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  1. #1
    Stan Vaughn's Avatar
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    Default Opinions on block wall foundation

    I found this block wall foundation today on an inspection. I would like some opinions on what is going on. It is right inside the crawlspace opening, and is about 8 feet long to the first vent. The brick veneer is not attached to the block wall, therefore there are no cracks whatsoever in the veneer anywhere. The finish inside the bedroom right above this seperation has no cracks in it at all but the interior wall door will not close, it hits the door frame at the top and there is a 1/8" crack going straight up from the corner of the door frame. A company last summer put in a vapor barrier and new vents through out the crawl space. It looks to me they removed the bottom run of block at each vent area. Any opinions about what is happening would be appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    Looks to me like the eccentrically loaded top block is rotating due to that eccentric load (the sill at, and overhanging, the edge of the block).

    When the top block rotates, it kicks the next block(s) down in the other direction, which creates a bow back in at the next block down then again back straight at the bottom course.

    At some point ... (whenever that may be) ... the top block could rotate enough to kick the other blocks out ... and that would not be a good thing. Nope.

    I would definitely call for a structural engineer to design appropriate repairs.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
    Stan Vaughn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    Thank you Jerry, I appreciate your input. I knew that was going to be the call, I wanted to make sure I wasn 't jumping the gun. Thanks again.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    I agree with Jerry's points. In addition, I've seen this work done before. Often times when there's a problem with the original joist support for various reasons. I have yet to find one of these walls that has any real footing or foundation poured underneath it. I have found these walls sitting on top of a layer of flat bricks, sand, an inch or two of concrete or a flat 2x12.
    I keep a long screwdriver in my bag. It works great for poking into the ground at an angle to see if there is any support underneath the block wall.
    I'd recommend along with the SE (or not) verifying if there is proper support for the block wall (doubtful).
    If the block is rotating like that but there are any cracks it the veneer wall ... it makes me wonder if the ends of the joists are so rotted that they aren't really applying load to the veneer wall, only the block wall.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    Some poor workmanship + the expansive soils of Arkansas + a couple of very dry years + a very wet spring = lots of foundation movement.

    Its a combination of all the above, along with some time thrown in. I've been seeing some of the same thing, mostly minor so far, but the conditions will most likely continue unless some action is taken. Deferred one that was a little worse than this to an SE, who basically told the client not to worry, it was as bad as it was going to get and that he didn't think that it was that bad.
    Alton Darty


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    Quote Originally Posted by Alton Darty View Post
    Deferred one that was a little worse than this to an SE, who basically told the client not to worry, it was as bad as it was going to get and that he didn't think that it was that bad.
    Alton,

    The structural engineer can say that ... as long as they sign and seal that letter, making it an official engineering opinion, one which they can be held to.

    For the home inspector, though, even have had a structural engineer give a letter like that for a previous condition similar to that one in the photo, I'd still write it up and recommend a structural engineer design appropriate repairs - one of the "appropriate repairs" is "no repair".

    *IF* I found that same condition several times, and each structural engineer (different ones, not the same one) gave the same signed and sealed opinion, then (and only then) would I write it up recommending structural engineer design appropriate repairs, but I would then tell my client that they really should have a structural engineer look at it, however, I've found this condition x times before and each of those x times the structural engineer has deemed it okay, thus, my recommendation would be *to at least* get the engineer's letter stating it is okay for your protection in case something does happen, and for your protection when you go to sell - just bring out that engineer's letter stating it is okie dokie. That the cost of the engineer is small potatoes related to what could happen and would you could be in for when you sell.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    Jerry P.
    The SE at first only gave a verbal report of his findings. After some gentle nudging of the client to insist on written findings the SE finally gave in and submitted a written report. I went back into the crawl after the report was finally written and documented the condition of the foundation with over 100 pictures. I told the client to hang on to these, along with my report, the report of the previous inspection (2 years old, showed no signs of problems with foundation, well at least on the two pics that did show the foundation), and the SE's report.
    I've done all that I can. Right now I have a client who is unhappy with me for the recommendation to have SE examine. I will do the same thing next time I run across this, because I still feel that there is a problem.
    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Opinions on block wall foundation

    Quote Originally Posted by Alton Darty View Post
    Right now I have a client who is unhappy with me for the recommendation to have SE examine. I will do the same thing next time I run across this, because I still feel that there is a problem.
    Alton,

    Don't fret over it, they will come to love having that structural engineer's report if (when) something bad happens or when they sell (everyone sells sooner or later).

    I've had a few clients upset about paying extra for a structural engineer to design appropriate repairs and then have them say that it is okay as it is - they picked the structural engineer, I didn't. But, when they went to sell and that same thing showed up on the in$pection report, they whipped out that engineers report and it become like gold to them - worth much more than they had paid for it a few years earlier.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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