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HomeOwners for Better Building - Foundation Problems
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Foundation Problems
Friday, 20 October 2006

Expansive Soil, Foundation Problems, a Growing Problem
Holding Builders and Engineers Accountable
for Foundation Problems?
by Janet Ahmad

You bought the House – Don’t Buy the Builder’s Excuses 
Don’t let your builder stall or insult your intelligence



Are you learning that the so-called 2-10 year new home warranty is not all it’s cracked up to be? 

Does your builder say that cracks are normal even as they continue
to spread across the foundation and creep up and down the walls of your new home?  Chances are these are not normal settling cracks as the builder will claim.

Over the past 10 years foundation failures are becoming more commonplace across this country and are occurring in alarming numbers.  For example, nowhere but Texas are foundation failures more abundant.  Of all foundation failure in the country 1 out of 5 occurs in Texas .  

Chances are if you start to feel frustrated with the excuses the builder gives there must be a reason, so trust your instincts.   Don’t become frustrated, or argue with the builder, who in many cases doesn’t care.  Simply take charge and stop the builder’s excuses. Act, and act quickly.  Things will become understandable as to what is fact and what is fiction about your foundation. 

Take action utilizing available options that are relatively easy.

Remember even a repaired foundation substantially reduces the value of a home. 

Most Important!  First put your energy into holding the engineer accountable
       Filing a complaint against an engineer can be very effective.  Find out the
        name of the engineer or the engineering firm that designed the foundation
        of your home.  Engineers are in fact regulated and if they become careless
        they can lose the ability to practice their profession.  Unlike most builders,
        engineers generally carry errors and omissions insurance assuring more
        accountability.  By filing a complaint against the engineer you could find an
        ally that will help.
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

   1.  Immediately file a complaint on the builder with the State Attorney General
National Association Attorney Generals 

    2. If your state licenses or registers builders, file a complaint with  
        the appropriate agency.
        Warning, unfortunately far too many state regulations are lax and
        enforcement weak, so builders are not held accountable but file them
        anyway.  Don’t get discouraged and it is important to follow up.

File other
Complaints against the builder and engineer: Take action 101! 

New York Times: Creaking Sounds of Foundations from Shifting Soil    

STEVEN DERSE, the owner of a corporate travel business in Nashville, cannot feel his house move, but he can hear it. “It’s an eerie creaking sound,” he said, and it echoes throughout his two-story Georgian-style house.It started two years ago when a severe drought contracted the soil beneath the foundation, which caused it to crack and sink, pulling the house down with it. The noise has continued intermittently, becoming more insistent last year when flooding pushed the already compromised foundation and house back upward.



Expert & Columnist Mark Eberwine Express-News:
Foundation Failures...Why so many in Texas?

How is it that for over a century contractors have built skyscrapers and massive structures that span acres, and millions of homes that have withstood decades of rain and drought, yet Texas Homebuilders have such a dismal record when it comes to constructing foundations that properly support the walls, ceilings, and other superstructure components? Simply put, why are there so many houses in Texas with foundations that have failed or are otherwise in need of foundation repairs/stabilization? The favorite excuse that shoddy builders use when explaining away yet another failed foundation is 'Texas soils'. Somehow we are expected to believe that the soils in Texas occur nowhere else in the world. While quality homebuilders are busy building homes with solid, properly engineered foundations that will last for 100 or more years, shoddy builders are busy petitioning the Texas legislature to continue to allow them to build substandard houses.
Read more... 

Little Rivermists are everywhere in San Antonio
What is going on over at the Hills of River Mist is just 'the tip of the iceberg' in San Antonio. The 'Mud Lake of Rivermist' would have been a more appropriate name. All over San Antonio and the surrounding areas just outside anybody's oversight, subdivision after subdivision have been built where thousands of homes have had foundations constructed on improperly prepared lots.  Read more...

Consider this.  Builders like it when you hire an attorney

The first instinct most homeowners have is to retain an attorney in hopes the builder will decide to do the right thing and take responsibility.  However, contrary to what we were brought up to believe, the fact is builders by-in-large like it when you hire an attorney. 

First the builder knows you will have to begin spending a great deal of money you can’t afford to spend.  Secondly the attorney must represent you under the laws of your state, laws that the building industry has for the past 17 years been aggressively changing to protect its best interest all across the nation.  

Understanding why, read:
Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad! 
Binding Arbitration

HUD Standards - Site Conditions
Sec. 200.926d  Construction requirements
Builder Certification
HUD Form 92541 
HUD's Code of Federal Regulations addresses this issue. The Builders Certification (HUD 92541) addresses the issue of expansive soil. If the builder answers any question on the HUD 92541 form by checking the "yes" box the property is ineligible under HUD guidelines.
Question "f. Foreseeable Hazards of Adverse Conditions: (2) Does the site have unstable soils..."  
Property is ineligible for HUD funding.

The property could be made eligible if the foundation is engineered to withstand the soil conditions. However, when a foundation fails it is compelling evidencet that the engineers design failed to withstand the soil conditions.

The myths of watering foundation and under designed slabs
Too much rain, lack of rain, trees and other “Acts of God” exposed as a fairy tale.
It has been well established that foundation failures are widespread.  Critics claim that in most cases foundation failures are the result of an unregulated industry, unskilled labor and builders cutting corners for the sake of higher profits...We have it on good authority that the excuse for foundation failures caused by too much rain, lack of rain or trees is a fairy tale, and that “Acts of God” are acts of man in order to increase builder profits.  Read more...

HUD The Gold Standard: Property with expansive soil eligible for HUD approval 
To be clear, the purpose of engineering foundations is to ensure that the foundation will withstand the hazards of expansive soil. There is no justification for foundation designs that are dependant on regular foundation watering to avoid foundation failure. If so, the foundation is designed to fail. Read more...

In Texas: report foundation problems and the engineer to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. http://www.tbpe.state.tx.us/complaint.htm  





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