Tuscany, GL Homes settle construction-defect lawsuit

Article Courtesy of  The Palm Beach Post

By Mike Diamond

Published June 1, 2021


The Tuscany Property Owners Association has settled a construction-defect lawsuit against GL Homes for $125,000 just a month after it sued the county’s largest homebuilder.

The lawsuit, filed April 7, alleged that GL Homes performed its work in “a substandard and defective manner.”

New members who recently took control of the association board, acknowledged to Tuscany homeowners during a recent Zoom meeting that the case against GL Homes was weak. and Richard Cartlidge, Tuscany's lawyer, said it was unlikely the community, off Atlantic Avenue west of Delray Beach, would have prevailed in court.

Cartlidge said GL Homes was never given the opportunity to make repairs on its own, a factor that would have made it difficult for Tuscany to prevail. The settlement was reached after a recent session with a court-appointed mediator. The association's board disclosed that GL Homes’ initial offer was just $58,000.

Residents pressed the board for details as to how much has been spent in the dispute with GL Homes. The association disclosed that the figure is more than $200,000 but President George Schellinger said continuing the lawsuit would amount “to throwing good money after bad.”

During the Zoom meeting, board members defended the decision to settle, blaming previous board members for not working with GL Homes to make necessary repairs after the homebuilder turned over the development to the resident-controlled association.

When a builder is close to completing a development, it turns over management to an association controlled by homeowners. If the builder and the association cannot come to an agreement as to what needs to be repaired at turnover, the issue can sometimes lead to litigation.

A previous board hired an engineering firm to review the condition of the common areas. The 2019 report found multiple defects that included cracked concrete, broken roof tiles, cracks in the stucco finish, defective electrical power, entry/exit gates that constantly malfunctioned, deteriorated sidewalks and improper slopes on roadways.

But attorney Cartlidge and board members said at the Zoom meeting that the engineering report was flawed and misleading. The estimated costs of repairs were not reliable, according to Cartlidge. He noted that the report called on GL Homes to pay $200,000 for windows not installed properly at the clubhouse. Those repairs can be done for much less than that figure, he said.

Heather Keith, assistant general counsel for GL Homes, said the homebuilder was surprised that Tuscany filed a lawsuit “with such exaggerated claims when mediation was already scheduled. Thankfully, we managed to reasonably resolve their relatively minor issues and Tuscany agreed to dismiss the lawsuit only a few weeks after it was filed.”

Cartlidge explained at the Zoom meeting that the $125,000 settlement will be enough to pay his legal fees and for repairs that still need to be done.

GL Homes began building the 458 single-family home community in 2016. The homes range in size from 1,500 to 2,800 square feet. The development is west of Jog Road. It is accessible from Atlantic Avenue from Stone Quarry Boulevard.

The Tuscany settlement is in stark contrast to the settlement between GL Homes and Valencia Reserve, a retirement community west of Boynton Beach. The Palm Beach Post reported last August that GL Homes agreed pay $850,000 to the Valencia Reserve Homeowners Association to settle a lawsuit alleging that the homebuilder left the community with serious construction defects.

GL Homes, in a prepared statement, told The Post that it was confident it would have prevailed at trial but decided to settle to resolve a matter that had lasted more than five years.