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Old 05-18-2013, 05:28 PM
24 posts, read 28,248 times
Reputation: 18


Hi Everyone,

So, I'm looking at buying a home in the north central part of San Antonio. The house was built about 10 years ago and it has tile flooring that was put in about 4 years after the house was built. In one place there is a super thin crack running across the floor between the kitchen tiles--a normal person wouldn't even notice it, but the inspector did. The seller's disclosure and the inspector say this is just due to normal settling, but I thought most settling took place during the first few years after the place was built? Am I wrong? The inspector said it's just because tile is so unforgiving. Is it possible that the crack is due to normal settling 4-5 years after the home was built, or am I looking at possible foundation problems?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

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Old 05-19-2013, 08:30 AM
500 posts, read 796,784 times
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If it's a super thin crack it's probably not foundation issues, rather than improperly installed tiles. Either the installer didn't use the proper decoupling surface, or more likely didn't use a fortified thinset for the tiles.
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:58 AM
Location: Texas
5,619 posts, read 12,926,551 times
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Hard to say exactly John if the house is experiencing any foundation issues. All houses will have some settlement and it occurs not over time, but weather. Due to our high PI soils in some areas you can have up to 16" of vertical displacement from the wettest time of the year to the driest. That's why builders will recommend in their H/O manuals to water the foundation so the swing isn't so bad. We can't control how wet it gets but we can control how dry. A hairline crack may be indicator of future issues or it maybe an indicator that the foundation has settled since the tile was laid. I'm assuming you or the inspector thumped the tile to be sure it wasn't a bad glueline of the one tile. If you drop a pen or pencil straight down on the tile, if it's loose it will sound hollow. If it's just one tile and there are no other indicators of foundation movement, it's more than likely simple settlement.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:05 AM
50 posts, read 87,141 times
Reputation: 31
A little sidetrack, if thread starter doesn't mind. I am wondering if a house is built in the eighties (that makes it about 30 years old), would new foundation issues appear?
As in, if the inspection shows that there are currently no issues, is it therefore safe to say that we are not likely to have foundation issues in the future?
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:12 PM
Location: Rural Central Texas
3,606 posts, read 9,257,166 times
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A foundation expert could give a more comforting (or perhaps unsettling) response. My own opinion, which is worth half of everything what you paid me for it, is that a "bad" foundation will usually develop issues within a short period, perhaps a couple years or less. If you make it past a few years, then the foundation is most likely properly installed and sound and will be subject only to normal settling (spider cracks) and the effects of extreme weather fluctiations. The greater the seasonal variance in dry to wet conditions around the foundation, the greater the potential for cracking or uneven settling.

Broken or off-level slabs are most often attributed to soil expansion and contraction, and a poorly built slab succumbs to this action much quicker than a well built slab. Many areas of North San Antonio are built on rocky ground with little to no topsoil and thus are much less likely to have these issues unless built across two or more rock plates that are action with respect to each other. Other areas of San Antonio are mostly deep clay soils and will see impressive amounts of soil fluctuation.
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