Surprise costs and extra work for some rebuilding after the Carr Fire

Those who lost their homes in the Carr Fire are starting to rebuild and in the process, some are surprised to hear of the cost to add soil to the property.

For those who opted in for the State Debris Removal Process, some aren't happy with how much was taken from the ground. One local construction company owner said he has to charge another $20,000 to bring in soil to replace what was taken out by the state.

Scott Birondo, the owner of Aztec Construction said his costs to add and compact new soil could be anywhere from $30,000 to $55,000 added on to the price of building the home.

Shasta County Public Works Director Pat Minturn said the State did exactly what it hoped to do. He said each property is different and it need to be up to the property owner and builder to decide how the soil is added.

"The footings were removed and when you remove the footings you're left with a hole about a foot deep or a little more," Minturn said of the state debris removal process. "Then, you've got gravel underneath that was your bedding material and that gets removed as well. The sites are left with bare dirt."

Bare dirty that many were expecting to be filled and compacted.

Birondo is helping rebuild over a dozen homes. He said "We were under the impression the soil would go back to pre-loss condition."

Minturn said officials learn something after each fire. He said after the Sonoma fires, some properties were left with giant holes. They have learned from this and worked to make more even ground for the homeowner to work off of.

"You're not coming back to the site that you left, because the site that you left had a house on it," said Minturn. "We are trying to create a blank slate for people to come in and build their home and these sites are left in a condition to where a typical builder should have no trouble."

City of Redding Public Works Director Brian Crane said the state did many things to help the property. The soil is now up to the owners.

"The Carr Fire Cal OES/Cal Recycle Debris Removal Program was only for Carr Fire related residential home debris removal at no cost to the homeowner," said Crane. "This included (but not limited to) household hazardous waste sweep and removal, site planning associated with the removal, air testing during removal efforts, dust/ash control measures before and during removal efforts, removal of actual burned debris, removal of concrete foundations, tarping all loads so the debris isn’t spread through the community, hauling and disposing in a certified landfill, scraping soil to remove top layer contaminated by the burned household debris, soil testing to ensure soil is clean for rebuild, re-scrape of soil if necessary, and erosion control (hydro seed, straw, wattles, etc.). This heavy construction activity and limited soil removal obviously disturbed the footprint of the residential structure."

Contractors said not all of their clients will have the soil costs covered by their insurance. It all depends on their coverage plan. Some will be paying out of pocket.

CalRecycle said, "After final inspection, CalRecycle delivers a notice of Final Approval to the City or County for acceptance so homeowners can begin the rebuilding process. Any additional steps or requirements needed prior to rebuilding vary by property."

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