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frustratehome 02-12-2013 11:47 AM

foundation problems need help fast
I am purchasing a new home that I absolutely love. It has some foundation problems that I am ok with. Nothing that can't be repair and grants are offered in my area to fix the problem. The home has a cider block foundation and there are many cracks in there.

My home inspector and his supervisor are telling that it isn't anything serious and all it needs is some patch work and filling. When I was told this, I contacted a couple of contractors for estimates and they both told me that the house foundation needs major repairs, such as some kind of rod put into the blocks.

The home owner patched the inside, so it made it very difficult for the inspector to see the cracks on the inside, but they were visible, but barely.

All I want to know is what is the best way to repair the foundation. I don't want to pay for a major repair if it isn't necessary, but I also, just don't want to do a patch job every year.

I asked the home inspector if I should bring in a structural engineer and he is telling me that it isn't necessary, but the contractors are telling me that it is.

I don't know who to believe. I don't get the feeling that the contractor is trying to rip me off, but I don't think the inspector is incompetent either. When I bring up my dilemma, all everyone does is yell at me and tell me to back out of the deal, which I don't want to.

I just want to know who is right so that I can have the foundation fix correctly the first time. I am so frustrated and confused on what I am supposed to do. I try to do some research so that I could understand what they were explaining to me and that came back saying the same thing that both of them were telling me, so I don't know how to fix the foundation or what to do about it.

Sorry for such a long post. :wink:

Trucon01 02-12-2013 11:59 AM

First -- I know very little about foundations.

Second -- You probably need to add some pictures so the experts on here can get a better look (inside, outside, etc). Do you have any bowing or just cracking?

Third -- It never hurts to have a S.E. look at your issue. If anything, its piece of mind.

AandPDan 02-12-2013 12:02 PM

Hi Frustrate,

A home inspector is NOT an authority. Most don't fully comprehend all applicable building codes and in some places, no certification is necessary.

Have you ever seen "Holmes on Homes" just as an example???

You brought in experienced contractors. If you don't trust them then get a structural engineer to evaluate the foundation. You want someone that has seen these problems before.

It may not even be possible to evaluate the foundation without removing the "patch" or even a block or two. Be very suspicious of the repair if the homeowner did it.

Your house is only as good as it's foundation.

Spend the money on the engineer or back out of the deal. It's a simple matter.

stadry 02-12-2013 12:34 PM

CONGRATS on calling in some experienc'd contractors & also doubting your ' home inspector ',,, there are many good h/i's but also many who just buy word processing programs & base most opinions on their ' wanna-be contractor ' dreams.

1st, cinder block walls have little lateral strength by themselves due to mortar jnts,,, as exterior soils compact over the years ( due to rains, mostly ), lateral soil pressure increases leading to bowing, step cracks, horizontal crks thru the mortar lines, etc,,, there could also be a foundation crk usually manifested visually by a large crk running fairly strt up the wall even splitting blocks,,, certainly would help if you'd post'd some pics but doubt that'll change the previous 2 responders' advice

' patch & fill ' is, largely, cosmetic,,, ' rod ' method ( aka wall pins ) are usually a 2 x 3 box or i beam inside the bsmt against the wall - a clean sign to future buyers you gots troubles,,, concealed ' wall pins ' are rebar run up thru the cells & tied to the rebars running down the cells,,, cells are then fill'd w/non-shrink grout thereby strengthening the wall,,, in EXTREME cases, exterior excavation & wall alignment is necessary,,,the more needs to be done = more $$$.

the only guys not worried about annually patchin' & fixin' are sleazy sellers hoping to hook an unsuspecting buyer,,, my advice ? do it once, do it right, & buy yourself a new recliner :laughing:

ps - NEVER use all these words in the same sentence: ' don't think the inspector is incompetent ' as you'll be the guy eating them :censored: it ain't their house,,, hell, they can't even SEE your house from their house !

whether the ' buy ' is a good deal is your call as all problems can be repaired properly,,, whether or not its financially justified by the attractiveness & appeal of the house is another factor,,, i always figured out what was a fair offer IF the house was in good condition ( not pristine or museum-grade ) then deduct'd cost of nec repairs,,, of course, when my bride, nagzilla, liked something, her desires often overrode my pocketbook :eek:

ps - possibly your insurance agent could recommend a good resource; not all pe's are familiar w/foundation repair methods/materials; in the end, they all go home & YOU have to live there,,, let us know what you decide - GOOD LUCK !

frustratehome 02-12-2013 12:55 PM

Thank you for the advice. I didn't take any pictures, but the contractor said he would send them to me. I think I will follow your advice and get the engineer in there to look at it. I will post the pictures when I receive them.

stadry 02-12-2013 01:03 PM

friend of mine loved saying ' it takes a good man to learn from his mistakes & a better man to learn from others' mistakes !

frustratehome 02-12-2013 01:51 PM

I have another question. Would it be better to find my on structural engineer or go with the recommended one from the contractor?

AandPDan 02-12-2013 02:18 PM


Originally Posted by frustratehome (Post 1115855)
I have another question. Would it be better to find my on structural engineer or go with the recommended one from the contractor?

The contractor probably has someone in mind that he's worked with before. If you want a truly independent opinion, get your own. I don't believe that there would be any issues however.

Structural engineers are a licensed profession. Check their certifications.

Canarywood1 02-12-2013 05:57 PM

Hire the structual engineer of YOUR CHOICE,not the contractor,and you can rest easy.

Daniel Holzman 02-12-2013 07:36 PM

You have not indicated where you live, or where the house you are looking at is located. Assuming you are in the United States, not every state licenses structural engineers specifically, in many states they are licensed as civil engineers. Regardless, it is often quite difficult to find a competent structural engineer to do a residential inspection, for one thing most homeowners don't care to pay what most engineer's think they are worth (speaking personally), so the vast majority of "structural" inspections are performed by individuals who are not specifically trained as structural engineers.

This can make it difficult for the average homeowner, or prospective homeowner, to determine how much stock to put in the report. In your case, you presumably paid a home inspector to look at the place, so you are probably not anxious to pay for yet another inspection. I get that. However, you should be aware that no competent home inspector would offer an opinion on the structural significance of cracks in a foundation, since they were almost certainly not paid to offer such an opinion, and if they had the training and skills to evaluate foundation cracking, they probably would not be inspecting homes for a few hundred dollars a pop.

My suggestion is to find a contractor who you know for a fact has experience repairing foundations, based on references that you can verify by visiting the foundation repair they made. Once you are convinced they have bona fide foundation repair experience, I would pay them to prepare a written report on your prospective house, and prepare an estimate to repair. This does not obligate you to use them to do the repair, but it would give you a pretty good indication how much less than your best offer you should make on the house. Unfortunately most engineers who are able to determine the cause of foundation failure will be unable to estimate the repair cost, so in this case a contractor would seem to be a better choice.

frustratehome 02-13-2013 04:32 AM

Once again I would like to thank everyone for all the wonderful help. Believe me it is much much appreciated. As promise, the foundation problem has been resolved. It turns out that there is a problem with the foundation, but nothing major that can't be fixed in stages. The homeowners put an illegal addition to the home that is causing the cracks in the foundation. It will have to be supported and than we can repair the cracks.

So now, I just have to get quotes on supporting the addition and getting it permitted. I live in Elkridge, Md. The addition was built way over 20 years before all of the codes that were required for additions here.

I'm glad that has been resolved and I can get some sleep. Now onto the next crisis. :wink: :thumbup:

md2lgyk 02-15-2013 06:57 AM

Be prepared. If the addition is indeed illegal, you could be made to tear it down. It happens.

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