Update 1/19/24@10:44 a.m. — This article has been updated to include links to the full Huddleston Berry soils report (pdf) that Davis is alleged to have withheld from the Ryans while they were buying the home, and the full affidavit of Barbara Ann Ryan (pdf) in the case.
Update: Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis announced Jan. 16 that he was running to be county commissioner again in 2024.
Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis, and his construction company, Chronos Builders, LLC, were slapped with a lawsuit by an older couple on August 19, 2022 alleging Davis concealed information about expansive clay soils under their new home, and saying he chose an inferior foundation he knew could fail protect the home from damage caused by ground movement from the clay soils. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $100,000 (pdf).
Davis filed a response on September 6, 2022 (pdf) categorically denying all of the charges in the Ryans’ suit.
According to the lawsuit (Ryan, Joseph Arthur et al v. Chronos Builders, LLC et al, Case No. 2022CV030210), the plaintiffs, Arthur and Barbara Ryan, bought their new 4 bed, 2 3/4 bath, 2,475 sq. ft. “dream home,” on Horseshoe Drive in Fruita from Chronos on June 29, 2017 for $504,000. By 2019, cracks started appearing in the walls, ceilings and concrete of their new home. The Ryans noticed movement in the walls and floors, heaving and lifting of the garage floor and detachment between the ceiling and walls. The couple notified Davis about the damage and he performed minor and cosmetic fixes and asked the Ryans for more time to investigate the underlying cause of the damage. Davis then dragged the investigation out until the warranty on the home had expired, the Ryans said, and after that he walked away and stopped responding to the couple’s repeated calls for help.
The Ryans say Davis withheld a crucial soils analysis report, called the Huddleston Berry Report (pdf, obtained from the Court), from them during the process of buying their home. The report was about the soil conditions at the site, the threats these conditions posed to the structure and how to construct foundations that could stand up to these forces. The Ryans came from out of the area and had no idea about the presence of expansive clay soils in the area. Had the Ryans been privy to this report, they say, they would have known and understood the potential risks of buying the home and been able to weigh whether they wanted to walk away from it or ask for a lower price on the home.
But the Ryans say Davis never showed them the Huddleston Berry report, depriving them of the full information they needed to make a sound decision about buying the home.
In response to a motion filed by Davis’s attorney on 10/9/23 asking for partial summary judgment in the lawsuit (pdf), the Ryans’ attorney wrote,
“In this case there is zero doubt that Mr. Davis elected to construct this home on what is referred to as a “shallow foundation.” He made this election based upon knowledge of the attendant risks associated with the same, risks that were identified to him before he broke ground. Indeed, in early-phased geotechnical reporting, Huddleston Berry stated the following statement of risk: ‘Shallow foundations will not provide as much protection against heave related movements; however, properly constructed they can help to reduce the risk of excessive differential movements.’ …This statement assures that if a shallow foundation type is ultimately selected, there is risk – even if constructed properly. Simply stated, the shallow foundation merely reduces, but does not eliminate risk of excessive differential movement and does not provide as much protection against heave related movements. This report was not disclosed to the Plaintiff, period.”
The Ryans have demanded a jury trial in the case, but it has been delayed for months as Chronos’s attorneys file motions to include subcontractors who worked on the home in the lawsuit, including a geotechnical company, a soils engineer who performed an inspection prior to construction and the stucco company that worked on the house.
Dragging more parties into the suit can potentially lower Chronos’ liability in the case by spreading the liability around to more parties.
The Ryans aren’t the only ones with complaints about Chronos
Arthur Ryan left the above review of Chronos Builders on BuildZoom.com in June, 2019, but he wasn’t alone in having complaints against Chronos for structural problems. Four other reviews left by customers in 2020 and 2021 give Chronos one star out of five and report similar experiences.
Here are two of the shorter comments:
BuildZoom.com itself warns against hiring Chronos
BuildZoom suggests people who are thinking of hiring Chronos Builders LLC “double-check” the company’s license status with the licensing board, but when I tried to check Chronos’ licensing status, I found something surprising:
Colorado is one of very few states in the nation that doesn’t require contractors to be licensed at the state level.
Electricians and plumbers have to be licensed by the state, and their licensing is handled by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), but licensing of general contractors is only handled at the municipal level in Colorado and, according to the Mesa County Community Development Department, “Licensing is only required in the city limits of Grand Junction.” This means homes built in the unincorporated areas of Mesa County can be built by construction companies that are unlicensed and unregulated. Neither Fruita nor Palisade license contractors either, so new homes like the Ryan’s, built in Fruita or in Palisade, can legally be built by unlicensed and unregulated builders.
The jury trial in the Ryans’ case is currently set for September 23, 2024.