A property appraiser in Florida’s Hillsborough County has called on the county leadership to consider creating a tracking database for all sinkhole inspections and repair assignments. Bob Henriquez said a “start-to-end tracking method” identical to measures in Pasco and Hernando counties will require sinkhole investigators such as geologists or geotechnical engineers to apply for permits before working onsite. The information will also help house hunters check if their prospective home is endangered by potential sinkhole formation before making the purchase.
Florida’s affair with sinkholes is just as tumultuous as that of its occasional struggles with hurricanes. Three hurricanes that hit central Florida in 2004 resulted in a massive sinkhole that cut a thoroughfare just outside Deltona. A man in Seffner was never found after his entire bedroom fell into a 20-foot-wide hole a few months ago, resulting in the house being torn down and nearby homes evacuated as well. Such incidents demand a fast response from Florida sinkhole repair specialists such as the Foundation Services of Central Florida Inc.
People who’ve never seen a sinkhole up front may be in for a surprise if they notice portions of their property beginning to dip slightly. This can result in their calling a contractor to address the situation. Henriquez said there was a problem with the matter because the investigating firm also did the repair, and no public records on the remediation were done.
As sinkholes occur because of pockets developing underneath the surface, with the soil above gradually giving way, the contractor needs to study the entire area for such pockets. Existing voids should be filled in with pressure grouting which entails pumping a low-slump solution into the underground karst pockets to stop the dipping.
Henriquez’ concerns over the lack of sinkhole repair records have merit. His office has tracked 1,266 sinkhole cases over the last 13 years – and around half of them went unrepaired, or were fixed but never had a remediation record. The new measure will require the contractor to file the remediation reports, which also helps homeowners get a new property valuation that can result in lower property taxes. Quality sinkhole repair contractors will educate and assist their clients with related issues as well, such as the state’s sinkhole insurance laws.
Accuracy and speed are essential in saving a property that is on the brink of a sinkhole about to show up. Experts in sinkhole repair for Florida’s most high risk sinkhole areas, notably Spring Hill in Hernando County, and adjacent Pasco and Hillsborough Counties, like Ocala based Foundation Services of Central Florida Inc., want to make things work in an accountable manner, with a focus on technical competence and courteous, helpful customer service. Although the Hillsborough County Commission has yet to hear from the county attorney’s office on drafting a tracking ordinance, Commissioner Al Higginbotham said the measure is an “additional safeguard” for the community.
“Of everyone we talked to, they gave us the most reassuring feeling and walked us step by step through the process… Not only was the work performed efficiently and with the utmost care and concern for our home, but the crew was outstanding. They were polite, cordial and always careful in cleaning up after themselves, and we never felt intruded upon.”