A Joplin couple contends the house they received from Habitat fo - KOAM TV 7

A Joplin couple contends the house they received from Habitat for Humanity has landscaping problems causing leaks and cracks to the foundation.

A Joplin man says he and his wife were ecstatic when they moved into their "Habitat for Humanity" built home last year.

Less than a year later, they're dealing with cracks from top to bottom.

Two engineers, one the president of the Habitat for Humanity board, inspected the foundation and footings of Charles Bell's home on South Picher.

Bell noticed cracks beginning back in September when he moved in and alerted Habitat that water was pouring into the foundation.

Bell says, "I called Habitat again and begged them to change the landscaping on that side of the house before the damage got irreversible. They said we'll put you on the list."

It got worse in spring with cracks coming around his windows, ceiling, and with spaces forming around the door making it difficult, if not impossible to lock. And windows no longer open easily.

Bell says, "Habitat promised me they'd bring Structo engineering out here and put piers under my foundation and lift my house back to level again. That hasn't been, they put the piers but they didn't level the house. They didn't close the cracks up under the house. All they did is put a little putty on them."

Bell is also concerned about mold . A specialist checked the crawl space and recommended adding vapor barrier.

Habitat of Humanity Director of Development Barbie Huff says, "At the end of construction, it goes through a thorough inspection with the city and they have to sign off on it before our homeowners can move in. And as we work along the way, if we run into the a problem along the way, we work to try and fix it. Sometimes it's not a simple fix."

Habitat holds the mortgage on the home offering a one year warranty as the builder.

Bell put in sweat equity to help build his home with volunteers and professionals but is also paying back $68 thousand dollars to Habitat.

Bell says, "I love Habitat as an organization but as the management goes we're gonna be at odds until this is corrected right."

Last week the engineers did their inspection finding it is structurally sound.. calling the cracks common in Southwest Missouri.

Habitat's Executive Director Scott Clayton wouldn't discuss results or the case on camera.. but Huff says Habitat has decided not to use the block style foundation in any future homes because cracks cause alarm.

Huff says, "We also know that we need to direct the water away from the home. Water is what caused the initial problem out front with the home so we need to make sure we get the water away from the home. Right now we have temporary lines taking the water farther away from the home."

But Bell still has concerns about big cracks. They remain after the foundation repairs were said to be complete.

Habitat's plan to prevent future water damage starts with landscaping, something the Bells wished had happened in September.

Bell says, "Our joy turned to stress. We was just horrified by watching our house disintegrate right before our eyes over the last 7 months. Its terrible."

The Bells say habitat officials offered to buy back the house in which they've already invested 3-thousand dollars. But they have nowhere else to go.

As for the response time to the complaints. Habitat executive director Scott Clayton says it took time to get estimates from quality companies.

He sent an email statement about the issue. It follows.

Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity takes great pride in providing safe, affordable homes for families in need of better housing. Habitat provides a unique opportunity for home ownership when families cannot qualify through regular mortgage lending means. We work with our homeowners during and after construction to ensure they receive a quality, well-constructed home.

The Habitat house at 831 Picher has a concrete block foundation. In time, cracks have developed and we worked to inquire with several companies for professional evaluation. Our selected company made repairs to the foundation to ensure that it was secure. Two representatives from local engineering firms reviewed the completed work and determined the foundation to be structurally sound. Structural assessment did not find any concerns with settlement. None of the cracks observed were considered significant and are somewhat common in SW Missouri.

In order to prevent future drainage issues into the foundation, a landscaping company will be working early next week to make sure the elevation is such that water will be directed away from the house.

Fungal Assessment key findings performed by an indoor air quality specialist:

1. Normal moisture content inside the home and no odors or mold observed.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the best, the crawl space would rank a 3 in regards to fungal growth and moisture present in SW Missouri.

3. Recommended to re-grade water away from house at NW corner and pipe water from condensation line away from house (which is to completed by the landscaping company).

3. It was recommended we install additional vapor barrier that extends up to the sill plate.

4. Some common mold to SW Missouri was observed in the crawl space. This should be treated, cleaned, and the crawl space dried.

We are in the process of obtaining bids for the work and anticipate having the work started in two weeks and completed by mid-August.

We have worked extensively with Mr. Bell to address his concerns.

We have been a part of the Joplin community since 1989 and have constructed 119 houses for Jasper County residents in need of better housing.

Scott Clayton
Executive Director
Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity
5201 N. Main Street
Joplin, MO 64801
Phone: 417-782-6533
Fax: 417-781-4553

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