COMMUNITY FORUM

Justin2002

10:18AM | 07/21/04
Member Since: 07/19/04
3 lifetime posts
Bvbasement
We purchased a new home by Pulte, and they are in the process of building our home. Last weekend, we noticed that there are three long cracks on one of the basement walls. It seemed that the construction worker working on the house adjacent to us probably came too close to our home with their "bulldozer" putting lots of pressure on the ground that our basement wall is buried.

The construction superintendent told us this is not a big problem, and all they have to is drill a few wholes on the wall from inside and inject epoxy fluid.

My concern is that is this enough? They are just doing this from inside since the other side is buried underground... Won't it leak when rain a lot and the ground is saturated with water?

Should I cancel the contract and buy another home?

Any suggestions or comment would be very much appreciated. Thanks


Piffin

04:54PM | 07/25/04
Member Since: 11/06/02
1281 lifetime posts
It depends on whether you want to get what you are paying for.

To crack a wall like that in that way, means that it was backfilled too soon. it had to have moved or bowed the wall inward to crack it.

This whole story is consistant with slam bam work instead of quality. BTW, I have never heard Pulte and quality connected in the same sentence before.

Do what you want about the problem, but I WOULD NOT CLOSE ON A HOUSE BUILT WITH THAT SORT OF ATTITUDE.

Excellence is its own reward!


Justin2002

01:15PM | 07/26/04
Member Since: 07/19/04
3 lifetime posts
Thanks Piffin for your comment. Do you think fixing this burried wall from the inside using epoxy fluid is viable? if so how good is it? What are the options for fixing this problem? Is there anyway for them to re-build the wall? Is there an independent inspector to take a look at this problem, and what is the typical fees for that type of inspectors?

Thanks much in advance for any comments or suggestions.

Piffin

06:13PM | 07/26/04
Member Since: 11/06/02
1281 lifetime posts
The best person to inspect and advise you on site would be a local PE - A civil engineer with experience in soils and foundations.

That objective inspection might be necessary to get out of a contract.

my point went further than the concrete. The careless attitude they displayed towards a foundation is symptomatic of the overall way the company does business. You want to ask yourself if you really want to live in a house built by a company with that way of thinking.

Excellence is its own reward!


chorlton

06:41PM | 08/30/04
Member Since: 08/29/04
35 lifetime posts
It sounds like the surcharge from the heavy equipment caused your basement wall to fail, structurally. The cracks were horizontal or vertical? I would be very concerned than my house was built on such a wall. These walls are usually tanked on the outside with asphalt or similar. This has obviously been compromised, and i would be worried about the water ingress and structural integrity.Have them fix it properly or buy another house.

mbreuker

09:44AM | 09/13/04
Member Since: 09/12/04
2 lifetime posts
I am having a Pulte home built in Virginia. We chose Pulte based on researching several builders in Virginia and comparing their records for Quality and Customer Satisfaction. Quality of building materials/methods was most critical to us over price or design. Pulte is the #1 builder in Virginia for Quality and #2 builder overall according to a recent JD Powers survey.

Overall we are very satisfied with the contruction methods used by Pulte, with one unfortunate exception. The basement foundation wall has completey broken into three pieces and rather than replace it (these walls are fabricated in a nearby manufacturing facility where they could easily pour and ship another, at the cost of delaying construction by a week or two), they have epoxied it.

http://www.breuker.org/modules.php?set_albumName=album34&id=aaq&op=modload&name=gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php

I took several pictures, the link above probably shows it best. I did have an independant inspector look at it and he said this is acceptable. He did tell me Pulte is required, in Virginia anyway, to get a special exception from the County inspector for this type of repair. I am told that if this crack appears anywhere it could be seen, the value of the home could be reduced. Luckily, this is the front of the garage and will be buried on both sides, so it is not a large concern to me.

I just visited the site again, and this new crack has appeared next to the old one.

http://www.breuker.org/modules.php?set_albumName=album35&id=aak&op=modload&name=gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php

Although this one is not as severe as the other, I am now very concerned about the quality of this foundation wall. Two stories of house have to rest on these things and new cracks are forming now, what's to come?

If I don't close on this home, I will lose out on over $100K in equity as I signed the contract a year ago and the housing market is just crazy here. I want to close on the house and I want to save my anger with Pulte for the "real" problems that I know every home buyer has. The question is, is this a serious problem that is worth an ugly fight with the builder over, or is it no big deal, like my independant inspector suggests? Keep in mind that Pulte probably wants me to back out of the contract since they have a waiting list of over 250 people for these homes and they have raised their price on this model over $100K since I contracted.

joed

08:55AM | 09/22/04
Member Since: 09/17/02
524 lifetime posts
What are the qulifications of your inspector? Is he an engineer or just a home inspector? I think I would want an engineers opinion.

mbreuker

04:13PM | 09/25/04
Member Since: 09/12/04
2 lifetime posts
I thought it only fair to follow up on my status. I met with the builder and discussed the broken/repaired foundation and here is what I found out.

Although the county inspector did approve the repair, the inspector himself is not necessarily a qualified engineer. What the inspector was looking for was proof that an engineer has signed-off on the repair. Apparently Pulte consulted an engineer to determine if the crack was a problem. The engineer gave instructions on how to repair the wall and this was done. The engineer then inspected the repair and signed-off on it. The country inspector then had to sign-off on it. I have all of the paperwork now to prove this. If I had not specifically notified the inspector, however, this may not have happened because the inspector was not due to review the home at that stage and the crack was covered before the inspector's scheduled visit.

What I have been told is that a crack does not usually pose a structural risk, but does pose a risk for water leaks. Since, in this case, the wall was backfilled with dirt on both sides, leaks are not a concern. I've also been told that cracks are very common and repairing them is rather routine. A quick search for "Foundation Crack Repair" on google will yield a lot of information about companies that do this and the techniques used. Still not something I like to see on a new home, but in this case, I'm not going to worry any more about it.

Piffin

04:43PM | 09/25/04
Member Since: 11/06/02
1281 lifetime posts
Thanks for the update on this. Fololow-ups help everyone to learn.

But I wouold caution you to keep tjhat paperwork

Many times, cracks ar eniot a structural issue, and the concrete pour that haas no cracks whatsoever doews not exist.

But most of those cracks are shrinkage cracks and not stress induced ones. Since your foundation is infilled also, there should be no probelm for you to worry about. However, if you had a basement or crawl space and especially if you lived in cold northern climes, this would indeed be a serious issue, something for other readers here to take note of.

Excellence is its own reward!


Glenn Good

07:55AM | 09/26/04
Member Since: 09/10/03
314 lifetime posts
While many cracks in concrete foundations are not structurally related, some are.

Two easy ways to find out how large a problem is are to:

1) Do a thorough visual inspection of the foundation as well as the walls above. If any foundation cracks show evidence of migrating into the wall surface above, you most likely have a structural flaw.

2) Monitor the cracks. If over time they continue to grow (especially in width) you again are likely to have a structural flaw. Cracks that continue to grow are signs of movement (generally in the foundation) and may point to a structural flaw in the footing.

Some other useful information about concrete:

In some cases a house may have been built, or the foundation backfilled, before the foundation concrete has had time to reach 65%-70% of its design strength. Concrete gets stronger as time goes by and generally reaches its full design strength within 30 days provided it is cured properly. It generally reaches 65%-70% of design strength within 7-10 days. If the house was built over the foundation, or if the foundation was backfilled, without giving the concrete time to cure it would still be in a weakened state and more likely to crack. This is a big problem with some contractors that are in a hurry and do not allow for proper curing time.

Moisture curing is also important and should also be used especially during hot weather. It is important to maintain the moisture level in the concrete for the 30 day curing period. Rapid drying will cause shrinkage cracks and weaken the strength of the concrete. Covering with polyethylene and sealing all openings for the 30 day curing period is one of the better methods of moisture curing. Other methods include continuous wetting using a soaker hose or sprinkler system or by spraying the concrete with a special moisture retaining curing compound immediately after pouring and finishing (or stripping off the forms).

Foundations poured in moist soil during cool weather are not as susceptible because they are only exposed on 1 side and the moist soil will help contain the moisture. The only time it can be an issue is during hot weather when the sun is beating down directly on the surface of the fresh concrete causing it to dry rapidly. This can be easily be eliminated by covering with poly, straw, dirt, or any other means of blocking the suns rays, or my moisture curing as I mentioned earlier.

Moderator: Construction Systems, Foundations, and Masonry & Stone

For more information about me and/or my qualifications please visit my website at:

www.consultationdirect.com
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