San Antonio, Texas, March 10, 2010 — Centex outlined its four-point strategy today to address the significant soil movement that occurred on a hillside in the Hills of Rivermist community on January 24th.
The four-point strategy includes:
- First phase of slope stabilization work to begin immediately upon submission to and receipt of City approvals
- A newly-built retaining wall across the entire length of the slope below Treewell Glen
- Buyback offers extended to the 27 homes with certificates of occupancy revoked
- Specifics of its city-wide inspection program of all retaining walls
Terracon Consultants, the nationally recognized engineering firm retained by Centex, has been on the site over the past several weeks conducting extensive testing on the slope and subsurface areas. According to Terracon, its findings support the initial assessments that the slope failure and damage to the retaining wall was the result of deep soil movement on the slope above and below the wall.
"From day one, Centex had two primary goals: first, to ensure the safety of its homeowners, and secondly, to thoroughly investigate the cause of the slope failure and implement an appropriate resolution for the future of the community," said Laurin Darnell of Centex Homes. "Centex is fully committed to executing a solution to fully restore the entire hillside at the Rivermist community. This four-point strategy reinforces our long-term commitment to the community and its homeowners."
$5 Million New Wall to Take Six Months to Build
According to Darnell, the newly-built wall is expected to cost approximately $4-5 million with construction time of about six months.
The first step to implement the solution is performing short-term slope stabilization work, which will begin immediately upon submission to and receipt of City approvals and permits. This work includes drilling and inserting a series of stabilizing piers in an engineered pattern across the slope failure area. These piers will stabilize the area so that soil and damaged portions of the wall can be removed. This step allows Centex to begin building a new wall.
Centex Offers Buyback Option to 27 Homeowners
Centex has already offered home repurchase options to the homeowners who have had their certificates of occupancy suspended. Centex made this decision as a direct result of the length of time required to construct a new retaining wall and restore the hillside, as well as the inability of homeowners to return to their homes until the project is complete.
"These 27 homeowners have been directly affected by the slope failure due to their inability to occupy their homes as a result of the suspension of their certificate of occupancy" said Darnell. "This is the right thing to do for these homeowners who will be unable to occupy their homes for a lengthy time period while we construct the new retaining wall and restore the slope."
Based on initial conversations with homeowners, Darnell said many of them have expressed their desire to remain Centex homeowners, either by returning to their homes after the new wall is constructed or by purchasing another Centex home. Darnell added that visual inspections of homes above and below the slope indicate that few home structures have suffered any damage due to the failure of the slope.
As part of Centex’s buyback offers, Centex has offered to compensate homeowners for their moving costs, costs of home improvements they may have made, and other incidental expenses, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees to assist homeowners in reviewing legal documents. For displaced homeowners wanting to retain and return to their homes, Centex will provide them with or reimburse them for alternative housing until construction of the new wall is complete and a certificate of occupancy is reissued for their home.
Centex Outlines City-Wide Retaining Wall Inspection Program
As previously outlined, Centex has instituted a city-wide retaining wall inspection program. All neighborhoods in San Antonio that have retaining walls over 4 feet tall and built within the past three years will be inspected by an independent engineering firm.
The program includes, where applicable, visual inspections of the retaining walls, field survey measurements, and engineering analyses to ensure the stability of the walls.
Additionally, independent engineers are continuing to conduct voluntary home inspections in accordance with the program previously announced by Centex. For the 64 homes that were temporarily evacuated on January 24th, Centex has offered to pay for voluntary home inspections by an independent, third-party engineer (an engineer not previously involved with the Rivermist development) to provide homeowners with the assurance that their homes were not affected by the slope soil movement.
According to Darnell, so far the engineer’s reports have confirmed that the homes not immediately adjacent to the hillside were not affected by the slope movement and are completely safe for occupancy.
More information and updates are available at www.rivermistinfo.com.