HELP: vertical foundation crack in new construction

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Hi, I found out there is a vertical crack on the foundation wall (poured concrete) all the way from ceiling to floor. It is on the 40' foundation wall, in the middle of garage, close to steel pieces in the concrete, about 1/8" wide. The foundation is only 2 months old and the house is close to completion.
I think one wall is settling down more to cause the crack. I am afraid that the crack will become bigger when settling continues. Is not rare for a 2-month foundation has such a long and wide crack? I am currently requesting the builder to hire a structural engineer to assess the problem.
Since the house has been closed, I may have to option to walk away if it is a serious foundation problem.
Folks, I would appreciate your advice on this problem. Also if I do accept the home, I have to disclose the problem when I sell the house in the future?
Thanks.
Tom
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foundation wall

on the 40'

pieces in the

old and the

I am afraid

Is not rare

Not "rare," but certainly not routine or normal.

engineer to

Have the builder propose his solution and timetable for effecting it, in writing preferably. That way, any competent authority can assess the damage, potential and proposed solution in one effort. More effective, efficient and also more equitable method to you and to the builder.
If you must retain a structural engineer, you should have an agreement sufficient for the closing on your purchase stating that you will retain and pay the engineer at your expense. If, however, the builder disputes the hiring and there is faulty construction, the builder shall reimburse your expense.
Although you have not closed on the purchase, you do have an equitable interest in the purchase and the property sufficient to enforce the contractor's work and reasonable performance. The contractor, however, must be given opportunity to correct and/or complete his work without penalty. How and when there is reimbursement of expense of the engineer is the likely hang-up on enforcing any agreement. If you are willing to chance that expense without reimbursement, then go for it. If you are not, proceed a bit more cautiously and give the builder adequate opportunity.
Do go on record, written, with copies to everyone concerned (seller, builder if different, title company, mortgage company, etc.) as to the original complaint and request (stay polite at this point . . . leave the "demands" to the attornies) for correction suitable to you. Don't just say suitable to an engineer. Say suitable to you. Of course, it won't be suitable to you if it isn't suitable to the engineer. However, what an engineer may deem technically adequate may not be the workmanship either you or the builder would prefer. (Remember, builders want to do good work. They appreciate reasonable, patient buyers and will usually work their butts off for a good buyer.)
But, CYA.
Good luck, Jim

walk away if

Also if I do

sell the house

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031004 1047 - Zhixin Tang wrote:

My brother had a house built on a cliff overlooking a lake. He had a deck built overlooking this view. He was in the process of finishing the basement area when he noticed a crack in the concrete basement foundation wall near the cliff edge. He contacted the builder and had the crack patched. A few months later the crack widened. He was about to have some paneling done to that wall. The builder had to come back and repatch the crack. My brother then paneled the wall and carpeted the floor and did other and sundry finishing projects in the basement area, and a few months later noticed that the paneling over where the crack area was separating from the wall. He removed the paneling and saw the crack was ever widening. He recontacted the builder, who did an investigation of the history of the area, and found that the house was built on a fault line. A new basement had to be dug out, and the house was "dragged" about 20 feet back from the cliff area and over the new basement.
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- indago -

the
basement
the
- Nehmo - Can there be earth movement about a fault line without there being an earthquake?
--
*******************
* Nehmo Sergheyev *
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Yes. An earthquake is what happens when a fault is prevented from its natural movement by rock friction: eventually the pressure builds up and it snaps violently.
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I had a similar crack in my foundation, in the basement. I noticed it about a month after we moved in (new construction).
The builder had the foundation subcontractor come back and they inserted several metal rods horizontally up and down the crack, injected some sort of expanding material into the crack (I can see that it went all the way through the wall to the outside), then spread cement over the whole thing. I haven't noticed any other cracks since then (5 years) and there is no leaking.
Ask the builder about it - if the builder subcontracted the foundation work, he'll just have the foundation guy come back. I really didn't even have to insist on it. I showed him the crack and he had the foundation guy back the next day (since that happened so quickly, I am assuming it didn't cost the builder anything and the subcontractor expects to have to fix the occasional crack).
If the builder doesn't want to have it fixed, then ask the building inspector or hire a home inspector to do an inspection before closing and see what he thinks.

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zhtst snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Zhixin Tang) wrote in message

A correction: The house has not closed yet. I've waited for this house for several months. However, if it is a serious foundation problem, is not better I just get my down money back and walk away?
Tom
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Have an engineer look at it. Was the first floor joists installed before backfilling? If not the pressure could have cracked it.

40'
the
the
afraid
rare
if
do
house
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I'd like to thank all of you who responded. Here are some new information:
The engineer hired by the builder had a visual inspection. He thinks it is differential foundation settling that caused the crack. The differential setting is estimated to be 1/8" and he said this kind of difference is covered by the design and is normal(?). He said because of elastic nature of soil initial load caused the crack and the crack should diminish over time with the current load. When the load changes (e.g. furniture, snow) it is expected that the crack should be proportional to load. The foundation is structural sound to support vertical weight
What are your opinions?
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I'd like to thank all of you who responded. Here are some new information: The engineer hired by the builder had a visual inspection. He thinks it is differential foundation settling that caused the crack. The differential setting is estimated to be 1/8" and he said this kind of difference is covered by the design and is normal(?). He said because of elastic nature of soil initial load caused the crack and the crack should diminish over time with the current load. When the load changes (e.g. furniture, snow) it is expected that the crack should be proportional to load. The foundation is structural sound to support vertical weight What are your opinions?
The engineer has seen it, we haven't.
No one here is in a position to second guess him, although some may do so anyway.
Best of luck, and let us know how it comes out!
--
Lyle B. Harwood, President
Phoenix Homes, Inc.
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Concrete gets hard and cracks. It is almost the exception to the rule for there to be absolutely no cracks. There are many causes and most conscientious builders do their best to prevent them because they cause reactions just like yours.
Your are paying top dollar for an expected result. Any deficiencies cause concern, apprehension, and even distrust; feelings which are not conducive to good or positive relationships.
No one on this newsgroup can make you feel better or worse about your particular situation. Can you trust your contractor or accept his advice? If your answer is NO, perhaps you should change your present situation. If the man has been up front and honest with you, what else can he do?
Your biggest issue is what can be done to remedy the crack issue. You have the advice of the builder's engineer. I assume the builder is paying for that inspection. I would be concerned about the exterior waterproofing over the crack. I would also ask advice about using epoxy injection to stabilize and repair the crack. If you hire your own engineer, you may get the same or similar answer, but you may be more willing to accept the answer. It is your decision, for long term peace of mind hire an independent 3rd party; split the cost with the builder if he is amenable or pay for it on your own so you can sleep at night.
#################### Keep the whole world singing. . . Dan G (remove the 7)

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A very rough rule of thumb is adding up all the cracks in the wall, and if they're over 1/4" total, then you have significant settlement. Within this rule the engineer has given a plausible description.
Vertical & diagonal are usually safer than horizontal cracks; the latter could indicate a possible wall failure & collapse.
Did the builder perform soil testing on various points of the site, especially if that neighbourhood is prone to unstable soil conditions. What is the experience of other owners in that area?
Are the footings adequate for that soil? Is there adequate rebar in both footings & foundation?
If so, how did the 1/8" crack happen so soon? I've never heard of 1/8" differential settlement crack being an accepted part of a "design". Whose design is he referring to? (Mangle-Wood Construction?) Adequate perfomance on an older structure, yes, but I'd like to see the passage in an engineering text that says it's normal for a new foundation. While I haven't been around a lot of recently-constructed foundations, it seems a little odd to me.
Was the foundation backfilled too soon, with heavy equipment mechanically damaging the foundation before it cured?
Expansive soil can add typically 10% more pressure than non-expansive soil. This may have buckled the footing & foundations slightly before they cured. Is it very wet there, or did it rain much? A high water-table can increase hydrostatic pressure also.
Good luck with it.
Peter Shepherd 63 Pauline Ave Toronto

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Is there a construction industry performance standard that defines if 1/8" settling crack in 2 months (too soon, too much)is normal or abnormal? I know concrete hairline shrinkage crack is normal but a settling crack of such a width so soon is normal? I doubt it. I like to have references if anyone knows.
Thanks.

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On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 17:25:59 -0400, someone wrote:

That is pretty rare for residential construction, at least around here.
-v.
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On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 17:25:59 -0400, someone wrote: >Did the builder perform soil testing on various points of the site, That is pretty rare for residential construction, at least around here. -v.
It's not rare here, particularly when the problem involves a basement wall that is moving. In fact, I just completed a project that had extensive testing and engineering on it- removing and replacing one wall of a basement that was "falling" away from the rest of the house.
To the original poster, best of luck, and let us know how it comes out!
--
Lyle B. Harwood, President
Phoenix Homes, Inc.
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If you can get out of the deal, do so as fast as you can. It is not worth taking the chance that you will have enormous, expensive problems with this house down the road. Get out NOW and DON'T LOOK BACK!
Peter
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On Sat, 4 Oct 2003 16:32:34 -0700, someone wrote:

What kind of house do you live in?
Are there really NO cracks of any kind in your concrete work?
That is very hard to believe.
Residential work often has cracks. The questions are, is it moving, is it even, how big is it. The often heard panic remarks, "it goes all the way through" and "it goes all the way up" are pretty meaningless. Of course it will, why would it stop half way. That is not the Q.
Get someone knowledgeable to come out and see it in real life.
-v.
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Look in the Yellow pages under Engineers and call a few to get one out to look at it.

40'
the
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In my opinion, 1/8 inch settlement in 2 months is too much too soon. I suggest for peace of mind, hire your own structural engineer (your cost) to inspect it independent from the first report to see if the results are similar or not.
Or if you just don't feel comfortable with this project, don't buy it. Hopefully you won't lose any money but if you do, it may be a lot less than if you make the purchase and have to either repair the damage at your cost or sell a house with a foundation problem at a probable loss in value.
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Hello, I have a similar problem with my new house under construction and would like advice on how something like this is "fixed."
The preliminary: The footer in the house is something like 18" deep and about 12-15" wide. After that hardened, the builder placed hollow, concrete cinder blocks (this is common practice in this area - about 8-9" x 12-14") to form the walls. In between each row of block is a long piece of some metal grid or rebar-like material placed in the mortar running horizontally. These walls are about 2 ft (2 blocks) tall in the front and 6-9 feet tall in the rear corners. About 3/8-1/2" rebar was placed vertically in the walls about every 2 feet all the way around with each rebar extending about 2-3 feet above the top of the wall. These cinder blocks were then poured solid with concrete.
Now the problem: The concrete-filled walls sat about a week. Lots of rain on and off while many loads of dirt were brought to the site. Over the course of two days, the dirt was backfilled into the structure. No problem at first, but at the end of day while the track-hoe was smoothing the top and packing the dirt a vertical crack developed in the corner of the wall running perfectly vertical (not following the seams of the blocks). The track-hoe was only a couple of feet from the corner when this occurred. The crack begins actually on the side of the structure but at the rear corner about 1 block width from the rear corner. It is about 1/2-5/8" at the top and gets smaller at the bottom. It doesn't totally reach the bottom and tapers to a hair-line fracture at the 2nd block from the bottom. It does appear to go all the way through the wall.
The builder is not playing it off. He is upset and consulted an engineer (?) who hasn't looked at the foundation, but told the builder it should be fine. The idea is that with the rebar in the walls bent over and tieing the walls into the soon-to-be poured floor and the metal grid-work running horizontally in between each row of block, it should be ok. I am assuming some type of "filler" will be used as well to seal the crack. Further, the builder intends to drill 6 holes 16" deep and 5/8" in diameter through the rear corner into the side wall and drive some bars into the holes with a steel plate against the rear corner wall.
The outer surface will be ultimately finished with brick. My concern is that over time this could continue to separate. There isn't a bulge anywhere currently but there is separation on the wall at this time.
Any recommendations? If you had to "fix" this, what would you do?
Thanks in advance. Sorry to hijack the thread and with a long post to boot.
Robert
(Zhixin Tang) wrote:

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