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Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 01:39 PM   #1
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Foundation cracking

The stuff of nightmares.
First impulse is to crawl under the covers and hide.
Second is to sell and move.

Long story short:
- Slab foundation on clay soil that bakes dry in summer and turns into gumbo with fall and winter rains.
- Stabilizing piers installed per engineers recommendation, inspected and ok'd by engineer.
- Two page to-do list to avoid future problems given by same engineer, completed and maintained to date.
- Warranty on piers has expired.
- Couple years of drought, this summer particularly bad.
- Evidence of problems. I'll spare the details.
- Engineer retired right after my job, company eliminated this division.

Four foundation companies with four different ideas on what's wrong and how to fix. Four very different cost estimates.

Has anyone here had any experience with slab foundation problems? Any suggestions on how to get a good engineer?


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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 01:40 PM   #2
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Re: Foundation cracking

My mom has... and no..
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: Foundation cracking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud
My mom has... and no..
Go ahead and tell me about the horror stories experiences.
At least then I'll know what to look out for.* *

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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 03:36 PM   #4
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Re: Foundation cracking

Remember that if you sell, you have to disclose known problems. The crack in the foundation is probably going to reduce what buyers are willing to pay.

Another thing to consider is the possibility that the original engineer company didn't do the repair properly - which could be grounds for a construction defect lawsuit against the company (even if the engineering division is gone).

I'm not recommending a CD lawsuit, mind you, just pointing out that it might be a possibility.
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 03:54 PM   #5
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Re: Foundation cracking

I don't see anyway to hide the damage and I really don't want to sell and move. But if it gets anymore crowded, I'll buy another place to live and rent this one. But it hasn't come to that. Yet.

I'd much rather get the foundation repaired. The problem is finding a reputable company. A lot of them seem to just disappear after a few years, even "old, established" ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peggy
Another thing to consider is the possibility that the original engineer company didn't do the repair properly - which could be grounds for a construction defect lawsuit against the company (even if the engineering division is gone).*
The engineering company and the foundation repair company were separate. One thing I've noticed is that the "engineers" on the repair company's payrolls are biased to whatever repair method used by their company.

The engineer I used caught a couple of things such as an entire pier not put in (the hole was drilled, just not the pier) and another improperly collared pier. We had a 3-way meeting and he insisted on being there when they fixed the issues. Wish I could find another engineer like that but nowdays they all seem so ... young and short of experience.


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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 05:03 PM   #6
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Re: Foundation cracking

Quote:
Originally Posted by ibid
Go ahead and tell me about the horror stories experiences.
At least then I'll know what to look out for.* *

All the walls have cracks.. the ceiling have cracks.. the bricks have cracks.. some you can put your fist into...

It was 'leveled'.. and in fact is still 'level'.. however, it is in two pieces (maybe three) and they move around with the dirt expanding and contracting at different times and ways... I think one of them is drifting away and pulling the studs etc. that way... we continue to work on her front and back door as they keep shifting where the latch will not 'latch' and she can not lock the door..

She is old, so we don't do anything... will sell as is when she decides to leave...
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-14-2006, 05:21 PM   #7
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Re: Foundation cracking

With the present problem, my thought would be that you would want to find out why it was still moving and thus creating the cracking, which leads to my second thought.

Find out who the long time builders in town (the independent operators) use as an engineer. Also, check with the county/city officials for who does the most (best if they'll tell you, but they might not) work in their area. Third, find out who is the county/city engineering firm.

From that group, hire a principal in whatever firm you decide to hire. Should have at least 10 years experience, or has an elder engineer to assist him.

That person should be able to give you a pretty good idea of the stress that is being put on the foundation/pilings and the ability of the soil to handle it.

Then see if the first work was done right.

Of course, this advise is free, so that's about what its worth.
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-15-2006, 07:31 AM   #8
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Re: Foundation cracking

In my experience, it is mainly a task of keeping water as far away from the foundation as possible.* Rain gutters should take the water to tiles that empty away from the house and well below the grade of the house.* If you can, build up the flower and landscape beds to move water away from the house.* Heroic measures such as piers are likely to have little success if the water under the house is not significantly reduced.

Have you considered digging a deep trench around the house, filled with drain tile and porous rock, to locally stabilize the soil?

Good luck

JohnP
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-15-2006, 07:47 AM   #9
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Re: Foundation cracking

ibid, I know a really good independent foundation engineer in the Dallas-
FW area, pm me if you are interested
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-17-2006, 03:05 PM   #10
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Re: Foundation cracking

Quote:
Originally Posted by dt123
ibid, I know a really good independent foundation engineer in the Dallas-
FW area, pm me if you are interested
dt123,
I sent you a PM, please look for it.

ibid
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Re: Foundation cracking
Old 09-17-2006, 04:39 PM   #11
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Re: Foundation cracking

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP
In my experience, it is mainly a task of keeping water as far away from the foundation as possible.* Rain gutters should take the water to tiles that empty away from the house and well below the grade of the house.
...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ibid
...
- Two page to-do list to avoid future problems given by same engineer, completed and maintained to date.
...
Our house is on a slab on Texas clay gumbo.* A civil engineer lives in the house.* We have been told to keep the soil around the house at a constant level of moisture - not too dry, not too wet.* The in-ground sprinkler system is designed to not only make sure the plants get enough water, but to make sure the foundation is happy in its bed of gumbo.* We don't want to see the soil dry and cracked around the house ever.

I'm curious if the 2-page list of things to do said, don't let the surrounding soil dry out.

On Houston TV stations, 2 companies - both decades in existence - advertise foundation repairs, so I always thought that if our house needed it, we would easily find a company to do the work.
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