Dream home becomes nightmare

Richard M. and Suellen B. Evans had expected to be in their new dream home in Buckhall by this past Christmas.

Instead, their still partially finished $439,000 home could be bulldozed.

The Evans are in a legal battle with the Rivers Edge Homeowners Association, which has taken the Evans to court to stop construction of their house at 11439 Moore Drive.

The Evans sold their home in Springfield where they have lived for 24 years with the anticipation that their new home would be ready for them to move in by the holidays.

Construction came to a halt Oct. 29 on the house that is about 65 percent complete. Workmen were not able to finish roofing the house, and rain water has seeped in, wetting the interior floors and walls and causing considerable damage, Evans said.

“We are totally devastated by what has been taking place. Our dream has turned into a nightmare,” said Evans in an interview at the site recently.

The Evans woes began on Aug. 19 when Doug Postman, president of the Rivers Edge Homeowners Association, went to the building site to tell the couple that the association opposed changes Evans made in the original submitted plans.

Evans allegedly failed to comply with certain covenants and restrictions in the construction of the home, Postman said.

“The major concern from the homeowners [association] is the lack of harmony your home has with not only the neighboring homes, but also the entire subdivision. It does not capture the salient residential estate portrait. It does not possess the degree of stature prevalent in the community,” Postman said in a letter to Evans.

“The homeowners would not have any concerns as to the home harmonizing with the other homes in the neighborhood if you had built what you originally submitted on Nov. 9, 2000 and again in August 2002,” the letter said.

Circuit Court Judge Richard B. Potter issued a temporary injunction on Oct. 28, 2002 ordering that work cease on the project and set the matter for further hearing on Jan. 15, 2003.

Potter based his ruling of Article V of the homeowner’s declaration that requires that “No building … until the plans and specifications showing the nature, kind, shape, height, materials and location of the same shall have been submitted to and approved in writing by the directors of the association or by an architectural committee.”

Some of the changes the association charged Evans with making included positioning the house too close to the cul-de-sac, removing too many trees from the lot, and extending the house too close to a neighbor’s dwelling, adding a deck on the back of the house and that the house was significantly less than the minimum 3,000 square feet guideline for a two-story structure, according to “guidelines” in the Homeowners covenants. He also alleged that Evans went forward and placed his house on the lot after the review of his submission package resulted in disapproval by the board and architectural committee.

He suggested in a letter to Evans on Nov. 24 that the “homeowners have some suggestions/recommendations for improving your home to bring it more in harmony with the rest of the subdivision.”

The suggestions included the replanting of large trees to replace those cut down, adding brick or stone to the exterior of the house to add distinction and a feeling of measurable quality and increasing the height of the house by adding eight feet to the roof line to provide balance with the surrounding community design.

Evans thinks the demands are unreasonable.

“The association feels that since my home is a modular, it’s not up to their standards. I paid the modular firm, Nationwide in Roanoke, $283,000 to put the house on the lot, saving probably more than $100,000 that a contractor would have charged,” Evans said.

“I feel the modular home is equal if not better constructed than that of a local contractor,” Evans said.

A resident of Springfield for the past 29 years, Richard Evans said he had always spent a lot of time boating on the Occoquan River and that when his children finished high school he wanted to build a home near the river.

Suffering from multiple sclerosis since 1997, he said he wanted to build a home that was one floor and was wheel-chair accessible. He has sold his former home but is presently renting it from the new owners while he tries to resolve the construction stoppage on his new home.

He purchased the five-acre lot from a bank in 1999, which had taken it over from a bankrupt builder.

Evans said he got a good deal on the lot because at that time Moore Drive was a dirt road and residents wanting a high-scale home didn’t want to locate on a dirt road.

About six months after he purchased the lot the paving of the road began.

Evans said six homes were in the development when he purchased his lot but the homeowners association was not in existence until about six months later.

The development grew into an upscale development with the homes ranging from $400,000 up to $700,000.

“To me it was a perfect location — the place where I could build the home of my dreams. Never, did I expect this kind of a headache. Maybe I did make some changes … but I didn’t commit a crime. I shouldn’t be treated this way. Everything was OK with the county zoning board. Only the homeowner association is pushing me into bankruptcy.”

Evans said he has tried to reach a compromise with the association, “But they don’t seem to want to resolve the issue. Every time I try to meet their demands, they throw another road block at me.”

Postman would not comment for this story.

In the meantime, the house remains boarded up as the two sides continue to battle in court. Judge Potter had placed a $100,000 bond on the association and its 14 members on Oct. 28 , which Evans agreed to reduce to $100 “as a gesture of good faith” with the hopes that it would lead to a negotiated resolution and he could start work back up on his house.

“But I was sucker-punched by the association and I asked my attorney, Mark Dycio of Fairfax, to request Potter to reinstate the bond which it refused to do, saying he could not reverse what we had agreed to,” Evans said.

Under the code of Virginia, the appropriate amount of an injunction bond should be that amount necessary to protect the adverse party from damages as a result of the injunction.

“The association has done nothing but make unreasonable demands. I think Potter set the high bond amount with the hopes that we could work up a compromise, but it’s not happening,” Evans said.

The two sides met with Prince William Board of County Supervisor Ben Thompson, R-Brentsville District, recently in an effort to work out the differences.

“It really didn’t resolve anything, and the meeting ended up with the association telling me they will be back in court in Jan. 15, seeking a permanent injunction in Prince William Circuit Court to continue to stop construction and having the building demolished,” Evans said.

Thompson said he agreed that “nothing was accomplished at the meeting between Evans and the association.”

“The members were extremely critical of his home design but they didn’t have any real guidelines to help him. I have a lot of sympathy with Evans but it’s an issue the courts are going to have to resolve,” he said.

Molly A. Smith, attorney for the Rivers Edge Homeowners Association, said she didn’t want to comment on the case other than “we stand by what is in the ‘Bill of Complaint’ given the court on Sept. 25.

In it, Smith requests that the court issue an injunction directing Evans to cease construction, comply with the declaration and grant the association any costs it incurs in acting to correct the violation, including attorneys’ fees in the suit.

Similar Posts