Galveston developer claims manufactured homes not up to code

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Nov. 17, 2009, 3:00am

GALVESTON – A Galveston real estate developer alleges it was sold manufactured homes that did not meet coastal building codes.

Barefoot Properties claims Ground Force Building Systems falsified its knowledge about local, state and federal rules and regulations and filed a lawsuit against the builder on Nov. 5 in Galveston County District Court.

Ground Force is a six generation family-owned business based in Navasota, the company claims on its Web site. According to its Web site, Barefoot Properties focuses its real estate business on beach houses, custom bay homes and condominiums in Galveston and along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The lawsuit states that Barefoot contacted Ground Force about manufacturing seven modular homes in Galveston.

Both parties entered an agreement in late March. One of the houses would be used as a model home while the plaintiff marketed and sold the other six.

Barefoot claims it made it clear to Ground Force that the houses would be delivered on Galveston Island, and asked if the company was familiar with building codes applicable to all residential properties built along the Texas Gulf Coast post-Hurricane Ike.

According to the plaintiff, Ground Force stated it understood the rules given past experience.

"Ground Force represented, both verbally and in writing, that all modular homes would be constructed in compliance with all federal, state, and local building codes," the suit says.

"In fact, Ground Force represented to Barefoot that it constructed other modular homes which were delivered to the Gulf Coast areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and were very familiar with Gulf Coast/hurricane building regulations and codes."

Barefoot additionally explains that the defendant promised houses capable of withstanding 140-mph wind gusts and worthy of a WP18 rating.

"Based upon the numerous representations by Ground Force and in reliance on same, Barefoot entered into the agreement," the suit says.

The defendant eventually delivered and assembled the homes.

However, after the houses were completed Barefoot attempted to obtain WP18 certification and a certificate of occupancy from the city of Galveston but was denied.

"During such inspections, Barefoot was informed that the homes woefully failed to comply with many requisite building codes and indeed did not come close to achieving a WP18 rating, including, 130-mph wind gust requirements," the suit says.

The plaintiff argues it addressed the situation with Ground Force to no avail.

"Ground Force did not remedy any of the deficiencies," the suit says.

"Instead, at its own cost, over and above the contract price, Barefoot performed and/or had performed the additional labor in order to bring the newly-constructed homes up to code requirements to obtain the necessary certificate of occupancy."

The plaintiff seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Houston attorneys Sherry Scott Chandler and Jimmy Doan are representing Barefoot, and Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV2063

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