CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The power of 10 on Your Side is bringing together our Hampton Roads community to help one of our own.
Earlier this month we introduced you to Kevin Bond, a 31-year Navy man. His house was sinking, and sank so much he not only moved out, Chesapeake said the structure was unsafe and recommended it be demolished. The cost to repair the house exceeds 50 percent of the value of the home listed by the real estate tax evaluation of $49,500.
When Kevin Bond called 10 On Your Side, we had no idea where this story would go. However, when we ran the story on November 2, something wild and wonderful happened.
Bond stood in front of his home on 1306 Whistle Town Court November 11, Veterans Day, and began to cry. He told those gathered, “I appreciate it. I don’t even know what to say. I am speechless. This thing has been a nightmare.”
To understand Kevin Bond’s tears, you have to know where he’s been. On November 2, he was lost. He said then, “I’m retiring in 30 days from the military. 31 years of service! I’ve got nothing to show for it, nothing.”
He’s retiring from the Navy with a house he can’t live in and worse can’t sell. The house is 18 inches higher in the back, than the front, and golf balls when put on the kitchen counter immediately and quickly roll off the counter racing across the floor like little white mice.
A Geotechnical soil report conducted by Geotechnical Environmental Testing in Virginia Beach found the slab on which the house sits is dramatically sinking. Worse, the report found, “settlement began at construction 20 years ago and has continued to the present.” The report also states the settlement is “caused by inadequate soils below the house.”
The bottom line is, Bond has lost his home because who would buy it? When Chesapeake flagged the house as unsafe with talk of demolition, Bond says the lender pulled the short sale approval, and told him they were just going to foreclose on the house. He thought it was going to be a total loss.
With foreclosure looming, a bright light came on after our report aired.
JES Foundation Repair owners Jesse and Stella Waltz met Bond on the front lawn of the home and Stella said, “As soon as your story went off Jesse looked at me and said ‘we can help this guy; that is right up our alley.’ We reached out to Andy’s contact information, and he reached out to you on behalf of us, so we’re glad it came together.”
Foundation repair is what JES does, and the Waltz’ have offered to stabilize and lift bond’s home close to original elevation for free.
Bond’s home is sinking forward because weak soil underneath the house is caving in under the weight of the foundation slab.
This is what JES will do to save Bond’s home:
- First, they will secure the foundation by installing push piers that will equally transfer the weight of the home, and prevent any further settlement of the home in the future. This is critical as confidence the house is not sinking anymore for any future sale of the home.
- Second, they will hydraulically drive more than 50 piers under the house, perhaps 60 feet deep to get to solid soil.
- Third, once the house is stabilized and no longer sinking, they will lift up the slab floor. Waltz explained, “We are going to pump structural foam that will fill the void and help lift your slab, so we don’t have any more cracking of that slab.”
The cost to do this is not cheap, and JES estimates the cost at $100,000.
As part of this 10 On Your Side community effort JES will stabilize everything outside and inside the house.
Also participating are the homebuilders who built the home in 1993. When Ashdon Builders heard what JES offered to do, Ashdon reached out to JES and agreed to do all cosmetic repairs at no cost to Bond. Ashdon Builders’ Owner Barry Cross said, “We will take care of the finishing touches, flooring, trim, touching up the plaster, window repairs, we will try to put the house back together the way it was before this happened.”
Cross has read the GET soil report analysis that states, “The lot was not properly prepared to provide a suitable support system for the foundation.” The report estimates the sinking probably started at the moment of construction, although the rapid decline probably happened in the last two years.
In response to that, Cross says, “There were never any signs of this severe instability during or after construction.” Cross told us there was no way of knowing what lurked deep down under the foundation. “When we dug this foundation 21 years ago we had no way of knowing what was deep down in the soil, and if we had noticed anything that was a red flag, we would have stopped right then, and called in a Geo-Tech, and try to address the situation then.”
10 On Your Side went to Chesapeake’s Department of Development and Permits if they would contribute to the community effort. Director Jay Tate said, “JES asked if we would accelerate the review, and we said of course. We know he is out of his home.”
Tate said he can’t find anything his inspectors did wrong back in 1994 to identify bad soil. He insists there were no red flags.
Tate went on, “It does not happen a lot, and the cost would be passed on to the purchase of the home. This is very infrequent.” Tate said it raises the question if it worth it to make it a requirement to have Geo-Tech reports with so few houses affected by this type of sinking?
With that said Chesapeake is doing something in the wake of our investigation. They will have conversations with other localities to use the Bond case as a teaching moment, “If we go to this regional meeting and everyone says we all have a half dozen houses with this, then we may need to come up with a new way of doing business. That is one thing that could come out of this.”
It turns out Chesapeake inspectors are now aware of Bond’s story, and are paying additional attention to possible issues with soils. “The other thing we are going to do is remind inspectors this is what you are going to look for, and be mindful of it.”
Kevin Bond’s security clearance status would be in jeopardy with what would be certain foreclosure. Today, thanks to JES, Ashdon Builders, and the City of Chesapeake everyone is on the same page.
In the end, there appears to be a path forward, the only path to make Kevin Bond whole, “I don’t even know what to say. I’m speechless.”