MIDDLETON — Residents of the West Highlands Estates Subdivision in Middleton are concerned with standing water and mold in the crawlspaces of several homes and backyard flooding.

The homes in the subdivision are all little over a year old, and in February, several homeowners in the neighborhood noticed flooding in their backyards, and discovered mold and standing water in their crawl spaces. Some say Coleman Homes, the developer, has not properly installed grates to drain rainwater and sprinkler water.

The West Highlands Estates homes cost residents around $300,000.

Multiple representatives from Coleman Homes did not respond to requests for comment.

FIRST SIGNS

In February, Jason Botwright, a West Highlands resident, said he got a one-year home inspection, and the inspector found water in the house’s crawl space.

Lynn Rogers, another resident, had her home inspected on Feb. 14, after she learned Botwright had flooding problems. Rogers and Botwright live across the street from each other. Rogers said her inspector found water and mold in her crawl space. She said at least 11 homes in West Highlands have had mold and water problems.

An inspection report from March 1 by Bent Nail Inspections was taken of Roger’s home on Silver Springs Court. The report says microbial growth, or bacteria growth, was found in about 70% of the sub-flooring. The report recommended attention from a professional company.

The report was taken by Davin Strand, of Bent Nail Inspections, and shared with the Idaho Press by Rogers. In the report, Strand wrote that in addition to the mold, “significant water was found in the crawl space.”

In the report, Strand said the water appeared to enter through the foundation, a gap in the footings and from a crawl space vent below the grade on the back of the home. He recommended a company make an evaluation of the gutter underground trains, drying up the water in the crawl spaces, installing a sump pump and French drains to remove the water.

The report said there was standing water in the sprinkler control valve in the backyard.

Another neighbor, Chloe Valencia, said in an email that after her family moved into their West Highlands home, her son got sick. She said after they learned of the flooding, they checked their crawl space and found mold. The crawlspace entrance is in her son’s room.

“We moved my son out of his room immediately,” Valencia said. “He cleared up within a couple of days. We told his pediatrician and he said it was more than likely related (to the mold).”

A pediatrician note and Valencia’s son’s medical chart were not available Friday.

She said Coleman Homes told her family the mold could not be related to the sickness.

“We moved him back in his room, and he got sick again,” Valencia said.

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COLEMAN HOMES’ SOLUTION

Coleman Homes, owned by Toll Brothers, contracted Northwest Disaster Services to work on the homes with the water and mold problems. NWDS restores homes damaged by fire, smoke, water, wind, mold and other damage.

Gary Botts, owner of Northwest Disaster Services, said in an email that the company has done work on several homes throughout West Highlands, though exact numbers were not immediately available.

“The most common problem in that area is water intrusion in the crawlspace,” Botts said in an email. “Many areas of the Treasure Valley have a clay layer that water does not soak through easily, so extra water from rain storms or sprinklers stays around.”

Rogers said NWDS inspected her home and told her she had 1,000 gallons of water in her crawlspace. Botwright also worked with NWDS for his flooding problem and said he had to contact them multiple times to finish the work they started.

After NWDS installed sump pumps in Botwright’s crawl space, one of them failed. It was replaced, and Botwright is concerned that he will have to keep a watch on the sump pumps for the life of his home.

Botts said NWDS installs “hundreds of pumps each year and occasionally one fails and needs replaced. They are a manufactured product and hundreds of thousands are produced each year. A certain percentage fail but it is a very small amount.”

Rogers said she hired a separate company to restore her home because she was not satisfied with NWDS. She used Ness Restoration, which offers a 10-year warranty on their work. NWDS only offered a two-year warranty.

Coleman Homes did not reimburse her for the work by Ness Restoration, and Rogers said she has spent nearly $15,000.

Botts said Coleman Homes takes the recommendation from NWDS for what needs to be done to the homes, and then NWDS does the work based on that recommendation. He said neighbors in West Highlands tried to get Coleman Homes to pay for work outside of the recommendations.

“By this, I am referring to downspout extensions, backyard landscaping, and any external drainage on the property,” Botts said in an email. “Items that are normally the homeowner’s responsibility to address. NWDS will contract to do this work also, but at the homeowners’ expense. One homeowner in particular asked us to include some of this work in the Coleman Homes scope of work.”

Botwright said he hasn’t checked to see if the NWDS pumps have removed all of the water in his crawl space, but believes the bigger issue in the Coleman Homes neighborhood is grating.

CITY’S RESPONSE

Mayor Darin Taylor said the city of Middleton inspected and approved construction of infrastructure of phases one through eight of the Coleman Homes subdivision because it complied with the Idaho Standards for Public Works Construction and Middleton Supplement.

“Excessive irrigation of residential and common lots, and landowners’ failure to retain water on their respective lots is likely the cause or contributing cause of the unfortunate situation regarding water in crawl spaces,” Taylor said in an email on Friday.

Rogers said neighbors have considered legal action, and worry since Coleman Homes has “deep pockets” they may get stuck in litigation forever.

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek.

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