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Old 09-18-2019, 03:45 PM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
Reputation: 5378

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*also posted in architectural forum but it seems a less active forum so am trying here as well*

I've owned houses in 5 different states since 1988 and NEVER heard of such a thing until now.

One of my daughters and her boyfriend bought a house with a WOOD yes wood, foundation (WTH?) in Feb 2019. We are in Fort Wayne, IN. House built in 1990, frame w/siding, 2 story, on a low crawlspace.

By May, a gap of apx 2in wide and 18 or so in long appeared where an exterior wall meets ceiling, an upstairs door swings shut on its own, kitchen floor has slope (ball rolls to corner), a hairline stairstep shaped crack appeared on another wall.

These kids HAD a home inspection, slope was noted at that time but called a negligible concern
#dumbasskids

They bought it anyway.

Since the other issues above cited appeared AFTER the purchase, I urged them to get a structural engineer out. They did.

He said (summing up) the foundation itself is NOT damaged/compromised BUT that the settling happened because it is a wood foundation and will likely improve OR worsen depending on weather changes over time.

I was a bit baffled by that report; if the wood foundation (I still cannot get over this; I thought all foundations must be of concrete) was properly done, should this degree of "settling" be happening?

Any input appreciated. I am truly shaking my head.

Last edited by VexedAndSolitary; 09-18-2019 at 04:43 PM..
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Old 09-18-2019, 04:15 PM
 
Location: LKN
1,849 posts, read 1,709,946 times
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I assume it’s a treated wood sill with wood joists and wood framing above, sitting on short concrete or cinder block wall on footers, that make up the crawl space. Surely it can’t be wood directly on dirt, if it is the house will be a disaster, but that couldn’t have met code even in 1990.

I assume either the crawl space walls are either not on good footers and the whole thing has settled unevenly and/or high moisture in the crawl space has comprised the wood sills and joists through rot, insect damage, freeze/thaw damage and/or mold. Whatever it is, it’s only going to get worse. If it’s wood damage, you can get in the crawl space with a flashlight and it may be pretty obvious - mold on wood, sagging insulation, sagging ductwork, and if you look hard you can see termite/wood boring insect damage too.

No home inspector can be an expert on everything. Structural engineer may or may not be helpful. But a local basement/crawl space/foundation specialist can inspect and tell you what’s going on, that inspection isn’t expensive, probably $150 or less, maybe even free. But what he/she recommends could easily cost $10’s of thousands, so buckle up. If you wait, the costs may just get worse as damage and remediation will get more extensive.

Kids often insist on learning the hard way...sorry.

https://www.fortwaynecrawlspace.com/

http://www.crawlspacecompany.com/hom...waterproofing/

Last edited by Midpack; 09-18-2019 at 04:24 PM..
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Old 09-18-2019, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
12,844 posts, read 49,745,557 times
Reputation: 14751
Quote:
Originally Posted by VexedAndSolitary View Post
*also posted in architectural forum but it seems a less active forum so am trying here as well*

I've owned houses in 5 different states since 1988 and NEVER heard of such a thing until now.

One of my daughters and her boyfriend bought a house with a wood foundation in Feb 2019. We are in Fort Wayne, IN. House built in 1990, frame w/siding, 2 story, on a low crawlspace.

By May, a gap of apx 2in wide and 18 or so in long appeared where an exterior wall meets ceiling, an upstairs door swings shut on its own, kitchen floor has slope (ball rolls to corner), a hairline stairstep shaped crack appeared on another wall.

These kids HAD a home inspection, slope was noted at that time but called a negligible concern
#dumbasskids

They bought it anyway.

Since the other issues above cited have appeared AFTER the purchase, I urged them to get a structural engineer out. They did.

He said (summing up) the foundation itself is NOT damaged/compromised BUT that the settling happened because it is a wood foundation and will likely improve OR worsen depending on weather changes over time.

I was a bit baffled by that report; if the wood foundation (I still cannot get over this; I thought all foundations must be of concrete) was properly done, should this degree of "settling" be happening?

Any input appreciated. I am truly shaking my head.

Well, you can stop shaking your head AND stop doubting a structural engineer- it's weather related. Wanna call a meteorologist?
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Old 09-18-2019, 04:33 PM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
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[quote=Midpack;56209597]I assume it’s a treated wood sill with wood joists and wood framing above, sitting on short concrete or cinder block wall on footers, that make up the crawl space. Surely it can’t be wood directly on dirt, if it is the house will be a disaster, but that couldn’t have met code even in 1990.

That was what I THOUGHT TOO

I have never, heretofore heard of a "PFW" as I have (now researching) discovered it is called "permanent wood foundation", or "treated wood foundation" that is. Nope, no concrete footers. Wood on dirt. I am amazed but yes these do exist!

Both their home inspector and the structural guy said they are RARE around here and builders have been sued over them.

https://structuretech1.com/wood-foundations/

https://www.bobvila.com/posts/13476-...od-foundations
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:00 PM
 
Location: LKN
1,849 posts, read 1,709,946 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VexedAndSolitary View Post
That was what I THOUGHT TOO

I have never, heretofore heard of a "PFW" as I have (now researching) discovered it is called "permanent wood foundation", or "treated wood foundation" that is. Nope, no concrete footers. Wood on dirt. I am amazed but yes these do exist!

Both their home inspector and the structural guy said they are RARE around here and builders have been sued over them.

https://structuretech1.com/wood-foundations/

https://www.bobvila.com/posts/13476-...od-foundations
Wow, people have been building on stone foundations since long before concrete and cinder blocks were invented - I didn’t know anyone built a primary house with a literal wood on dirt foundation. Obviously the house can be jacked up (same method as house movers do) and have a proper concrete or block wall crawl space built underneath, I’ve seen same on TV. But it would be prohibitively expensive for most homeowners, especially young ones. But it’s only going to get worse. They certainly can’t sell the property in good conscience. They’re between a rock and a hard place.

I haven’t seen the report, but the home inspector should be shot if he/she didn’t go out of their way to steer them clear of buying - especially a young couple who likely can’t begin to afford the repairs...criminal in my view.

Best of luck, I hope this ends well somehow, without any more unsuspecting victims.
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Old 09-18-2019, 09:03 PM
 
Location: Virginia
4,147 posts, read 2,171,617 times
Reputation: 11541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Wow, people have been building on stone foundations since long before concrete and cinder blocks were invented - I didnít know anyone built a primary house with a literal wood on dirt foundation. Obviously the house can be jacked up (same method as house movers do) and have a proper concrete or block wall crawl space built underneath, Iíve seen same on TV. But it would be prohibitively expensive for most homeowners, especially young ones. But itís only going to get worse. They certainly canít sell the property in good conscience. Theyíre between a rock and a hard place.

I havenít seen the report, but the home inspector should be shot if he/she didnít go out of their way to steer them clear of buying - especially a young couple who likely canít begin to afford the repairs...criminal in my view.

Best of luck, I hope this ends well somehow, without any more unsuspecting victims.
In post #4 the OP said the home inspector said wood foundations are rare and builders have been sued over them. How much more warning to the buyers should have been needed?
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:29 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
12,844 posts, read 49,745,557 times
Reputation: 14751
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
...but the home inspector should be shot if he/she didnít go out of their way to steer them clear of buying - especially a young couple who likely canít begin to afford the repairs...criminal in my view.

You don't hire a gunslinger to shoot yourself- so you don't hire a private home inspector to kill the deal (house you're buying). They are there to notify you of the "current condition" of said property. However, there are some inspectors out there that realtors will keep in their backpocket just to "kill-a-deal"; but not for the same reason.

There could also be limitations to their abilities/actions- which vary from state-to-state.
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Old 09-19-2019, 04:14 AM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungalove View Post
In post #4 the OP said the home inspector said wood foundations are rare and builders have been sued over them. How much more warning to the buyers should have been needed?
RIGHT? And when I said "did the inspector notice this OBVIOUS SLOPE??" the boyfriend sheepishly said..."yeah...the ball rolled...but he said it's prob nothing to worry about"

Given the structural guy hired just last week said "no damage/issues with the foundation itself that need repairing" the inspector was correct, no damage to report. Seems he DID tell these lambs the foundation was "rare and oft sued over" and that was a warning. #dumbASSkids

I'd been viewing houses with them and they'd been heeding my thumbs down. Then they saw this one, without me. They never took me to see it, I think they knew I'd give it a big hellnaw (it was a flip. I never buy flips and they know it). I seriously want to punch them both.

I think (know) they got too excited over it as it's in a fab, newer-ish 'hood, and had the modern updates (a flip, recall) these kids go gaga over. I'd been steering them to solid 50s brick ranches in older established 'hoods.

But my question is this:
forget the inspector. The structural guy said (paraphrasing) that this is happening simply because of the type of foundation (wood) and found no damage/issues with the foundation itself's integrity, and advised them this would either worsen/improve each year depending on weather/wetness.

So my q is more, if the foundation is stable, and was properly done, how is it this ^^^^ (what he said) the case? Doesn't the damage indicate a problem with the foundation's integrity? Of course the structural guy had no reason to mislead, he doesn't even do repairs and recommended none, but I just cannot fathom this.

#skepticalandconfused

Last edited by VexedAndSolitary; 09-19-2019 at 04:32 AM..
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Old 09-19-2019, 04:20 AM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
Reputation: 5378
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenity Prayer View Post
We have a lot of post and pier houses built around here.

A concrete pad or 'pier pocket' sits on the dirt - ABC (aggregate base compact) - the house sits a foot or two above the sub-soil on 4x4's and the posts attach to the floor via mechanical type straps.


Somewhere between the dirt and the wood floor there should be a sheet metal termite barrier and those usually need replacing about every ten years or so. That's also a good time to re-Level or shim the posts to make sure the beer you drop in the kitchen doesn't end up in the bedroom.


Nope, this place has NO CONCRETE PAD. None. No sheet metal barrier. Not even black plastic under.

The crawlspace is the smallest I've ever seen, maybe 24in. Accessed via a hole in a closet floor. NO VENTILATION.

One can SEE THE (treated) WOOD perimeter TOUCHING THE DIRT below the siding, picture the last piece of siding then below it apx 8in band of wood, then the ground. I thought it was on a slab at first. I noticed this RIGHT AWAY, first time I saw the place, and thought, SURELY behind that wood is the concrete....nope.

Last edited by VexedAndSolitary; 09-19-2019 at 04:35 AM..
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:31 AM
 
Location: NY>FL>VA>NC>IN
2,555 posts, read 1,034,228 times
Reputation: 5378
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenity Prayer View Post
V&S

This kind of sounds like one of those store bought kit houses or a FLW utopian home build.
Is it old?

Have you researched the design or found any blueprints from the city? If it was built after 1945 there is probably a piece of paper on it.

I think I would identify its origin first before I did anything.

Find the architect or builder.
Find other houses in the neighborhood that resemble or are constructed from the same blueprints.
I bet I haven't seen more than 5 times where an economy design / build was used all by itself in a subdivision.

Year
Make
Model
Builder
Architect
Subdivision

Hey this detective work is fun!

Nope not a kit build, built in 1990. Standard boring design, looks like 1000 others, 2 story w/attached garage.
Here's a link to the original zillow listing:

https://www.zillow.com/homes/6329-Ne...73166380_zpid/
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