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Old 03-23-2007, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Colorado
269 posts, read 1,186,751 times
Reputation: 191

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We're looking at buying a home in Superior. the home seems to suit our needs for now but it seems to have problems with shifting. The basement floor seems all uneven (I'm not sure about what kind it was below, wood/concrete- it was all carpetted). The garage also shows some signs- the floor under the door is not even and in the present condition it is not possible to open the door.
A drive around the neighbourhood showed us that many of the neighbours seem to be having similar problems.

I'm a first-time home buyer and this is making me nervous. What should I look out for? Is there any way to fix/mitigate the shifting? Should I get a construction expert to look at it before I make a move? I did not see any good rainwater drainage from the roof which made me think that the owner was probably negligent.

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 03-23-2007, 02:22 PM
 
2,755 posts, read 12,142,220 times
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That area is notorious for expansive soils. I think you need to get some expert advice, or abandon that neighborhood altogether. Structural problems with a house are nothing to mess around with.
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Old 03-23-2007, 02:54 PM
 
Location: The 719
16,028 posts, read 24,047,978 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kryptos View Post
The basement floor seems all uneven (I'm not sure about what kind it was below, wood/concrete- it was all carpetted).
I would think that the subfloor is a concrete slab. Maybe I didn't understand your comment.

For example; how is the carpet bonded to the subfloor? Is it installed with adhesive directly to the slab? Try to pull up the carpet in the middle of the floor. If it's glued to the slab there won't be any padding underneath. If it does have padding it is probably installed by stretching the edges to a tacky strip around the perimeter. You should be able to pull the carpet up from the floor if you get away from the edge and you'll feel a padding underneath. I'd imagine this would be hard to do with a concrete sub-floor. I'm not well versed on residential installations. I am however experienced with industrial and commerical flooring installations. I assume that this is a broadloom carpet installation as opposed to tile.

If your basement floor is uneven, I'd say that it is a bad sign.

I had one heck of a time removing a glued carpet from the slab. Once the slab is exposed, then you can get an idea of what you are dealing with.





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Old 03-23-2007, 03:01 PM
 
Location: The 719
16,028 posts, read 24,047,978 times
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Oh, here's the floor after I'd finished it:

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Old 03-23-2007, 05:03 PM
 
530 posts, read 2,483,203 times
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We looked at a lot of houses in Superior but we eventually bought across the highway in Louisville. One of the reasons was the soil problems in Superior. Some homes that show signs of settling have been "retrofitted" by the builders. You might want to ask if this has been done. It is a major problem in the area, some outdoor stores at the nearby Flatirons Mall are closing because of it.
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:47 PM
 
23,012 posts, read 42,140,195 times
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Default kryptos....

....do not walk, but RUN to the nearest exit.

My sis knew a doctor in CO Spgs whose new home was CONDEMNED after 1 year due to expansive soils. Don't mess with it.

MickTooth said: "some outdoor stores at the nearby Flatirons Mall are closing because of it." That counts as a major debacle...when commercial buildings shut down due to these issues. Lawsuits are SURE to follow.

If you buy a brand new home and are having it built to your order as you wait for it, be sure to address the drainage issues carefully with the builder and the landscaper. Hire the landscaper EARLY. Every new home is supposed to have a soils report, and if the soils are bad, the builder can take preventative measures, which will cost you more, but is your only assurance that you may escape the problems with expansive soils. You must make sure, else after it's built, YOU own it, lock stock and problems. A solution for the drainage from downspouts and concrete pads is critical. Equally important is the issue of neighboring lots and how do they slope...i.e., do they slope downhill to YOUR house, if so, you will own their water too. Watch out.

If it's an existing home, and a realtor shows you clunkers with soil issues, fire them and hire a good one.

s/Mike from back east

PS: For more info, use the Search the Forum tool with keywords such as: bentonite or soil or expansive

Last edited by Mike from back east; 03-23-2007 at 09:47 PM.. Reason: Add a PS
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Colorado
269 posts, read 1,186,751 times
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Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to look at the basement more closely. It felt like concrete underneath. The unevenness is felt in parts but I'll probably have to strip the carpet to really see what it looks like.

The builder has agreed to take a look and fix some of the issues- but I'm not very confident about what can be done. I'm also not sure if the builder will keep his word either!!

Now it seems like this home might not be a good choice. Coming to other homes in Superior- how reliable are other homes which are showing little or no damage as of today? Will structural problems be caught correctly during the appraisal? [There were homes sold off nearby with no such issues quite recently]. Also, how much are the owners to blame for not maintaining the drainage around their homes?

About looking at other places- we are trying to find a newer home and Louisville doesn't seem to have many of them. We are keeping our eyes open in Louisville too, but everything we've liked so far has been in Superior.

Sorry to sound like a noobie- but that's what I am!
Thanks everyone for your comments and advice.
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:38 PM
tao
 
Location: Colorado
721 posts, read 3,039,294 times
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Please check your PMs.
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Larkspur, Colorado
226 posts, read 1,297,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kryptos View Post
...it seems to have problems with shifting. The basement floor seems all uneven. The garage also shows some signs- the floor under the door is not even and in the present condition it is not possible to open the door.
If the problem is limited to the flat work (concrete that lays flat on the soil) and the foundation walls are showing NO sign of shifting you may be okay. Because of expansive soils in Colorado garage and basement floors are designed to float and are not anchored to the foundation walls. If however any shifting in the foundations is apparent RUN. You will want to have a qualified structural engineer (not just a home inspector) evaluate the problem before closing. And you will want to correct any drainage problems as soon as possible.

When we purchase our house the garage floor had settled by over 4 inches. We had a structural engineer evaluate the problem and he said the foundation was fine. We made the seller pay for a new garage floor, pad and walkway before closing. We corrected the grade and installed a drain in the driveway and now over 4 years later we have not had a single issue.
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:57 PM
 
11,370 posts, read 47,103,231 times
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kryptos .... the warnings above from knowledgeable people about the problems with "expansive" soils are well taken. Run from any house with these damage issues.

Even an engineer's report is at best a guess about possible damage and mitigation in view of the current problems; it cannot accurately forecast the possible severity of problems should a period of time with much more moisture than the house has been exposed to up until now.

Bentonite clay soil is something that people from out of the region or from areas where the water table is high all the time ... and the soil doesn't dry out, shrink, and then expand again when wet ... don't understand. This includes architects, engineers, realtors, builders, and many others who simply don't encounter this type of problem.

No matter how well intentioned, some posters may have no clue or reference to the fundamental STRUCTURAL problem that this house is experiencing due to the local soils/moisture issues. It's not a cosmetic issue.

You would be well advised to not pursue this house at any price, or any other in the area that shows any signs whatsoever of expansive soil damage.

The only way to properly address the bentonite soil issue is to properly install a site drainage system that keeps water away from the soil around the foundation and isolates the foundation from the native soil. This may include a larger excavation for the foundation, installing drains/sump pumps outside the foundation, backfilling with stable fill (rock and sandy soil), and pouring free floating interior slabs with appropriate moisture barriers. Landscaping and site drainage/slope must be carefully planned to avoid pooling water or sub-surface stream flow by the foundation.

Please note that a site considerations extend to the adacent properties. If your neighbor's property drains down to yours, that may be enough moisture flow to create problems on your site. Some suddivisions were platted and graded to minimize downslope site moisture issues, but the result was to create a lot of unusuable space in the backyards. First homeowners were (maybe) cautioned not to re-grade the sites, but it's not unusual for later homeowners to re-landscape the lots to make their backyard more "user friendly". That's fine until a season of heavy rainstorms hits and possibly floods the soils of the houses downstream with moisture and foundation damage. You must have local specific plat knowledge or obtain (which may be difficult) the original site plats to determine if they've been altered. In some cases, there are homeowner's covenents not to re-grade sites and you may have to pursue a neighbor to restore their original site grading to protect your property (at risk of damage to their landscaping, etc, they may not be very cooperative about this expensive responsibility). After the fact water caused soil damage to your house will be expensive for you to fix, so you've got to be pro-active about this.

While it is possible in a subdivision to have some homes with the problems and some without, overall, the entire subdivision value will be much lower because the problem is "in the area".

Last edited by sunsprit; 03-24-2007 at 01:17 PM..
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