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Old 06-11-2016, 01:07 AM
11,256 posts, read 43,259,499 times
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Your primary concern with the likely bentonite soil problem at your foundation is to locate the source of the water flow into the area and divert that away from your site. Absent keeping that soil dry, any effort spent on reinforcing the structure will fail under the expansive forces of the site.

Typical sources could be natural sub-surface flow from rain/snowmelt, or could be from adjacent or nearby properties yard watering. As well, I've seen landscape watering systems deliver water right up to a structure. Due to the nature of bentonite formations, a neighbor could be watering their yard without problems but providing the water which affects your site.

Some subdivision developers of the era knew of the bentonite problems in their area and graded the sites to divert surface and sub-surface flows away from the home foundations as a solution to protecting the foundations. They gave notice that the sites were not to be regraded to the first buyers, but it's not uncommon for owners (or later owners) to have regraded their sites to obtain more utility; ie, sloped sites were leveled. Sub-surface flows were affected, oft times to the detriment of downstream home foundations.

I'd bring in another engineer who knows about bentonite soil problems with an eye towards minimizing or mitigating the water source by your foundation. You may find that french drains, regrading your site, or similar measures will be needed. In some areas, sump pumps in the basement area may be used to stabilize the amount of water near the foundation. Don't be surprised if the water source is from an inadvertent change in another homeowner's property and/or dependent upon seasonal water; ie, in some drier years, there's no problem at your site. In wetter years, the sub-surface flow overwhelms your foundation site. You need to prepare your structural site for those wetter years.

Sorry for your troubles. Bentonite soils in the area are a long documented problem yet many developers did not adequately prepare the building sites. Some did so in ignorance, some aggressively did so with site soil tests performed during dry times of the year. I've seen home owner warranty programs go bankrupt in some subdivisions due to so many houses having serious structure problems which could have been avoided if the developer had properly prepared the sites.
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Old 06-11-2016, 03:24 AM
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Thanks for all the advice - Does anyone have a recommendation of a structural engineer? Also, we had installed a french drain 1.5 years ago and it is running fine. We couldn't find any issues with the gutter (ran a hose in it yesterday). The engineer mentioned there could be a buried layer of sand deep in the soil that is diverting water to the house. All sides of the house was regraded (but not excavated). We have a pretty big lot so there is room for wall stabilization. The one picture of the cracked expanding soil looked exactly like our back yard before we put in grass (We don't water next to the foundation).
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:36 AM
Location: Betwixt and Between
463 posts, read 980,099 times
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Your problem is not uncommon in the Denver area. If you look and call around, you should be able to find qualified contractors to stabilize that wall. I would have the plans stamped by an engineer and I would only consider contractors who have experience in this type of work. They really have to know what they are doing. Soil mechanics can be tricky and this will protect you, not just from bad work but from the liability issue. Colorado has disclosure laws so if/when you sell the house, you have to disclose the problem on the disclosure forms. Idk if you've ever filled one out but they are pretty comprehensive. If you have a set of stamped plans and a building permit, you have proof that the issue was resolved. You may also need a paper trail for any potential future lenders who may not want to float a loan on a house with structural issues. The lack of proper documentation would probably be a deal killer for an FHA loan. GL
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