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Building inspector discovers HabiJax home built on existing slab

23-page report finds numerous issues at Fairway Oaks home after inspection

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A third-party certified building inspector released his 23-page report Friday that discovered numerous flaws with one of the HabiJax-built homes in the Fairway Oaks neighborhood, including that the home was built on top of an existing slab.

For over a month, the News4Jax I-TEAM has been digging into reports that show the area in Northwest Jacksonville, in which HabiJax chose to build the 85 homes in 2000, is located near a landfill that may not have been lined in the 1950s.

Within five years after the homes were built by HabiJax and 10,000 volunteers in 17 days, residents said that they noticed their homes were shaking and unsettled, and homeowners also began complaining about cracked slabs, sinking, mold and termites.

Last month, the I-TEAM asked William Chandler of Property 360 LLC, one of Florida’s top building inspectors, to walk through one of the homes in Fairway Oaks, along with the president of the homeowners association and a representative from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Chandler measured growing cracks, lowering elevation and even discovered termites at one of the homes. 

I-TEAM: Building inspector finds flaws in HabiJax home

After performing an analysis, Chandler released his report on the findings Friday. 

"There's no doubt in my mind, as I said earlier, we have settlement, differential settlement. We have a slab foundation problem here," Chandler said. 

The report said structural cracking is increasing significantly and the concrete mix used was inadequate. 

Included in the report was the results from a core sampling done of the concrete.

"We started to auger down. We were going to auger to 6 feet," Chandler said. "Thirteen inches and we hit what appears to be another slab."

But Chandler explained they were only able to augur down 13 inches, because they hit concrete.

"My submission is this house was formed and built on top of an existing slab," Chandler said. "It appears to me that there is a slab here. Someone came through, dumped the foot of dirt on it, punk compacted it and then formed and poured his slab."

The report also documents corrosion of metal doors in the neighborhood, which Chandler said could point to the possibility of excessive methane and hydrogen sulfide gas. He performed a quick spot test at the home Friday.

"What I'm getting out of there on this instrument is I'm getting 35 parts per million of methane, 15 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide," Chandler said. "This is a quick sniff test, but just as a standard rule, we don't want to see any."

He then tried another air sampling. 

"This one actually went up to 200 parts per million," Chandler said. 

The findings also showed that the structure of the home is deficient and will require significant and reoccurring repairs. 

The I-TEAM asked Chandler if the home he inspected would be worth the nearly $50,000 he believes would be needed to make repairs.

"It would not be a home that I would recommend for repair, simply because there's no long-term guarantee," Chandler said. 

Chandler informed the homeowner, Detrese Mixon, that her home was a loss. She said those words were hard to hear. 

"You put your livelihood and everything into this home to make it into this home," Mixon said. "But it's a bunch of trash. So all the money that we put into it, all the mortgages, it's all out the window. It's worth nothing. This house is worth nothing."

Chandler said he's concerned about what's next for the homeowners.

"It's quite possible that at some point in time, the insurance carrier may determine the house is un-insurable with structural issues," Chandler said.

Mixon said that's what happened to her last year. When she first pulled up her carpet and found large cracks, she called her insurance company and it came to check out the home.

"He did the investigation and looked at all the cracks and he said, 'No ma'am, we don't cover this,'" Mixon said.

Two months later, Mixon said she was dropped -- something that Chandler said might happened to other Fairway Oaks homeowners. 

"Say you had a major wind event here and you lost your roof. It's quite possible that the insurance adjuster can come out here to investigate. And they see issues like this, they could determine that your roof may not blown off had you not had all the other structural issues," Chandler said.

Since some of the residents are still being represented by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville is not commenting.

Councilwoman Katrina Brown walked through Fairway Oaks Thursday. She said she plans to urge her colleagues not to allocate any money to HabiJax until residents are paid for repairs or relocated.