Draper Homes Collapse Due to Unstable Ground

Homes in the Suncrest Neighborhood, Draper, fell during Spring rainstorms due to unstable soil.


Walking down Springtime Lane, it’s eerily quiet, only the sound of crickets interrupted by a rare car door give clues to the symbiotic nature of this neighborhood. In the distance, lone peak looms overhead, framed by soft clouds. On the ground, gamble oak nestles up against the curving edges of the bike path built below at Peak Park and bikers expertly navigate the twists and turns.

On a typical suburban sidewalk of Suncrest Neighborhood, we approach the devastation. A fence demarks the end of a line of perfect cookie-cutter family homes and a void of this pattern  appears as awkwardly as the gap between a five year old’s missing front teeth. Beyond the sidewalk, a steep drop off leaves questions as to why homes were built here in the first place. 

Two months ago, families in the neighborhood were forced to evacuate as their homes fell down the natural drainage of these mountains.  UGS geologist Greg McDonald cited landslides in the area due to heavy rainfall that created unstable soil  as the ultimate culprit in a report to the Salt Lake Tribune. 

Photos by Holly Lammert

However, it was unsure if it was the fault of the engineers or the people who built the retaining wall necessary to build a home in such a precarious spot . In the aftermath, it’s only fair to begin to question the builders, Edge Homes, and the City of Draper engineers who approved the designs to find out how such a thing could have been prevented and what is now being done to change practices so that this doesn’t happen in the future. Homes are still being constructed down the street by another developer. One of the construction workers cringes when we ask about the Edge homes collapsing, saying “shoulda peered down a little further, whoops.” 

Walking around this beautiful hillside that stretches into a mountain, one must consider the bigger picture of building a massive home on a mountain top and wonder if it is sustainable. Many roads in the area have significant retaining walls to allow for a flat lawn to accompany these 5800 square foot homes that sell for 950,000, nearly a million dollars. 

Is Edge Homes responsible when it boasts “skipping the wait to get a house?” A permit will get approved in 6-8 weeks, they promise. They recommend during this time looking at Pintrest to start planning the house, potentially pacifying the soon to be duped new home-owners.  

The CEO of Edge Homes, Jared Bignham, is a former contestant on Shark Tank for his entrepreneurial idea of the Adventure Hunt, an app that rewards adventure challenges with prizes. He was unable to comment at this time. Instead, we are left with the Edge Homes official statement, which asks more questions than answers.

 “Was this a design failure by the engineers? Was this a construction failure by the excavators and retaining wall companies? Was this a combination of both, or neither? We simply cannot answer these questions today,” the company stated. 

A neighbor pulling into her two car garage on the other side of the street laments the crowd that came to see the spectacle, she just wanted it to be taken care of and says it sucks for the families. One of the families had the opportunity to sell the house back to Edge Homes around December 2022, when cracks in the house started to give evidence that the hasty construction was meeting its timely end. 

While the human community cringes at the consequences of this forced intrusion of habitat, we wonder what the animals think. Most animals in this area migrate through the south and west-facing slopes of the traverse range. Only bear, elk and mountain goats remain  year round in the higher elevation. 

Down below, at the Draper City Hall, city officials do engineering studies to determine what is approved. A desire for freedom from regulations and increased revenue likely led to this hastily approved plan. 

“It just should not have been built there.” the construction worker for Domicile houses remarks. 

It’s a principle of human design. And this design has failed. As a 10th grader learning the pythagorean theorem in rural Utah notes, “It’s all about precision.” He’s considering a career in carpentry and construction. His buddy scoffs at the Math problems, asking “When would you use this?” 

As he leaves, a sign on the wall reads, “You are nothing without your failures. Thank them daily.” With this in mind, I wonder if I’ll find some gratitude at Edge Homes. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any more answers from Edge homes, leaving me wondering if they are just hoping to sweep this under the rug (or let it wash away down a mountain side). 

How can we prevent this in the future? The regular operating procedures if a development is planned is to get approval from the city. A shared responsibility to look after the residence, both human and animals, is a good start. The prayer at the beginning of the City Hall meeting pleaded, “let us be fair and judicious.” I hope the outcome of this tragedy will be. 

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