03:47AM | 06/11/04
Member Since: 06/10/04
1 lifetime posts
Hello : )

My wife & I are having a house build. When we went to the Architect he put Bell Bottoms ALL over the foundation, which can be very expensive. We live in Galveston County in Texas & have had the soil tested which has found to be good solid soil (Clay about a foot down). We also have a good 18" of 60/40 select Dirt that we've purchased & packed down for the house to sit on.

Our general contractor is very knowledgeable about Bell bottoms & Beams & assures us that we shouldn't need anything more then 30 inch Beams around the perimeter & 24 inch beams throughout the house structure that are indicated on our foundation plan. He's going to pour the foundation/set the forms & beams as well.

My wife’s parents & friends swear by Bell bottoms, but I don't want to end up spending 8,000 projected dollars on our already Heavy budget for something we might not need in the 1st place. We have gotten a lot of opinions from different people & still can't make our minds up. The house I grew up in had Beams only & did fine, so I don't want them.

One concern was the differences in Climate down here where we can have a dry season & a wet season... but if we plan on having Irrigation around the house to keep the plants watered, then the foundation won’t dry out to cause any issues. Please HELP!

Thank you!

Glenn Good

07:51AM | 06/21/04
Member Since: 09/10/03
314 lifetime posts
There are several things you need to consider before making up you mind on which way to proceed:

1) The architect has likely consulted with a professional structural engineer when drawing these plans. While the bell bottoms may or may not be needed he is the one trained to know. It is a very dicey situation if you do not comply with an engineer’s recommendations. In fact your local building inspections department probably will not accept anything other than what is on the drawings or a deviation from the plans that has an engineer’s sealed approval.

2) If the architect did NOT consult with a structural engineer you may have a valid point. But ONLY if an engineer was never consulted for this project. Ask the architect to give you his reasons and if an engineer had been involved in making his decision.

3) If you can and do alter the foundation plans and the house begins to show signs of a problem in the future you will have no one to blame and no recourse other than to bear the full burden of the reconstruction or repair yourself. Can you afford this type to problem down the road?

4) Bottom line is this: A house can only be as good as its foundation. Cut corners where ever you can but NOT in the foundation or any other structurally related areas. This is the skeleton that everything else is built on and is also the most expensive to fix when things go wrong. Pay now, or pay more later should something go wrong. It is one gamble I would not take with my house.

5) Your contractor may be very knowledgeable about these matters but I would be very surprised if he would go against the instruction of a structural engineer if he had to put into writing that he would stand behind the foundation for an extended amount of time as well as place his reputation on the line. An engineer has had years of training to know what is required for specific weather loads, soil conditions, designed weight loads, seismic activity, and a multitude of other factors needed when designing a building that a contractor does not. If you were suffering from a severe illness would you take the advice of a doctor or a nurse?

I have been in construction for over 34 years, many of them as a commercial superintendent, and my advice is to bite the bullet and go with the engineer’s recommendation. You will not live to regret it.


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