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  1. #1
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    Default undercut crawl space footing.

    Hi everyone:

    I am new here and I am a first time home buyer. I have a house inspected and it was pointed out that the crawl space has an undercut footings. It also has a dirt floor. I attached two pictures here. So far no structural problems has been observed. Could you anyone tell me could the undercut footings cause serious structural problem? Also, is there a way to fix it? Any advice is highly appreciated.

    Thanks, Harry
    footing.pngdirt.png

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    That looks like an older home. If there is flooding, or heavy traffic past the house or an earth tremor, something could shift there. It was a mistake for somebody to dig the soil away like that. It was correct for the inspector to point it out. To repair it, build forms and pour concrete with some rebar in there.

    Spread some poly on that dirt floor.

    Your inspector should have given you some suggested course of action.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    It was a mistake for somebody to dig the soil away like that.
    That is what I noticed too - that the footing looks like it was poured in a dug footing trench, then someone decided to - for whatever reason - dig out the crawlspace floor and lower the floor.

    Not good.

    In addition to making the footings sides vertical, the footing needs to be down into the earth to resist lateral loads and not move. There are likely several options to accomplish this aspect, and the number one option would be to have a foundation contractor send out their engineer and give you their specific options that they recommend from looking at it on-site and seeing the actual on-site conditions.

    I should add this: looks like brick on the footing ... is that footing ONLY for the brick? Is the brick just brick veneer or is it the structural wall? Too many unknowns to be able to provide better information and answers.

    The small size / resolution of the photos makes it difficult to see much.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    First picture looks like the foundation has rotated inward? Pictures could be better.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    First picture looks like the foundation has rotated inward? Pictures could be better.
    It possible with the supporting soil removed like it was ... but the photo is not good enough to tell (at least not for me to be able to determine that). I was trying to see if that brick wall turned in at the bottom (which would likely happen if the footing rotated), but, again, cannot tell from that photo.

    Looks like a pier on a footing in the first photo, so that might just be for the brick veneer on the wall (which would be much better than it being a structural brick wall).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    When there are concerns like this the HI should take and include better photos. It looks like a brick foundation on a footing. In PA brick foundations are unusual. Excavating adjacent to a footing can cause settlement or lateral movement. Nothing may happen for years and then you could have a sudden failure due to saturated ground or frost action.

    Constructing a reinforced concrete wall adjacent to the footing (and extending down below the crawl space floor) is a typical option. It looks like you also have a water problem, and usually will have a moisture problem with a dirt floor. All three problems could be solved at once with the right alterations. OTOH, with a brick foundation and dirt floor, and who knows what else, you may want to rethink buying this house.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Hi guys:

    Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. I really appreciate all the inputs from the forum. It seems that I post my questions in the right place.

    It is an old two family house in NJ (probably 100 years ). The brick wall on the foundation is a structural wall and it supports the first floor living room. The Living room is an addition to the original house. I don't know when the addition was built. I guess, when the owner built the addition, they built it cheaply to save money.

    I am going to schedule a contractor to do a estimate of the repair. I think the suggestion that pouring concrete with reinforcement bars around the footings are good. Just don't know how much it will cost.

    I also don't like the dirt floor. Should I cover it with poly or concrete? Any suggestions here?

    Thanks,
    Harry.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Yes cover the dirt floor with minimum 6 mil plastic. Overlap seems and tape seems with Tyvec type take. Edges of plastic at walls should go up walls minimum 6 inches and fastened in place using construction adhesive. If you don't use the crawlspace you do not have to place ballast (i.e. sand or pea gravel) on top of plastic to hold it in place.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    6 mil poly is often fine, but I would also look into sealed crawl spaces. These use heavy reinforced moisture barriers that extend up the walls. Seams are sealed with special tape or glued. When installed properly they really dry out the crawl space. Of course, you sill have to control water penetration.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Hi Guys:

    I went back and took more pictures of the crawl space.
    crawl3.jpgcrawl2.jpgcrawl1.jpg

    When facing the brick wall, it seems that the footing on left side of the pipe is ok, as we can see that on the right side, the footing is very deep. I also notice that on the right side, it is concrete floor. The left side is dirt floor. It seems that the house was originally heated with coal and the right side is used as a storage for coal.

    So I am more or less believed that the undercut footing problem which is originally pointed by my home inspector is not a big issue. Can anyone here give me a second opinion?

    Thanks,


  11. #11
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Quote Originally Posted by harryhk View Post
    ...............
    So I am more or less believed that the undercut footing problem which is originally pointed by my home inspector is not a big issue. Can anyone here give me a second opinion?

    Thanks,
    Well, I think you have at least 3 opinions. So here is a another 2nd opinion.

    When a basement is dug out to or below the footing it is typical to expect to find that there was 2ft of earth (lateral from foundation/wall) to be left undisturbed. Then another wall to be created to stabilize the undisturbed earth. This was not done. So it is not correct.

    I can surmise that the the furnace has been replaced and the new one was taller and thus the floor needed to be lowered which is not uncommon. Add to that it is not atypical to expand the usable area while the shovels are out and the dirt is flying.

    The fact that you have no idea of when this was done and it has held up thus far may hold false hope for the future. Meaning, even though it hasn't needed work you should plan to put some major bucks into correcting what will potentially happen in the future. Not to mention that when you want to sell the property this same issue will be raised and the potential problems and cost effecting the houses real value.

    Get a engineer to specify (in writing) what needs to be done. Then get 3 estimates to perform that correction. Then double the cost every 5 years till you sell the property.

    The best that any of us can tell you is that it was done incorrectly and has existing/potential problems.

    If you are looking for someone to paint a pretty picture and to blow smoke up your skirt, I think you have come to the wrong place. If your agent is saying not to worry about it, have them guarantee there will be no problem in the next 50 years and post a bond to back it up. If it makes no difference to you that you may be buying a money pit it is your American right to act as you desire. Just don't wine when you have problems that you can not afford to fix or that cost you on the resale of the property.

    Not chastising you, just a frank opinion.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Quote Originally Posted by harryhk View Post
    So I am more or less believed that the undercut footing problem which is originally pointed by my home inspector is not a big issue. Can anyone here give me a second opinion?
    From what I see - refer to my annotated photo.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    t is not clear from the photos whether there is a stone or concrete wall extending down to the "basement" floor level or whether that is soil. Can you clarify?


  14. #14
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    whether that is soil. Can you clarify?
    It looks like soil to me, at least that is what I based my drawing on it being.

    If it is concrete and part of the footing, then that would make a difference as it would still be down in the soil.

    If it was stone, the footing should still have lateral support - I guess the footing could be anchored to the stone to achieve that lateral support - but then angle brackets would likely be visible?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: undercut crawl space footing.

    Granted I may not be seeing something. Thought kinda rattled around over the night.

    Since we don't know so much about the actual construction it may be possible that there is actually a footing under what we are seeing in the pictures. Meaning that there was a footer pored then a solid wall laid in to grade then brick above grade. Just a thought on possibility.


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