Ocoee family battling homebuilder to replace stucco on their home

Inspection reveals stucco was not installed to building code

OCOEE, Fla. – An Ocoee family wants their homebuilder to replace the stucco on their home after an inspector found it was not installed to building code.

Sean Gumbert — a disabled veteran — said his family purchased their home from Pulte Homes 14 years ago and, over time, they’ve noticed cracks appearing and growing.

“We noticed it in 2015, but we’re like we just got to seal the cracks and paint it. So, that’s what we did,” he said. “We contracted it out, we sealed it, we made it look brand new, and it looked beautiful. But then, the cracks start happening again.”

The Gumberts hired a structural engineer to look for a cause.

The inspector determined the stucco was not installed according to the building code, and the code violations resulted in cracking.

He recommended the stucco be removed and replaced at a cost of more than $57,000.

“I don’t have $57,000,” Gumbert said.

Sean Gumbert shows News 6 Investigator Erik Sandoval around his home in Ocoee. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

For the last four years, he said he has been in mediation with Pulte Homes, negotiating with them to replace his stucco. So far, the said the company has not agreed to it.

News 6 investigated and found out Gumbert is not alone.

According to court documents, 21 lawsuits have been filed against Pulte over the last five years claiming stucco was not properly installed.

Some of the lawsuits allege violations in the building code, and some claim negligence.

Half of the lawsuits involved Pulte homes built in Ocoee, and three of them were filed by Gumbert’s neighbors, who, according to court records, settled out of court.

Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson said he tried to help Gumbert by writing a letter to Pulte asking them to reconsider their position on replacing Gumbert’s stucco.

“I think there needs to be a law where (stucco) is inspected more,” Johnson said. “I know they don’t want to hear that, but you got to be able to be secure in what you’re doing.”

News 6 contacted Pulte Homes to help Gumbert get results, and the company responded with a statement:

“Pulte Homes provides and stands behind its industry-leading 10-year warranty. Although this home is now four years out of warranty, we have engaged with the homeowner and continue to work diligently toward a resolution of his issue.”

Gumbert said he simply wants his house fixed, and he has contacted the Florida Attorney General’s Office, which confirmed they are looking into Gumbert’s claims.

The Better Business Bureau recommends consumers who purchase new homes perform routine inspections and maintenance on their new properties.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.