Settlement reached in case of West Colfax construction defects

The builders put in beams to prevent the homes from collapsing.

A Sustainable Design Build complex, March 7, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A Sustainable Design Build complex, March 7, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The builders and owners of a row of West Colfax houses who sued a structural engineer have settled a case that arose after the city raised safety concerns about the homes.

The two sides filed court documents in Denver earlier this month asking that the breach of contract case be dropped and a judge granted the requests.

Daniel LeMier, whose DL Engineering was the defendant in the suit filed last year, told Denverite that under the terms of the settlement all he could say was that “we’ve reached an agreement with the other party and settled it.”

Builder Mike McCarty said he, Zach McKendry with whom he owns Sustainable Design Build and the homeowners who joined their suit had, following mediation, reached a settlement agreement with DL Engineering’s insurance company. McCarty said Sustainable Design Build was able to recover less than a quarter of the losses he blames on the engineer, but that the terms of the engineer’s insurance coverage limited what could be recouped.

Sustainable Design Build had stated in court documents that “the structural engineering for the projects was so deficient that emergency shoring methods had to be taken to prevent potential collapse of the projects.”

Scott Prisco, Denver Community Planning and Development’s chief building official, had told Denverite the problems stemmed from miscalculating load capacity. The city ordered Sustainable Design Build to replace beams on 13 townhomes, some of which were already inhabited. Sustainable Design Build undertook the work at its own expense, which McCarty and McKendry said threatened their financial future.

In court documents responding to the suit, DL Engineering said the city’s building department and SAFEbuilt, a private company contracted to review building plans, had misinterpreted the building code. The engineering company did not elaborate on that point, but went on to say that “to the extent that the claims and allegations asserted by plaintiffs are  true, then the building department breached its duty, and the damages suffered by the plaintiffs were caused in whole or in part by the negligence.”

The city of Denver was not named in Sustainable Design Build’s suit.

Sustainable Design Build and the homeowners had sought unspecified damages from DL Engineering. The amount would have been determined at trial.

Sustainable Design Build’s McCarty said his company has had to cut back on operations because the episode has left it with little cash to invest in and develop real estate. Now the firm works in remodeling and additions, he said.

“The one thing we’re happy about is we felt really good that even though this wasn’t our mistake … we came to the plate and we fixed people’s homes,” he said.

Corrects previous version which placed the West Colfax homes in the wrong neighborhood.

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