Jagged slabs of asphalt shingles sailed from the top of Rashid Khalid's West Springfield home and landed 40 feet below with the finite thud of a house being dismantled from the top down.
After months of negotiations between Khalid and Fairfax County to bring his residence up to code, a flurry of attempted repairs, court orders and $30,000 in accrued fines, construction crews arrived Monday to demolish the ungainly dwelling -- and rebuild it in its original form. Inspectors said the violation-laden structure, which Khalid said he has spent more than two years and $60,000 adding on to, was a fire hazard.
The strains of working hammers and saws this week were clearly welcome sounds for neighbors in the 7700 block of Harwood Place, some of whom had watched in horror as the Khalids' November 2000 plan to build a small one-story addition (a deck and a sunroom) to their 40-year-old rambler snowballed into a prolonged do-it-yourself project that grew to three stories and incorporated more crooked angles than building permits.
"I was getting calls to my office, people saying, 'So? Is anything going to happen or not?' " recalled Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (D-Braddock), who hosted a community meeting in January to talk with frustrated neighbors.
"It's been such a mess," said one neighbor who can see the Khalids' home from his front stoop. "I think now everyone's pleased."
Everyone, that is, except Rashid and Rukshana Khalid, whose attorney, Jerome Friedlander, petitioned the Virginia Supreme Court last week to enjoin the demolition.
"Because of their economic situation they couldn't meet the deadlines," Friedlander said yesterday, noting that Rashid Khalid traveled back to Pakistan in December to try to raise money in order to comply with the county's building specifications. The work on the home's exterior, Friedlander said, was almost complete.
"They didn't have to have their lives torn apart like this," he said. "I don't care if they were at fault or not. People get into bad spots, and that doesn't make them bad people. Running out of money doesn't make them bad people."
In addition to the fines -- which were levied over a two-month period after the Khalids failed to meet repair deadlines -- the couple also is liable for the $46,400 it will cost the county to tear down and rebuild their house over the next few weeks, as well as an estimated $23,000 spent on a structural engineer.
If they cannot pay -- and Friedlander says that's likely -- the county will put a lien on the property.
Rashid Khalid, who could not be reached for comment, said earlier he saw nothing wrong with expanding his addition, which, he noted in November, was "still standing" after a year.
County officials say they gave the Khalids every opportunity to fix the myriad electrical and structural problems, entering into a consent decree July 23 that set out a schedule for them to complete all the work on the addition. It was, county officials said, a second chance.
"It's unfortunate things had to turn out this way," Bulova said yesterday. "It's sad. But they'll have a home to go back to where they can start all over again. Hopefully not building something."