "Some sort of mushroom unlike any mushroom I've ever seen before.  And I've lived her for 44-years," he said.

Galvano has scheduled a meeting with an executive with KB Home to talk about a solution for the residents.  Some have proposed a "lemon law" for houses, so that buyers can return the homes for a refund if they're defective.  But Galvano said that won't do anything for the current problems at Willowbrook.

"This isn't the type solution you go into session and legislate the community out of," Galvano said.

Many residents said they were grateful that Galvano was paying attention to their concerns.  But not everyone is convinced that a building giant like KB Home will ever fully solve the problems.

"We built a brand new house so that we wouldn't have to deal with this and three years later our house is falling apart," Delph said.  "And they don't care."

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