5 On Your Side

Cary homeowner has backyard river

Posted August 5, 2008

— When a new neighborhood is developed, older existing neighborhoods often feel the impact.

Homeowner Elizabeth Jones said her home has been suffering the effects of a new neighborhood.

Despite having two big storm drains in her backyard, homeowner Jones said she still has problems with a flooded backyard.

Jones said water flows mostly from the neighborhood behind her house.

Jones said when KB Homes first started building the neighborhood about three years ago she was concerned about the berm they built, so she called the Town of Cary.

“I thought it was obvious that our house was going to be flooded,” Jones said.

A town erosion control inspector came out.

“He said wait until the houses come in. It’ll be fine. They did a good job,” Jones said.

Jones said the area isn’t fine, becoming a river during a good rain. She called the Town of Cary again.

“He said …the builder, KB Homes is already gone and they're done building so they're no longer responsible,” Jones said.

Jones suspects the runoff is to blame for her chimney separating from the house and her home’s foundation cracks. She paid a landscaping company to change her property to better direct water away from her house and to the drains. Though it helped, Jones said it didn't resolve the issue.

Jones hired an attorney, but KB still didn't do anything, so she contacted 5 on Your Side.

After calls from 5 on Your Side, representatives from Cary and KB Homes went to the home to assess the problem.

Cary's bottom line is that while the KB built neighborhood did increase the runoff toward Jones' house, the builder followed all the rules. Since the project is complete, town engineers said they couldn’t make KB do anything.

KB wrote Jones a letter stating that while they don't feel they are responsible, they want to be a "good neighbor." The builder offered to install an additional drain at Jones property line.

An engineer Jones hired believes it will work, so she is giving it a try.

“I just want them to fix the problem,” Jones said.

Jones and KB are still working out details before starting the drain project.

The situation is a reminder that residents should keep after the builder during construction. Once the builder leaves the neighborhood, the property they built on no longer belongs to them, which can make it complicated to resolve.


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  • Concerned Resident Aug 8, 2008

    Remember the story on the Piney Plains/Stephens Road development in Cary from a few weeks ago? This is the exact problem people there are worried about.

    There's an existing flooding problem. The builder promises to not make it worse. When the builder completes and flooding is worse, what do people do when their homes are ruined?

    There used to be no issues, then there was unchecked development upstream - that is, with inadequate flooding control (or none, in some cases). Thus, the problem started when it didn't have to because of poor planning and/or oversight.

    The fear is a flooding problem will become worse and there is no recourse to do anything about it - just like what is happening to this person.

    While it's easy to say "Don't buy that house" - you often don't know about these issues when you buy a home - especially when a house isn't in a particularly low-lying area. Also, the problem could be fixed by the city or the developer if they wanted to, but not by the owner.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 7, 2008

    I had a similar prob... Unfortunately, downstream lots must handle water from upstream lots. This made sense to me even at the time, but this woman's situation may be an extreme case and, IMHO, she should just keep looking for relief.

  • chargernut69 Aug 7, 2008

    it's always someone elses problem... I've had drainage problems too, the city blames the builder, the builder blames the city - and nothing get's fixed!

  • dcatz Aug 7, 2008

    KB Homes has a reputation for doing shoddy sub-standard work. This is nothing new from them.

    KB Homes essentially buys plots of land and slaps down a bunch of cookie-cutter houses with substandard construction. Google them and you'll find an earful about them and not the good kind.

    They screw over neighbors and the people foolish enough to buy a house from them. They are a menace.

  • howdiditgettothis Aug 7, 2008

    The county inspectors are useless as well.

    We had serious drainage problems in a brand new house (6 inches of standing water in crawl space after moving in).

    County claimed builder had provided required drainage per code.

    Only after we filed a complaint with the NC licensing board, who sent THEIR inspector out who found NO drainage was provided did we feel vindicated.

    Of course, county still claimed they had "done their job" approving what was done. In fact, the county inspector said we could sue the county, but no one had ever won.

    She should put a big sign in her yard thanking her new neighbors and KB homes.

  • smitty Aug 6, 2008

    I hope she didn't give her useless lawyer any money.

    I found her parcel online, it's PIN 0753494328. Looks like that easement behind her house is owned by the neighboring subdivision's HOA. I'd go after them.

  • superman Aug 6, 2008

    Surprise- surprise-- you purchase a house that is in a low lying area and you have water runoff problems. New Oreleans had the same problem -- they built below sea level and then they surprised when the hurricane came and flowed the city. The builder purchased the lot cheap -- probably sold the house cheap and you were visually handicapped and didnt see that it was going to be flooded. A house built up on a hill is going to be diffuclt in snow and ice and one that is low is going to be flooded. Use some common sense when you purchase something. Buy a house next a landfill and then you complain about the smell and the traffic.

  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 6, 2008

    Sounds like the "town erosion control inspector" didn't know his business. But all the town is interested in is the add'l revenue...

  • dontaskme Aug 6, 2008

    We've had the same problem at our house. The city was no help at all. The draught has actually been a positive thing for us; at least we have no rivers currently running through our backyard. The problem was bad in 1988, but then the mcMansions went in on the hill above us. The town engineers suggested we get the neighbors together to pay for a remedy, which we were told would be expensive. That's the only help we were offered.