What are acceptable repairs to foundations?

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This is a follow on from my "Concrete foundations will they cure if under water?" post. I've having a small front porch build, approx 2m x 2.5m. It's double skin and has a pitched roof, but it's got windows both sides and a large front door. Therefore I'm guessing it doesn't hold too much weight. The foundations are 800mm deep, with what was supposed to be 200mm of concrete. This was poured in the rain, sides have collapsed in, it's been under a couple of inches of water and now it's dried off doesn't look pretty.
By far the biggest problem is they've dug the trench too far right on the right side by 30cm. This means they can't lay the inner skin of breeze blocks/bricks where they will need to as there is no foundations. What would be considered an acceptable fix? On the phone he was talking of putting in a concrete lintel. That doesn't sound much better than just building on soil.
It's not a heavy structure, what does you think and any suggestions on how it should be fixed?
Regards,
Tim
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If the foundations in the wrong place....rip it up and start again.
Al
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Dig down next to the existing concrete and lay some more up against it. The breeze blocks can straddle the two.
Is this a professional builder who's made this cock-up?!
Rob Graham
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Rob graham wrote:

check the foundations fully before coughing up the next check! There are drawings, measurements and a central guiding pillar. The builder seems to be a pretty genuine guy, seems to be more of a project manager than anything else. Sounds like he left a group of lads to dig the trench and fill it with a delivery he's ordered. This seems like a small job he's got on the side when he's rained off a larger job.
I don't think he's going to smash the whole lot out and refill again. I don't think any builder would do that without a fight. And as I've already paid 40% (yes I know), I really don't have much bargaining power at this point. So realistically I'm going to have to look for a suitable alternative. It's the inside edge of the foundation. My best guess for a fix is dig out a 30-40cm wide trench 20cm deep by the existing foundation (1.4m long as it's the inside edge). Drill metal rods into the existing foundation, pour concrete and that way they'll both be joined. Typically does a pitched roof rest on the inner wall as well as the outer? If not then the inner wall will be holding a relatively small load. I don't think the breeze block will straddle the two. It looks like the brick will be at the edge of one and the breeze block the edge of the repair.
Anybody know how much concrete is? A trench 60cm wide, filled 20cm deep, running 2m x 2.5m x 2m. I think there is 1000l in 1 cubic meter, so I reckon 636l of concrete total. Expensive?
Regards,
Tim
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Tim wrote:

If I read that right it means you'll have a foot wide concrete strip in your front garden next to the porch.
It isn't your mistake, why should you put up with it? I'm with Al.
Andy
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Andy Champ wrote:

strip. It'll just be 60cm under the surface. I've been told that for a front porch you only need to dig 30cm deep, so I guess these are reasonable foundations. I don't know how important depth is really, I thought the footings would be the important bit, not sure why I need 50cm of brick underground. I guess the cavity is supposed to be filled with concrete, maybe this adds to the strength.
Regards,
Tim
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You said it yourself:-

keyword: they've
As in it's their problem. Was it in the original plans and design to use a concrete lintel? Nope? "They" need to rip it up and start again.
Don't be fobbed off.
You say yourself it's a small front porch so the foundations won't be much bigger than the 2.5 x 2.0 you quoted, for a reputable builder who has made an honest mistake breaking up the concrete and relaying should be straightforward, but will certainly wipe out his profit margin.
The builder must be working to an approved design? if he want's to deviate from that design because he's made a mistake try telling him that you too have made a mistake -in your calculations of how much you can afford to pay for the porch.
Just my $00.02 based on years of accepting botch ups (cos I'm a "nice" guy who didn't want the fuss) and living to regret it.
K
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I fail to understand why anybody would pay up front for building or any other work. I've had many extensions built, including kitchen, dining room and extra bedroom and have never paid a penny until the work was completed to my complete satisfaction. I've had some problems, for instance the brickie who thought that metal ties were for decoration purposes and didn't need to be fixed to both leaves of the wall on my kitchen extension. He was immediately sacked and the wall had to be rebuilt. This was no great problem, as I hadn't parted with any money. My advice is not to pay anything until the work is completed according to plan. If the builder doesn't accept this, then find one who will.
Terry D.
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must come up with a suitable alternative. A concrete lintel is not a foundation. I'm a bridge engineer by trade, so I like to think I know what I'm talking about.
Do not accept anything but what you've paid for. He is however probably plenty in pocket at the moment if you've paid up 40%, so if he abandons the job you'll have to go to court. :-(
Al
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My son has just taken a builder (and I use the word loosely, builder that is) to court. He furnished the plans, photo's etc & the judge decided he wanted to visit the property to view the debacle himself. He ordered the builder & his solicitor to attend too.
Within a few minutes of his arrival, complete with entourage, it was obvious that he wasn't impressed with the standard of the work & did little to disquise the fact!
He ordered the plaintiff (my son) and the defendent to attend court the following day where upon judgement was made in my son's favour. All debts for work done was wavered (about 4K) and the builder was ordered to pay costs which not only included the litigation, but the cost of "making right" the work he had done!
The moral of the story is don't be intimidated & if needs be.....LITIGATE!
Don.
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==>Well said Don! And congratulations to your son for having the gumption to see it through like that. Far too many rogue builders are getting away with it! An earlier poster stated, quite correctly if you ask me, don't pay up front! They will whine and moan and screech and groan about it..but if you stand firm usually they buckle and either walk away (they would have been nothing but trouble) or agree (they still might be trouble..but at least not on your dollar).
I'm certain that there are scumbag builders (probably all trades) who are surviving on habitually taking money up front and making a hash of it so as to not have to finish the job (which often they know they can't do to a decent enough standard). They contrive a stand-off hoping that they are dismissed then walk away with the significant left over from the up front money. Often they will say they need paid up front for materials...but any regular tradesman will have an account facility with the material supply co..so that doesn't wash. So you pay out 1000 for materials..he spends 100 on materials and makes an *rse of it. Contrives a confrontation then he's off the job with the 900 in the tail leaving you to pick up the pieces.
By telling a prospective builder that you will only part with the cash when the job is completed to your satisfaction you are inviting him to demonstrate confidence in his ability to actually do the job properly. If he knows he can deliver this will not be a problem for him. If he claims that he needs the money ("Got bills to pay like everybody else..guv") then the alarm bells need to start ringing. What kind of tradesman is only one job away from financial ruin? If is is on the brink financially should you be hiring him?
I feel this way after being taken to the cleaners maybe eight times in the last six years or so. No more...either they get it right, as defined in what has been discussed, agreed and written down, or they don't get paid. When they don;t turn up when they said they would twice, thats it they're off the job without payment. When they make an *arse of it they have to fix it on their dollar.
It sounds to me like the OP is getting a raw deal and feels a bit intimidated about being firm with the builder. I suspect that he will cave in when the builder lays it on thick about how the mistake was so minor and easy to fix and it wasn't HIS fault it was the daft laddie who dug the hole ...blah..blah...blah. Bet he gets away with not having to put this right properly....
Above all, when meeting a prospective tradesman remember who is the customer. Don't let them think that you need them or are relying on them. Treat it as though you are project managing the job for someone else..be firm, fair and professional.
Bit of a rant I know but it's something I feel strongly about after wasting so much money on scumbag cowboys. DONT LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!!!
K
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come across as anything other than friendly and helpful, certainly not aggressive or intimidating in anyway. At the end of the day I would be in a much better position if I hadn't coughed up more money without fully checking where the trench had been dug. It was wet, cold, dark, trench was full of water, bulb had just blown on my torch, excuse, excuse, excuse... If this was a two story extension it would be a different matter. But then again that would be inspected by the building regs guys. A suitable fix is probably sufficient. If I'm not happy I won't let additional work progress and look into what options are available. But it's not a constructive path to go down. I plan to have a large extension built in the next three to five years. Thought this guy was a dead cert (if the price was right) for the job as well. This was a test run for the builder and a learning experience for myself before the extension. I guess now I'll have to see how this pans out.
I got in there with a tape measure today and can possibly see why the trench diggers dug so far across. Like most semi-detached houses I have a central(ish) column that splits the window from the door. The column is narrow, only approx 60cm wide. So perfect for the trench to line up with. The measurements for the width of the porch on the plan come right to the far edge of this column. Essentially if you were to follow the measurements alone you would be putting the outer skin of bricks right against the window. Therefore the measurements are about 10-15cm out and they've dug about 10-15cm too wide on top of that. However the picture on the plan clearly shows the porch needs to bind to the centre of the column. Plus I'd fully explained to the builder on multiple occasions that the width dimension appeared to be out and that no part of the porch (inc gutter) can encroach on window space.
My guess is he's left his lads and only told them the dimensions and not left a picture of the plan. They've assumed that the porch is going to be built right up to the window and not centre of the column. Unfortunately as they've also dug a little too far to the right on top of the incorrect dimensions, the whole trench is 30cm out and there simply isn't the space to rectify the issue. We not without building into the window ;)
Regards,
Tim
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They all start out as genuine and nice and reasonable..and..and..and.. That's how they get the job.
It's how he is when things go wrong that you get the measure of the situation and the man.
I genuinely hope that this is resolved to your satisfaction, and given that you have parted with your money, I'd like to echo the worthy suggestion of other posters to get your local building control along to get a steer on the best technical solution to the problem. In my experience also, they've always been very helpful.
Good luck.
K.
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On Tue, 29 Jan 2008 21:35:34 +0000, a particular chimpanzee, Hugo

Oops! Should have read to the end of the thread before replying.
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Hugo Nebula wrote:

Yep it's because I'm changing the door to an internal door. By the sounds of things it's because internal doors don't have the same insulation properties, so the porch has to meet certain standards. To be honest I've had plans made up to those standards anyway and I'd rather it be inspected. Well worth the 325 for somebody who knows what he's talking about to review it at major stages.
Regards,
Tim
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I'm trying to be realistic about what I'm going to get out of this, I doubt that he's going to be ripping it all up in a hurry. It's a light structure with probably excessive footings and foundations. A lintel is no good, he might not have understood what I was talking about when I last called him and thought he was bridging surface damage only. I don't know. As a repair job for the inner blocks I think he's going to have to dig a trench by the existing one to the same depth. As it's only holding inner blocks, I'm guessing it will need to be at least 30-40cm wide. Do you think it will adhere at all to the existing concrete footings? If not, do you think there could be any issues with the inner and outer blocks being on separate footings? As the cavity between is filled with concrete to ground level, I guess this adheres the bricks together distributing the load.
I was thinking about asking for the two footings to be bound by drilling metal bars into the existing footing. Seemed like a good idea if a little overkill. But somebody warned me off this, stating that the metal may rust and expand causing the concrete to crack.
Thanks all for the tips BTW,
Tim
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Tim wrote:

Without actually seeing the site, and knowing things like what the ground conditions under the house and these foundations are, the only safe advice can be that the foundations must be to specification.
Now it could be right that, for this particular site, there are workarounds that will provide a perfectly safe solution. If the foundations of the house and extension are essentially laid on bedrock - then, quite honestly, almost anything would do. If the underlying ground is subject to movement - then only a structural engineer could make such a decision with anything like certainty.
Whether the structure built on top of the new foundations is heavy or light matters not if the house and extension move differently.
If you make instruction as to how to proceed (aka ask for...)- you take responsibility if that instruction is wrong. How many bars? What size? what material? What finish? It isn't something to take an ininformed guess at.
Me, I would phone the local building control office. Speak to them. Ask them. My lot are incredibly helpful and friendly.. not like the DNP Planning Control lot of totally unreasonable *)((*&& .. I would expect that a bco guy would agree to pop out and have a look. If there is a cheap and near-totally safe solution, he will know it.
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> Without actually seeing the site, and knowing things like what the

copper pipe a good 50cm further underground from the footing, with little resistance. That's in the central undisturbed section a good 50cm deep already. Looks to be mostly sand and earth down there. No subsidence on the estate though.

the builders. My worry is the inner footing sinking a little further than the outer footing. The inner footing will hold the weight of the inner blocks (I don't don't know if that includes the roof). But the inner footing will also have the central column of earth, insulation and concrete on top.

Yep, going to do this first thing Monday. I wasn't sure if they would come out or speak to somebody over the phone.
Regards,
Tim
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Just tell him that Building Control have condemed the work and see what he says
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On Fri, 25 Jan 2008 19:35:11 +0000, Tim wrote:

=================================If the footings are four sided ( i.e. a rectangle with missing centre) then the builder's suggestion of a lintel is quite sound provided that the footings and supplementary lintel are strong enough. I would expect him to lay the lintel across the *top* of the footings (not the side) and it would be firmly located by the first course(s) of blocks. It may be a bit unconventional in this situation but it's quite normal to use a lintel to provide openings for drains etc. and even for tree roots.
He might need to build a pier on a small block foundation at the centre point of the lintel to avoid an excessively thick lintel.
Cic.
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