Residents claim HabiJax-built homes need repairs

85 homes in Fairway Oaks neighborhood built by HabiJax in 2000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People living in one Northside neighborhood in Jacksonville said they are outraged, saying their homes are splitting in half.

According to the Fairway Oaks Homeowners Association, 85 homes were built by HabiJax in 2000 and within a few years, residents said they noticed their homes were shaking and unsettled.

Now, they're asking for HabiJax to fix their homes or relocate them.

News4Jax learned that attorneys have been assigned to the case since 2007 and were going to sue the Jacksonville Housing Authority and HabiJax, but that never happened.

Just last year, the residents met with their councilman but still nothing has been done.

Sixteen-year homeowner Clanese Evans and her family were some of the first people who moved into the Fairway Oaks community when it was first built. She said it was a happy time, but years later, she said the exterior and interior began to change.

“This right here was a good gate. It was a brand new gate, and now you can see it’s falling and leaning over due to the settling of the land,” Evans said.

Evans said the issues aren’t because of poor upkeep, but she blames a faulty foundation.

“The stoop fell off, here and there. This door totally fell off. That back door totally fell off,” Evans said.

According to the homeowners association, her home and 84 others were built by 1,000 volunteers in 17 days. According to HabiJax, it began receiving several complaints from residents in 2005. It had engineers and contractors address the concerns.

And in 2007, the homes were re-inspected by the city and the report said, “No construction related problems, Florida building code violations or structural failures were found.”

“They should have made sure that everything was on code before they allowed us to live in here because we still had to pay for these houses, and I'm still paying on a 25-year mortgage,” Evans said.

Detrese Mixon said she’s also paying after her sister passed and left her the home in 2014. She began remodeling the home until there was a crack in the plan.

“I have cracks this way going in every direction here, and I call the insurance company because she had insurance on the house, and the insurance company called out (its) company, which is Rimkus Consulting Company, and they did a structure evaluation on the house,” Mixon said.

The evaluation pointed out major cracks in the slab, caused by shrinkage of the concrete as it cured. The report also found there was a lack of control joints or construction efficiency issues that the company said existed for years.

“If the concrete was made right and the joints were put in properly, this probably wouldn't have happened. Matter of fact, there used to be a retention pond back here. That's why the ground is soft and if you have a soft ground, and the concrete is not put together, then what's going to happen? Your back is going to slide,” Mixon said.

To fix the foundation, Mixon said she would have to pay $25,000 – all for a problem she said is not fair to her sister.

“HabiJax is not going to cover it, the city’s not going to have coverage, but we’re the ones on the bottom of the pole that were not the ones who need to be responsible for this,” Evans said.

Evans said her solution is for HabiJax to fix the homes or give them somewhere else to stay.

Habitat of Humanity of Jacksonville CEO and President Mary Kay O’Rourke released the following statement to News4Jax:

“Every home in Fairway Oaks was inspected by the City of Jacksonville and passed final inspection in the year 2000. We had complaints from some residents in 2005. We took the complaints seriously and had independent engineers and contractors address issues of concern. Homes were re-inspected by the City in 2007. Reports from both inspections stated there were no construction-related problems, Florida Building Code violations or structural failures.

"In 2007, the professional engineer for the City of Jacksonville stated: ‘In my professional opinion and that of the State of Florida licensed building inspectors present, we concur that the problems at Fairway Oaks are not construction code violations or code related but rather post construction and/or neglected maintenance problems.’

"In 2013, our organization contracted a licensed senior civil engineer who conducted a similar inspection of more than 51 homes. He stated: ‘It is the engineer’s opinion that all the complaints stem from lack of maintenance and not from poor construction.’

"The homeowners are represented by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and HabiJax cannot make additional comment regarding further resolution.

"Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville (HabiJax) is proud of its mission to build safe and sustainable communities. We have built and financed for nearly 2,000 Jacksonville families who might not otherwise been able to become homeowners.”