I-Team: Reclassification of sinkhole repairs in Hernando County leaves homeowners worried

County sent dozens of letters last month
Posted at 2:18 PM, Aug 27, 2017

“The county reported it as a repaired sinkhole, so we figured it was ok to purchase the home,” said Robert Ferguson, who bought a home in Spring Hill that he was told was a “repaired sinkhole” home.

He purchased the house in 2015, but said he didn’t know then that an investigation of the property had been done at the request of the property owner in 2001, which detected likely subsurface sinkhole activity.

The report Ferguson saw was conducted just a few months before by another engineer, which recommended underpinning the home.

The original report recommended that it be grouted, a more extensive and expensive process that involves injecting concrete under the surface to fill in cavities in the bedrock.

Last month, a giant sinkhole opened up in Land O’ Lakes.

That house was underpinned, even though an engineer recommended grouting five years earlier.

A total of seven homes in the neighborhood were condemned as a result of the sinkhole, which grew to an estimated 50 feet deep and 250 feet wide.

Days after the Pasco County sinkhole, Hernando County notified Ferguson and dozens of others that their homes are considered "unrepaired", since there was no mention of addressing subsurface issues in new engineering reports that replaced earlier investigations.

“This letter was to start a conversation and to see what we think we needed to do with these. Do we need to start calling them something different or labeling them differently?” said Hernando County Property Appraiser John Emerson.

The letter left Ferguson and others worried about his future property value and whether insurance companies would consider changing his coverage because based on the type of repair at his home.

Ferguson said he can’t afford to fix it the way that was originally recommended, even though he says he’s nervous about the subsoil activity near his home.  

“The report we got said back in 2001 it was $65,000 to do the grouting. Obviously, it's going to be a lot more than that now. And being a disabled retired firefighter, that's not in my book,” said Ferguson.

The I-Team is investigating the issue of how sinkhole repairs will be categorized in the future and what it could mean to people who live in repaired sinkhole properties Monday night at 11 p.m.

FULL STORY: County reclassifies sinkhole homes by repairs

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