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Old 06-23-2014, 02:25 AM
 
5 posts, read 6,188 times
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We moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area last year and have been looking for a house for about 8 months now! We put in offers on two different homes a few months ago, but each house had multiple offers and ours was not accepted either time. We finally found a 3rd house we like even better than the other two and our offer was accepted, but after receiving the report from the Structural Engineer we hired, we are not sure what to do. Normally, we would walk away from any house with foundation issues, but we REALLY love this house and don't think we can find another one like it in our price range.

The house was built in 1992, in north Keller. It had foundation repairs back in 2008 (piers were installed along 1 side of the house and around the master bedroom). There is a lifetime warranty from the foundation repair company, but that warranty only covers defective workmanship or materials. At the time of those repairs, the house was not level - 1 corner was 4" lower than the opposite corner of the house (about 70' distance). I don't think the repairs were meant to level the house, but were supposed to stop the movement. Now, 6 years later, that same corner is 5" lower than the opposite corner (1" lower than before). The slab has not cracked and there are no cracks in the brick veneer or anywhere on the outside of the house. There are no sticking doors, but there are a few swinging doors and just 2 small cracks inside the house. It seems as if the house has tipped fairly evenly so far, although the interior does have a couple areas that are sloped more than 1" within 8'. The structural engineer says the only way way to level the house is to pier it with interior and exterior piers, which will be expensive. Besides the piering, he also recommends a root barrier next to one large tree and a drain to be installed in the backyard that will flow to the street.

I don't think the seller will pay for the repairs - if we back out, she plans to sell it as-is. The house is already priced lower than other comparable houses and cheaper than the other 2 we tried to buy. If we are willing to pay for the entire house to be piered on top of the price of the house, is there still a risk or will the house now be stable? Once a house is piered entirely, will it stop moving? The seller said that all other houses on the street have had foundation repairs (I'm not sure if that was an exaggeration). The Engineer report says: "The home is located on clay soil with moderate to high shrink swell potential." Could this type of clay affect the pool also if the pool was built by a reputable company?

So far, we have only talked to the engineer about this house, but are planning to have a couple foundation repair companies come out and take a look at it and give us a better idea of cost. We have just a few more days to decide whether to go through with the contract or let the house go. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-23-2014, 05:20 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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You do realize they will probably have to drill inside through the floor? Big mess. Maybe tens of thousands of dollars. I'd walk.
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:32 AM
 
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If the house is a deal by local standards I'd do more due diligence.

Also, did the engineer's report mention if the slab is bowed/cupped or is it just out of level 5 inches from one side to the other?

1. There is basically no chance you'd need to pier the whole house.
2. Are there trees close to the area that is shifting down - causing a dry area. Or conversely does it look like the other side may be too wet causing that side to tip up?
2A. Is there something odd going on with the water sprinkler system. It's shocking how many people misuse/refuse to fix/properly adjust their sprinkler systems.
3. Drilling in the house isn't that big of a deal. They can pull back carpets and cover the boring equipment with drop-cloths creating very little mess. Drilling in a area where a wood floor or tile is located is more of a challenge but in and of itself would not be a deal killer for me.
3. Five inches is a lot of movement. If you decide the house makes sense after considering the above pay a plumber $200 to pressure test the water line and especially the sewer line and tie ins.

I'd pay particular attention to the "higher" side of the house. Enough piers properly set don't move down very often. It seems more likely the opposite side has moved up.


I'd be cautious but I would not walk yet.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Plano 75024
409 posts, read 914,061 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernBelleInUtah View Post
You do realize they will probably have to drill inside through the floor? Big mess. Maybe tens of thousands of dollars. I'd walk.
I just had 17 piers put into my house. One in the middle of my kitchen. I took 1.5 days and they cleaned all the mess. No plumbing cracked no damage except the 4 missing tiles I need to replace. That has not been done b/c I am yet to call someone to do it.

Thinking about getting the work done was scary but in the end it worked out and it was not a mess like you are implying. Only cost 6995.

And if it adds to anything I am female and 9 months pregnant and the process didnt put me into labor
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:44 PM
 
5 posts, read 6,188 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EDS_ View Post
If the house is a deal by local standards I'd do more due diligence.

Also, did the engineer's report mention if the slab is bowed/cupped or is it just out of level 5 inches from one side to the other?

1. There is basically no chance you'd need to pier the whole house.
2. Are there trees close to the area that is shifting down - causing a dry area. Or conversely does it look like the other side may be too wet causing that side to tip up?
2A. Is there something odd going on with the water sprinkler system. It's shocking how many people misuse/refuse to fix/properly adjust their sprinkler systems.
3. Drilling in the house isn't that big of a deal. They can pull back carpets and cover the boring equipment with drop-cloths creating very little mess. Drilling in a area where a wood floor or tile is located is more of a challenge but in and of itself would not be a deal killer for me.
3. Five inches is a lot of movement. If you decide the house makes sense after considering the above pay a plumber $200 to pressure test the water line and especially the sewer line and tie ins.

I'd pay particular attention to the "higher" side of the house. Enough piers properly set don't move down very often. It seems more likely the opposite side has moved up.


I'd be cautious but I would not walk yet.

The slab is not bowed/cupped.

There is a large tree about 10-15 feet from the front of the house, which is the low side and the engineer did note that water seems to pool near the high side. The engineer recommended a root barrier and installing a drain on the high side.

A big concern for us is that the house will stay stable if we have the foundation piered and follow his suggestions or is some clay soils are so bad that the house might continue moving.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:27 PM
 
9,289 posts, read 9,947,697 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandd View Post
The slab is not bowed/cupped.

There is a large tree about 10-15 feet from the front of the house, which is the low side and the engineer did note that water seems to pool near the high side. The engineer recommended a root barrier and installing a drain on the high side.

A big concern for us is that the house will stay stable if we have the foundation piered and follow his suggestions or is some clay soils are so bad that the house might continue moving.
I've lived here more or less my whole life so foundation issues don't bother me as much as some.


1. Dry on one side and wet on the other are almost certainly the causes of the slab being 5" out of level.
1a. The slab being that much out of level and not severely cupped or cracked means the slab is of excellent quality.
2. The dry side is easy. That problem is almost certainly the tree you mentioned possibly exacerbated by a poorly laid out or out of repair sprinkler zone in that area or maybe the current owners just don't know to water that are more. A root barrier and careful watering should fix that side.
3. The wet side, IMO, deserves more thought. Namely what is the source of the excess water? It could be a broken underground water line of some type - city water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, a broken irrigation line, poorly routed rainwater runoff from the roof due to a screwed up gutter or inadequate gutter, it could be a low spot between that house and the neighbor's that collects water and does not drain well for whatever reason. Is there a bathroom or kitchen near the high area? It could be a leaking water line under the slab or worse a leaking sewer line.

Turn on the irrigation zone in that area and see if there is something crazy simple like a blown out irrigation head pumping 60 GPM of water into that area. Conversely if that area has all working heads but oddly low pressure that indicates a leak in the associated piping underground. Shut that zone down and see how long it takes for the heads to pop shut if more than 30/45 seconds that might mean the solenoid regulating that zone is weak and can't close 100% and maybe one or more of the heads dribbles water all the time. After that if you like the house the next step, IMO, is to call a plumber and test the sewer and water line pressures and irrigation line pressures.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:15 AM
 
153 posts, read 183,029 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taroberts View Post
I just had 17 piers put into my house. One in the middle of my kitchen. I took 1.5 days and they cleaned all the mess. No plumbing cracked no damage except the 4 missing tiles I need to replace. That has not been done b/c I am yet to call someone to do it.

Thinking about getting the work done was scary but in the end it worked out and it was not a mess like you are implying. Only cost 6995.

And if it adds to anything I am female and 9 months pregnant and the process didnt put me into labor
They did 17 piers in 1.5 days and charged you only $6995?

In that short amount of time, all they could have done is place some flat concrete blocks on the ground, install some $30.00 jack posts, raise the floor a little and stick in some shims. A couple of guys could have done it easily with $800, some Home Depot jack posts, concrete blocks, hard wood shims and a lot of contractor string stretched across the floors above to see where the dips are. This is simple stuff.

I had some house movers work in the crawl space, where they dug fifteen 24"x16"x8" holes, poured fresh concrete pads, built and installed two 18 foot wood girders, and then do the leveling.

That took nearly five whole days and was $4400 and I KNOW that was way too much. But the place is now level and sturdy.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:51 AM
 
9,289 posts, read 9,947,697 times
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Originally Posted by JoeSiczpak View Post
They did 17 piers in 1.5 days and charged you only $6995?

In that short amount of time, all they could have done is place some flat concrete blocks on the ground, install some $30.00 jack posts, raise the floor a little and stick in some shims. A couple of guys could have done it easily with $800, some Home Depot jack posts, concrete blocks, hard wood shims and a lot of contractor string stretched across the floors above to see where the dips are. This is simple stuff.
Dude if you're going to vaguely insult someone, a pregnant woman to boot, at least know what you are talking about.

1. Inferring from her post; her home has a slab foundation otherwise there would have been no need to tear up her kitchen floor. So your little concrete blocks, jacks and twine idea wouldn't work.

2. $6995 for 17 piers including one or a two inside IS a very fair deal.
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Old 06-24-2014, 11:07 AM
 
153 posts, read 183,029 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EDS_ View Post
Dude if you're going to vaguely insult someone, a pregnant woman to boot, at least know what you are talking about.

1. Inferring from her post; her home has a slab foundation otherwise there would have been no need to tear up her kitchen floor. So your little concrete blocks, jacks and twine idea wouldn't work.

2. $6995 for 17 piers including one or a two inside IS a very fair deal.

If I'm wrong, then I politely defer to your admonition. However, "Dude", if you're going to vaguely expound on foundation repair, at least know what you are talking about.

"taroberts" said above, "I just had 17 piers put into my house." Her post does not clarify whether the piers are under or above the floor, but that one pier is in the middle of her kitchen. Inference suggests that (a) since piers are used, it's not a slab foundation; (b) it's likely that most of the 17 piers were placed under the floor, and a tall jack post added in the kitchen space.

Otherwise, I'd like to know more about how one retrofits real piers to an "inferred" slab foundation.

Also, once you read my post more carefully, you'll notice that I only inferred that concrete blocks were possibly used with 17 new piers installed in 1.5 days. Worse, maybe they used no blocks at all, but set the piers right on the ground!

To anyone contemplating addition of extra piers, be aware that mere concrete block laid on the ground is non-optimal, as such weak blocks are prone to failure. Sure, it will work for a while, and might be adequate over the long run. But, it's highly preferable to dig holes and pour concrete. Better still to add some rebar to the mix.

How do I know? I had it done cheap the first time; the second time, I had it done right.

- - - -

Further information: Pier And Beam Versus Slab Foundations in the Dallas Area | Advice for Home Buyers

Disadvantage of slab:
  • Can have a higher tendency to crack since they only touch the top level of the soil, whereas pier and beam foundations can go deep into the soil and can even anchor on bedrock in some cases.

Last edited by JoeSiczpak; 06-24-2014 at 11:35 AM..
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Old 06-24-2014, 11:47 AM
 
9,289 posts, read 9,947,697 times
Reputation: 8060
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSiczpak View Post
If I'm wrong, then I politely defer to your admonition. However, "Dude", if you're going to vaguely expound on foundation repair, at least know what you are talking about.

"taroberts" said above, "I just had 17 piers put into my house." Her post does not clarify whether the piers are under or above the floor, but that one pier is in the middle of her kitchen. Inference suggests that (a) since piers are used, it's not a slab foundation; (b) it's likely that most of the 17 piers were placed under the floor, and a tall jack post added in the kitchen space.

Otherwise, I'd like to know more about how one retrofits real piers to an "inferred" slab foundation.

Also, once you read my post more carefully, you'll notice that I only inferred that concrete blocks were possibly used with 17 new piers installed in 1.5 days. Worse, maybe they used no blocks at all, but set the piers right on the ground!

To anyone contemplating addition of extra piers, be aware that mere concrete block laid on the ground is non-optimal, as such weak blocks are prone to failure. Sure, it will work for a while, and might be adequate over the long run. But, it's highly preferable to dig holes and pour concrete. Better still to add some rebar to the mix.

How do I know? I had it done cheap the first time; the second time, I had it done right.

- - - -

Further information: Pier And Beam Versus Slab Foundations in the Dallas Area | Advice for Home Buyers

Disadvantage of slab:
  • Can have a higher tendency to crack since they only touch the top level of the soil, whereas pier and beam foundations can go deep into the soil and can even anchor on bedrock in some cases.

95% or better chance her foundation is a slab. It is rare to go through the floor to set a pier under a pier and beam house. The terms are a bit confusing for sure but that's how it is.
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