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Construction defects, questionable ethics plague hi-rise project

Despite the fact that a major downtown project is 70 percent complete, the Tampa Housing Authority fired the contractor of a $26 million apartment building. The THA claimed the project was bogged down with inadequate management and construction defects. The Florida contractor also pleaded guilty to fraud in a public housing kickback scheme. With the dismissal of the construction company, the project came to a halt.

Months were spent removing drywall because the building had been improperly sealed, and the interior had become soaked with rain. Other elements inside the apartment building had to be demolished because of rain damage. When a new construction company was hired to complete the project, THA was shocked to learn that the owner of the new company was the same person who owned the previous company and the wife of the contractor they had fired. He is currently under house arrest for his part in the kickback case.

The FHA urged the underwriters to reconsider its decision to hire the new company for fear that the same issues of shoddy workmanship and untrustworthy practices would continue. However, the decision stands, and construction on the building has resumed. The seven-story building will house 203 affordable apartments.

Construction of any type is a complex undertaking often involving many entities at various stages of completion. People in Florida generally trust that the job is being completed with care and diligence. Too often, construction defects are not discovered until it is too late and costly repairs must be made. Because of this, having an attorney on one's side from the beginning of a project to its end allows one to handle issues as quickly as they arise and reduce unnecessary expenses and delays.

Source: wfla.com, "You Paid For It: Contractor with curious ties finishing Tampa Housing Authority 'Crown Jewel'", Mark Douglas, Jan. 2, 2017

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