Alleged fault line cracks home, builder wants proof

Alleged fault line cracks home, builder wants proof »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Seven years ago, Susie Araujo and her husband bought what they thought would be their dream home in northeast Bakersfield.

"We were going to stay here forever," she said about the house. "Now it's nothing. No one can come in the house. You can't enjoy it."

Even though they lived there for seven years, Araujo said problems started right away.

"Within the first three months we moved in we noticed a smell and water around the property," she said. "The kitchen started cracking, 3 or 4 times. I cut the vinyl (floor) and water started squirting up."

Araujo said she contacted the builder, Lennox Homes, right away. According to her the company made minor fixes, but the problems came back.

Then the issues got serious, Araujo said she's now sick with mold poisoning. She uses an oxygen tank whenever she inside the house which, lately, hasn't been often. Despite having a $300,000 home, Araujo said the problems they've been having has forced them to live in their $20,000 trailer.

According to the engineers the Araujo's have hired the home isn't structurally sound. "It could go any day," she said about the house. "It could crack in half and God help it if we're in here."

Araujo hired two teams of engineers to try and figure out what's wrong with the home; they did. Araujo said the engineers told her the water is coming up into her home because of earthquake faults underneath the house.

But when Araujo took that information to Lennox Homes, she said they wanted proof. So on Friday, engineering company Salem Engineering Group, Inc. began excavating the soil behind the Araujo's property to see if they could find signs of the fault.

Eyewitness News asked the owner of Lennox Homes, David Cates, about the engineer's claim there's an earthquake fault under the Araujo's home.

"If it's there we don't know about it," Cates said about the fault. "Nobody's known about it, the city didn't know about, Kern County didn't know about it, the engineer didn't know about it."

Cates added that his company took the proper safety steps when constructing the house. "We built it for her based on the soils report that we got from the city of Bakersfield."

When asked about all the other problems with the Araujo's home Cates said, "We've been working frantically with (the Araujo's) for the last three years to try and help them get it complete, they won't allow us to do what they normally do."

According to Cates what they would normally do is pump epoxy into the foundation, but Araujo said according to the engineers the problem can't be fixed. "Unless you move the fault, which you can't, the epoxy isn't going to hold back the water," she said.

The Araujo's currently have a lawsuit against Lennox Homes, but Susie said she didn't want it to come to that, and Cates claims he didn't either.

"We'd like these people to have their home back in a condition that they want it in," he said. "If they allowed us three years ago they'd be living in it now and it'd be fine."

Araujo said, "We just want to move and get a new home. It's our dream home and it has turned into a nightmare because of Lennox Homes."

The Araujo's lawsuit with Lennox Homes will go to court in October.