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Old 12-23-2007, 09:55 PM
 
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I just signed a contract for a house in Las Colinas, and home inspection will be followed after Christmas. However I just noticed that there is a gap (~ 1 inch) between one side of the foundation and the ground soil, and also there is a brick dislocation or mis alignment on this side wall. See pictures. I'm not sure whether these two issues are related. Can anybody tell me if this is the sign of the severe Foundation/House moving? I heard the soil in Irving is different and foundation moving is common in Las Colinas. But this house has Pier & Beam Foundation and 11 years old.

If this is a big problem of foundation moving, I need to get out the contract, and cancel my home inspection appointment to save a few hundred bucks. I appreciate your help. Merry Christmas!
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House foundation move in Las Colinas-house1.jpg   House foundation move in Las Colinas-house2.jpg  
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Old 12-23-2007, 11:46 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
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Ok, I have to get this out of the way: I am not a home inspector nor am I a structural engineer but I go to every home inspection and meet with every structural engineer when one is involved at least in the last decade.

Usually when there is foundation cracks in the brick, there is a pattern as a zigzag or cracks in the brick and it follows the masonery such as the picture below. The picture you took is from the side but doesn't show any gap. Could this be the way the brick was layed when the house was built? could you tell?

Check the other side of the brick on the interior of the house, are there cracks? misaligned doors and any space between windows and brick? What does the seller's disclosure say... not that it matters much, but have the owners done any work to the foundation? 11 years old and having these issue is very concerning.

If you have any concern about foundation, you really should hire a structural engineer (about $350), a typical home inspector is not allowed to tell you if the foundation has issues or not because he is not an engineer. He will simply tell you "if you have any concerns, you should consult a structural engineer" he will tell you the same thing about the HVAC, the roof or other structural items. Remember, most home inspectors are not licensed in any particular field.

Are you sure the house is on P&B? that sure looks like a concrete slab...
Some builders in Las Colinas built some homes on a slab and reinforce the foundation with piers since they know that the foundation tends to have more movement there.

What does your realtor say?
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Old 12-24-2007, 06:15 AM
 
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I get swimming pool permits for a living and my mom used to build pools and she has told me that Las Colinas is one of the worse areas as far as the soil conditions, that is why it is a pier and beam house.
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Old 12-24-2007, 06:21 AM
 
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That offset in the brick doesn't look like it is caused by a shifting foundation (usually this causes cracks like in nsumner's picture).

If you say pier-and-beam: Are you sure this isn't a slab that sits on concrete piers to bedrock? If so, foundation problems are very unlikely. A classic pier-and-beam foundation 11-years ago doesn't sound typical.

The gap in the soil: how deep does it go? In my previous house, the soil pulled away after a few days without rain, but only down to two inches or so. Not enough to affect the foundation.
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Old 12-24-2007, 12:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galore View Post
That offset in the brick doesn't look like it is caused by a shifting foundation (usually this causes cracks like in nsumner's picture).

If you say pier-and-beam: Are you sure this isn't a slab that sits on concrete piers to bedrock? If so, foundation problems are very unlikely. A classic pier-and-beam foundation 11-years ago doesn't sound typical.

The gap in the soil: how deep does it go? In my previous house, the soil pulled away after a few days without rain, but only down to two inches or so. Not enough to affect the foundation.

I didn't see cracks on this sidewall when I was standing a few feet away. I couldn't take a close look because most area of this wall can only be accessed from the other house property. The house interior looks pretty good, so far I haven't seen any major cracks on the interior of the house. The seller may have covered defects already, but I couldn't tell.

The seller disclosure says it is P&B. My agent confirmed it is P&B. See following picture. The seller disclosure doesn’t show any foundation or crack repairs done before.

The gap between foundation and soil is at least 6-8 inch deep. My agent said it is very possibly a sign of foundation moving, but she is not sure how severe it is. She suggested me to consult with inspector. But the home inspection is still 2 days away and I may waste inspection money if the problem is not minor.
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Old 12-24-2007, 12:38 PM
 
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The picture shows it is P&B.
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House foundation move in Las Colinas-house3.jpg  
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Old 12-24-2007, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
4,197 posts, read 14,272,313 times
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Well... it looks like it is indeed P&B...

Has your agent suggested to you to ask the seller to pay for a structural engineer look at the foundation? If they feel confident enough that there is no problem, they may just go ahead and do it since it will likely come up in any offer anyway. Just extend the option period and ask them to do it.

This is an important purchase and it is very very important for you to be comfortable with everything you get. Don't settle for less. There is no price on peace of mind.

Please post an update... I'd be interested to know how it works out.
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Old 12-25-2007, 06:12 PM
 
Location: Dallas TX & AL Gulf Coast
6,848 posts, read 10,903,857 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcvd View Post

I didn't see cracks on this sidewall when I was standing a few feet away. I couldn't take a close look because most area of this wall can only be accessed from the other house property. The house interior looks pretty good, so far I haven't seen any major cracks on the interior of the house. The seller may have covered defects already, but I couldn't tell.

The seller disclosure says it is P&B. My agent confirmed it is P&B. See following picture. The seller disclosure doesn’t show any foundation or crack repairs done before.

The gap between foundation and soil is at least 6-8 inch deep. My agent said it is very possibly a sign of foundation moving, but she is not sure how severe it is. She suggested me to consult with inspector. But the home inspection is still 2 days away and I may waste inspection money if the problem is not minor.
It sounds more like the owner did not keep the foundation "watered" and the soil has pulled away from the foundation. However, since foundation problems can be found in most ALL of the DFW area, it pays to have the foundation inspected if, for no other reason, as to have the peace of mind that you aren't buying into a world of problems down the road! Well worth the expense, IMO.
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Old 12-25-2007, 10:25 PM
 
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Does someone know any good structural engineer for foundation inspection? Please recommend one. Thanks.
Happy Holiday!
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Old 12-26-2007, 09:39 AM
 
Location: The Big D
14,864 posts, read 39,662,187 times
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I'm not a structural engineer but I have had my fair share of dealing w/ a bad foundation.

The area on the ground where the soil has pulled away from the foundation looks as if it has not been watered. You said that this area can only be assesed from the neighbors yard............. can you water there? If you can not water that side of your foundation because the yard there is part of the neighbors and they don't water then I'd back off. You MUST keep the foundation watered in times of drought or you will have foundation problems. BTW, you can still have foundation problems and major ones w/ a P&B foundation. How? One is over time it can still shift just like a slab on grade foundation because the ground is allowed to shrink and swell too much. Another is if the peirs put in are PAST the bedrock. I know of several homes this has happened to. They need only go to the bedrock but some builders do not do an individual site soil survey and go by just a few from the entire area. They put all peirs X deep no matter where bedrock is for THAT particular lot. If the peir goes on past and thru the bedrock into sludge it can still have MAJOR problems.

As for the brick itself, that looks almost like an expansion joint but it is not since it is not cut. You will see the expansion joints in the brick and it will be cut straight thru in a straight line from top to bottom. Those are good. What you don't want to see are cracks that are straight thru the brick and mortar. Those will not be in a straight as an arrow line like an expansion joint. As for the one in the picture it almost looks like an offset but a VERY teeny-tiny one. Usually offsets will be a little bit more like maybe even half the depth of a brick.

As for the area your looking in, yes there are known foundation problems in that area. That is why the builders do use P&B foundations. You will not find your average tract builder in Dallas using a P&B foundation if they don't have to.

Its been a couple of years since I've had to call in a structural engineer and the names escape me right now. You can look in the phone book and even ask your home inspector for a few recommendations as they should have some they have worked with before. Most foundation companies will also come out and do a foundation inspection. We have used Certified Foundation and been very happy w/ them.
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