Soils report at heart of lawsuit against Cody Davis & Chronos Builders recommended alternative foundations, but plaintiffs say Davis never disclosed the report to them as Colorado law requires

Swelling clay soils can triple their volume when they get wet, causing them to exert tremendous force on a home’s foundation, and hence damage, if no measures are taken to mitigate the potential damage. Clay soils are very common across Mesa County. [Click photo to enlarge for better view.] (Photo: Colorado Geological Survey)

The geotechnical soils investigation (pdf) done on a building lot on Horseshoe Drive in Fruita where Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis and his construction company, Chronos Builders, built a spec home in 2015-2016 stated clearly that expansive clay soils were present on the site and that “Based upon our experience with the Mancos shale in the vicinity of the site, the shale is anticipated to be slightly to moderately expansive.”

Michael A. Berry, the professional engineer who authored the report, recommended three types of foundations that would better protect the structure from “heave related movements” than a typical shallow foundation, but also admitted such foundations are “usually cost prohibitive.”

Cody Davis, Mesa County Commissioner and owner/operator of Chronos Builders, LLC (Photo:

Barbara and Arthur Ryan filed a lawsuit (pdf) against Davis and Chronos Builders in 2022 over structural damage that occurred to the home they bought from Chronos in 2017. The lawsuit claims the presence of clay soils under the house and the type of foundation Chronos used to construct the home led to cracking in the walls, ceiling and concrete, movement of the floors and walls, heaving and lifting of the garage floor and detachment between the ceiling and walls. The Ryans paid $504,000 for the 2,475 square foot home in 2017, and the cracks, heave and other effects of soil movement began appearing in 2019. The couple contacted Chronos about the problems while the home was still under warranty, but said Chronos delayed doing serious remediation to the home by asking the couple for more time to “investigate” the cause of the problems. They say Davis then dragged out the “investigation” until the warranty on the home expired, and then stopped responding to their calls.

The lawsuit claims Davis withheld the Huddleston Berry soils report, (pdf) from the Ryans while they were purchasing the home in 2017, and Davis’ failure to show them the report deprived them of crucial information they needed to weigh whether or not to purchase the home, and if so, for how much money.

The Huddleston Berry report was sent to the attention of Cody Davis of Chronos Homes in Fruita on April 27, 2015, more than two years before the Ryans purchased the completed home.

Colorado law requires builders to disclose any evidence of swelling soils present at a building site to potential home buyers:

Colorado Revised Statute C.R.S. 6-6.5-101, enacted in 1984, requires home builders disclose information about the presence of expansive clay soils at a building site to buyers, along with information on how builders can address the problems the soils pose during construction.

Mt. Garfield is the most well known example of Mancos Shale in Mesa County

Mancos Shale, like that underlying the Ryans’ home, is the kind of clay soil that Mr. Garfield is mostly comprised of. In addition to being expansive, Mancos Shale is also classified by the Colorado Geological Survey as corrosive to both concrete and metal because of its salinity and content of clay and pyrite.

The Ryans’ lawsuit charges Davis and Chronos Builders with fraudulent concealment, misrepresentation and negligence. The couple filed the lawsuit on August 19, 2022, but Arthur Ryan has since passed away, leaving his wife Barbara to fight the suit on her own.

An earlier article about the lawsuit is here.

The three alternative foundations the Huddleston Berry report recommended were 1) a micro pile foundation, 2) a spread footing-type foundation and a 3) a structural ribbed slab foundation, all of which would have gone further to reduce the likelihood of damage to the home from the expansive clay soils under the house.

An example of a micro-pile foundation. The Huddleston Berry report recommended the house on Horseshoe Drive have a micro pile foundation with the piles driven at least 30 feet into the ground. (Photo: Williams Engineering)


A ribbed slab foundation was another alternative recommended in the Huddleston Berry report, which said, “Ribbed structural slabs are designed to behave in rigid manner such that the slabs do not bend as a result of expansion or collapse of the subgrade soils below the slabs. Instead, the entire slab moves together, thus minimizing structural distress (cracking, etc.).” (Graphic:


The report also recommended a spread footing foundation, also known as an isolated footing foundation, a type of shallow foundation. (Picture: Civil Engineering Tips via YouTube)

Chronos, however, failed to use any of the three types of foundations recommended in the soils report when they built the home on Horseshoe Dr. that the Ryans bought, instead opting to use a less expensive, shallow foundation that had less likelihood of resisting damage from soil movement.

If you are looking to build a home locally, here is a good short article with information on what you need to know about expansive clay soils and state laws enacted to protect consumers from unscrupulous builders in regard to these soils.


  4 comments for “Soils report at heart of lawsuit against Cody Davis & Chronos Builders recommended alternative foundations, but plaintiffs say Davis never disclosed the report to them as Colorado law requires

  1. Failure to disclose the geotechnical report and failure to honor the warranty in a timely fashion will probably find fault against Chronos. However, the foundation was prepared, inspected and approved for construction by 2 registered engineers as part of the permitting process. These reports are part of the public record. This means that the ‘cheapest’ foundation recommendations where correctly done, but the alternate foundations that would have mitigated expansive soils were not used for what ever reason.

  2. If you hike up Mt Garfield and look down at the town of Palisade from the top, you will see and ugly area of black rooftops, which stand out quite clearly from the surrounding area. This is Cody Davis’ cookie cutter homes his construction company built. They look really cheaply built. I’d love to know if the residents are having issues due to shoddy construction. And why on earth would you put black roof tops in a region that is a climate hot spot? Why would anyone want a dark roof in our area? So bizarre. I thought Colorado had strict regulations about this sort of thing due to our ever accelerating temperatures due to climate change.

    • Black roof tops are also quite trendy in the new construction out in the Redlands. Everytime I see it I shake my head.
      In the same developments there is even a new house built w hershey’s chocolate brown siding + black roof.
      It is pretty much a “DUH!” concept to Not build housing w dark roofing esp where the- sun- does -shine.
      Thanks for your mention of the inferiority of dark roofs Lara!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *