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Old 09-19-2019, 06:53 AM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
Reputation: 5378

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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrtechno View Post
A little research is a good thing. I did some on Permanent Wood Foundation’s and the reported pros far outweighed the cons. PWFs are not as rare as you think. We had one in our old neighborhood that had the nicest finished basement in town. (most in the area were on slabs or crawl space) The house was built in 1987 and we left the area in 2014. The builder built the house for his brother and his sister in law lived there until about 2004 when she started having problems climbing the stairs.

https://www.awc.org/pdf/codes-standa...wOnly-1411.pdf
Maybe more common in some areas than others? Never heard of such in the 5 states I've lived in.

My main q is, if it's OK (the foundation) why the cracks/gaps/slopes. I know, the engineer said it is OK structurally. Just cannot grasp this. The one gap has a 2in wide space between wall/ceiling.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,214 posts, read 55,028,955 times
Reputation: 31329
Foundations on certain soils have issues, whether of wood/concrete/stone/dead mother's-in-laws/etc. The problem is the soil and how it reacts to various moisture levels. A true fix of 100' driven piles and freezing the soil or other solution is far too expensive. I know a guy who waters the soil around his place to minimize shifting. From his reports it is only partly effective.

Consider a builder who is aware of such defects in an entire area. A slab will crack, concrete block will develop cracks, concrete footers of normal dimensions are not structural beams and will fail. If there are joints in the pour, one may rise or fall. The good answer is not to build. Short of that, minimizing the effects of the soil issues is the best that can be hoped for.

So... no basement, for obvious reasons. Any concrete will likely crack, and cracked concrete may lead to a suit. While not ideal, wood can flex some, joints can be made to allow for some slippage, and with a ton of luck the house frame itself will flex a little, but not too much. It is far from ideal, but more saleable than a yurt.

Did the kids make a mistake? Probably, but it may have been a smaller mistake than buying a house on concrete with even more severe soil issues. Will the wood dry rot over time? Probably, but that time frame can vary. The planks used in dams built in the 1800s are still good today without the benefits of preservatives. The builders chose the proper woods and kept them wet, avoiding the wet/dry cycle that does more damage.

You are angry at not being consulted, and that anger is getting coupled to an unusual building practice rather than focusing on the issue at hand of the soil. The kids may regret not consulting you, but they get to live with their problem and learn from it like we all do. There is no one to beat up, you aren't personally being hurt, and it may be best to let the anger go, state the the problem is theirs to deal with, and be supportive of them in other ways.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:07 AM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
Reputation: 5378
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Foundations on certain soils have issues, whether of wood/concrete/stone/dead mother's-in-laws/etc. The problem is the soil and how it reacts to various moisture levels. A true fix of 100' driven piles and freezing the soil or other solution is far too expensive. I know a guy who waters the soil around his place to minimize shifting. From his reports it is only partly effective.

Consider a builder who is aware of such defects in an entire area. A slab will crack, concrete block will develop cracks, concrete footers of normal dimensions are not structural beams and will fail. If there are joints in the pour, one may rise or fall. The good answer is not to build. Short of that, minimizing the effects of the soil issues is the best that can be hoped for.

So... no basement, for obvious reasons. Any concrete will likely crack, and cracked concrete may lead to a suit. While not ideal, wood can flex some, joints can be made to allow for some slippage, and with a ton of luck the house frame itself will flex a little, but not too much. It is far from ideal, but more saleable than a yurt.

Did the kids make a mistake? Probably, but it may have been a smaller mistake than buying a house on concrete with even more severe soil issues. Will the wood dry rot over time? Probably, but that time frame can vary. The planks used in dams built in the 1800s are still good today without the benefits of preservatives. The builders chose the proper woods and kept them wet, avoiding the wet/dry cycle that does more damage.

You are angry at not being consulted, and that anger is getting coupled to an unusual building practice rather than focusing on the issue at hand of the soil. The kids may regret not consulting you, but they get to live with their problem and learn from it like we all do. There is no one to beat up, you aren't personally being hurt, and it may be best to let the anger go, state the the problem is theirs to deal with, and be supportive of them in other ways.
HA I am indeed mad! I saw 6 or so houses with them, they seemed to attend to my wisdom, then jumped on this White Elephant like lambs to the slaughter.

If I understand you correctly, you're saying the soil is the issue, and a foundation of any type would have similar results due to soil conditions?
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Virginia
4,147 posts, read 2,171,617 times
Reputation: 11541
Quote:
Originally Posted by VexedAndSolitary View Post
Maybe more common in some areas than others? Never heard of such in the 5 states I've lived in.

My main q is, if it's OK (the foundation) why the cracks/gaps/slopes. I know, the engineer said it is OK structurally. Just cannot grasp this. The one gap has a 2in wide space between wall/ceiling.
I don't worry about sloping floors that much, at least in an older house. My last house was 91 years old and in some rooms you could roll a marble 2 directions in the same room. Foundation repairs were done on it before I bought it and I did some as well, but that house was also subject to extreme stressors (shock waves from the 16 inch guns at the adjacent Naval Base). However, in a 1990 house I would be more concerned about slope, plus gaps would definitely worry me (never had that problem in my old house). Regardless of the structural engineer's report, maybe having a construction person (general contractor?) look at the gaps might be helpful, especially for formulating a fix for that specific area? Otherwise, if the building envelope is shifting so drastically based on hygroscopic changes due to the weather, then the only recourse is to wait for a prolonged period of rain when the wood structure will absorb enough moisture to swell and close the gaps.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:20 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,214 posts, read 55,028,955 times
Reputation: 31329
Quote:
Originally Posted by VexedAndSolitary View Post
HA I am indeed mad! I saw 6 or so houses with them, they seemed to attend to my wisdom, then jumped on this White Elephant like lambs to the slaughter.

If I understand you correctly, you're saying the soil is the issue, and a foundation of any type would have similar results due to soil conditions?
Yes.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:48 AM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
Reputation: 5378
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Yes.
Ok thanks!

Then from this I infer that all houses in that 'hood will have similar probs? It's a new-ish 'hood. 90s. Mostly frame/siding.

AFTER they moved in a neighbor told them the owner before the flipper they bought it from, had mentioned having foundation issues Also said there were water issues but did not get more specific and the boyfriend being a shy, doesn't talk much kind of kid of COURSE didn't press for info but seemed to think the water issues meant the skylights which had been replaced.

When I saw the sales history (the flipper from whom they stupidly bought had paid 64K for it just a few months before. They paid 119K which for that 'hood is correct pricing. That alone would've made me stop them had I known) my heart sank.

The boyfriend makes me sadder than my daughter, he's 22, came from a single parent impoverished rearing, raised in Sec 8 housing, works for the railroad and is careful with his money and saved to buy with NO HELP from any family or anyone, except me advising, and now he got shafted in a way.

My daughter didn't lay out any money for the purchase itself but pays half the mortgage; just a sad and maddening case all around.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:56 AM
 
Location: LKN
1,849 posts, read 1,709,946 times
Reputation: 1721
Sad situation. They're going to learn the meaning of 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is' and 'caveat emptor' the expensive way.

And while there are undoubtedly good flippers, they aren't philanthropists. They're going to make all the cosmetic updates to catch a buyers eye but quality of materials, quality of workmanship and anything you can't easily see is going to get shorted or ignored in the interests of maximizing profit and turnover. There are more quick buck flippers than not. We looked at a flipped house they'd bought for $305 and listed for $400. It looked really nice from a distance, but I have no doubt they bought whatever was marked down at the builders supply and the workmanship was shoddy. I also have no doubt they ignored anything that wasn't in plain view. It went under contract in less than 2 days, but not to us.

And having just bought and sold a house, it's fascinating how varied realtors advice can be. Same with home inspectors and other inspectors provided by the realtor.

I had a home inspector tell us there were moisture issues (but no mold or insect damage) with our house, followed by a reputable foundation specialist who said all was fine, no problems. The same foundation specialist came back after the sale and showed us very high moisture readings. So much for honest, professional services. Maybe the bottom line is they look for obvious problems but they don't feel any obligation to give proactive or precautionary advice. If the house isn't in trouble, it's good.

You have to do your own due diligence, even check what "professionals" tell you. You can't count on anyone else to look out for your best interests these days...

Last edited by Midpack; 09-19-2019 at 08:05 AM..
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,214 posts, read 55,028,955 times
Reputation: 31329
Quote:
Originally Posted by VexedAndSolitary View Post
Ok thanks!

Then from this I infer that all houses in that 'hood will have similar probs? It's a new-ish 'hood. 90s. Mostly frame/siding.

AFTER they moved in a neighbor told them the owner before the flipper they bought it from, had mentioned having foundation issues Also said there were water issues but did not get more specific and the boyfriend being a shy, doesn't talk much kind of kid of COURSE didn't press for info but seemed to think the water issues meant the skylights which had been replaced.

When I saw the sales history (the flipper from whom they stupidly bought had paid 64K for it just a few months before. They paid 119K which for that 'hood is correct pricing. That alone would've made me stop them had I known) my heart sank.

The boyfriend makes me sadder than my daughter, he's 22, came from a single parent impoverished rearing, raised in Sec 8 housing, works for the railroad and is careful with his money and saved to buy with NO HELP from any family or anyone, except me advising, and now he got shafted in a way.

My daughter didn't lay out any money for the purchase itself but pays half the mortgage; just a sad and maddening case all around.
Probably, but my crystal ball is cloudy and doesn't work well underground. Soils can vary within inches, just ask a Floridian who lives next door to a house swallowed by a sinkhole.

If they don't overspend trying to fix unfixable, and remarket it at the right time, they may come out with a minimal loss. What they may miss out on is the appreciation of a home that increases in value with age.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,850 posts, read 63,899,108 times
Reputation: 31282
Jack the house up and put a foundation under it.

It should cost about $10 k to $20 K including extending the utilities, but excluding repair of damage inside the house. Cost will depend on the type of foundation used and soil conditions.

Or they could put a basement under it for about 60K. give to take 20.

Alternate - just get out of the house for what you can, absorb the losses and move on.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Kansas City North
4,254 posts, read 7,516,298 times
Reputation: 6539
As someone who also refused to listen to my parents long ago, with similar results (but a different situation), please try to resist saying “I told you so” to them. They know now they should have. Better to be supportive (emotionally, not financially) in their attempts to resolve the situation.

Let your venting be here on C-D.
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