Inadequate preparation of the soil prior to placing the concrete slab

DSCN1368CSES Engineering was called out this home shortly after the new owner had moved in. He pointed out a few cracks in the foundation, and some moderate settlement of the foundation where the chimney is, and fairly serious settlement of the interior slab on grade in that end of the home.

DSCN1364It was our opinion that the moderate settlement of one end of the home occurred shortly after it was built, some three decades ago, and most likely is not continuing, with the foundation reaching an equilibrium with the soil. The more serious settlement of the interior slab was most likely due to a lack of adequate preparation of the soil prior to placing the slab concrete. The foundation would have been deeper, and more care taken to build it on good soil, hence the much smaller settlement.

DSCN1362This is a case where the owner did not take our advice. The owner had contacted several contractors, who all wanted to use pipe piles to re-support the foundation, an a cost in five figures. The contractors used phrases like “your home is splitting in half” to attempt to make the problem sound more serious than it was. We had recommended some more moderate measures, which would have accomplished what he wanted. However, after our proposal, we never heard back.

DSCN1361This is fine, and all in a day’s work, as they say. This owner wants to sue the inspector who omitted the foundation settlement in his real estate inspection report. I advised him that whether he won or not, the suit would be expensive, and the amount he could recover would be limited, since the inspector had only his bond to surrender. It was one of those frustrating situations where human nature conflicts with common sense. Someday I hope to find out which one of those prevailed.