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Texas Foundation Repair and Soaker Hoses

clock August 16, 2009 18:59 by author blogadmin
Do not fall for the smoke and mirror engineering of using soaker hoses as a replacement for good foundation engineering.

 


The smoke and mirrors behind watering your foundation with soaker hoses.

It has been well established that foundation failures are widespread, especially in the State of Texas. Many experts claim that in most cases foundation failures are the result of an unregulated building industry, unskilled labor and builders cutting corners for the sake of higher profits or pure ignorance. For all those who live in a home built by a tract home builder this will not come as a surprise.

In recent years numerous experts around Texas have testified extensively about the increasing problem of home builders cutting cost corners and that the homes foundation is the first example given. It has also been acknowledged by engineers that home foundations are being designed to less stringent standards in order to build them cheaper. This lack of quality control has lead to unprecedented foundation repair work being needed.

Because of widespread homeowner complaints describing foundation failures, the American Society of Engineers (ASCE) asked for comments and recommendations from engineers across Texas. The consensus of those engineers who participated was to improve foundations by designing stiffer slabs. The results were astounding; the recommended guideline changes would increase foundation strength by 27% at an estimated cost of only a $1,000 for a 2,500 square foot one story home.

However, the disgraceful response by the building industry, to its critics, is that homeowners have a maintenance responsibility to “water their foundations” to protect the structural integrity of their homes. As if watering a foundation replaces sound engineering.

At a Texas building standards public hearing, a committee member described how homeowners are instructed by builders to put a soaker hose around the perimeter of the home, and never turn it off in order to keep the foundation from cracking, and to keep it stable. He then asked how much water was needed to maintain a foundation. The well respected engineer responded; you cannot maintain a foundation by watering because “you can never water enough.”
The engineer went on to say that the cost of water over even a relatively short period of time would far exceed the cost of the $1,000 needed to stiffen the foundation significantly when it is initially built.

So finally we have it on good authority that the excuse for foundation failures caused by too much rain, lack of rain or trees is a fairy tale, and that these so called “Acts of God” are really acts of man in order to increase builder profits. Remember the Texas Home Builders Association has a very large lobbyist organization in Austin.

Texas has highly expansive soils, as well as many other states however, no other place but Texas are homeowners instructed to "water their foundations." Other states officials and foundation experts laugh when they hear that in Texas homeowners are blamed for foundation failures because they didn't properly water their foundations. The solution to expansive soil problems is to properly engineer foundations to withstand the adverse effects of expansive soil. This can be accomplished during construction as well as after construction is complete by trained professionals under the guidance of independent foundation engineers.

In the meantime, if nothing is done, new homebuyers are at risk, and the new home foundation problem will continue to worsen while builder profits take priority. While continuing down this road will make the new home building and foundation repair industries very profitable, the consumer will suffer.
One solution for existing homes, that are having foundation problems, is to have proper foundation repairs done by trained professionals. There are several foundation repair methods that will solve current problems and they all have certain things in common. First, they install deeply beyond the active soil layers. Whether it is helical anchors or steel push piers, depth is the first priority. Secondly, correct foundation repairs use engineered systems to install. Simple bottle jacks and shims are not engineered systems, they are cheap techniques for temporary repairs. Lastly, quality foundation repairs are performed by trained foundation repair professionals under the supervision of independent engineers. Using these guidelines homeowners can be assured that they have a properly designed deep foundation system supporting their home.

In summary, do not rely on smoke and mirrors. Consult with a foundation engineer who will help develop a plan to solve your unique foundation problem.

 



Engineers and Foundation Repairs

clock July 31, 2009 17:17 by author blogadmin
Foundation engineers have specific responsiblitites to those that hire them. They are an unbiased professional that will keep your best interests in mind while evaluating and designing your your foundation repairs.

 

Overview of the Guidelines for theEvaluation and Repair of Residential Foundations

By the Texas Section of theAmerican Society of Civil Engineers 

Objectives

The most common purpose of an engineering evaluation of a residential foundation is to assess its performance. This involves observation and evaluation of cosmetic(nonstructural) distress and structural damage. The evaluation may also provide opinions of probable causes of distress or damage, assessment of risk of further damage, recommendations for remedial measures, and cost estimates. If the evaluation determines that remedial measures are appropriate, the engineer may be asked to provide the design and construction documents. 

QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ENGINEER

The evaluation and repair design shall be performed by a professional engineer licensed in the State that the work is being performed. Engineers in responsible charge of this type of work must be competent to apply scientific and engineering education, training, knowledge, skill and experience to the investigation and analysis of constructed facilities. This determines the cause and extent of diminished performance and the means of remediation. Engineers should be competent in the related disciplines or should retain outside consultants as needed. 

Professional Ethics

It is essential to avoid conflicts of interest to maintain the credibility of the evaluation investigation. The evaluating engineer must demonstrate qualities of character that will ensure impartiality. These qualities include objectivity, confidentiality, honesty and integrity. 

LEVELS OF INVESTIGATION

The engineer should recommend an appropriate level of investigation to fulfill the objective of the evaluation. However, the scope of services shall be jointly established and agreed to by both the client and engineer. The engineer should personally visit the site and be in responsible charge of the investigative activities. If requested by the client, the engineer may only provide evaluation of reports by others, but this should be described as consultation, not investigation. For the purpose of aiding the client in determining the type of evaluation desired or actually performed, the following three levels of investigation are offered as guidelines. 

Level A

This level of investigation shall be clearly identified as a report of first impressions and shall not imply that any higher level of investigation has been performed. This level of investigation will typically include, but is not restricted to:

 

 1.   Interview the occupant, owner and client if possible, regarding a history of the property and performance of  the structure                                              

 2. Request from the client and review the provided documents regarding the foundation, such as construction drawings, geotechnical reports, previous                    testing and inspection reports, and previous repair information

3. Make visual observations during a physical walk-through

4. Observe factors influencing the performance of the foundation

5. If requested by the client, provide a written report, containing at least the following:                        

a. scope of services

b. observations, site characteristics, and data deemed pertinent by the engineer

c. discussion of major factors influencing foundation performance and rationale in reaching conclusions concerning the subject residence

d. conclusions and any recommendations for further investigation and remedial or preventative measures 

Level B

This level of investigation should include a written report including the items listed above for a Level A inspection and also the following items:

 1. A determination of relative foundation elevations, considering floor finishes, in sufficient detail to represent the shape of the foundation or floor   adequately.

 2. A drawing showing relative elevations  

Level C

This level of investigation shall include the items listed above for Level A and Level B inspections and additional services, testing and related reports deemed

appropriate by the Engineer. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

 1. Site specific soil sampling and testing

 2. Plumbing testing

 3. Material testing

 4. Steel reinforcing survey

 5. Post tensioning cable testing 

This level of investigation should also include a more detailed level of reporting, which may include the following:

 

 1. Scaled drawings

 2. Description of factors that affect soil moisture

 3. Observations of cut and fill

 4. Tree survey

 5. Photographs

 6. Detailed distress survey

 



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