The actress's dream house became a house of horrors, an expert witness testifies

By Alicia Dennis Stephen M. Silverman
September 08, 2004 09:00 AM

Sandra Bullock’s Texas lakefront dream home dissolved into a house of horrors, according to an architect who took the stand Tuesday in the actress’s court case against Austin developer and architect M.B “Benny” Daneshjou.

Among the maladies cited by architect Clark Griffith, of Construction Consultant Associates: mold growing on walls and underneath baseboards, leaky windows and doors, extensive rot growth, insect infestation, soggy insulation, a cracked chimney, an exterior wall sitting directly on the ground without a foundation and electrical wires exposed to water leaks.

Showing the jury a video of the construction defects, Griffith said: “All the pretty views of the building became very different during our testing. These results are miserable, indicating pervasive construction defects throughout.”

Daneshjou, 52, sued Bullock, 40, on June 21, 2001, claiming she still owed his company money for the home he designed and built for her. Bullock subsequently countersued, claiming Daneshjou’s work on the home was shoddy and needed massive repairs and that he committed fraud through unscrupulous billing practices.

The Speed star – who sat quietly in court, a vision in black and gray – claims she spent more than $6 million on the home, which now requires at least $4 million in repairs in order to be livable. Daneshjou claims any issues with the home are “minor and cosmetic” and counters that he was not allowed to correct problems with the home after Bullock fired him from the job.

While on the stand, Griffith said that the complicated roof on the home – supporting turrets, clay tiles and intricate connections between the types of roofing materials – was not designed well and should be completely removed and replaced.

He added that that when a contractor also serves as the architect, as Daneshjou did, more attention should be paid to the details of the home.