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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Ocala couple sues developer over ‘improperly installed stucco’ system

An Ocala couple has sued the company that developed their home for allegedly building an “inadequately and improperly installed stucco system.”

The lawsuit was filed by Rachel and Heriberto Villicana against D.R. Horton, Inc., a Delaware-based real estate development company, in the fifth judicial circuit court of Marion County on October 17.

According to the complaint, the Villicanas purchase the home located at 5602 SW 50th Court, within the Meadows at Heath Brook subdivision in Ocala, on March 30, 2018.

5602 SW 50th Court
5602 SW 50th Court in Ocala

The complaint notes that under the terms of the contract, D.R. Horton agreed to build the home “pursuant to all applicable Florida Building Code provisions, including, but not limited to, those involving the exterior stucco system.”

The Villicanas say that after they purchased the home, they observed “construction deficiencies” including an “inadequately and improperly installed stucco system.”

According to the complaint, the couple allegedly contracted a “licensed engineer” to perform an inspection on the home and, “based upon his professional opinion,” the home contained “improperly installed stucco” and other deficiencies.

The Villicanas say that the “improper design and/or construction” of the home has resulted in “numerous defects and deficiencies” in the various “systems and components” of the home, including “violations of local and state building codes.”

The complaint alleges that D.R. Horton violated Florida Building Code and the “applicable ASTM Standards” through the alleged improper installation of the stucco.

Stucco at 5602 SW 50th Court in Ocala
Stucco inspected at 5602 SW 50th Court in Ocala

Specifically, the couple says that state code “requires that exterior use of Portland cement plaster” must comply with “application requirements of ASTM C 926,” according to the complaint.

The Villicanas allege that the defects were not “readily recognizable” to them because they lacked “special knowledge” of the craftsmanship.

“The defects are hidden by components or finishes, are latent in nature, and are defects that require special knowledge or training to ascertain and determine the nature and causes of the defects,” reads a portion of the complaint.

The couple accuses the developer of failing to inspect, construct, and deliver a home that complied with “all applicable local and state building codes and regulations.” They argue that the “defects and violations” have resulted in damages that “substantially reduce the value of the home and/or require significant repairs and renovations to correct.”

According to Marion County property records, the home was purchased by the Villicanas for $334,000 in 2018, and there have been multiple building permits assigned for various modifications to the property in the years since.

That includes multiple window replacements in 2021 and 2022, according to property records.

Mr. and Mrs. Villicana are seeking damages “in excess of $50,000, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorneys’ fees.” Court records show that a summons was issued to D.R. Horton, Inc. on October 23. No additional entries have been made in the docket since then.