5 On Your Side

Nash County Homebuyer, Builder Disagree On Contract

Posted September 13, 2006 8:37 a.m. EDT
Updated November 10, 2006 9:37 a.m. EST

— A retention pond and a two-sentence addendum to a sale contract are at the center of a dispute between a Nash County homebuyer and a builder.

The dispute involves a several-foot-wide concrete ditch and a retention pond in John Batchelor's back yard.

"It's basically a dirty, smelly cesspool that I can't do anything about in my yard," said Batchelor.

The ditch was there when Batchelor bought the house. He’s upset about it now because of what he said builder Russ Davis told him before he closed.

"What I remember him saying is that he was gonna fill this whole thing in up to the tree line, and then that would be the new edge of the pond," he said.

Batchelor pointed to a contract addendum that basically says he and Davis will meet to go over plans for a fence and landscaping "on the property line between the pond" and Batchelor's house. Batchelor said the conversation with Davis was all about filling the pond. The problem, he said, is that Davis doesn’t remember the conversation the same way.

Batchelor said that in May, after months of calls, Davis's crew brought in two truck loads of dirt and put them along the edge of the pond. He said that soon after, Davis told him he could only fill in part of the pond because it's a drainage easement.

"That's the first I ever heard of any easement." said Batchelor.

So Batchelor got this neighborhood plan from the city of Rocky Mount. It shows the pond and easement, which means none of it can be filled.

"I was in complete shock," said Batchelor. "I think I turned white. I can't even put into words how shocked I was."

So Batchelor called Five On Your Side, who called Davis. He told WRAL that there is "no way" he said he would fill the pond. He said it's "not anything you can mess with."

He also pointed to the addendum and to the fact it doesn't say anything about filling the pond. But he did offer an additional $500 above a previous offer to pay for the fence and landscaping promised in the addendum, for a total of $2,500.

Batchelor said he doesn't think that's fair. He said the unsightly pond significantly lowers his property value. Either way, he said, the contoversy taught him a potentially expensive lesson.

"If I ever buy another house again without getting a survey first, you might as well go ahead and commit me, because I've gone crazy," he said