Sinking Idaho House Not Covered by Insurance

May 21, 2007

Tresia Stones woke up one morning last month to discover her Idaho house was settling into a sinkhole, cracks creeping across the ceiling and gaps appearing between the floor and the walls.

Stones gathered her family and moved everyone out of the house. Then she called her insurance company — only to find the damage isn’t covered under her policy.

The sinkhole likely occurred because of an undetected leaky water pipe in the home’s slab foundation. Paul Link, a geology professor at Idaho State University, said the home was most likely constructed in an area created when gravel and debris was deposited at the edge of the mountains by flooding. The leaking water may have eroded away the rock layers, causing the house to collapse, he said.

No water was visible around the house, so Stones never suspected a problem.

“All of this happened overnight,” Stones said, pointing to the damage.

The damage is considered structural settling, so the family will have to foot the $50,000 repair bill. To make the house habitable, a pumping jack will have to lift the structure, and the foundation will need to be repaired, or a basement will have to be dug. Plumbing and electrical lines coming through the floor will have to be replaced.

Still, Stones said she’s sticking around.

“It’s a really nice, quiet neighborhood,” she said. “We like it here. We’ll probably get a loan and do as much as we can.”

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