We are continuing our series of posts of homeowner comments on the FDDs completed in their homes.
We are just baffled that, with 33 pages in the FDDP Survey Summary full of sad and sometimes heart-breaking complaints about the effects of mandatory FDDs (and in the midst of the so-called “Temporary Delay”), negotiation of Development Agreements continues unabated for projects that will require FDDs in order to obtain their Certificates of Occupancy.
Many of the comments are relatively short and poignant, such as these:
- We were one of the first repairs as we had so many instances of sewage backup and the floor was jack hammered up in 5 places to install check valves . . . these are problematic as I have already had to clear two of them including one from Mr. Rooter.
- Basement floor cracks due to jack hammer use. Unsure if west-front footing drain is connected to sump. Seepage along west front of basement.
- Having sump pump installed has ruined floor in utility room because installers had to drill and patch numerous holes. Cement is falling apart around pump rim. I hate the sump pump and think it was a waste of money to be installed. Never had an issue prior to installation, now it’s another piece of equipment to clean and maintain.
- Had to replace vinyl tile in room with sump pump, due to installation at my expense and labor.
- City never did final inspection to verify completion. Floor tiles left undone and ceiling was not restored. Trench settled and no filling by city. The sump has air hammer every time it operates and no reply from city about what to do. No follow through!
It only takes a minute to cut and paste the post above into an email and send it to the Mayor and City Council. Ask them what kind of program leaves owners with damaged basements, flooding, and emotional stress.
We will have another Litigation Update later today.
This is a series of statements by homeowners in the 33 pages of statements by owners about their experiences with FDDs. They speak for themselves and we are just going to start posting them, without much comment.
Here’s the second comment:
I begged not to have to do this and I feel that my personal rights were violated because I was forced into it. Now there is moisture around the sump pump to the extent that the tiles are loose, less storage space, worry about performance and maintenance, moisture outside perhaps? The garage floor area seems to have been affected, effort and time needed to investigate further and make repairs, financial loss for repairs and if our home is devalued, and emotional stress. I HATE what the city has done to my house and to my life.
The City is not hearing these kinds of complaints for the first time. Neighbors have been complaining for years, but usually at “neighborhood meetings” arranged by the City to muffle and blunt complaints, not address them. If you have complaint letters that you have sent to the City or an FDDP contractor, please share them here at the website.
The City has now published some of its results from its FDD Survey completed in January. As discussed in an earlier post, the Survey results are appalling, with 26% of homes (107 homes) with previously dry basements having water problems after FDDs.
Of the 44 pages of the Survey summary, there are 33 pages of statements by owners about their experiences with FDDs. They speak for themselves and we are just going to start posting them, without much comment. There is a lawsuit in preparation to seek a ban on future FDDs and relief for homeowners with FDDs. In the meantime we are publishing the testimony of homeowners to the burdens of FDDs in homes not designed for a sump pump as the primary storm water protection for the home.
Here’s a first comment:
This past year we had to have our pipe to the street fixed because it had become filled with mineral deposits. I was told that this is not common, but it caused flooding around my house on the outside, because the water had no place to go once it discharged into the pipe. It just cascaded like a fountain until someone came out to fix it.
This whole project has been a disaster for me and my family. Our pump runs often and we have worn out six of them since the first installation about 10 years ago. Fortunately I am handy and have been able to replace the pumps by myself. Otherwise I would have spent over $4000 on pumps. Thank goodness for the backup pumps which have saved our butts (and our basement) many, many times when the power goes out or when the main pump fails.
This fiasco has cost me a fortune and I would like to be reimbursed for all of my expenses. I don’t think I should have to sue the city to recover my costs, but I have complained many times and have had no satisfaction. Telling me that I am one of the few that has these kinds of problems does not make me feel any better. Before the installation I had no flooding or sewage backup or any water problems at all. Now every thunderstorm or heavy rain we have to worry.
If you only knew how many nights I had to spend down the basement watching over the pump! We have had to use bilge pumps from my boat to keep the water level down in heavy rain situations.
The City has released the preliminary results of a survey covering all homes where FDDs have been performed under the mandatory FDDP. The numbers are appalling, including this one: FDDs caused wet basements in 107 of 411 basements that were dry before the owner’s FDD was completed. That is 26%. We’ll discuss that in this post and then cover two other numbers in the next–continued sewage backups in homes with FDDs that had sewage backup problems pre-FDD and survey responses concerning emotional damage from FDDs.
As part of the City’s FDDP Effectiveness Study, OHM and Project Innovations, it’s “public engagement” subcontractor, have now concluded a survey of the post-FDD experiences of over 2,300 homes in Ann Arbor over more than 12 years. Here are three particular points from the preliminary results that stand out:
- Out of all respondents (a total of 411 homes) who reported having no “flooding/seepage/dampness prior to FDD,” 26% reported that they “experienced flooding/seepage/dampness after FDD” (for a total 107 homes).
- 39.68% of respondents reported an increase in anxiety.
- 27.64% who experienced sanitary backups prior to FDDs are still experiencing backups.
Given the above, it’s not clear why the City and OHM have not already discontinued any further study of FDDs. Just on the face of even their raw partial data, the FDD procedure is dangerous to people and property and merits a moratorium, not a study about doing more.
Based on the preliminary survey data, it’s looks as if the City’s solution to 200 residential sewage backups before the FDD Ordinance over 12 years ago has been to create 107 wet basements (and counting) with FDD installations. The survey has not been completely tabulated, but we think it’s likely that survey will show more flooding—well over the number of 200 residences in 2001–while the City proposes to do more.
26% Dry-Basement Flooding Rate
a2underwater has questioned the basic plumbing and physics of FDDs in postings at a2underwater.com. a skepticism you should now share. Though I am not particularly surprised at a high dry-basement flood rate, 26% is off the charts.
OHM has already endorsed the survey results and said to the CAC that it has 99% confidence in the survey results. The survey is intended as a tool for assessing the the wisdom of FDDs in 18,000 more FDDs in pre-1982 one-family homes in the future.
The 26% dry-basement flood rate strongly implies that if the City-required FDD procedures that have already been performed in 1,834 homes were to be repeated under the FDDP in a mere 5,000 of the remaining dry basements in Ann Arbor, 1,300 of those basements would have water damage. We are sure more than 40% of those residents have had their anxiety level further raised by the FDDP.
So the the first result of the survey, it seems to us, is that FDDs are extraordinarily prone to flooding dry basements and and cause anxiety levels they are willing to report.
FDD programs are one of OHM Advisors big business lines. FDD programs are extremely lucrative sources of revenue for companies that used to make their money digging drains and sewers for cities no longer willing to upgrade infrastructure.
If the City and OHM say that FDDs will remain on the table at the CAC, how would OHM propose that the City do those FDDs without providing a clear warning to the homeowner of the flooding risk and the risk of emotional stress? That wouldn’t be negligence or gross negligence. That would be malice.
Remember, this is a program that already has a long factual record on malice, including the many consistent claims of overbearing tactics by City contractor personnel, the long record of disinformation about the FDDP from the City and its contractors, and a history of “public engagement” in the Target Areas that many people call “divide and conquer.”
Next Post: Sewage Backups and Emotional Distress
The City Attorney’s Office now says that FDDs are actually “home improvements” that “benefit both the property and the owner.”
The CA’s Office is defending the FDDP and FDDs in writing again. The recent statement is part of an argument to the CAC that the burden of an FDD on the owner is minimal.
The statements come in recent memos from the City Attorney’s Office to the CAC for the FDDP Effectiveness Study, which is still ongoing.
Is your FDD (or your neighbor’s) a “home improvement”? Leave us a comment.
I have now had three incidents of water problems directly related to the sump pump that never happened before this installation. I just had to replace the sump pump, which failed (and turned out to be discerned as a “piece of crap” as said by my contractor who pulled it out) after having to deal once again with flooding in my basement. When all was said and done, this latest wet basement incident cost me another $650 for new pump, labor and blowers. I am beyond annoyed at the frustration and cost this ‘project’ has caused. I feel that [the City-approved FDDP contractor] completely took advantage and installed an incredibly inferior piece of equipment AND they convinced me, and the project director, that I needed to spend the additional $700 at installation for the backup battery which served zero purpose before it malfunctioned and died. GOOD FREAKING GRIEF.
In 2012, the City sent out a Five-Year Post-Installation Survey Questionnaire to a group of homeowners who had FDDs under the FDDP. A lot of the Survey was a sort of customer satisfaction survey concerning how satisfied or dissatisfied the homeowner was with the FDDP contractor, with the actual construction and installation for the FDD, etc.
At the end of the Survey, however, there was a garden-variety open-ended question just asking for any remarks people wanted to add about their experiences as homeowners with involuntary FDDs. The overall Survey response rate was so poor that the Survey was not deemed statistically valid.
On the other hand, 92 people responded to the Survey, which is a lot of people with FDD’s. Many of them also answered the “open-ended” question with now-increasingly familiar complaints about their FDDs, including complaints about flooding and the expense of operation and maintenance of the FDD installations.
We are just going to start posting these complaints from the 2012 survey (which were all anonymous) in a numbered series. We think these comments are among the most important data we have about the last 12 years of the FDDP because they are collectively a report on how well many of the people with FDDs were reacting to them, as homeowners and human beings, as of 2012. In truth, they weren’t reacting very well, which resulted in exactly NO CHANGE in the City’s pursuit of the FDDP. That is hard for us to understand.
With your permission, we’ll also post comments you send us at email@example.com.
The comments of these owners (and others to come, I am sure) frame quite clearly a big-picture question that we’ve wondered about for a while, namely, whether the problem of the FDDP (and perhaps FDDs in general), as an engineering idea (effective or not effective), is that it can’t be implemented in practice inside people’s homes. You have to violate the law at a very fundamental level to do it, in the first instance, and it also imposes an unfair, unyielding and unacceptable allocation of known risks and burdens (including, it has to be said, of physical labor) onto a small percentage of the City’s homeowners, specifically for the benefit of other residents.