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Old 01-29-2010, 10:44 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
556 posts, read 1,833,807 times
Reputation: 845

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My understanding is these retaining walls are required to be designed and built by an engineer and the plans are submitted by the builder when the subdivision designs are submitted. After that - the City has not been further involved, UNLESS they were contacted and received a request for a physical inspection of the work. I guess for instance, if Pulte/Centex had not been happy with the work done by the engineer, but the engineer maintained it was 'proper' - Pulte/Centex could have contacted the City, to have the wall inspected at that time. Otherwise, if all the parties are happy with one another - things move on.

I have read it wouldn't have mattered if it had been properly permitted, the City would likely NOT have had anything to do with it, after the paperwork was recorded and left 'city hall' so to speak. In my opinion, if anything good comes out of this - it might be that the process for getting approval/final sign-off on the process of building these important retaining walls, WILL change.

Like Mrstxcop - I hope I'm explaining my 2 cents right too.
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Old 01-29-2010, 11:04 AM
 
Location: SA
74 posts, read 148,430 times
Reputation: 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstxcop View Post
This is what really bothers me about the whole thing --- is that because of the land shifting and the failure of a retaining wall all Centex homes are crap ... all Centex homes are built carelessly and will fall to the ground if you slam a door to hard ...

I am not just saying this because I own a Centex home ... Like I said before I am very comfortable with the structual integrity of our house ... The inspector we hired spent many hours at our home site ... 1 hour for pre slab ... 1.5 for frame and 2.50 for completed house ... He found very minor issues ... The water was not hot enough, the oven was 5 degrees off, etc ... He found nothing wrong with the structure itself ... After the frame inspection he said "Well guys, Centex is building you a great house, I'm really impressed."

Prior to building with Centex I did an extensive online search and found little info on problems with Centex ... and what I did find was from 2003 or so ...

All production builders have issues ... but so do custom home builders ... my cousin built a custom home in Boerne and had many problems and issues with her builder ... so much that it pushed her completion date back several months ...

I guess I feel like Banker now ... who was always defending the quality of his home even though it was built by KB ...

I am not trying to trivialize the fact that the wall failed ... obviously that is a major issue... It just kinda sucks that now Centex is going to have this stigma about them, that they build crap shacks, because a retaining wall failed and land shifted ...
sadly perception is what rules people. I have a 2001 Kia Rio with over 150,000 miles, never has given me a single major problem. But people ask what you drive and you tell them a KIA and they assume it's a cheap piece of crap.
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Old 01-29-2010, 11:30 AM
 
15,065 posts, read 19,695,505 times
Reputation: 12234
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstxcop View Post
I have a question regarding this no permit thing ... Who was responsible for pulling the permit???

Was it Centex... was it the contractor who built the retaining wall... or was it the engineer that approved the plans for the wall???
That's what bothers about the media (TV & radio) in San Antonio.
I've been listening to the radio before and after work and all they say is: "Why didn't the city inspectors catch this mistake?"
Instead of actually finding out who is responsible for the mistake.

I work in a similar industry and from what I know, there's 2 people that are responsible:
#1 - The engineer that designed and sealed (approved) the drawings
#2 - The contractor that built it (if he didn't do what the sealed drawings showed)

The city inspector's is the last people I would blame, they are not going to be at the job site 40+hours a week making sure that everything is done correctly.
And they are not going to dig a hole in the retaining wall to see what the contractor did in there.
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Old 01-29-2010, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Charleston, SC
5,615 posts, read 12,829,797 times
Reputation: 2534
Would still like some updated pics. Any news stories have them? Also wouldn't mind seeing the outside of the 3 houses at the top of the hill closest to the slide.

Yes, I am an engineer.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:35 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
3,368 posts, read 9,888,687 times
Reputation: 5369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstxcop View Post
This is what really bothers me about the whole thing --- is that because of the land shifting and the failure of a retaining wall all Centex homes are crap ... all Centex homes are built carelessly and will fall to the ground if you slam a door to hard ...

I am not just saying this because I own a Centex home ... Like I said before I am very comfortable with the structual integrity of our house ... The inspector we hired spent many hours at our home site ... 1 hour for pre slab ... 1.5 for frame and 2.50 for completed house ... He found very minor issues ... The water was not hot enough, the oven was 5 degrees off, etc ... He found nothing wrong with the structure itself ... After the frame inspection he said "Well guys, Centex is building you a great house, I'm really impressed."

Prior to building with Centex I did an extensive online search and found little info on problems with Centex ... and what I did find was from 2003 or so ...

All production builders have issues ... but so do custom home builders ... my cousin built a custom home in Boerne and had many problems and issues with her builder ... so much that it pushed her completion date back several months ...

I guess I feel like Banker now ... who was always defending the quality of his home even though it was built by KB ...

I am not trying to trivialize the fact that the wall failed ... obviously that is a major issue... It just kinda sucks that now Centex is going to have this stigma about them, that they build crap shacks, because a retaining wall failed and land shifted ...
I agree with you. We have been so happy with Centex. We've been in one of their homes for years, with no issues at all after the first two weeks. We did discover one of our ceiling lights was a few inches from the center of the room....they sent an electrition, a plasterer, AND a painter to come move it and make it look like it never happened. We even broke one set of our wooden blinds after moving in, and they replaced it for us (it was clearly our fault). I have no complaints and would recommend them to anyone. I'm actually looking at buying another Centex home I've been so pleased.

However, this will make people associate them with failure. It might not be there fault at all. If they hired an engineer, and the engineer screwed up, it's not really their fault. But they will be judged on how they handle this. If it is someone else's fault, I hope Centex buys-out the homes, and then goes after those at fault for reimbursment. I just really hope the innocent home-owners don't have to still pay off their mortgages!
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:12 PM
 
4,796 posts, read 13,739,073 times
Reputation: 2710
This is interesting. This is from the public records of the plat filed in the county deed records.

This is of the area where the main collapse seemed to happen. The tiny red line was added to indicate where a sanitary sewer easement is platted right along that house and down the hill.

Any thoughts?



The second plat shown are the lots at the bottom of the hill on the lower end. It shows the grading of what the original lay of the land looked like.



These plats do not show any engineering of the retaining wall itself.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:57 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
556 posts, read 1,833,807 times
Reputation: 845
Quote:
Originally Posted by wCat View Post
These plats do not show any engineering of the retaining wall itself.
wCat - THIS may be where the builder will get themselves in trouble.....if I recall correctly, this is what they admitted to as well - that the retaining walls were not properly depicted on these plats, but rather noted as existing in another part of the subdivision. The stories have changed a bit since the initial days, but this is why the City said "NO permits were issues for this wall" - well - I think in actuality, what the City should have said was what they later stated, and that was that there were no retaining walls noted on the plans submitted for this portion of the subdivision.

I'm not sure it will matter much for the City - there doesn't seem to be a single thing they would have done differently, even if the wall HAD been depicted. It would appear the responsibility seems to lay squarely with the builder and engineer.....and hopefully they will see that these most affected property owners are taken care of 110%.

This makes you scratch your head and ask 'WHO makes sure everyone is doing the best job in builds like this?"
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Old 01-29-2010, 05:16 PM
 
4,796 posts, read 13,739,073 times
Reputation: 2710
Here's the upper plat of the subdivision along that bluff. I hope it's legible. Off to the right are notes from the engineering company that specifically address the drainage.

There is another drainage easement on this plat that seems to just end in the middle of the slope. That wouldn't seem to be a problem if there wasn't a wall right in front of it.

There are no notes on these plats that indicate that a retaining wall would be built. That's not necessarily an error. The construction of the wall itself would have it's own set of construction documents. They may not have used the same company to engineer the wall.

Pape-Dawson is about as good as it gets and has surveyed San Antonio and surrounding areas for eons. They have no control over the city utility or SAWS easement changes or amendments. I didn't see anything of record amending anything.

In posting these plats, it's important to know that there are hundreds of pages of construction documents for a subdivision. The main plat of lots and blocks are recorded for real estate boundaries, not as a construction guide.

At any rate....the grade along that ridge was really complex to tackle. Not only steep....but jagged. To me, that equates to inexpensive land to build on....sort of like swamp land in Florida.






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Old 01-29-2010, 05:49 PM
 
1,933 posts, read 3,243,862 times
Reputation: 1941
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstxcop View Post
This is what really bothers me about the whole thing --- is that because of the land shifting and the failure of a retaining wall all Centex homes are crap ... all Centex homes are built carelessly and will fall to the ground if you slam a door to hard ...

I am not just saying this because I own a Centex home ... Like I said before I am very comfortable with the structual integrity of our house ... The inspector we hired spent many hours at our home site ... 1 hour for pre slab ... 1.5 for frame and 2.50 for completed house ... He found very minor issues ... The water was not hot enough, the oven was 5 degrees off, etc ... He found nothing wrong with the structure itself ... After the frame inspection he said "Well guys, Centex is building you a great house, I'm really impressed."

Prior to building with Centex I did an extensive online search and found little info on problems with Centex ... and what I did find was from 2003 or so ...

All production builders have issues ... but so do custom home builders ... my cousin built a custom home in Boerne and had many problems and issues with her builder ... so much that it pushed her completion date back several months ...

I guess I feel like Banker now ... who was always defending the quality of his home even though it was built by KB ...

I am not trying to trivialize the fact that the wall failed ... obviously that is a major issue... It just kinda sucks that now Centex is going to have this stigma about them, that they build crap shacks, because a retaining wall failed and land shifted ...
Although I made a joke about the KB boys laughing, don't feel you have to defend quality of your home because it was made by Centex...this can happen with any builder custom or mass production builders or even if you built it yourself. And it wasn't as if all the homes collapsed in on themselves instead of a landslide or were built in abstesto (misspelling I know) and lead paint, this was a retaining wall and I went to Centex on your recommendation. My husband who has built homes was impressed by the quality of home built, he wasn't looking to purchase a retaining wall. Although we didn't buy with Centex because he felt the community lacked trees and scenery we still considered it a good purchase for the amount of indoor space / square footage you get in comparison to the other builder we went with.

I am not trying to trivialize the retaining wall collapse but pointing out that it was a wall that caused damages to the homes built not the other way around. I hope this eases your frustration...

KB on the other hand (through media outlets and blogs) is known for their poor build quality of a house not a wall.Centex and Pulte can rebuild their reputation if they pulled their fingers out of their ---- and make it right.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:47 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
432 posts, read 997,681 times
Reputation: 425
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOriginalMrsX View Post
Although I made a joke about the KB boys laughing, don't feel you have to defend quality of your home because it was made by Centex...this can happen with any builder custom or mass production builders or even if you built it yourself. And it wasn't as if all the homes collapsed in on themselves instead of a landslide or were built in abstesto (misspelling I know) and lead paint, this was a retaining wall and I went to Centex on your recommendation. My husband who has built homes was impressed by the quality of home built, he wasn't looking to purchase a retaining wall. Although we didn't buy with Centex because he felt the community lacked trees and scenery we still considered it a good purchase for the amount of indoor space / square footage you get in comparison to the other builder we went with.

I am not trying to trivialize the retaining wall collapse but pointing out that it was a wall that caused damages to the homes built not the other way around. I hope this eases your frustration...

KB on the other hand (through media outlets and blogs) is known for their poor build quality of a house not a wall.Centex and Pulte can rebuild their reputation if they pulled their fingers out of their ---- and make it right.
Banker...where are you?
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