(FLORHAM PARK, N.J.) — The $1.6 million “dream house” a New Jersey man had built for his wife 10 years ago has become a never-ending nightmare for him.
When the house in Florham Park, New Jersey, was completed in 2007, Humayun Akhtar, 66, discovered the home’s interior and exterior had cracks and that the house was “sliding down the hill it was built on,” he told ABC News Thursday.
The house is “unrepaired and uninhabitable,” according to court findings, which added the soil the home was built on was “of insufficient load-bearing capacity to hold the building.”
A reporter from ABC News station WABC-TV in New York visited Akhtar’s home Wednesday and put a marble on the floor, which rolled in the direction of the hill’s slope without being pushed.
Akhtar said he’s never spent a day in the house, but he’s had to pay its mortgage in addition to the mortgage of the Livingston, New Jersey, house his family has been residing in.
Joseph Natale, who owned JDN Florham Park, the entity developing Akhtar’s home, told ABC News Thursday that he and the main builder, Robert Deluca, asked Akhtar multiple times to let them fix the problems with the house, but he wouldn’t let them.
“We also tried to settle with Akhtar on numerous occasions,” Natale said, “but he would not hear about fixing the house and wanted nothing to do with those things.”
Deluca added that he built nine other homes in the development, including one for himself, and none were found to have any problems.
Akhtar said he didn’t want the builders to do anything more to the house because he was concerned they would just conceal the problems rather than fix them.
“I didn’t want them to just do some Band-Aid patch,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar sued JDN FP, Natale, Deluca and Deluca’s contracting company, Deltrus LLC, in 2008, alleging consumer fraud for building the home without determining that the soil was strong enough to bear the house.
The trial was delayed for three-and-a-half years because the defendants repeatedly failed to post security bonds the court ordered, Akhtar’s lawyer, Jay Rice, told ABC News Thursday.
In 2011, a judge suppressed the defendants’ answers because of the violations and ruled JDN FP, Natale and Deluca violated the Consumer Fraud Act and owed Akhtar $7.4 million in damages, Rice said.
However, a New Jersey appellate court reversed the verdict last month, stating that Natale and Deluca had been given an inadequate opportunity to defend themselves, and a new trial with a jury will decide the case, Natale’s lawyer, David Stanziale, told ABC News Thursday.
Akhtar’s lawyer said they are trying to appeal the appellate court’s decision, adding he and Akhtar would apply to bring the case to the New Jersey Supreme Court Thursday.
While Akhtar said he believes he’s the “innocent victim” of people trying to defraud him, Natale and Deluca said this isn’t the case and that they wish Akhtar allowed them to fix the problem years ago.
Meanwhile, the Akhtars’ dream home is going into foreclosure, Akhtar’s lawyer said.
“This whole thing has destroyed my life,” Akhtar said. “I bought the house as a dream house for wife, and now we have nothing, and it’s taken a toll on me emotionally and financially.”
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