These Middleton homeowners are tired of their street becoming a pond after it rains
Lynn Rogers bought her new house from Coleman Homes in Middleton’s West Highlands neighborhood just over a year ago. But it didn’t take long for her to realize she’d made a mistake.
Last February, she found her crawlspace was flooded and covered in mold. Coleman sent out a remediation contractor to evaluate the damage. The company, Northwest Disaster Servies, told Rogers she had nearly a thousand gallons of water below her home — enough to fill a small swimming pool.
Rogers wasn’t the only homeowner with flooding problems. Rogers and neighbor Debra Servatius say they’re among nearly a dozen homeowners with the same problem.
Northwest Disaster Services listed repairs needed, Rogers said: New drains to clear water away from the foundation. A spout to send water to the backyard. A sump pump. But Rogers said the company would not take care of the external drainage problems caused by improper grading on the house.
“I quickly learned the company was not doing the job properly,” Rogers told the Statesman in a phone interview. Rogers suspected that Coleman had set a ceiling on the amount it would reimburse Northwest Disaster Servies for its work.
Gary Botts, owner of Northwest Disaster Services, denies that. He said Coleman was willing to pay for the crawlspace work, including a pump system and repair of moldy wood. “I explained to Lynn that external drainage items are typically the responsibility of the homeowner,” he said in an email.
“Crawlspaces are difficult areas to work in because of the confined space,” he added. “NWDS does our best to locate the pumps and drainage trenches in the areas that will be the most effective. Sometimes there are minor adjustments that need to be done later, because a small area of water pools and does not flow to a trench.”
Coleman Homes did not respond to requests for comment.
Eventually, Rogers hired another disaster relief business to fix both her crawlspace and drainage problems. To pay the costs of remediation, Rogers said she had to take out a $15,000 loan, on top of the $305,000 she had spent on the new home just a year before.
Mike Hasson, the owner of Complete Check Inspections and a Coleman homeowner himself in West Highlands, said he has inspected over 30 houses in the neighborhood. In many of the large, two-story homes, he sees the same problems.
“I’ve seen mold issues in this neighborhood, particularly in the crawl space and the attic,” Hasson said in a phone interview. “The problem is that Coleman and other builders are only required to create a slope that drains the water away from your house 6 to 10 feet. There are some people where that code wasn’t met, and there is water right next to their house.”
A few doors down from Rogers, Servatius found water under her house that February as well.
Servatius said she and her husband had just retired from Meridian to Middleton and expected to make no more than a few repairs on a brand-new home.
“We were careful when we bought our home,” she said. “This was a big investment for us.”
Because their house was under a one-year warranty, Coleman sent Northwest Disaster Services to make repairs. The company came to the house numerous times, making “tweaks,” Servatius said. But water still gathered around her crawl space every time it rained.
“It got to the point where Northwest Disaster wouldn’t call us back,” she said.
Like Rogers, Servatius ended up hiring a different company. Upon seeing the work on the sump pumps and drainage beneath her house, she said, one contractor told her, “It looks like your husband and a buddy did this job.”
Servatius said she took $7,000 out of her retirement fund to pay for repairs. Both Rogers and Servatius are now asking Coleman to reimburse those costs.
Rogers said a handful of homeowners are considering suing Coleman Homes. The company is part of one of the largest home builders in the United States. In 2016, the Meridian-based Coleman Homes was bought by Toll Brothers, a Philadelphia-based company worth $5.2 billion.
Rogers said she has tried to go to the Better Business Bureau but doesn’t feel that the company has adequately answered her complaints through the BBB.
“We feel like we’re up against someone that doesn’t really care,” Servatius said.
Rogers sometimes finds it hard to sleep at night.
“Do we sell or don’t we sell? We can’t know until this has been properly fixed,” she said. “I would have never bought this home if we would have known about all of this.”