The owners of 49 Rancho Palos Verdes townhouses have sued the project's developer and designers, charging that their 3-year-old homes are cracking and crumbling because of shoddy construction and poorly compacted soil.
Walls, floors and roofs at the Villa Capri townhouse complex near Hawthorne Boulevard and Palos Verdes Drive West have begun to crack and buckle, owners said. Toilets and other fixtures have cracked and pulled away from walls, as have patios and balconies, the suit says.
So severe is the damage at Villa Capri that some residents fear that their $450,000 homes could become worthless, an attorney representing the homeowners said.
"Most of it is attributable to bad design and bad workmanship," attorney Michael J. Pearce said. "The most likely culprit is expansive soil left in place . . . and insufficient compaction of the fill when the property was graded."
The homeowners have sued project developer E. S. Development Inc. of Redondo Beach and its president, Eugene Schiappa, as well as Villa Capri's civil engineer, soils engineer and architect. The suit does not seek specific damages.
"We still need to figure out exactly what's wrong and what can be done to repair it properly," Pearce said. "I suspect it's a question of negligence and shoddy work, rather than an actual deliberate attempt to defraud people by building houses that they knew were going to develop problems."
Schiappa said his development company has been trying to take care of what he described as "a few minor cracks and repairs."
"We stand behind the project and we're still working on the project," Schiappa said. "E. S. Development has never refused to do any repairs. . . . We don't know what's causing the cracks, but we're investigating."