Dream home a nightmare

25 February 2008 | 04:59 Code : 16844 Geoscience events
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It was to be James and Gail Milne's dream home in the desert, a new house on Jack...

  It was to be James and Gail Milne's dream home in the desert, a new house on

Jack Nicklaus Boulevard
in a tony neighborhood of PGA West.They paid nearly $500,000 about nine years ago."We bought it thinking this is where we're going to be for our retirement," James said.Then came the cracks in their dream and their home.Outside in the driveways and sidewalk. On the home's exterior. Then, the interior walls.Today it's as if the home was picked up and, in two giant hands, wrung like a wet dish towel.Long, finger-width cracks slash up walls and across ceilings in multiple rooms of the home.Fissures run along the floor slab under expensive slate tiles. Wood-beamed truss frameworks in the garage roof swing free ripped apart.The couple sank their life savings into the home, Gail said.Added James, "We feel like we're held hostage in this house, because we can't do anything with it. We can't sell it. Nobody's going to touch it the way it is."The Milnes and three of their neighbors in the PGA West neighborhood experiencing similar problems filed suit against the developer, KSL Land III Corp. of Delaware. The homeowners claimed poor design and shoddy construction created the problems. The company denied the claims, and the lawsuit is pending.But a scientific report released in December has the homeowners claiming the water district as also culpable for their damaged homes.Robert Gilliland Jr., attorney for the homeowners, noted that the Geological Survey study references an underground fissure discovered in 1948 in the area of his clients' homes."As the water has been pulled and pulled by Coachella Valley Water District, it's caused that fissure to reactivate," Gilliland said. "It's causing the ground to shift and move and pull and twist."Unfortunately, these immediate homes are sitting in the epicenter of that movement, and now they are feeling the effect of the damage."

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