GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) - David Dostal's plans to sell his house are falling apart.
He last showed his home in the Cleveland suburb of Garfield Heights last Wednesday to a prospective buyer. Then Thursday, Dostal's son, John, 14, one of 11 children in the family, went into the basement and noticed that two cinder blocks at the base of the back wall had popped out.
Soon, it was a 22-foot foundation hole. Then rain began washing some of the backyard into the basement.
A construction company has bolstered the home to guard against a total collapse. Dostal has insurance, but his company, State Farm, told him it will not pay on his claim. Adjusters have concluded that earth movement caused the damage. That is considered an act of nature excluded in typical homeowners coverage.
The Dostals had already planned to move to a farm house on 12 acres in New Baltimore, Stark County. But they were counting on the sale of their Garfield Heights house.
Dostal, who works for a remodeling company, said that if he does the work himself, it will cost at least $20,000. If he hires it out, the cost will more than double. Last week he was asking $120,000 for the house.
The backyards of houses on Andover Boulevard get extensive water runoff from a 40-foot hill that peaks 80 yards from the houses.
Mayor Thomas Longo, who viewed the home on Sunday, said he does not know the cause but is unconvinced it is earth movement.
"A wall just doesn't collapse," he said. "It gives signals. There were no signals."
State Farm spokesman Brian Maze said that unless Dostal can show structural damage before the collapse, there is no coverage.
"Earth movement is not covered, meaning sinking, rising, erosion, shifting, mud flow, mudslide or volcanic explosion," he said.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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