Local News

Raleigh man: Who to call about sinkhole?

Posted June 5, 2013

— A Raleigh homeowner trying to do the right thing said he has been stymied by the city when he sought help with a sinkhole forming on his property.

Chris Ertel has owned his home for about five years, and the 25-foot-long washout under his driveway has been there almost that long. There's no dirt supporting his driveway, and Ertel is worried the whole thing will collapse and injure someone in his family or a neighbor.

"I've had other friends that are engineers look at it and say, 'You've got to call somebody.' I'm like "Who do I call?" Ertel asked. See,Click, Fix -- Report an issue in Raleigh

Before he invests in a fix, Ertel wants to establish whether that is his responsibility or someone else's.

"I can't get the city to return any calls. I can't get the builder to return any phone calls because they're out of business. I'm out of options," Ertel said.

Man seeks adivce for sinkhole under driveway Man seeks adivce for sinkhole under driveway

"My wife and I have two small children, and we don't even allow them to play in the yard," he said. "I don't even park my car on this side of the driveway right now."

Ertel said if the fix is his to fund, he will do so, but before he shells out, he wants to know who is ultimately responsible.

After WRAL News put Ertel in touch with the proper city contact, a representative scheduled an appointment to check out the damage to his property next Monday.

36 Comments

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  • superman Jun 7, 12:24 p.m.

    I would have gone outside every time during a heavy rain. I would have known if the problem was a storm drain problem. I would have covered the hole with plastic. Allow it to dry for a couple days and then dig down a little to see if there was any standing water. I would measure the length and depth of the hole every month to try to get an idea of what the hole was doing. As with any problem the more knowledgeable you are the better prepared you are to get a good solution. If you dont know anything--it is like going to the doctor and telling him you dont feel good. Kinda hard to fix if all you can tell the engineer that it has been there for 5 years and it has been getting bigger.

  • superman Jun 7, 11:35 a.m.

    Rebelyell5 I wouldnt have neglected the problem for 5 (five) years.

  • superman Jun 7, 11:32 a.m.

    He is not likely to get any help from his insurance company when he tells them the problem is 5 years old. Home owners are expected to report or repair before the problem is compounded and the cost of the repair escalutes. Problem might have been fixed 5 years ago for $500 and that would have been his deductible. Now 5 years later it may cost $3000.00. Insurance companies are not dumb. If he gets anything he would probably have to take them to Small Claims Court and that will cost him about $400.00 to file. If the problem was caused by storm water runoff-- his neighbors would likely have the same problem on his side of the street. Not likely that the problem would be isolated to his one house unless his house is the only one on the street. It is always good to exercise some "common sense".

  • superman Jun 7, 11:23 a.m.

    I read the post several times and didnt find any information that indicated where on the property the hole was located. The area might be near his driveway and the sidewalk to his house. Before you think it is the city's responsiblity--you need to know just where the hole is on his property. Dont jump to consclusions.

  • superman Jun 7, 11:17 a.m.

    common tater What I meant about going to the internet is to research and learn all you can about the problem. The more you know the better off you will be in determining how best to solve the issue. Ignorance is not bliss. Better to do the research now than to find out later there might have been a better way.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jun 7, 9:24 a.m.

    There are two reasons this may be the city's responsibility. One would be if their storm water runoff system caused the problem. But the other, and possibly better angle, is that the sinkhole is actually probably NOT on the homeowner's property. The city owns a certain distance off of each side of the road. This looks like it could be on the city's property.

  • RKBA Jun 7, 8:55 a.m.

    So fix it....

  • thweave Jun 6, 6:04 p.m.

    everyone in the city of Raleigh pays a storm water fee every month.If the problem is caused by storm water the city will fix it regardless of whose property it is on.This fund collects millions of dollars a year.

  • common tater Jun 6, 3:30 p.m.

    Wolfpack: my home was obviously inspected when built too, plus an inspection when I bought it. But wral doesn't have enough server space to list all the things that were wrong but not caught. Inspections mean very little, sadly. Superman's comment is funny...go on the internet to find the solution. But I agree he waited too long. That close to the sidewalk it's likely on the right-of-way, and the city would need to be involved in any repair anyway.

  • Bendal1 Jun 6, 2:06 p.m.

    Well, I am a licensed civil engineer. I didn't see any evidence that water had caused the soil to collapse underneath the concrete (no moisture, no smooth soil from water running through the area, etc). The homeowner should check to see if there are any utility lines of any kind running parallel to the road under his driveway. That looks to me as if a utility company buried a utility line alongside the road, the contractor paved over it, and as the soil compacted and consolidated it pulled away from the concrete, leaving a void. Utility companies rarely, if ever, compact the soil they put back in a trench when they bury a utility line, so it would gradually settle all by itself.

    Of course, good luck getting anyone to admit responsibility. He's probably better off getting someone to pump cement grout under his driveway to stabilize it, and be done with the issue.

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