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Is your next-door neighbor doing foundation work without a contractor? Better check your insurance policy

FallenhouseA home improvement saga is playing out in San Francisco where a house being worked on by a young couple collapsed and crashed into the house next door.

According to this story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the couple had bought a distressed 1909 bungalow for $524,000, said to be the cheapest house for sale in San Francisco, and then proceeded to try and fix it themselves, without the benefit of a licensed contractor. Their goals included jacking up the house and replacing the foundation. But, according to the neighbors, they were using Kragen auto jacks, among other foolish tactics.

In May, the house fell off the jacks and slid 15 feet, crashing into the neighbor’s house.

According to senior building inspector Carla Johnson, as reported in the article: “Jacking up a building can be dangerous. If this were a professional putting in a new foundation, a much more substantial system would have been used. It was inadequately shored and braced.”

But now, the neighbor’s insurance company is questioning whether or not they are covered for another house crashing into theirs.

The moral of the story: if your neighbors’ house is within sliding distance of yours, and they are raplacing the foundation as a DIY project, best read the fine print on your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for an unexpected visitor of the lumber variety.

(Photo: Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz)

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