Anthony and Erica Swan live in the newly constructed Park Central townhome community off Southern Blvd., and after two years of concerns, the Swans have asked the Royal Palm Beach Village Council for help dealing with developer K. Hovnanian Cypress Key LLC.
The Swans brought up their concerns at a council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 19 and plan to return to the council on Thursday, Oct. 17, hopefully with some neighbors who share their concerns.
The Swans have experienced issues with several items, including property drainage, flooring and structural cracking. They purchased their home pre-construction in November 2016 and moved in less than a year later in August 2017. Drainage issues stemming from the landscaping in place were apparent immediately.
“Before we closed, they started having major drainage issues. After a 10-minute rain, the sidewalks would completely flood out,” homeowner Erica Swan told the Town-Crier. “They rushed the landscaping, so they didn’t do the proper grading. We don’t have physical drains or a lake or anything like that.”
As water crept up over to their neighbors’ doorsteps, K. Hovnanian opted to attach drains to a sewer system in an effort to improve drainage. Unfortunately, this did not correct the problem, and the Swans knew their one-year warranty would approach quickly.
“They said they were going to grade it down, and this was toward the end of our first year living here,” Erica said. “As soon as all these people were out of warranty, they said it’s too expensive. We brought this issue up with the village within the first couple of months.”
The Swans decided to open a warranty claim ticket with the developer despite being given the impression that this and other issues would be fixed, and no ticket was needed.
“Grading is covered in the warranty, but what happens, if you don’t put that in as a ticket item, they won’t do anything,” Erica said, adding that a representative of the developer told them that changes would be made. “We had a service advisor for warranty work telling us not to put gates or fences up. So that’s why we never put a fence up all this time.”
K. Hovnanian also began raising the patios for many homes in an effort to keep rising waters from reaching back doors. Anthony Swan was still concerned about the pitch of surrounding land not being addressed, so he hired a professional to complete an independent survey. “I hired a company to come survey our yard and our neighbor’s yard. I proved to them that something is wrong,” Anthony said.
Eventually the situation escalated to arbitration. “With arbitration, they did come to the conclusion there is a state code — Florida State 2014 Building Code Residential Section R401.3 — that requires grading away from foundation walls, and there is a 6-inch pitch from any residential property within 10 feet,” he explained.
In reference to the Swans’ survey, the highest point of the nearby road is level with the inside of their home, meaning the property is essentially flat and without grading.
The developer paid for the Construction Arbitration Program to complete an assessment of more than 40 items on the Swans’ claim list.
Another concern of the Swans brought up during arbitration was an issue with their flooring.
“The original blueprints stated that on a 24-inch center truss system, the subfloor on top was supposed to be a three-quarter-inch manmade engineered plywood, to keep the floor stiff. Maybe a month before they poured the concrete, [the developer] did a roof revision,” Anthony said. “They added a picture of a roofing vent to the subfloor, and where it said plywood, they pretty much highlighted and changed it to OSB material. They never asked for a revision to switch us from plywood to OSB. When I contacted the architect myself, I asked him if there was a reason that they switched from plywood to OSB because everyone in the community — not one person will say they love their floor. Everyone has a problem.”
The Swans noted that the second half of the neighborhood’s construction has included items such as raising the patios and a smaller, 18-inch center truss system in the construction process. They believe this proves the developer knows that changes are needed.
Arbitration for the Swan property took place in July, and the results were mixed, deciding in favor of both parties throughout the assessment. The main issue, however, remains that after the 60-day deadline passed, work had not even started.
The Swans have been strong personal advocates throughout the process, keeping in touch with Royal Palm Beach regarding the project as well.
“I met with the Swans probably six to nine months ago, and the drainage was something that we did have on our radar screen. We did identify that it needs to be corrected,” Royal Palm Beach Village Manager Ray Liggins told the Town-Crier. “We did notify K. Hovnanian and the consultant that worked on it. We have a bond guarantee on the project, so we weren’t going to release the bond until [the drainage] was taken care of. They weren’t doing it very quickly, and with the Swans coming to the council, that did speed things up.”
When he learned of the arbitration findings, and that the 60-day requirement had passed, Liggins remained hopeful for the Swans.
“I would hope that K. Hovnanian will honor the arbitration, even if they didn’t do it within the 60 days. I think they have an obligation to honor that,” Liggins said. “They have always had a good reputation as a builder. I would hope that K. Hovnanian wants to keep that reputation, and that they do everybody who bought a place in Royal Palm Beach right.”
The Swans hope to see other residents from Park Central at Cypress Key join them in speaking out to protect their homes.
“Arbitration is only for our little square, it’s not for the entire property,” Anthony said. “But a community arbitrator could tell them to do something. That’s why I’m going to Royal Palm Beach, to make K. Hovnanian fix the work before they receive a final CO [certificate of occupancy]. We are trying to be the voice and try to help the neighborhood.”