• December 20, 2014

Foundations failing in Cove homes

Residents facing problems in House Creek North subdivision

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Posted: Sunday, August 11, 2013 4:30 am

COPPERAS COVE — When Angie Vanlandingham walks through her home, she doesn’t see the nearly $140,000 four-bedroom house she bought in November.

Instead, she walks through the house wearing shoes, hoping not to cut her feet on broken tile. As she moves from room to room, she can’t help but notice large cracks running along floors, ceilings and up walls.

In some bedrooms, drywall has been pulled apart and light can be seen escaping from one room to the next.

Shutting and opening doors is almost impossible.

“When it rains, we hear pop, pop, pop and that is the tiles cracking,” Vanlandingham said. “Some of the cracks are so severe that you can put your finger through them.”

Vanlandingham is one of at least five homeowners in the House Creek North subdivision dealing with failing foundations.

Warranty adjusters worked on several properties to repair damage, but some of the homeowners said repairs are not enough.

“Why would you stay in a home that people were coming into every day?” asked Roggen Buck, whose home is having foundation issues. “Nobody is going to buy these homes.”

First time with problem

Neely Homes LLC started building Vanlandingham’s home in November in House Creek North Phase II, according to Copperas Cove permits.

The Vanlandinghams bought the house while it was being drywalled, said Wilson Neely, owner of Neely Homes. Since they moved in, there has been problem after problem caused by a failing foundation.

“I have been building in the Killeen and Copperas Cove area for the last 15 years, and this my first one,” Neely said, noting he’s never seen foundation issues like this. “I originally put 16 piers because there was fill on the lot.”

But the piers, which are meant to ensure the integrity of the foundation, didn’t help. Some parts of the house have fallen 3½ inches, according to engineer documents Vanlandingham was issued by her home warranty company.

“There was no indication that there was going to be a problem for us,” Neely said.

Curtis Emmons, with BA Emmons Homes, is a homebuilder for at least two properties with similar issues. His company partnered with Coy Charping and Lee Richter to develop House Creek North.

Phase II was completed in 2005, according to the plat of the subdivision.

Those lots sat vacant for more than four years before home construction started, Emmons said.

“The pads were nice and everything looked beautiful,” Emmons said. “(The subdivision) was accepted by the city... and (those lots) had been sitting there until we built those houses last year.”

The longer the fill sits, the more compact it should get, Neely said.

No explanation

While the two builders can’t explain why the foundations and the soil under the homes are giving way, Emmons said the drought probably played a contributing factor.

“Where those houses are sitting there may be a little bit of moving on the dirt because of (this year’s) rains. ... I am not blaming it on this, but we built it during the drought season,” he said.

Emmons said he built 80 homes in 2011 and 2012 and only two that he knows of have foundation problems, both on Lindsey Drive in House Creek North.

Kimberly Robles is one of those homeowners.

“We have windows that are separated from the actual house,” Robles said, describing what has happened to her home. “When you walk into my son’s room, it feels like you are walking downhill, and when you walk into my daughter’s room it feels like you are walking uphill.”

Robles has met regularly with Buck, Vanlandingham, Melissa Elmer and Maria Zepeda, who are facing similar problems with their residences on Lindsey Drive.

Robles’ claim for foundation repair was approved and the warranty company and builder are working to restore her home to new.

“My concern is if it works,” Robles said. “I need this to last as long as the house lasts. I don’t want the house to be valued at less than what I paid.”

Elmer has a video taken from underneath her house that shows a several-inch gap between the foundation and the soil.

“Where did the dirt go?” she asked.

Tired of trouble

With repairs and insurance or warranty people constantly coming into the five homeowners’ lives, they said they are tired of the problems.

Neely’s crews have made numerous repairs to Vanlandingham’s house, but they are “band-aids” not fixes, she said. She has since refused to work with Neely.

He offered to place more piers under her home, but Vanlandingham doesn’t want to move forward until the warranty company completes soil samples and drafts a repair plan.

“He is willing to fix it, but he is not willing to get to the source of the problem,” Vanlandingham said. “The whole house is just a mess — every single room and every single wall has an issue.”

Neely repaired floors, tried to fix doors and re-mortared portions of the house’s walls.

“She says I haven’t done anything, but I am the one that has turned it in to the home warranty company,” Neely said. “I am working with them. Until the foundation is fixed, there is no use to fixing anything inside because the problem is just going to show back up.”

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4 comments:

  • Eliza posted at 6:51 am on Wed, Aug 14, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 897

    As below, I agree that new is not always the better investment. Its according whose been brought in to help build the home. So many houses being built now are contracted out and many who are allowed to work on them, hands on, are not what most would call professionals and home building is not their life's work field.
    Its just whoever was willing to hire them at a cheap wage.

    My home is in excellent condition so far and is 30 yrs. old. However I do my best to upkeep and do go over it at times looking for what may be a problem.

    One piece of advise my own son gave me that he had received himself about his own house, Especially during droughts, water around the foundation outside. Concrete needs moisture to survive and not cause problems thought the years. With the droughts and when Ft Hood is having field exercises which cause the ground to tremble at times and cause problems because the foundation has been allowed no moisture.
    Many people are too tight to spend the money to do this extra watering (once a month is enough) But its an investment in your home.

    Best thing to do I would think, is when homes now are being sold for $100,000 + make sure you know who built it and did the real work on it. If you can, go on site and see who showed up that day to lay your foundation or put your roof on.
    Or are being allowed to put your water pipes together.

     
  • Viktor posted at 3:52 am on Mon, Aug 12, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 317

    Mentality around here is that every inch of land has to be built on. Usually older homes are better built yet almost everyone wants to own a new one. Killeen is worse than Cove. Constantly building more homes, taking over rural land and decreasing green space.

     
  • Pete posted at 10:39 am on Sun, Aug 11, 2013.

    Pete Posts: 131

    As I was told by my Dad and believe to this day, new is not always or even usually better when it comes to homes. It is even more true today with so many new developments going up everyday. Got a time tested place on the market now that I hope someone who see's its value can raise their family.

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 8:03 am on Sun, Aug 11, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 252

    Several homes in the Thoroughbred Estates addition in Harker Heights have had foundation repairs made. The homeowners I talked to didn't have severe problems as the homeowners in Cove.

    I have lived in my home since 1994. During the severe part of the drought in 2011 I was hearing popping noises. Several pieces of the shower tile cracked. In several areas there are fine vertical cracks on the sheetrock. Also, some slight seperation of the baseboard corners.

    I had five foundation companies come out and each one said I needed repairs. The cost was anywhere from $8000-$22,000. On the advice of a dear lady, we had two different engineers come out. They both told us that what they were seeing was from drought conditions and normal settling. They both didn't recommend the leveling of our home.

    One engineer said,"Yes there has been some settling." "To really know how much the foundation has moved we would need measurements from when the slab was first poured, before any building was started." "Maybe the foundation wasn't leveled to begin with."

    The engineer from Austin said that if we have the work done according to the foundation repair companies our house would get worse. That to properly level the foundation would intel placing interior beams too, not just on the outside edges. This would cause our house to become a pier and beam home and no longer a slab.

    At this point we have decided to take the advice of the engineers.
    We had gutters placed around our home. We water our lawn as permitted by the city. Trying to keep the ground from drying out completely.