Richmond residents voice concerns over new neighborhood builder

RICHMOND, Texas – Residents in a Richmond neighborhood said one homebuilder is not being a considerate neighbor.

They said the construction of a new home next door is causing mud and water to seep onto their property, and they are the ones having to foot the bill. With the weekend rain forecast, those neighbors are now hoping something gets done soon.

"My hope is that they send someone out here quickly -- to try to do something," said Richmond resident Sam Alba, who lives on Sage Creek Court in the Rivers Edge subdivision near the Brazos River.

Alba bought the home in February, hoping to steer clear from flooding.

"I thought if it never flooded during Harvey or Memorial Day, it's never going to flood," Alba said. "But I never knew they were going to build this house."

Alba's home, which is build on street level, is directly next door to a plot of land with a large mound of dirt -- construction for a new home by builder K. Hovnanian, according to Fort Bend County officials. County Engineer Rick Staigley said K. Hovnanian was approved for a development permit in February. Staigley said according to the most recent 2014 flood plain maps, the home had to be built 2 feet higher than homes built before 2014.

"It's about 4 1/2 feet of dirt," said Sydney Dawson, who lives on the other side of the plot of land.

Whenever it rains, Dawson said, he braces himself.

"What it does is, the sediment fills in the low spots in the drainage, and it won't drain anymore, so it just fills up with water," Dawson said pointing to the side of his home.

Dawson said sometimes when it rains, he gets feet of water that seeps under his fence and surrounds his home.

"It was full of water back here. It was like a river," Dawson said.

County engineers said the agreement in the permit required K. Hovnanian to build a concrete retaining wall to keep the mud and water out. Staigley said it should have been built prior to construction. The county received complaints from neighbors of water and mud encroachment onto other properties in March.

The county issued a letter to the homebuilder informing it that it was not in compliance with the development permit for the following reasons:

  • The placement of fill material was encroaching on the two adjacent neighbors.
  • Required retaining wall for the lot was not in place and needed to be built prior to any further construction.
  • Proper drainage from the back of the lot to the front needed to be established.

On April 13, Staigley said, the homebuilder responded that it had encountered conflicts with the utilities at the back of the lot and the retaining wall had to be redesigned. Staigley said the process typically takes a week to do.

"They filled in all the dirt and never built a retaining wall," Dawson said.

Alba said his home is filled with mud -- and even during regular rainfall, the water gets close.

"I'm worried after this weekend I'm going to replace my hardwood floors," Alba said. "This is not the Father's Day present I want."

Alba said at one point, his fence gate wouldn't open because it was stuck in mud.

"I really couldn't open it. It's been cleared a little bit," Alba said.

He said K. Hovnanian had a worker dig out the mud, but Alba said that would not do much to help him whenever it rained again.

Fort Bend County engineers said the mud and water should not be encroaching onto any other property and as it stands, the homebuilder is not in compliance with the permit requirements.

Dawson spent hundreds of dollars on plywood, making a dam-like structure to protect his home.

"First, I had to dig out all the mud and clay, and I put it down on top of grade so no more dirt could come in," Dawson said.

Alba said this should not be his concern.

"[The homebuilder] told me [to] do what I need to do to protect my own property," Alba said.

County engineers said that as of June 6, homebuilder representatives told them that they were obtaining new bids for a retaining wall.

Neighbors said if it floods, insurance may not cover it because it would technically be a man-made flood. They said any action by the homebuilder after this weekend may be too little too late.

"If they were going to build the house -- they should have protected the neighbors before they even started," Alba said.

KPRC reached out to K. Hovnanian multiple times and has yet to hear back.