Meridianville family dealing with back-to-back sinkhole issues

Meridianville homeowner struggling with sinkholes at newly purchased home
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 11:58 PM CST
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MERIDIANVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A Meridianville family is hoping to spread awareness after their dream house was plagued by sinkholes back to back.

Danielle Nightengale and her husband purchased a home from Davidson Homes in the Pike Ridge community of Meridianville in September. Two and a half weeks later, a 16-foot sinkhole appeared in their driveway overnight.

“My children had just left for school earlier that day and they had been walking over that space, so immediately I’m thinking Oh my gosh this could’ve fallen right up from under their feet,” said Nightengale.

Davidson contracted GeoSolutions to fix the issue and paid for the family to stay in an Airbnb. Crews poured in rock and soil to fix the problem. In a report from GeoSolutions, the company said the repaired areas should perform as intended.

Eight weeks later, a new 10-foot sinkhole appeared in front of the home. GeoSolutions said the sinkhole could lead to structural damage to the home and needed specialist work completed by a company named Rembco.

Nightengale said the repairs would cost around $100,000 to fix. Her warranty and insurance companies both say the problem lies with the builder. Nightengale has an RWC Warranty which does not cover sinkholes or Acts of God.

Davidson Homes released a statement in response:

“This is an unfortunate situation that appears to be an act of God. Even though naturally occurring subsidences are specifically excluded from a builder’s warranty, we have been working steadily to assist in addressing this issue. When this issue first appeared, we hired a Geotechnical Engineer for guidance, coordinated the repair alongside the developer of the community, provided temporary housing, and resolved the issue within days. Now that the naturally occurring subsidence has reappeared, we have hired a Geoengineer to help further examine the situation. The Geoengineer has now recommended an extensive procedure that has put this issue in the hands of the insurance companies. We are assisting the insurance companies in this complex situation, and we are hopeful for a good resolution. In the meantime, we have offered the family alternative accommodations based upon the recommendations of the Geotech company, which will provide safety and allow for continued investigation. They have not yet taken us up on this offer. Even though this situation is not covered by the warranty provided to the Nightengales, this has been and remains a priority for our company.”

WAFF 48 reached out to residential and commercial attorney Thomas McGrath, to weigh in. He does not represent either side.

“If she just paid them x amount of dollars for a brand new house and through no fault of her own, she just lost the value of her purchase within the first year, I’m afraid the law disagrees with the builder,” said McGrath.

He said it’s important to not solely take a builder’s word when they say a ‘sinkhole’ is indeed a sinkhole. He said to always get a site grading test to confirm.

Nightengale said that information will go a long way.

“I definitely always recommend asking for a site assessment test,” said Nightengale, “Definitely ask for the site grading reports because that will save you in the long run.”

Davidson Homes wants the Nightengales to know it will do its best to accommodate the family throughout these difficult times.

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