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Testaverde files suit, says $5 million home has ‘defects’


Published:   |   Updated: December 31, 2013 at 06:21 AM

Vinny Testaverde’s $5 million, 6,700-square-foot house has lost the luster it had when it was built six years ago, when it was the most expensive property sold that year.

Now, there are wet floors and walls when it rains and a grand staircase leading to the front door that is sinking, taking with it two columns that support the porch roof.

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback retired from the NFL in 2007, the year he and his wife, Mitzi, contracted with Gray Homes of Tampa Bay to build the sprawling mansion on Lake Keystone in Odessa.

Testaverde, a Heisman Trophy winner and the first overall pick by the Bucs in the 1987 NFL draft, filed a lawsuit against Gray Homes over what the complaint says is shoddy construction that has resulted in a string of problems in the home.

“Over the past 18 months,” said a certified letter to Gray Homes sent in July, five months before the lawsuit was filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, “the owners have discovered a series of defects which should not exist in a $5 million home.”

The lawsuit, filed on Dec. 20, alleges breach of contract and building code violations.

Many of the problems stem from leaks, the suit said, mostly from “improper installation of flashing and water proofing systems on the exterior porches, balconies and walls.”

The suit says water has found its way into several interior rooms, including a sauna and wine room and has damaged lights and other electrical fixtures. Mold and mildew also are problems that the homeowners must deal with, the suit said.

The Testaverdes have already done repairs to a third-floor balcony and leaks have resulted in rotting wood on the south side of the seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion.

The complaint also alleged the air-conditioning system was not installed to code, saying the air handler is not in a sealed room and duct work was not properly supported. Condensation from the air conditioning has dampened insulation in the attic.

“The home has developed an excessive levels of mold and mildew,” the suit says, “that have required removal and treatment as the result of water intrusion and deficiencies in the air conditioning system.”

Additionally, the precast concrete steps that lead up to the home’s front door appears to be sinking and are separating from the home, the lawsuit said. Columns that sit on the stairs also are sinking, causing the porch roof to sag.

The Testerverdes contracted with Gray Homes to build the house in 2007, the year Testaverde retired from professional football, playing his last game for the Carolina Panthers.

A message seeking comment from Gray Homes of Tampa Bay was not immediately returned.

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