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Appeals Court Upholds Award of Compensation for a Lack of Flashing

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal has upheld a jury award of compensation for a lack of flashing after it had been reduced by the trial judge.

In 2005, Angela Gray contracted Mark Hall Homes Inc. to build a home for her in Hillsborough County, Florida. The cost of the construction was $168,144 but, within a year of moving into her new home, Angela started to notice faults with the property.

Water penetration due to a lack of flashing between the walls and the roof had led to water penetration, causing mold and wood rot to develop. Angela alerted Mark Hall Homes Inc. to the problems, but the builder was unsuccessful in resolving them.

Angela later engaged a contractor to replace a balcony that had deteriorated due to wood rot. Although the contractor completed the work as requested, he told Angela that her home was in such bad condition the best way forward was to get a bulldozer and start over.

After a real estate agent told Angela to “tear the house down” and a structural engineer reported it as “uninsurable and not suitable to rent”, Angela sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a lack of flashing against Mark Hall Homes Inc.

The construction company refused to carry out the required work or refund the cost of the property, and the claim for compensation for a lack of flashing went to the Hillsborough County Circuit Court where it was heard by a jury before Circuit Judge Scott Stephens.

After hearing testimonies from the contractor who had rebuilt the balcony, the estate agent and the structural engineer, the jury awarded Angela $168,144 compensation for the lack of flashing – the full cost of the construction work on her home.

However, Judge Stephens reduced the award of compensation to just $16,000 – the amount that Angela had paid for the replacement balcony – after Mark Hall Homes Inc. argued that was the only cost Angela had incurred due to the construction defect.

Angela appealed the reduction of the compensation award, and the case was heard recently by the Florida Second District Court of Appeal. The appeal judges ruled that Judge Stephens was wrong to reduce the award of compensation for the lack of flashing and reinstated the jury award – commenting “based on the evidence presented to the jury, it was reasonable to conclude that the house, as constructed, was valueless”.