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View Poll Results: Have you experienced a foundation repair run around?
No, I found the perfect company. 3 75.00%
Yes, everyone critizes their competitor's product 1 25.00%
No, my structural engineer worked with the repair company 2 50.00%
Yes, couldn't get a report from the structural engineer, so I'm dancing in the dark. 2 50.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-28-2012, 08:06 AM
 
39 posts, read 105,771 times
Reputation: 77

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Three of my neighbors are now having foundation problems. One of them realized this was an issue when their home was being inspected for sale. The sale fell through.

I think this is another indication of the home builder not building these homes correctly and/or backfilling correctly.

Also wanted to mention that another neighbor from Europe, said he would gladly buy a home with foundation repairs, especially if piers had been inserted inside and out, because in Europe it is mandatory for all builders to install piers before pouring the foundation. Sounds like they might be on to something! I wonder if the TX builders should have to do the same.

Last edited by LadyinSA; 02-28-2012 at 08:22 AM.. Reason: grammer
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Texas
5,619 posts, read 12,918,015 times
Reputation: 10693
Quote:
I wonder if the TX builders should have to do the same.
Let me help you with that- they'll fight it every screaming step of the way if the State tries to implement it. Here's the issue, the only real bad areas run between Houston and San Antonio. Considering the size of Texas, it's not a GREAT issue outside of that area. But then again, the City MIGHT be able to swing something like it. WE now are City required since Katrina to build homes capable of hurricane force winds. Before Katrina we never considered that much wind in our wind load calcs because we didn't have that kind of weather here. Now short corners are required to have the Simpson metal corner bracing and it must be bolted to the studs and slab per Simpson specs which is not always an easy thing to accomplish. Sometimes you can't get any kind of tool near it to install the bolts so you have to be creative sometimes. But the inspectors look pretty hard at these things so maybe if City Hall was pushed a little they might require more than laying concrete on the ground. I'm not a fan of the post tension or cable slabs they are putting in here and the builders have no clue about how to deal with them. Like I've said before, builders, especially National Home Builders are money managers and they depend on the subs for the expertise. But once the slab is poured the money clock is ticking and you best be outa the way cause the lumber is coming- ready or not. Yeah, I'd like to see piers under any slab that has a PI of 60 or more but the reality is it would add SIGNIFICANT costs to a house and to be able to justify the cost on an appraisal is not going to happen. Same house, same plan across the street from each other could have a price difference of 15 thousand dollars just because of the piers. Our appraisal system won't allow for that. To add it to all houses would be even worse as some of the areas around SA is solid rock. The hammer drilling alone could be in the tens of thousands US dollars.

But the good news for yer neighbors, you know a good forensic engineer and apparently you're happy with the foundation folks for them to consider.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:06 AM
 
5,621 posts, read 6,403,554 times
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If a builder has a job for over 100 houses, a lot of foundation companies will bid for the job and price point per pier installed (should) go down. Yes, it is still an added expense but I doubt the expense per house will be the same as an individual customer will have.

As for solid rock, why would anyone want to install piers when there is solid rock present? That is like fixing something that isn't broken. I am sure if a such law passed, there would be exceptions written in to allow for soil testing to determine if the piers are required or not by a such law.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:17 AM
 
39 posts, read 105,771 times
Reputation: 77
Interesting information for those looking to buy a home. One of my co-workers has been looking for rental properties to buy. Most of the properties he looked at (21 in all) ALL have serious foundation problems. All are cases where homeowners walked away because they couldn't afford the repairs and the home builder would not help them out. Granted, the majority were out of Warranty, but some were not.

Thousand Oaks, Tupperwine, Live Oak, Schertz areas - all have serious problems. This is a compelling reason to have the Cities do a study and update building codes. This would force the homebuilders to be held accountable for not building the home foundation (and potentially supporting piers) for the Plasticity Index.


I do agree with MattTX when he states the price of piers would decrease with volume if home builders were forced to use them and appreciate Trapper L's knowledge about the home building industry. If you're building on solid rock, it wouldn't make sense to drill down through the rock. However, given the numbers of homes sinking into the sunset, the home builders should be held accountable for their poor workmanship. Maintenance is one issue, poor workmanship stacks the deck against the unknowing homeowner.

Last edited by LadyinSA; 03-12-2012 at 10:20 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:53 PM
 
71 posts, read 110,274 times
Reputation: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyinSA View Post
Granted, the majority were out of Warranty, but some were not.
I was wondering if anyone on here knows of someone or has themselves had a builder repair thier foundation under warranty... Only reason I asked is, simply the builders seem to offer the ten year warranty as a sales gimmick. I have yet to meet someone who's foundation cracked have the builder fix it. Or maybe I just don't know the right people. Just wondering.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:07 AM
 
39 posts, read 105,771 times
Reputation: 77
SIVAGE HOMES & COMMUNITIES - A co-worker of mine has a family member who bought a home from this builder. One of their neighbors had their home separate approx. 18" in the back last summer. These homes are approximately 2 years old. The owners had to move out while the builder rebuilt their home. Other than that, I haven't heard of any builders who actually stand behind their warranty. This particular subdivision is on the Southside.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Texas
5,619 posts, read 12,918,015 times
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Let me preface this again with builders are money managers. They are clueless about the construction of a house in most companies. The building process goes something along these lines. The builder relies on the subs for the construction expertise, that's why the State requires licensing for most trades. The builders use in this area cable slabs or post tension slabs- same thing. They use that type of foundation system for 3 reasons, it's cheaper, it will flex considerably before it breaks, and it moves liability for the integrity of the foundation to the designing engineer. If the slab breaks, it's a warrantable condition. If it flexes, it's considered settlement and not warrantable. In most cases in SA, a slab that has flexed considerably can have as much as 2% differential and that is considered normal movement. Only when it hits 3% do the yellow lights come at Corporate office. Anything past that and they will have the slab inspected by an engineer. Usually the inspecting engineer is the same one that designed the slab for that lot as HE is responsible for the fix, not the builder. I always thought it was a conflict of interest to have the same engineer inspect his own work that might be in fault but it's his license on the line if he doesn't do the right thing. Most builders will fix any slab that has evidence of the above described movement in the years 1-10. YOU as a home owner can accept the decision by the engineer or YOU accept the responsibility to show that the slab has failed. That's a tough thing to do in a courtroom. Anything past the 10 year warranty gets real tough. YOU must prove in court that the design has a design flaw that caused the failure. If you can do this, the foundation is considered a design flaw and is warrantable in perpetuity. But that's a rough road to drive down and few are successful at proving it. Those are the industry parameters in San Antonio. Unfortunately a lot of folks have settlement and think the foundation has failed when it hasn't. I've seen houses where you could put your hand into the attic where the ceiling and walls meet and there was no foundation failure- that's some pretty major settlement but it's just that- settlement. A slab failure pretty much has to have a break in the main beams for it to be considered a failure. If you do a visual inspection and see cracks, most of those cracks are not even 1/16th of an inch deep although they look like a disaster waiting to happen. Those are field checks and are normal- it's part of the drying/curing process of the concrete.
Foundations in San Antonio are a crap shoot, no doubt. YOU as a buyer need to be aware of where and what you are buying. YOU can help by watering your foundation and keeping the soil around and under your home moist. You can't control how wet it gets but you can control how dry it gets. Look at the soil as a sponge that your house sits on. When it gets wet it swells, when it's dry it shrinks. That's exactly what is happening with the clay soils we have in this area. If you are going to live here, either learn to live with it, buy on a rocky lot, or move somewhere else.
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Old 05-23-2012, 04:08 AM
 
34 posts, read 39,234 times
Reputation: 56
Well I won a portion of my arbitration, course now the builder is trying to contest that, and some other BS... Basically not wanting to own up to the Arbitrator's decision to award us an amount...

Should just set the damn place ablaze or let it get foreclosed and wash hands of it! Too many years of this legal battle and still it continues to wear my wallet/bank thin along with patience and strain on the marriage!

Here is the funny part, 1st Builder said foundation was watered... Then mid argument they tried to say it was watered to much... I never watered my foundation (that is the biggest BS I've ever heard in my life). Builders should of done better soil and fill samples not put onus on homeowners for their **** poor designs/builds. Anyways without dragging the story out anymore, I hope others here who are having issues get some sort of resolution (be ready for the long haul though 3years and counting still fighting)
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:34 PM
 
39 posts, read 105,771 times
Reputation: 77
Hello Irish TR,

So happy to hear from you and hear that you won a portion of your arbitration. No doubt, the builder will contest it - they seem willing to spend more on doing what's wrong than doing what's right. But there are many homeowners (like me) who so appreciate your willingness to bring their poor workmanship to light.

Am sure others would like to learn more about the details, but I also understand if you're frustration level is mounting, so will respect your decision to offer more details or not. Many people encouraged me to "walk away" from my home during the repair process, but I am not one to give up.

Now that the "dust has settled" in more ways than one, our home is back together and hasn't had any more movement since December 2011. Honestly, it is SO NICE to not have to worry about this. We had an extensive amount of work done, and will be covered 100% if any of the 43 piers malfunction in the future. Also, the Warranty is transferrable if we should ever decide to move.

One of our neighbors asked if we were considering moving any time in the near future. Given that we seem to get along just fine, we were confused by the question, but he quickly laughed and said "I would buy your house in a heartbeat - it is the most sturdy house in this whole neighborhood!"

Wishing the best for you and your family. So sorry you had to go through all of this too.
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:48 AM
 
2,721 posts, read 3,408,159 times
Reputation: 1536
Default Trapper,

You seem quite knowledgeable on this topic of residential foundations.
I am Not.
However my question is-- apartment bulding concrete slabs, underneath, have crushed limestone for stability, buildings in other areas of the country put a layer of sand down , 6" , this allows for either a more stable subgrade for the pouring of the slab, or a pourous layer , or with the sand underneath , to equalize moisture content underneath the slab and to absorb almost any shifting
of the soils , expansion or contraction.
I never understood why here in San ANtonio, here only I have ever seen
slabs poured directly onto clay or sometimes even onto gumbo topsoil.
It is no wonder the slabs fail.
I saw styrofoam , yes, 4" thick sheets, placed underneath all cement slabs
in Huge strip mall under the first phase of its' construction. It was built entirely onto the top of an old landfill, which of course was still settling. A heavy rain came overnight one day and the sheets floated all over by morning. A huge project , it took years to complete. I have video of it.
There are other ways to remedy the slab problem in this vicinity.
Point is , it is the cheap construction methods that are causing this, why isn't this addressed ? These tiny cement contractors know this. But they don't have to address it. The footings aren't enough.
I have also seen fresh new streets paved on the Northeast side of San Antonio in a brand new subdivision crack- wide open within a year of paving them.
Upon returning to begin phase two of this subdivision, the second piece of this subdivision, as I stated, the streets were all cracked , (good sized fissures)
one year later, houses not even erected completely into the first phase.
Brand new streets, no homes yet even, streets cracked to Bupkas
already. The homes, Ray Ellison "Bullet Homes" would fly up, shell complete and painted in a couple days. Prefab. Shoddy construction, you will buy what you pay for in a home. I don't guess they had a grand opening for the subdivision.

They laid , as cheaply as possible of course, the limestone paving Material
for the foundation of the roads in this subdivision
directly onto gumbo , a misture of soil and black clay, (it looks black like topsoil
but is not crumbly like topsoil but has the plasticity of a clay). Then, an, an inspector from the engineering company lets the streets pass inspection. I knew what was going to occur right then.
The street inspector is treated like royalty. With all the benefits. I shall not mention the nemerous benefits recieved.
This stuff was inevitably going to expand and buckle the Limestone subgrade and the asphalt pavement over it. It was very obvious. One cannot pour concrete directly onto the top of clay and expect it to last.
The building methods are incredibly substandard for residential construction
here in s.a. I find these methods of stone age subsurface preparation, unbelievable.
If it is rocky or caliche then go ahead with it, but not directly onto clay.That is asking for catastrophe. It was plain to see.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrapperL View Post
Let me preface this again with builders are money managers. They are clueless about the construction of a house in most companies. The building process goes something along these lines. The builder relies on the subs for the construction expertise, that's why the State requires licensing for most trades. The builders use in this area cable slabs or post tension slabs- same thing. They use that type of foundation system for 3 reasons, it's cheaper, it will flex considerably before it breaks, and it moves liability for the integrity of the foundation to the designing engineer. If the slab breaks, it's a warrantable condition. If it flexes, it's considered settlement and not warrantable. In most cases in SA, a slab that has flexed considerably can have as much as 2% differential and that is considered normal movement. Only when it hits 3% do the yellow lights come at Corporate office. Anything past that and they will have the slab inspected by an engineer. Usually the inspecting engineer is the same one that designed the slab for that lot as HE is responsible for the fix, not the builder. I always thought it was a conflict of interest to have the same engineer inspect his own work that might be in fault but it's his license on the line if he doesn't do the right thing. Most builders will fix any slab that has evidence of the above described movement in the years 1-10. YOU as a home owner can accept the decision by the engineer or YOU accept the responsibility to show that the slab has failed. That's a tough thing to do in a courtroom. Anything past the 10 year warranty gets real tough. YOU must prove in court that the design has a design flaw that caused the failure. If you can do this, the foundation is considered a design flaw and is warrantable in perpetuity. But that's a rough road to drive down and few are successful at proving it. Those are the industry parameters in San Antonio. Unfortunately a lot of folks have settlement and think the foundation has failed when it hasn't. I've seen houses where you could put your hand into the attic where the ceiling and walls meet and there was no foundation failure- that's some pretty major settlement but it's just that- settlement. A slab failure pretty much has to have a break in the main beams for it to be considered a failure. If you do a visual inspection and see cracks, most of those cracks are not even 1/16th of an inch deep although they look like a disaster waiting to happen. Those are field checks and are normal- it's part of the drying/curing process of the concrete.
Foundations in San Antonio are a crap shoot, no doubt. YOU as a buyer need to be aware of where and what you are buying. YOU can help by watering your foundation and keeping the soil around and under your home moist. You can't control how wet it gets but you can control how dry it gets. Look at the soil as a sponge that your house sits on. When it gets wet it swells, when it's dry it shrinks. That's exactly what is happening with the clay soils we have in this area. If you are going to live here, either learn to live with it, buy on a rocky lot, or move somewhere else.
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