It’s the kind of home many families dream about.
Tom and Pam Hatcher waited their whole lives to build their retirement home in the Lee’s Summit Park Ridge subdivision.
The custom built home includes a spacious floor plan, high ceilings, large windows, a spiral staircase and downstairs bar area for entertaining.
From afar, it appears to be perfect.
If you look closer, you’ll see the problems.
The Hatcher’s moved into the home in August of 2014.
Pam saw the first hairline crack in January of 2015. She didn’t think twice about it.
About two months later, she recognized the crack had grown, even differentiated.
It was the first of dozens of cracks in her brand new home.
“One night I just had a gut feeling and I took a razor blade to all the brand new carpet downstairs,” explained Pam. “And the entire basement slab is just cracked everywhere, it's like a spider web."
In tears, Pam ran upstairs to tell her husband.
“I said ‘honey, I said, this can't be fixed. I said, I said, this, our dream lot backing up to the trees and common area, this cannot be fixed."
The Hatcher’s contacted their builder, Max Wyss, and he and the engineering firm he used inspected the home in April and May of 2015.
41 Action News obtained the reports, which blame the cracking on a change in the soil density and poor drainage. Apex Engineers, Inc. writes “it is the opinion of this firm that the majority of the movement and cracking observed is most likely due to the swelling of the sub-grade soils.” It also cites the possibility of “a failure of the basement slab.”
In one report, Apex suggests cutting off the top half of the house, tearing out the lower half, then digging down 24 inches to rebuild the foundation.
The Hatcher’s got a new appraisal on their home and found the repairs would cost more than it’s worth.
The contract signed by the Hatcher’s and Wyss included a one-year warranty, calling for the builder to fix any problems or buy the home back should a resolution not be agreed upon. Wyss has done neither.
"What did I do to not fulfill my part of the contract? And for this to be occurring now, is just unfathomable,” Pam said.
The Hatcher’s hired geotechnical engineer Gary Van Riessen for a second opinion.
Van Riessen’s report found several problems with the concrete holding the home, citing some of the piers were not poured centered or drilled deep enough into the earth. Van Riessen added that Apex’s claim about the soil change is “invalid and unsubstantiated.”
For drainage to be an issue, the water would have to run uphill, which as Van Riessen writes, “a practical impossibility.”
41 Action News reached out to Max Wyss and his attorney Peter Collins on multiple occasions.
Wyss refused to answer our questions when we tracked him down in Lee’s Summit.
His attorney also declined to talk on camera, instead issuing this statement.
“Max Wyss and the Wyss family have been building fine homes in Kansas City Metropolitan area for over 50 years. Max Wyss enjoys an excellent reputation as a quality home builder, and is proud of the hundreds of homes he has built. The lawsuit filed by the Hatchers is the first of its kind in his career. The case is currently in litigation. Mr. Wyss looks forward to his day in court, and the opportunity to present his defense to the claims against him and his business.”
The Hatcher’s filed a lawsuit in Jackson County in October of 2015.
The case was thrown out by a judge, after the defendant brought in several third-parties he used to build their home. One of his contracts with a third party calls for arbitration only.
"In the meantime, we're still paying the mortgage on this house. We're still paying the gas bill, the water bill, the electric bill, the HOA fees,” said Pam.
The Hatcher’s have lost more than a million dollars. They’re begging for a resolution.
One day, they hope to rebuild their dream home.
“This was supposed to be our retirement home, and we can't live here now."
41 Action News checked with the Attorney General in both Kansas and Missouri. Neither have any complaints on the companies involved.
Lexi Sutter can be reached at email@example.com.