Blackwater Place Lots 52, 53 and 54
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PLEASE READ THIS REPORT
BEFORE YOU BUY THESE LOTS

The Oaks of Longwood Green
Lots 53 & 54
At the End of Blackwater Place
in "The Oaks" Subdivision
off CR 427 in Longwood, Florida

Owned by Brian Pinkney
doing business under
a number of corporate fronts
including but not limited to
Longwood Green, Inc.


SUMMARY

The above described properties offered for sale by Brian Pinkney were, according to the engineering reports, apparently created by backfilling approximately 5 to 10 feet of loose, uncompacted, organically-contaminated dirt over an existing layer of muck. As such, it's entirely possible that the soil on these lots is not capable of properly supporting a house or any other structure without first engaging in an expensive de-mucking process, building the house on an equally expensive pile system, or employing some other engineering solution.


This web site will detail the history of these lots, how they apparently were "created" by the original developer, Brian Pinkney, by backfilling on unstable soil, the structural problems that incurred in the house on lot 51, and the results of two engineering reports.


SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

This website contains a number of supporting documents you may review and/or download, including:

  1. Aerial Photograph depicting the location of the original sinkhole.
  2. Subdivision Plan showing general location of problem areas.
  3. Engineering Report by Carlander & Associates.
  4. Site Plan by Carlander & Associates depicting the boring locations and the approximate limit of the sub-surface muck.
  5. Geological Cross-Section drawn by Carlander and Associates.
  6. Photographs of the current settlement cracks in House on Lot 51 and of the existing tree on lot 56 depicting original elevation of soil on Blackwater Place (before excavation into other lots.
  7. Field Report by Ardaman & Associates on October 1, 1990.

INTRODUCTION

Greetings. My name is Jackson Bond. I was a homebuilder for 20 years, first in my home state of Virginia, and later in the Orlando, Florida area. I am currently employed as a consultant to construction companies across the Country, engaged in developing and implementing accounting and estimating software systems.


In 1992, shortly after I moved to the Longwood area, I purchased lots 51 and 52 in The Oaks subdivision from Mr. Brian Pinkney, the original developer of the subdivision, through his corporation Longwood Green, Inc. I paid approximately $15,000 each for the two lots, with the specific intention of building and selling a single family on each of them. Throughout the negotiating process, Mr. Pinkney assured me that all of his available lots in the subdivision were buildable.


THE HOUSE on LOT 51

In 1993, I secured a construction loan and proceeded to build a relatively standard 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage house on lot 51, the lot to the far right as you face the end of the court. Construction progressed smoothly, all the required inspections were met, and was completed in approximately 6 months. I listed the house for sale at $83,500.00.


Almost immediately, I began to observe what are commonly known as "stepping stone" cracks in the stucco on the left, right and rear walls of the house. These cracks, which follow the joints of the concrete blocks, were initially dismissed as the normal settling that occurs in any new house. Unfortunately, over a period of several months, these cracks continued to widen to the point that they were, in some areas, more than 1/4 of an inch wide. The cracks were apparent on the left side of the garage, above and alongside the left side windows, the left and right rear corners, and alongside the dining room window on the right side of the house. There was also cracks in the drywall inside the house.


Needless to say, these cracks had a negative effect on the marketing of the house, and in 1994 I took it off the market. After consulting with a company that specializes in soil stabalization, I elected to have Pressure Grouting of Central Florida, Inc. perform the pressure grouting procedure under the entire foundation in an attempt to stabilize the soil. This is a process wherein a cement fluid is pressure-injected into the soil an numerous points under the foundation. The fluid combines with the soil and hardens to create a large mass of solidified soil.


This pressure grouting process cost approximately $1,600.00, and in the vast majority of applications has the desired effect of eliminating the settling problem. Unfortunately, in this situation, it had exactly the opposite effect because problem with the foundation was not due to the soil immediately underneath the footers, but the soil several feet below the footer as is detailed below. In this situation, the pressure grouting had the effect of solidifying the soil immediately under the footers into a heaver mass that only aggravated the settling problem. In any event, at the time I assumed that the problem had been stabilized and I rented the house for the next couple of years.


LOT 52

In 1993, I negotiated a contract to build another similar house on the adjacent lot 52 for a customer. After signing the contract and receiving a deposit, I decide to have a full soils survey and engineering report done on Lot 52 before I began construction in order to establish exactly what foundation requirements would be necessary to prevent a repeat of what had occurred on lot 51. I commissioned the engineering firm Carlander and Associates in Casselberry to conduct the survey, which included a series of soils borings across the lot.


Carlander and Associates conducted their soils borings on September 29, 1993 and submitted their report to me on December 15. 1993. Needless to say, I was quite dismayed with their findings. The entire text of the report is available for review, but the following extracts tell the story:


"the entire Lot overlies a former wetland depression that had been created by sinkhole activity in the geologic past. The depression was filled with deep deposits of very soft and highly compressed fibrous to non-fibrous peat. these organic materials (Stratum 2) are unsuitable for construction upon."


"The front section of the Lot has been filled from 3.0' to 5.0' above the original grades. Varying with location, the fill (Stratum 1) extends to a depth of 11.0' below grade. However, as indicated by penetrometer test results at B-2, the fill below the water table remains in an extremely loose and quick condition. Also, from 1.0' to 9.5' of peat remains buried beneath the fill materials. This is reflective of an unsuccessful attempt to "demuck and backfill" the Lot. Beyond the toe of the fill, the land drops 5.0' to 6.0' lower than the front of the lot and the thickness of the peat ranges from 10.3' to 14.5'. Thus, if the organics were to be removed in their entirety at the rear of the Lot, about 20.0' of fill would be required to elevate the rear of the Lot to the common building grade. This also means that the limits of "demucking and backfilling" would have to extend at least 20.0' beyond the rear of the building lines in order to insure stable soil condition, to prevent the dwelling from sinking or shifting to the west."


"From a foundation soil point of view, the results of our investigation indicated that the subsurface soil conditions are unsuitable for construction upon."


After I read the report, I had a long meeting with Carl Carlander about the situation and to discuss my options. Mr. Carlander produced some aerial photographs of the subdivision taken when in the early 80's, prior to it's development, when it was still an orange grove. He showed me in the photographs a circular area encompassing the end of Blackwater Place, the wetlands behind the lots, and the backside of adjacent lots accessible from Citrus Tree Lane on the opposite side of the wetlands area. This clearly visible oval-shaped depression of several hundred yards in circumference indicated to him the existence of a former sinkhole, perhaps several hundred years old. He went on to explain that the sinkhole had undoubtedly drawn into it all the woods and plant materials on the surface at the time, the organic material having eventually decayed to create a layer of muck several feet below the existing surface.


Mr. Carlander next reviewed with me the results of their soils borings and the geological cross section they had drawn of Lot 52. The cross section indicated the presence of a layer of muck between 1 and 5 feet thick, approximately 10 to 15 feet below the existing surface. He pointed out a small pocket of muck they had encountered in boring #2, and that the soil compaction tests they conducted on the samples therefrom indicated that the lot was filled with several feet of uncompacted, organically contaminated fill.


From these findings, he had concluded that a some point "somebody" had first attempted to remove some of the existing muck, but had quickly abandoned that and had subsequently filled the lot with several feet of soil obviously removed from a nearby location. The fill dirt used was contaminated with an abundance of organic materials (read trees, grass, roots, etc.) which is not permitted as fill for a building site (it eventually rots away and causes settling problems). In addition, the fill was not installed by spreading and compacting it in layers, a process necessary in any filling process under a structure. This too would lead to extreme settling under any structure built upon it.


To finish with my questions, Mr. Carlander again reviewed the old aerial photographs and the later photos of the completed subdivision. It was obvious to his eyes (and to anyone examining the photos) that the elevation of the soil in the middle of the court at the end of Blackwater Place was originally several feet higher that the existing street, and had dropped off sharply from there down to the original wetlands area encompassed by lots 51 to 54. The later photographs showed the knoll had been removed to accommodate the grading of Blackwater Place, and that the area that had become the lots had been filled by several feet. You can observe the elevation of the original grade from the trees in the front yard of 247 Blackwater Place. The trees pre-date the subdivision development, obviously planted in the original soil, with a retaining wall of railroad ties shoring up the downhill side where the grade was remove to accommidate the driveway of 251 Blackwater Place. It's obvious that the prior grade was 4-5 feet higher that today.


From all this evidence, Mr. Carlander was able to summarize that it was apparent to him that "someone" had first engaged in a half-hearted attempt to remove the muck, but had abandoned the effort and had simply pushed the soil that had comprised the knoll in the middle of Blackwater Place down the hill into and overtop of the existing muck and soil that is now Lots 51 to 54. This scenario explains the changes in the soil elevations during the development, the muck layer, the uncompacted fill on the lot, and the photographs.


We next discussed the engineering options for rectifying the situation on lot 52, upon which I had a contract to build a house. It wasn't pretty. The options would be:


  1. Excavate down 10-15 feet, remove the organically contaminated soil and muck, and then fill and properly compact the excavated area. This process would be almost impossible considering that it would entail driving steel shorings next to the existing house on lot 51 to support it during the process, otherwise that house would slide into the excavated pit.
  2. Drive a series of steel or concrete pilings in a pattern under the proposed foundation, upon which the new foundation would be engineered to rest, thus the new house would not actually be supported not by the soil but by the pilings.

I obtained prices for both of these options, each of which exceeded $15,000, which was the value of the lot. At that point the only option was to give up. I negotiated a termination of my contract with the prospective buyer of the house on Lot 52, which cost me several thousand dollars to avoid a lawsuit. Several months later, I allowed the bank to foreclose on the lot, which wiped out my 50% equity and to which I am still liable.


In late 1996, after renting the house on Lot 51 for three years, I finally sold it for $65,000, approximately $25,000 below the comparable houses in the neighborhood, but enough to pay off the construction mortgage but not my original purchase of the lot. Of course, I disclosed the soil condition to the buyer, that's why they got the reduced price and a $5,000 bridge loan from me to close the deal.


In 1996, prior to the buyers taking possession of the house on Lot 51, I used my surveyors transit to "shoot" the floor levels of the floor at the foyer in the front of the house and the floor at the sliding glass doors at the rear of the house. I was astonished to discover that the house had settled more then three inches from front to back. Nobody was going to be playing a game of marbles on that floor!


In 1998, the owners of the house on Lot 51 had the side of the house re-stucco'd and repainted to cover the cracks, but their subsequent construction of a pool in the back yard has aggravated the situation, and the cracks are now beginning to appear again. You have to wonder about the intelligence of anyone who adds a 50 ton pool to the back of a house they know to be built on unstable soil.


LOTS 53 & 54

In 1994, after I had purchased Lots 51 and 52, I had a conversation with another builder, Mike McWeeney, who had dealings with Brian Pinkney. In 1990, Mike and Brian had agreed on a contract where Mike would build a house for Brian on another lot in The Oaks, and the as a part of that contract Brian paid for a series of test borings as a prelude to building the house. The engineering firm they selected, Ardaman & Associates, Inc. required them to rent the boring truck and crew for an entire day, so Mike had the crew do borings on a number of lots throughout the Oaks, including Lots 51 to 54. These borings were done on October 1, 1990, in what is essentially the middle of the lots, at the tree line.


The results of the borings were recorded by the drilling crew, although Brian didn't order subsequent engineering or compaction tests. Nevertheless, the borings do show the existence of muck along the tree line, in the middle of the lots, on all four lots. Mike provided me with a copy of the Ardaman & Associates Cover Letter dated October 29, 1990 and the boring crew's Field Reports which I have included here for those of you who might wish to review the raw data.


THE FOLLOWING is PURELY MY OPINION

In 1998, I observed that Brian Pinkney had contracted with two separate real estate agents to market Lots 53 and 54. This is vintage Pinkney: he can't use any of the previous agents because they know about the problems with the lots, so he brings in new agents and doesn't tell them anything. In my opinion, he doesn't care, he's the kind of guy that would make the deal and then put the the new buyer in a position to sue him after they discovered the problem, all the while proclaiming that he personally doesn't know anything about any problem with the lots. Hopefully, this website solves that problem.


MORE OPINIONS and OTHER INTERESTING HISTORY

The following two stories were related to me by the respective parties. Although I believe the validity of the information, I cannot state categorically that it is 100% factual. I have not undertaken to formally investigate the issues because I simply don't care. You will have to investigate the public records and decide for yourself.


Over the past several years, my involvement with the local Home Builders Association has brought me in contact with a couple of other builders who have had dealings with Mr. Pinkney. Bill Silliman was the builder Brian contracted with in the mid 80's to build the house on lot 55. He advised me that Brian reneged on paying for a number of changes he requested on the house, and Mr. Silliman sued him. The $10,000 suit took five years and cost him $50,000 as Brian fought every step of the way, but eventually Mr. Silliman got a judgment for the full amount, including interest and attorney's fees, and to this day every lot sold in the Longwood Green subdivision pays off part of the judgment. Mr. Silliman told me the story, and also told me that Brian knew then that the lots at the end of Blackwater Place were filled on muck.


I also met Perl Lindhome, the builder who built the vast majority of the homes in The Oaks. Perl told me that he knew from the subdivision excavation contractor that the lots at the end of Blackwater Place were backfilled on muck, that's why he skipped those lots when he was building on all the others. He told me that he knew from conversations with Brian that Brian was well aware with the problems with the lots.


Over the years, as I sometimes tell this story to people, I am often asked two questions: "Why didn't I sue Brian Pinkney myself?" and "Am I worried now that he might sue me because of this website?"


First, I didn't sue Brian in 1995 because, after the losses I sustained from the lots, I didn't have the money to engage him in a protracted lawsuit. By then I knew Brian's methods, and I suspected that he would make me spend $50,000 fighting me every step of the way as I would try to recover the money I paid for the lots. At this point, the four year Statute of Limitations is long past and there isn't anything I can do to him now.


Second, no, I'm not worried that he will sue me now, in fact I would encourage it! You see, not only is everything in this website 100% true, but if he was to sue me now, then I could counter-sue him for the original fraud because it would be him that would have brought the issue up, and he knows it.


CONTACT ME

If you should wish to contact me regarding the contents of this website or simply to discuss my experiences in doing business with Brian Pinkney, you may do so by Email or by calling me at 407-831-6088.



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