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  1. #1
    Xudong Guan's Avatar
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    Default 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    I am interested in buying a foreclosure house sold as-is. The major concern is a 1/4 inch vertical crack in the concrete foundation. We are preparing an offer and haven't done inspection yet. I would like to hear some opinions from the experts here.

    Some more information: the house is an L-shape, and the crack is located at the middle of the backyard-side (west-edge of L). There are two other vertical cracks at the same side, one much narrower (1/16 inch), and the other hairline. The house is located at a smooth hill top that's pretty level. Although it rains a lot here in Seattle, the surrounding earth looks pretty dry. The MLS listing with some photo is at here, if this helps: 10419 170th Ave NW, Redmond, WA 98052 | MLS# 29043013

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  2. #2
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    Smile Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Hard to tell from just a few pics. An on site look would be much better. I recommend you hire an inspector asap and have the home evaluated by someone who can get a closer look.


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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Phillips View Post
    I recommend you hire an inspector asap and have the home evaluated by someone who can get a closer look.

    Being as the crack is the major issue, and being as a home inspector is going to recommend a structural engineer (or foundation company, etc.) with a crack that wide (or at least SHOULD do so), I recommend starting with the structural engineer/foundation company/etc. first.

    THEN ... if what they say does not chase you away with repair cost $$$, call a local home inspector BEFORE you make an offer.

    I do not know what your experience and knowledge is, but it is rare that a good home inspector will not find enough to boggle your mind even if you 'already know what you are looking for'.

    I know some people and some investors think 'I don't need a home inspection because I'm getting such a good deal' and then later find out that 'it wasn't such a good deal after all and the home inspector could have pointed out what I now know'.

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  4. #4
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Xudong Guan View Post
    I am interested in buying a foreclosure house sold as-is. The major concern is a 1/4 inch vertical crack in the concrete foundation. We are preparing an offer and haven't done inspection yet. I would like to hear some opinions from the experts here.

    Some more information: the house is an L-shape, and the crack is located at the middle of the backyard-side (west-edge of L). There are two other vertical cracks at the same side, one much narrower (1/16 inch), and the other hairline. The house is located at a smooth hill top that's pretty level. Although it rains a lot here in Seattle, the surrounding earth looks pretty dry. The MLS listing with some photo is at here, if this helps: 10419 170th Ave NW, Redmond, WA 98052 | MLS# 29043013
    XG: All of the cracks in the photos are caused by soil heaving. They are small at the bottom than they are at the top. Soil moisture problems perhaps. 1968 means it is not a post-tensioned slab-on-grade. The old WRI reinforcement methods did not control cracks as well as PT.


  5. #5

    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    XG: All of the cracks in the photos are caused by soil heaving. They are small at the bottom than they are at the top. Soil moisture problems perhaps. 1968 means it is not a post-tensioned slab-on-grade. The old WRI reinforcement methods did not control cracks as well as PT.
    A.D: I doubt that it is a slab, I believe the Seattle area is in crawlspace land. I think I can see a foundation vent at the front right corner. It looks like the grade is built up excessively either way.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    A.D: I doubt that it is a slab, I believe the Seattle area is in crawlspace land. I think I can see a foundation vent at the front right corner. It looks like the grade is built up excessively either way.
    Brandon: Slab or not it is a heaving crack either in the slab perimeter beam of the pier and beam perimeter beam. Awfully high soil level for a P&B, and I did not see a foundation vent in the first photos.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Brandon: Additionally, if you will read the MLS link, it says:

    Building Information
    • Built On Site
    • Wood Exterior
    • Poured Concrete Foundation
    • Composition Roof



  8. #8
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    You don't think it could be from settling on the corners instead of upheaval?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    You don't think it could be from settling on the corners instead of upheaval?
    Wayne: Sure, why not. Without on-site investigation how can you say? My guess is heaving. Redmond, according to the map below, does have a certain percentage of soils with moderate swell characteristics. If one were to have the exact coordinates of the house and a copy of the USGS soil survey for the area, one could make a very close surmise. Not like a test boring, but close.

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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Or maybe a little of both. But as you stated probably upheaval.

    He stated in the "L" part of the structure. Could have been an addition that wasn't properly constructed.....well you could say that....I did say that huh?

    The thing about it...concrete does crack. You just try to keep it at a minimum.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Or maybe a little of both. But as you stated probably upheaval.

    He stated in the "L" part of the structure. Could have been an addition that wasn't properly constructed.....well you could say that....I did say that huh?

    The thing about it...concrete does crack. You just try to keep it at a minimum.
    Wane: It all cracks, but just sometimes less with PTI. Sometimes, maybe.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    The thing about it...concrete does crack. You just try to keep it at a minimum.

    Concrete does two things:

    1) it gets hard

    2) it cracks

    Plain and simple as that.

    Concrete does, as we all know, support lots and lots and lots of weight when the concrete is in compression, but ... when in tension ... umm ... concrete just cracks apart ... unless there is steel in it, lots of steel, or steel which is pre stressed or post-tensioned - but we all knew those things.

    Regardless, though, of *the reason* the crack, a foundation company (with their structural engineer or a separate structural engineer) would be the person to advise him of what needs to be done, how quickly it needs to be done, and what are the expected results if nothing is done.

    The home inspector is going to, should be going to, recommend to their client that the contact a the above persons. It would not be in the best interests of either the home inspector nor their client to make that call themselves - unless, of course, they are also a structural engineer, in which case they would turn their hat around and say, okay, for the next hour while I look at these cracks and tell you what I see ... my rate is at my engineer's hourly rate ...

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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    A little bit of history from memory here. Back in "the day" when I was working construction I remember concrete companies thought they were getting away with something by adding fly-ash to their concrete and pulling one over on the contractors.

    A few years later when these foundations were torn into, demolished, jack hammered or whatever, they found that the concrete was tougher and stronger than ever. Hmmmmmm you mean this makes the concrete stronger???? HEY!!! We've been throwing this stuff in there as an additive! Now you are telling me it is GOOD???

    OK Joe! Let's start charging for this stuff that we used to "get over" on the contractors and throw it in the concrete to save on concrete!

    This stuff is good!!!! We can make money off this stuff???? WOW!!

    Funny how things turn around!!


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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Brandon: Additionally, if you will read the MLS link, it says:

    Building Information
    • Built On Site
    • Wood Exterior
    • Poured Concrete Foundation
    • Composition Roof
    Nothing in that list indicates a slab. That's the same list that every MLS listing in my (and Brandon's) area has and they're ALL crawl spaces. Heaving soil is rare here. Cracks in foundations are not. Usually caused by inadequate soil compaction, soil saturation and good old fashioned gravity.

    It's tough to say from the pictures but I'd bet on a nearby gutter drain that has been clogged. Also, if it's near a corner I'd bet on another similar crack around the corner.

    IMO, there's a decent chance the crack is not a problem.


  15. #15
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    It's tough to say from the pictures but I'd bet on a nearby gutter drain that has been clogged.
    Could also be that the drainage from the large patio/sport court is contributing. Grading, at best, looks flat.

    XG, talk to your agent. As long as the utilities are on, there's nothing, aside from the fee itself, to stop you getting a home inspection before putting in an offer.

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    I just bought a (as is) foreclosure to rehab and flip. Of course I am a home inspector so I inspected it. You need a good qualified home inspector to inspect this property. Does not matter if it's being sold as is or seems to be a great price. Not getting a home inspection is one of the biggest mistakes first time investors make.


  17. #17

    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Originally Posted by A.D. Miller
    Brandon: Additionally, if you will read the MLS link, it says:

    Building Information
    • Built On Site
    • Wood Exterior
    • Poured Concrete Foundation
    • Composition Roof


    Nothing in that list indicates a slab. That's the same list that every MLS listing in my (and Brandon's) area has and they're ALL crawl spaces. Heaving soil is rare here. Cracks in foundations are not. Usually caused by inadequate soil compaction, soil saturation and good old fashioned gravity.

    It's tough to say from the pictures but I'd bet on a nearby gutter drain that has been clogged. Also, if it's near a corner I'd bet on another similar crack around the corner.

    IMO, there's a decent chance the crack is not a problem.
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    Couldn't have said it better myself...


  18. #18
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    And think of all those lovely termites that can come up thru a crack that size. Have a pest control company come out to have a look and recommendation for soil treatment where that crack runs through the home. If it is open that wide running through the home sealing the crack no matter what a foundation company does would be a splendid idea for moisture and anything else.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Thanks everyone for the invaluable advises. Being a first time home buyer with little knowledge of what problems may arise, I think I know what to do now.


  20. #20
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Matt and Brandon:

    OK you two, I guess the agents who write the MLS entries are not much brighter than a couple of inspectors I know who cannot read a soil map. Additionally, illustrate to me where the foundation vents are. That is of course, if it is a pier and beam foundation.

    Since you obviously don't take in information well from colored graphics, here's some hard evidence for you to peruse:

    http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/Ma...wa633_text.pdf


  21. #21
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Additionally, illustrate to me where the foundation vents are.

    Let's see, the MLS information state "Poured Concrete Foundation" and you are saying that means it is a slab ... hmm ... my first thought of "Poured Concrete FOUNDATION" was "poured concrete foundation WALLS", as in a basement, but, yeah, ... it could ... be ... a slab on ground, which was my second thought because ...

    ... those cracks look more like cracks associated with a slab on ground ... so ... could be ...

    Aaron, all those nice purty soil maps and charts have nothing to do with the type of foundation that house might have, but you knew that.

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  22. #22
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    all those nice purty soil maps and charts have nothing to do with the type of foundation that house might have, but you knew that.
    JP: Just trying to get those two to consider that there actually is soil in King County, WA that is not really suitable for urban development.

    As for the "poured concrete" thing - typical agent puff speak - could mean anything.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Just to clarify, I did see at least two crawl space vents along the foundation. Although I admit it's difficult to tell that there is one on the right corner from the main MLS photo, it is one of those that I saw. The other is on the opposite side (the side where the cracks are located).


  24. #24
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Xudong Guan View Post
    Just to clarify, I did see at least two crawl space vents along the foundation. Although I admit it's difficult to tell that there is one on the right corner from the main MLS photo, it is one of those that I saw. The other is on the opposite side (the side where the cracks are located).
    XG: So then, this is an under-ventilated pier and beam foundation with cracks in the perimeter beam that could certainly be caused from the soil heaving in those locations.


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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Success at last!

    (underlining and bold are mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    XG: All of the cracks in the photos are caused by ...
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    XG: So then, this is an under-ventilated pier and beam foundation with cracks in the perimeter beam that could certainly be caused from ...


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  26. #26
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Success at last!

    (underlining and bold are mine)
    JP: All of that for naught. If XG had been a little less pregnant with his pause in producing information . . . wishes were horses . . . .


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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: All of that for naught.

    Aaron,

    Not all for naught, he stated he now has the information and knowledge he needs (or something to that affect), which I take it to mean that he is going to call a foundation contractor/structural engineer and (if that comes out okay) a home inspector (no need to do the home inspector if the foundation contractor/structural engineer give bad news).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  28. #28
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Aaron,

    Not all for naught, he stated he now has the information and knowledge he needs (or something to that affect), which I take it to mean that he is going to call a foundation contractor/structural engineer and (if that comes out okay) a home inspector (no need to do the home inspector if the foundation contractor/structural engineer give bad news).
    JP: We can only hope. Maybe he can use the soil survey for planting tomatoes.


  29. #29

    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Aaron,


    XG: All of the cracks in the photos are caused by soil heaving.
    How can you be sure of that? Does a crack caused by differential settlement look that much different from a crack caused by soil heaving?

    Brandon: Slab or not it is a heaving crack either in the slab perimeter beam of the pier and beam perimeter beam. Awfully high soil level for a P&B, and I did not see a foundation vent in the first photos.
    I'm not sure it is a heaving crack. The soil level is definitely high.

    Brandon: Additionally, if you will read the MLS link, it says:

    Building Information
    • Built On Site
    • Wood Exterior
    • Poured Concrete Foundation
    • Composition Roof
    Aaron, I read that MLS link prior to posting. I just read into things differently I guess. Poured concrete foundation can mean anything. I guess that was a vent in that corner after all.

    Matt and Brandon:

    OK you two, I guess the agents who write the MLS entries are not much brighter than a couple of inspectors I know who cannot read a soil map. Additionally, illustrate to me where the foundation vents are. That is of course, if it is a pier and beam foundation.

    Since you obviously don't take in information well from colored graphics, here's some hard evidence for you to peruse:
    The location of at least one of the vents has been established.

    Alluding to the fact that Matt and I are unintelligent isn't really called for. Personal attacks don't really do anyone any good and just waste space. I'm here to learn and help whenever possible.



    [QUOTE]JP: Just trying to get those two to consider that there actually is soil in King County, WA that is not really suitable for urban development.
    QUOTE]

    Aaron, I'm just trying to get you to consider the fact that more than one thing causes a crack...........

    I didn't realize were were discussing the suitability of a particular home in a particular location.

    As for the "poured concrete" thing - typical agent puff speak - could mean anything.
    Agreed...........

    Inspector's should be careful when making assumptions.

    XG: So then, this is an under-ventilated pier and beam foundation with cracks in the perimeter beam that could certainly be caused from the soil heaving in those locations.
    Could be under- ventilated, and the cracks could have been caused by frost heave. Maybe not on both counts.

    Maybe he can use the soil survey for planting tomatoes.Today 11:55 AM
    People can do a lot of things with a soil survey..........


  30. #30
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Just some info ...
    The Seattle area does have homes on a slab. My daughter lives in one.

    Not all slab homes are post-tensioned-slab on grade. Didn't have them in my area of CA, nor in my area of TN.


  31. #31
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Just some info ...
    The Seattle area does have homes on a slab. My daughter lives in one.
    Yep, but rare if you are talking about pure slab-on-grade as opposed to a slab within perimeter footings. I've done less than a handful of the former. I think they were all 50s-60s ramblers. As those often have the tightest, nastiest crawls, it's a very pleasant surprise when they turn out to be slabs. Almost makes me feel guilty for charging the same fee. Almost...they do usually make up for it with other issues.

    Just a note on the suggested "heaving". A hill-top in Redmond is most likely to be glacial till and not a typical expansive soil. Our relatively mild climate also doesn't tend towards frost heave or desication/saturation cycles. The vast, vast majority of foundation cracks around here are from settlement. Most are drainage issues (roof drains, grading, etc) with a few possibly from uneven compaction. Underlying, decaying stumps can also be an problem. And then, we occasionally add a little shaking to stir things up.


  32. #32
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    She lives in Redmond, and it's a slab, no crawl of any type.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    She lives in Redmond, and it's a slab, no crawl of any type.
    Jack: Thanks for posting that information. I was about to come unwound on those two. You saved their bacon . . . .


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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Jack: Thanks for posting that information. I was about to come unwound on those two. You saved their bacon . . . .

    Holy crap AD, all Brandon and I did was explain what type of houses and soil are common in this area..... Hopefully, you just use this board to vent and don't treat everyone you come across this way.


  35. #35
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Holy crap AD, all Brandon and I did was explain what type of houses and soil are common in this area..... Hopefully, you just use this board to vent and don't treat everyone you come across this way.
    Matt: Let sleeping dogs lie.


  36. #36
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    Default Re: 1/4 inch vertical foundation crack on one story 1968 house

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Matt: Let sleeping dogs lie.
    LOL.... sleeping dogs? Your post that I replied to was 19 mintues old.... but, you got it


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