Unforeseeable Landslide at Time of Home Purchase

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Gregory L. Boso, PE ::::

Case Synopsis:  Two years following the purchase of a home, a landslide occurred in the rear yard.  The home had a full-basement and was postured on a steep terrain.  The extent of the landslide adversely affected the home by displacing the rear deck away and downward from the home, under-cutting the rear foundation and damaging the structure. The homeowners asserted that the seller was aware of potential landslide conditions and failed to disclose material defects in the property prior to the landslide event.

Engineering Analysis: Analyses of prevailing conditions leading up to the landslide involved studying data obtained from various governmental agencies contrasted with reports and evaluations prepared for the current homeowner during the property acquisition. Storm water from the home’s roof drainage system routinely surcharged the foundation drainage system causing adjacent soils to become saturated.  Excessive, persistent rainfall during the seven months prior to the landslide event caused super-saturation of the steep sloped, weak soils of the rear yard.  The engineering analyses indicated that the landslide was abrupt and catastrophic and caused severe weakening of the home’s rear yard soils during the excessive rainfall.  Critical to the evaluation was a video provided by the plaintiffs, which captured conditions during and following the landslide event.  The video revealed that the roof drainage system was connected to the foundation drainage piping which extended along the rear foundation wall. Moreover, detection of any landslide activity on the home’s premises by the plaintiff’s experts during the course of the acquisition was absent affirming that the previous homeowner was not aware of potential landslide conditions. 

Result: Case settled.

(please contact Gregory Boso at experts@forensicDJS.com)

 

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