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Old 03-02-2016, 01:53 AM
 
Location: the Permian Basin
4,193 posts, read 3,063,985 times
Reputation: 5892

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Hi y'all. I'm about to move back to SA, and this time I'm looking at houses in Converse, Live Oak, UC, etc. - basically, the metrocom. I've never lived in that part of Bexar County before, and I'm noticing that lots of houses have (or have had) foundation issues. Apparently, the soil shifts a lot when you get that far east (I was in far west Bexar Co. before I moved away).

Will a standard real estate inspection be sufficient, or should I hire an engineer? I'd much rather deal with any foundation issues before I move in.

Thanks.
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:49 AM
 
2,721 posts, read 3,411,372 times
Reputation: 1536
Default Slowpoke,

The eastside of the city- Universal city area etc., has natural pockets of clay soils with a high plasticity index, black gumbo type etc. and these can be an engineering nightmare. I simply would not buy out that way, over in that direction.
Why consider buying a problem?
Even if you hire a soils engineer to find out that you are living in one of these areas mentioned,not just the house foundation may be affected, driveways, streets, curbs and sidewalks can too, it is always possible that these clay soils will soak rain water up like a sponge and so then, expand and heave upward in areas.
Cracks in the asphalt streets, the heaving and ho of the street grades giving the area a roller coaster effect while driving through are the giveaways that this is a bad ground area, even the curbs and sidewalks in front of the house might be noticed cracking or to have a rolling appearance with cracks. I have seen this cracking of street surfaces happen in one year after returning to the new-completion of a subdivision, the soils expansion and contraction was so bad on the east side of San Antonio. Soils compaction and density tests by a soil engineering firm done or not it happened.
Granted if the street and utilities excavating contractor has removed and replaced the soils with more stable soils underneath the streets to a greater depth when site grading began it is possible they have remedied these future problems. I am not sure how this is done anymore as it is a very long time since I have beeen involved with any residential work and considering this; it is so very expensive to excavate to the extra depth and then backfill and re-compact street subgrade with stable soils to reach original elevations again to rebuild the streets more sturdily before paving, really I do not know presently. Perhaps this problem has been corrected.
The road building codes may in San Antonio, have changed since then, I don't know, but I doubt it. Poster Trapper here might know more. Your new house could be fine, yes, but possibly be built over unstable ground.
I would not buy over in that direction. I will not name the home builders where I have seen these occurrences , but it does happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowpoke_TX View Post
Hi y'all. I'm about to move back to SA, and this time I'm looking at houses in Converse, Live Oak, UC, etc. - basically, the metrocom. I've never lived in that part of Bexar County before, and I'm noticing that lots of houses have (or have had) foundation issues. Apparently, the soil shifts a lot when you get that far east (I was in far west Bexar Co. before I moved away).

Will a standard real estate inspection be sufficient, or should I hire an engineer? I'd much rather deal with any foundation issues before I move in.

Thanks.
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Old 03-03-2016, 06:31 AM
 
Location: Stone Oak, San Antonio
718 posts, read 500,067 times
Reputation: 572
Generally speaking I-35 is built where the fault line is. Anything south is there is going to have problematic soil. Stay away.
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:40 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
7,629 posts, read 14,343,086 times
Reputation: 18705
Buy a pre-existing home vs new build...if you get one a couple years old, you should be able to determine the risk even with extreme drought if you get one more than 7 yrs old. Good luck.
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Old 03-05-2016, 12:09 AM
 
Location: the Permian Basin
4,193 posts, read 3,063,985 times
Reputation: 5892
Thank you all.

Huckster, I saw several examples of street and sidewalk damage like you described, and every driveway in the neighborhood was cracked. I've decided to look further away from the city - outside 1604.

Thanks again,
Slowpoke_TX
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:48 AM
 
2,721 posts, read 3,411,372 times
Reputation: 1536
Default You are welcome,

Oil field man. Best of luck. Hope I saved you some headaches and some money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowpoke_TX View Post
Thank you all.

Huckster, I saw several examples of street and sidewalk damage like you described, and every driveway in the neighborhood was cracked. I've decided to look further away from the city - outside 1604.

Thanks again,
Slowpoke_TX
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Old 03-07-2016, 04:28 AM
 
Location: the Permian Basin
4,193 posts, read 3,063,985 times
Reputation: 5892
Quote:
Originally Posted by huckster View Post
Oil field man. Best of luck. Hope I saved you some headaches and some money.
Yes sir, you definitely did.
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:51 AM
 
179 posts, read 93,338 times
Reputation: 639
Just as an FYI, the whole notion of slabs and soils are a total scam. Long story short, if you make the slab thick enough, and use concrete beams, the composition of the soil is completely irrelevant. Concrete and foundations are the single largest financial component of a house build, so Builders try to use as little concrete as possible. They save thousands, and cost you tens of thousands. And, when the homeowner complains they tell them to water the slab, which is inane and stupid.

Second, engineers are shysters and liars too. I won't get into it too much, but don't assume that a guy with a white-collar degree isn't as dishonest, ignorant and crooked as any used car salesman or (worse) plumber. (They're the worst, really.)

My advice.

Find the house that you want. Have it vacant and open and get a good inspection done. Peel back carpets if you have to, and look for cracking, shearing, upheaving, etc... Have concrete piers installed prior to moving in, if necessary. Major foundation companies want $1,000 per pier, but if you shop a bit, you can get that down to $400 or so. No need to worry if the house is carved into the side of a hill, and if it's not on limestone rock, assume it's caliche. which yes is bad, but it's everywhere and some slabs crack and others don't, and the only time anyone starts yapping about watering the slab is when a homeowner wants to sue KB homes for building their house on a 4" slab with no concrete beams and only 3" of base gravel.

Let's just do this. Establish a spectrum here, called "Foundation Quality".

On one end of the spectrum, you pour 3" of concrete directly on caliche soil. Worst possible slab. At the other end of the spectrum, you have a full 12" of hard-packed base gravel, 6" to 8" of concrete slab, steel mesh, 5/8" rebar, concrete beams around the perimeter and concrete beams running every 20 ft.

Does it matter, what the quality of the soil is, underneath that slab? No.

So, the issue isn't whether or not the soil is good, bad or indifferent; the issue is whether or not the builder spent the money required to make certain the slab doesn't move around 3 years later.

See the problem here? Builder fails to do the job correctly, then comes up with some snake-oil line of BS to give the homeowner something to occupy his time. "Did you water your slab, like you were supposed to?" the Builder asks.

It's YOUR fault, you rube. So you lie and say "Yes, I watered my slab each and every day like clock-work." and now you have sunk down into the dishonest mud with the guy that built your house. He's a a liar and so are you.

So, look the shyster in the eye and tell him what I've just said, right here. Slab cracking? Builder's fault. Slab movement? Builder's fault. Always. Accept no line of reasoning that isn't 100% predicated on the notion that if the Builder had done his job, the slab would not be moving around. Anyone that talks about watering the slab is an uninformed idiot.
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