KIYC: Homeowners at Plaza Grande sue D.R. Horton for shoddy work

Residents at a 55+ adult community in Old Bridge are suing America's largest homebuilding company, saying shoddy construction is forcing them to live in homes that are literally rotting around them. (4/2/14)

OLD BRIDGE - Residents at a 55+ adult community in Old Bridge are suing America's largest homebuilding company, saying shoddy construction is forcing them to live in homes that are literally rotting around them. And Kane In Your Corner finds this isn't the first time residents at a D.R. Horton built community have taken issue with the developer.

Edie Jacobs moved into the Plaza Grande when it was built in 2007. The leaks started soon after. "This is like the fourth leak I've had in the same place," she says. "It comes from the vent and then it goes all the way down the ceiling and then the ceiling comes apart."

There were so many water leaks, residents hired an engineering firm to find out why. Tests revealed high levels of moisture behind the siding, apparently caused by serious construction defects. Residents sued D.R. Horton but company officials say it's not their fault. They're suing their contractors who, in turn, are suing their subcontractors. Five years later, Plaza Grande residents are still waiting for their day in court.

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"We purchased this from D.R. Horton, not the 80 something subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, and their subcontractors," says resident Bernard Mazzocchi. "Stand up to your responsibility."

A review of legal records by Kane In Your Corner finds D.R. Horton has had problems with developments in the past. The company paid nearly $40 million to homeowners at a development in Colorado; it was that state's largest settlement for defective construction. Here in New Jersey, residents of another Horton complex in Cherry Hill, also named Plaza Grande, sued the company for fraud, claiming it failed to complete recreation facilities as promised. Again, the company settled. And in 2008, officials in West Deptford withheld nearly $600,000 in performance bonds to force the D.R. Horton to make repairs to one of its complexes there. But D.R. Horton is America's largest homebuilder, and defenders say it's inevitable some of its projects will run into problems.

D.R. Horton's attorney declined comment since the case is in litigation. It is not expected to get to court until August at the earliest. Until then, homeowners at Plaza Grande in Old Bridge are trapped by plummeting values and soaring maintenance and insurance costs.

"If I could move, I would," says Phyllis Goldstein, "but I can't afford to move."

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