Crawlspace...

Greetings,
I have a small 3 bed 2 bath house being built here in a small town in the Northwest Inland. It should complete by the end of January. The builder is a small builder that's typical here who has no more that 2 or 3 houses being built at any given time.
The house is a one level rancher over a crawlspace of about 3' headroom. Entire house is on the crawlspace, except the garage. It has GFA heating but no AC. I have no plan to install AC since here in summer there is only time of 2 or 3 weeks of hot weather.
As I currently live pretty close to that new home, I've got the chance to visit the site quite a few times as the construction goes on. I did notice something that I want to talk to the builder (he is very hard to get hold on) but I want get some ideas first.
Currently it is in the phase of installing HVAC ductwork and plumbing (installing bath tubs etc). The lot is slightly sloped from back to front. The neighbor's lot across the backyard is higher than mine, and it goes lower towards front yard and lower to the street. The builder told me he'd grade the lot so there is a swale in my backyard that goes on to the sides and finally to the street. I think it is the right way but he hasn't done that yet so now the backyard still slopes to the back of the house.
1. I looked into the crawlspace a couple of times. It has a lot of water there. After a good rain the water is ankle deep. Is it because the lot hasn 't been graded? Is it supposed to be dry even after rain, when grading is complete?
2. After the foundation walls were poured, I saw them putting two ridged black plastic pipes (about 6") along the outside of footings all around the foundation. One has fabric over it. Someone told me the one with fabric is perforated to collect water that otherwise would seep into the crawlspace. The gutter downspouts would go to the other pipe. But I don't know to where these pipes should direct water. I only saw the pipes lying in the trench but they were not connected to anything!!. The next time I visited they backfilled it all I saw were a few pipes sticking out a few places. Do these pipes need to be connected to sewer or something?
3. There are 6 mil sheets on the dirt in the crawlspace (now it is floating in water). But the sheets cover separate segments because there are two additional concrete footings running through the space. There are 2x4 lumber props on these footing to support the floor joists. Is it the right way to put down the vapor retarder? I guess the concrete footings in the middle also suck and evaporate a lot of water.
4. Currently there is no insulation under the subfloor. Are they supposed to put batts between the TJI joists? The house specs do say R38 for attic and R19 for walls and floor.
5. There are 11 vents on foundation walls (8x16 size). Are they sufficient for this 1350 SQFT crawlspace?
6. I am going to install the standard 3/4" solid wood strip floor in the dining/kitchen room. Can flooring store do the installation with the wet crawlspace? It seems that many suggest that the house must be dry before floor installation.
Thank you very much.
Bob
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1 That is alot of water, you should be concerned 2 Usualy to a sump or a lower area properly prepared drainfield. 3 2x4 for verticle support ? 4 Your contract calls for it so yes. Insulated ducts are also good 6 wood must aclimitise to your house. The instaler should know how long. If the drains were doing their job you should be dry. Maybe grading will help, but where is the water table level . You need to hire on site independant pro advise , an architect or engineer. Calling your building inspector would be a start , but hire another pro also.
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1. If the house is dried-in, the crawl space should be dry. It should stay dry. The surface of the ground (grade) should slope away from the house in all directions. Grade should be no higher at the wall of the house than the floor of the crawl space. Since folks make planting beds along the wall, the ground level will rise over time.
2. Find out where the two pipe systems end. You need to know that for maintenance.
3. 2x4s are not going to support much. I should * think * masonry piers are needed. Check the plans. The poly should be lapped and fastened to the masonry at the edges.
4. Insulation placed when the crawl space is flooded is not going to do well.
5..Building codes give * minimum * requirements for vent area. Local climate, usual amount of soil moisture, and wind will suggest what you need. Check the Building Science Corporation web site for climate specific suggestions. 6. Water in the crawl space is going to cause problems.
TB
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Bob wrote:

[SNIP]
Bob, listen to what these other folk are saying. Listen VERY CAREFULLY.
My mother just settled a year-and-a-half long nightmare involving a "contractor" who built an addition 2' below grade behind her 30 year-old brick ranch, also on a "gently sloping" lot. It flooded from Day 1 and got so bad even the roof caved in. I don't know what the legal term is for an injunction to get a contractor to stop performing substandard work, and I am by no means a professional (only someone who bailed on average 25 Shop Vacs full of water each weekend of June 2003 from this nightmare).
The black tubes you refer to are called drain tile or French drains. Not only should they be connected to "something," there should be a trench on the property where you can actually see the connection leading to the lowest, or to one of the lowest, places on the land. This connection should, as the contractors say, "lead to daylight." The reason drain tile needs to lead to daylight is because even under the best circumstances, the cloth-wrapping around the drains will over time become muddy and clogged. Drain tile, or French drains, are like underground gutters. They have to have a clear and open place to discharge their contents, or they will back up and you will have what God love you, you already seem to have.
I could go on and on, Bob, but let me finish by saying, REAL loud, R-U-N, D-O-N'-T W-A-L-K to your local Code Enforcement Officer (I'm assuming you do have a building permit) and ask for his/her help or at least a visit to the site. If your municipality does not have a provision in its code for any kind of action to be taken by the Officer, call another contractor IMMEDIATELY and offer to pay for his/her appraisal of the source of the flooding. I guarantee you without even seeing the property that you're right when you say the land has not been sufficiently graded.
I don't often say this on this newsgroup, but I'll be keeping you in my prayers.
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Tioga, how could a roof cave in from a wet crawlspace ???
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m Ransley wrote:

Yeah, that was a blooper. In my mother's case, the "contractor" was so bad he SHINGLED a roof with 1/4" pitch. The whole addition was situated beneath a huge deck he also put on to the house. By no means did I want to give the impression that lack of drainage led to the roof collapse.
However--and this is a big however--once water gets into anything porous or even into masonry, osmotic "movement" will introduce H20 to surprisingly heights in gypsum board and joists. Take my word for it...my $22K+ word for it, you do NOT want to address drainage/flooding problems after building is done.
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m Ransley wrote:

Yeah, that was a blooper. In my mother's case, the "contractor" was so bad he SHINGLED a roof with 1/4" pitch. The whole addition was situated beneath a huge deck he also put on to the house. By no means did I want to give the impression that lack of drainage led to the roof collapse.
However--and this is a big however--once water gets into anything porous or even into masonry, osmotic "movement" will introduce H20 to surprisingly heights in gypsum board and joists. Take my word for it...my $22K+ word for it, you do NOT want to address drainage/flooding problems after building is done.
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Hi,
Thanks for all the input. I did talk to the agent of the builder. She said there is water because grading has not been done and the downspouts haven't been connected to the pipes at all. Maybe she was right. At the back side of the foundation wall there is standing water near the walls after rain (the backyard is higher, sloping down towards the front). She assured me after the construction is complete there will be no water.
Earlier the builder specifically told me he would make a swale in the backyard so the grading slows away in the back. The swale would go on to the two sides and lead the water to the front then to the street. The agent comfirmed he would do it later. I mentioned to her that the crawlspace needs to be dry when wood floor is installed. She said flooring should be last stage of construction by that time grading should have been done but she wan't sure when exactly the grading would be done she would check with the buider.
I still don't know where the drain pipes lead to. I walked around the house but did not see the "outlet". Only a few pipes (no fabric covering) sticking upward - I assume these will be connected to downspouts later. The agent doesn't know either but she will check with builder.
All this doesn't sound as bad. Maybe it is just normal to have some water in the crawlspace **DURING** the contruction???
Our city does have a building department. They automatically sends inspector to any new construction. They go to the contruction site at different times and every time they put an inspection report on the wall - at early stage like footing, foundation, they just put it on the ground. I have seen a few of them. Most are OK. There were a few small issues like "Plumbing Ok but this PEX pipe need to be strapped" etc. The biggest issue I have seen on my house was "gas pipe pressure 10psi. should be at least 15psi. call for re-inspection when corrected". But I haven't seen a report on the water.
Thanks again.
Bob
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<SNIP>
Bob, I caught this thread late. Relax. Breathe deeply.
It is normal to have problems during construction that do not happen later. I had a foot of water in my basement before the yard was graded and the sump pump added. It has been bone dry for 10 years now.
When the builder says the house is finished is the time to worry about these items if they still exist and DEMAND that they be corrected before you close. To discuss them now other than to say I am sure this won't still be a problem when you are finished makes you a "nervous Nellie".
You will get a lot better quality if you take notes and wait for the people to finish their jobs before you complain. The only exception to that rule is where something is completely contrary to what you agreed to purchase or is being done in an unworkmanlike manner.
Have a peaceful day.
Colbyt
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You were right. It is probably too soon to complain but I was just bit nervous when I saw that water down there.
I went to the site today after work and found two new inspection reports on the wall.
On 12/9 electrical inspection report the city inspector scribbled a few lines that I couldn't read - basically OK.
On 12/8 report, a different inspector was also concerned with the water, see item 4:
1. block braced wall panels in garage 2. 6 foot or larger opening need double tra????s under heater @ each end. - this has been called out consistently and needs to be fixed. 3. glass broken over front window needs to be finished 4. Pump out crawlspace - I may require a permanent sump on this house - call before final inspection so I can come look at it again. 5. Strap stud wall where dryer duct severs it. 6 Anchor gas pipe main run in garage - when this is done I will sign the gas tag - saw pressure @ 15 LBS.
Don't understand 1 and 2, though.
Wait and see what the builder will do.
Bob

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call
You are fine. If the inspector is on top of the problem, the problem will be resolved with grading or with a sump pump. Either will solve your problem. Most of us would prefer grading but sometimes sumps are required in crawls. They usually last years and are not hard or expensive to replace. You can even add a $15 alarm to let you you know if it ever fails.
I don't have a clue as to what items 1 or 2 were either. But you can bet that the building inspector will make sure it is fixed.
Colbyt
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replace.
For what it's worth, in the past couple of months, 3 people have told me that there are now sump pumps whose innards are operated by water pressure, not electricity. Sounds interesting.
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1. May mean there is not a line of horizontal blocking between the vertical studs. Blocking in this case would be used to reduce the vertical "span" of the studs. 2. May mean that two trimmers are needed to support each end of the header. The header is the horizontal member spanning the top of the opening. Smaller openings need only one trimmer or cripple at each end of the header. Since it has been "called out consistently" the builder may be slow in meeting minimum standards. The comment about a "permanent sump pump" suggests there is a long term condition. That condition could become a problem if not addressed.
You appear to be doing this one on one with the builder. It is not time to get upset. It might be time to find someone to compare the contract documents to the built conditions.
I'm a registerd architect working with a builder on documentation of residential building failures. We have lots of work.
TB
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Thanks for your professional opinion. You were right - I just realized in item 2 it's "header" not "heater". It makes sense now.
Bob

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And you guessed it right: the words I couldn't read are indeed "double trimmers".

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Did you have a percolation test done?
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What is a percolation test?

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Bob wrote:

It's a test usually done for people who are going to install septic systems, to see how close to the ground the water table lies.
I've read the entire thread (since the subject is so close to my heart). I agree with the poster who said not to worry if the builder hasn't announced or acted as if the floor is ready to go on, or the drain work is complete. At one point in my mother's construction, when proper drainage still was possible (the foundation just having been poured), the first of interminable thunderstorms swept through, and the "room" took on at least six inches of water. I didn't have to call the builder to know there was no reason to worry about it--THEN.
But in my case the builder CONTINUED to act this way. If yours conducts himself in such a way to suggest your extremely valid concerns are negligeable, then I say, Heck, be the QUEEN of Nervous Nellies.
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Right, and when I mentioned it, I wasn't sure if it made sense in your situation. I've been watching the results of such a test on a friend's property. He's trying to get the construction of his house underway, and the perc test is driving EVERYONE nuts. The house is on a rise about 50' above the rest of the property. The perc test (for the cesspool) is *not* going well. The hole's filling up with water to a level which would be about halfway up the basement walls, if the hole were right next to where the house will stand. In two places down the 50' slope, two other holes are bone dry.
At first, he thought the building inspector was being overly picky, but when he considered the connection between the test results, and the misery of a permanently wet basement, he changed his tune. So, the tests go on and he's seriously considering hiring a geologist! Otherwise, he's afraid the house will never be built.
I'm mentioning all this simply to point out that he movement of water underground sometimes makes no sense at all.
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