13 Investigates


Shifting soil and cracking walls put Beazer homeowners on path to sue developer

Beazer homeowners
Beazer homeowners
Posted at 1:56 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 01:13:51-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — "It's depressing!" Depressing for homeowner Arthur Jones to be talking about the same problems we uncovered last year.

A resolution has been hard to come by for numerous neighbors in Colton Ranch, a Beazer Homes development near Allen Lane and Gowan Road in North Las Vegas.

"What has changed since we first visited and exposed all the issues you're having with your home?" asked 13 chief investigator Darcy Spears.

"Actually, nothing," said Jones. "It's getting worse."

PREVIOUS: Home is where the heartache is for families who say their new Beazer homes are falling apart

To understand how much worse, you just have to look around.

"Now we're having cracks going across the top of the roof, and I don't know if it's going to fall in," Jones said.

There are lumps in the walls where nails are working their way out. In the master bedroom, the ceiling is buckling.

"All my vents are crooked," said Jones. "They're not sitting level anymore because the house is tilted."

Arthur's 7-year-old son's bedroom is the worst in the house, with stark evidence of new damage that did not exist when we did our original investigation.

The wall and ceiling are cracked and separating from corner to corner across the entire length of the room and extending across the ceiling in the closet.

It's a problem so pervasive, Jones says he can actually hear it happening.

"It sounds like someone is running in the attic," he said.

Lorie Williams lives across the street. In her kitchen, "they cut this (part of the ceiling) open because I had squeaking from the second floor."

Beazer has repeatedly done cosmetic fixes to the drywall.

"And then they had re-mudded this whole thing and pieces of the plaster — or mud — was falling down," Williams said.

Pictures and videos from other neighbors document similar damage: walls separating from ceilings, and cracks in floors, ceilings and walls.

The problems extend outside the homes, too.

One neighbor tells us she can't even open her side gate anymore because it's so lopsided.

And the shared walls are starting to crack. In one, you can see all the way through into the backyard.

"The soil is the problem," Jones said. "And Beazer doesn't want to do anything about it."

As we reported in our original investigation, Colton Ranch was built on unstable ground: "moderate to critically expansive soils..." with "potential for chemical heave." That's according to a report 13 Investigates obtained.

In April 2018, before Beazer started building, they hired Southwest Geotechnical to test the soil.

The company warned Beazer the site would continue to be problematic, writing "Structures like sidewalks, patios, block and retaining walls and driveways" would be susceptible to damage.

And that "damages may include wall or slab lifting, cracking of foundations, masonry block, sheet rock and stucco, and doors jamming."

Beazer was further warned that the company "...must be willing to accept these associated risks and requirements if developing this site."

Beazer developed it. And families like the Jones' and the Williams' are dealing with the fallout.

"It's devastating!" Williams said. "I'm upset, because I have yet to enjoy my house since I bought it in 2019. It's been problem after problem after problem."

A diagram from a survey done by another independent expert shows just what it looks like underneath Williams' house.

"Sinking! My house is sinking in the middle," she said.

The survey at Jones' house shows different movements, but a no-less devastating movement.

"One point of the floor is two inches higher or lower than another point in the floor. That should not exist. You really shouldn't get anywhere outside of an inch," said construction defect lawyer Norberto Cisneros.

He is working with nine Colton Ranch homeowners and counting in an effort to force Beazer to make a permanent fix.

It's a lengthy process laid out in state law. Before filing a lawsuit, homeowners must first put the builder on notice and give them a chance to make repairs.

So far, Williams says, "They come out, but they just put a Band-Aid over it and leave, and then I have to deal with it all over again."

"The problem is, I need them to fix the foundation of the home! Because the soil is bad. And it's never going to stop," Jones said.

Beazer declined our request for an on-camera interview.

Instead, chief financial officer David Goldberg sent the following statement:

"Beazer Homes follows best homebuilding practices and complies with all building code requirements.  Construction in the desert soils of Southern Nevada presents challenging conditions for all builders, residential or commercial.  With respect to the Colton Ranch community, Beazer Homes obtained and followed expert reports and recommendations throughout the construction process.  Despite these best practices some drywall cracking occurred, which is not unusual in new construction.  These issues are covered by the homeowner’s warranty, and as with all of our homeowners, Beazer actively responds and engages with the Colton Ranch homeowners to address and remediate any concerns covered under the warranty.  Beazer Homes is a proud provider of homes to Nevadans and is consistently among the industry leaders in Nevada in third-party customer satisfaction survey rankings.  Beazer Homes is, has been, and will remain active with any homeowners presenting warranty claims. Beazer does not comment on active or threatened litigation, though we are not aware of any impending litigation in the Colton Ranch community."

"The floors are changing and tilting in ways they shouldn't," said Cisneros. "They should know that's outside industry standard."

Cisneros says the repeated cracking in Colton Ranch goes far beyond what any new homeowner should expect.

"It means that there are issues with the soil, which is moving the slab, which is affecting the structure of the home and causing the cracks to continue, and the soils are not stabilizing to a point where the cracks will stop," Cisneros said.

"What I've discovered after speaking to my neighbors is a lot of them just threw their hands up and started selling their homes," said Jones. "They are discouraged because they feel like they're going to be misled by Beazer, and once the warranty runs out, they're going to be stuck with a sinkhole."

"At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of the builder to build a good home, per code and the industry standards," said Cisneros. "And we believe that absolutely did not happen here."

You may be wondering what role the City of North Las Vegas inspectors plays in all this. After all, they supposedly oversaw and signed off on all stages of construction.

City spokesperson Patrick Walker says, "Responsibility for following soils reports lies with the builder. As is the case in every jurisdiction across the valley, it is the builder who hires certified inspectors to assess soil conditions and complete remediation recommendations as needed for projects. Approval of final inspection is done after the builder’s soils engineer certifies that the builder adhered to the recommendations and requirements set forth in the soils report."

As for liability, Cisneros explains, "The city inspectors are immune from suit. So, I cannot sue them. Even if I wanted to sue them, I could not."

Meaning the homeowners literally cannot fight City Hall, even if they believe the city inspectors were negligent.

"They're pretty well insulated from liability in any way, shape or form," Cisneros said.

But Beazer is not, and Cisneros says they're preparing to start litigation as all his clients' homes just keep getting worse.

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