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.”
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:
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.
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.