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I have a home that is less than a year old. There was noticible cracks in the garage when I closed on the house but they have gotten worse. In the garage I have a horizontal crack that runs along the entire span of the garage where the garage meets the rest of the house and there is a crack on the outside of the foundation at the same location. So the garage seems to be now a "detached" garage. I have a large horizontal crack that runs in the middle of the garage as well. There is also another crack that runs vertically and runs into the crack in the middle of the garage and spiderwebs out. I put a level over where these crack intersect and there is a depression.

I also found what looked to be 2 nail ends at the surface in my garage. One that was on the middle crack and a few feet vertical from it was another. After chipping away some of the concrete I found they were tie wire for the post tension cables.

After this I decided to pull up the carpet in 3 spots, living room, dining room, master bedroom as in each of these rooms I was able to move furniture very easily. Each place I pulled up carpet there were vertical cracks. In the living room I found a tie wire and was able to expose the tension cable which was less than 1/2" below the concrete. The dining room I found the same crack and tie wire and tension cable. Again the cable was less than 1/2" below the surface. Also to note that the living room and dining room are at two seperate ends of the house and I am sure it is the same cable. I took a 3lb bar magnet and I am able to follow the cable along the surface which tells me the entire cable is most likely near the surface as well. In the master bedroom I found a large crack going vertical and found an area that had a large surface chipped and missing. I chipped away at that area and found the cable again less than 1/2". Took a magnet and able to follow it above the surface. I also have a bottom portion of my back corner of the houses foundation missing.

I have an uncle who is an architect in California. From the photos I sent he thinks theres two issues. One is that they didnt put enough sand on top of the clay which is what they do to prevent movement. Second that the slab wasn't poured thick enough which is why the tension cables and tie wire are so close to the surface.

I had some high level management guys from the builder come by to look at the home and said that sand is not required to be laid on the clay and that these cables are normal to be that close to the surface as well as all the cracks and depression are all normal. Are these problems not really problems or do I have a real reason to be concerned? What should I do?

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Your house is experiencing abnormal settling, probably for exactly the reasons your uncle suggested. I suggest that you visit other construction sites and see how they're doing their sitework and also that you check around with your neighbors, both that bought from the same builder and from different builders, and compare slabs. If the ones that bought from your builder have problems while all the rest in your neighborhood do not, then you may have a class action lawsuit on your hands and will need to consult a good real estate attorney.

If it is only your home, then figure out from your comparisons whether they overtly lied to you, and then you will need to consult a good real estate attorney.

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If the ones that bought from your builder have problems while all the rest in your neighborhood do not, then you may have a class action lawsuit on your hands and will need to consult a good real estate attorney.

I have a neighbor that is in a 2 story house. He has similar cracks in his foundation and also his brick is cracked straght up both sides of his house from foundation to top. His brick is concrete brick and mine is acme and I do not show any cracks. I do have a brick that has disloged from the mortor around it at an expansion spot.

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Did you bring up the issue of the cracks in the garage during your final inspection. Surely you have a warranty on the property and have some recourse with the builder ?

Yes I did. I had an inspector come before I closed and in his report that I still have states the cracks and suggests a structural engineer to come up. The community superintendent was given a copy and he told me that it isn't an issue and I went along with it.

The inspector report also stated that the door to my attic access that is in my garage that it isn't fire rated or the plumbing manifold box cover in the garage isn't fire rated either. Those people from the builder says they are not required to have it fire rated.

I live in Katy and in Harris County.

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Yes I did. I had an inspector come before I closed and in his report that I still have states the cracks and suggests a structural engineer to come up. The community superintendent was given a copy and he told me that it isn't an issue and I went along with it.

The inspector report also stated that the door to my attic access that is in my garage that it isn't fire rated or the plumbing manifold box cover in the garage isn't fire rated either. Those people from the builder says they are not required to have it fire rated.

I live in Katy and in Harris County.

A community superintendent. What is his/her function ? As far as "fire rated", the city and /or county inspector would have tagged it if it were a violation of code, apparently it is not, I am sure your inspector was just "letting you know", not that they are "supposed to be." Did the inspector say at anytime that you shouldn't move into the house ?

Edited by TJones
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All this talk about "cracks" ... How "big" are they? 1/4"? 1/16" 1/32" 1/64" Hairline? If you have a post-tension slab, you are going to have normal cracking, restriant-to-shrinkage (RTS), most likely.

http://www.houston-slab-foundations.info/s...t%20differences (Excellent web site - probably the best on the web regarding slab foundations)

Post-tensioned slabs are more likely to develop cracks due to restraint-to-shrinkage. Since the cables cannot be tensioned for at least 7-days after the concrete is placed, visible RTS cracks are almost inevitable in a post-tensioned slab. These cracks will tighten when the cables are tensioned. However, certain conditions, including debris lodging in the crack, may prevent an RTS crack from fully closing. These cracks are not significant structurally to the performance of the foundation whether they close or remain open.

I have a crack in my back patio. It's about 3/4". I get my finger in there. That is a crack. I also have a crack, in other parts of the slab of my house, but they are hairline cracks, completely normal.

In the homes I own, both are post-tension. I would say the post-tension cables are about 3 to 4" below the brick line, on the outside of the house.

Also the "corners" of your slab that are missing under the brick work, also normal. These are called corner or wedge cracks...

http://www.houston-slab-foundations.info/f...#corner%20crack

The large majority of slab-on-ground foundations will develop what are called corner cracks or wedge cracks. The name comes from the fact that these cracks develop at or very close to the outside corners of the foundation and frequently form a wedge at the corner.

These cracks develop as a result of the expansion of the brick veneer when it is warmed by the sun. When the temperature of the brick veneer rises, the brick veneer wall expands in length and pushes or slides against the slab surface. At the end of a brick veneer wall at an outside corner of the slab, there is nothing to push back and the concrete cracks at each side of the corner forming a wedge. Builders will usually place a piece of plastic between the bottom of the first course of brick and the slab; this reduces the friction force when the brick expands and slides against the slab. This has the practical effect of reducing the cracking on the slab at the corners but it by no means eliminates the corner cracking.

...Warming by the sun may be one cause, but also, when they go to knock the forms off the slab, it is very easy to crack the corners. Again, this should be normal.

What may not be normal are the post-tension cables so close to the surface. If you say they are a 1/2"... and your house is brick... There is usually a 1" brick ledge that runs the perimeter. This means that the post-tension cables would be terminating in your brick facade. I have never seen that. Go outside and look to see where the cables are terminating in the slab. It should be 3 or 4" below the brick line.

Again, exactly how big are these cracks? Can you slide a credit card in the crack?

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Yes I did. I had an inspector come before I closed and in his report that I still have states the cracks and suggests a structural engineer to come up. The community superintendent was given a copy and he told me that it isn't an issue and I went along with it.

The inspector report also stated that the door to my attic access that is in my garage that it isn't fire rated or the plumbing manifold box cover in the garage isn't fire rated either. Those people from the builder says they are not required to have it fire rated.

I live in Katy and in Harris County.

Regular home inspectors are amateurs when it comes to foundations. They are generalists. Usually, they will write up in their report that you consult a structural engineer. This is purely CYA. Looks like your inspector did his duty.

They guys who put together this web site:

http://www.houston-slab-foundations.info/

Do such in-depth slab/foundation inspections. I think another person on HAIF actually used them once...

R. Michael Gray, P.E. and Matthew T. Gray.

Father and son? Anyway... FWIW I don't know these people at all... but they seem to know what they are talking about.

Edited by BryanS
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the fact that there is exposed tie wires means the foundation is not one I would want to have anything to do with period the end

I have never seen any decent foundation (even one with cracks) that had exposed tie wires......the ends of the ties should point DOWN for one thing so there is no chance they will be exposed through the surface of the slab and I have never seen properly tied foundations that had anything but an inch of tail on the end of the tie wire which means even if some knucklehead did leave the end pointing up it should still be one inch below the surface of the slab because a decent slab for any home will be a minimum 4" thick and the rebar or tension cable should be even right in the center of that 4" and should be on plastic holders 2" tall

I realize a post tension can be thinner and that is part of the "appeal", but that is also part of the problem....minimum engineering......under 4" thick for post tension in Houston and I would not be interested

we all know a 4" rebar slab can crack in Houston and post tension can help alleviate that....but why would anyone with a brain that was trying to build quality use the post tension design as an excuse to go thinner.....especially when 4" and rebar was "engineered" at one time as well....and fail daily....nothing like re-engineering something to the minimum and then watching it fail as well because...it was engineered for the minimum

the fact that there are exposed ties makce me believe there is a quality issue and I would be wondering what else was not done properly or inspected before the pour.....because the upwards pointing ties should have been caught and corrected if inspected by even a 5yo

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Should the cracks follow the tension cables? I will upload photos soon.

That would be helpful. Also, photos of the exterior of the slab would be helpful too. If you have post-tension cables terminating in your brick work... It will be obvious.

Cracks can appear anywhere in a slab, run any direction.

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Should the cracks follow the tension cables? I will upload photos soon.

there should be tension cables going in both directions.....if there were cracks following where the cables run that would again make me question the thickness of the slab and the proper placement of the cables....especially if they run deep into the interior of the house

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PostTensionHeader.jpg

By the looks of it... this appears to be a 4" cap. Looks like the cables are 2" down, under the surface. Slabs usually have 4 or 6" caps...

Here is how they are terminated:

PostTensionCable.jpg

Look at the diameter. Your cables cannot be 1/2" from the surface... without seeing this kind of termination anchor in the brick.

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Here are some photos. Again the builder says these are all normal.

Here is the crack that runs along the back of the garage

1a.jpg

Here is the same crack but on the outside of the house.

1b.jpg

Wire tie in the garage.

4a.jpg

Different cracks intersecting in garage.

HPIM0515.jpg

Intersecting cracks with a depression, maybe hard to notice.

HPIM0517.jpg

Photo of my living room. Wire was at surface when I found it and the cable is less than 1/2" from the surface. This is what my other two rooms have as well.

HPIM0507.jpg

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The cracks look "normal" to me...

The foundation does appear to be a little shallow...

Go outside and see how far down the post-tension anchors are...

EDIT: I take back my shallow foundation comment. I am looking at the photo I posted... Notice how the anchors around the perimeter are lower than the cable runs... Even in that slab, it looks like the cables will be close to the surface in many areas. I always thought you would want post-tension cables running exactly across a flat, level plane in your slab, but maybe that is not how post-tension slabs are made.

Edited by BryanS
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I would say those cracks are very small

the fact that the tie is STICKING UP FROM THE SURFACE is just extremely poor......how did they even properly float the surface with that crap sticking up....the one in the garage is just plain poor quality as well and could be a bigger issue if it starts to rust further.....tie wire is extremely cheap metal and I would cover that SOON

the cable 1/2" under the surface is a HUGE issue....but the cracks appear to not be an issue to me

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The thing that gets me, I pulled up 3 areas by chance, all areas have a long crack which I found in all cases tie wire and the rebar right below it that follows the crack. I got 2 other rooms that pulling up the carpet would be too much work plus I have a lot of tile area which makes me wonder what is under that as well. Is there a way to remedy this?

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the cracks look harmless to me

in the garage I would fill that area in with some durable HARD epoxy and make sure there are no exposed parts of the ties at all so there is no rust starting....possibly paint the ties before the epoxy is put down to be double safe

the one in the living room I think the only solution is to trim it down below the slab surface and again fill it in with some type of epoxy

other than that there is ZERO that I know of that can be done other than to document it and make sure the builder acknowledges it NOW so if there are issues in the future thay can not try and welch on fixing OBVIOUS POOR QUALITY

I can not believe ANY inspector sent by the builder would not have been totally embarassed to see what their company delivered as a finished product

the cracks look to NOT be an issue to me.....but I would think just as you do about what else was not done properly.....because what I see is just plain BAD as far as quality control and inspection when it comes to those exposed ties and the depth of the cables

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You have good slab exposure at the perimeter (your exterior shot).

The cracks appear to be harmless, and normal. Nothing needs to be "fixed" in that regard, IMO.

Your slab appears to be level (but I can just barley make that out in your picture, reading the level).

As far as the post-tension cables being close to the surface... As I am learning in the photo, and this youtube video:

Post-tension cables appear to run through your slab in semi-flat "arch" shape vs. flat, level plane. This shape provides "lift and strength" in the slab. Strength in that the slab is in compression and lift at the perimeter beams. That is what you want.

In this video, it is stated that the post-tension cables must be elevated a minimum of 2" from grade. It doesn't say how deep they have to be below the surface of your floor... You could have a shallow(er) than usual cap or a normal cap depth; just your cables are "arching" higher in your slab. Your house is probably no different than your neighbors, or many others in Houston. That's just the way many are made. And Houston market does take into account all kinds of foundation problems. Of all foundation problems people have, many would be envious of you to have such a minor problem (vs. cracked slabs, sinking slabs, failed foundations, etc.)

There is nothing you can really do. Your house will not fall down. And if you really want a professional opinion, hire a foundation structural engineer. They run, I am told $250 to $800, depending on the size of your house.

EDIT: This video must have been shot in the SW part of the US or in very dry soil conditions. There appears to be no plastic on the ground! Thought you always needed a vapor barrier...

Edited by BryanS
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The builder said that they don't have anyone inspect before or during the pouring of the foundation and they said no builder has an inspector for it. One of the neighbors told me that it was poured at 3am and woke up most the people around and they were all outside watching and another neighbor told me it looked like soup coming out of the truck.

Another thing is that I bought this as an inventory home so I was never there for any phases of the build. I had mold in my second bath cabinet that they tried to cover up after I noticed it the first week I moved in and it came back 6 months after i closed and they finally replaced the cabinet. I've had numerous issues with my A/C which I am still not satisfied with because my house stays humid and i need to set the A/C to 70 to feel cool. In all my rooms my ceilings are bulging which they say are normal. I even had 2 light bulbs in the attic where the glass detached from the metal screw base like the glue or whatever holds it together melted, I questioned the attic ventilation as its really hot up there and I even have TechShield and I can see felt over parts of my ridge vents, again their response was its all normal. I don't mean to get off topic but this house has been a nightmare and I have lived in a newly constructed home for the past 15 years, moved every 5 years, and this is house number 4 and I have never seen those houses with issues as this one and none of this looks normal to me. This house cosmetically inside with all the dry wall issues and the garage floor makes this house look 10yrs old IMO and this house is not even 12months. These issues were not apparent but started to show around March when the weather warmed up and I've been living there since December '07.

I had the level down so you could see where the concrete dipped down below it which is where two cracks intersect. Also I found only one of those "terminated" ends on the side of my foundation which is on the left side if you face the front of the house. Other than that one my foundation sides are all smooth.

My uncle suggested to have the concrete bored to see the thickness of the slab and take a soil sample under the slab. He doesn't know what is required in TX or if its any different in any state, he says there should be a minimum of 4" slab and a layer or mix of sand beneath it since the ground here is clay and highly expansive. Anyone know what the foundation requirements are?

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Also the "corners" of your slab that are missing under the brick work, also normal. These are called corner or wedge cracks...

http://www.houston-slab-foundations.info/f...#corner%20crack

The wedge is not at the base of the brick however reversed that with the wedge at the soil. From that video shouldnt this be going down several feet below the surface of the ground? I took this photo recently at night so may not be very noticable.

HPIM0535.jpg

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I've had numerous issues with my A/C which I am still not satisfied with because my house stays humid and i need to set the A/C to 70 to feel cool.
water may be accumulating in your main drain pan upstairs. check out the level of the evaporator coil (and integrated drain pan) and make sure it is angled slightly towards the drain. also make sure the main drainline is lower than the drain pan. Edited by musicman
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The wedge is not at the base of the brick however reversed that with the wedge at the soil. From that video shouldnt this be going down several feet below the surface of the ground? I took this photo recently at night so may not be very noticable.

HPIM0535.jpg

Doesn't look like a problem, to me. Or very minor. Probably happened when the forms were knocked off.

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The builder said that they don't have anyone inspect before or during the pouring of the foundation and they said no builder has an inspector for it. One of the neighbors told me that it was poured at 3am and woke up most the people around and they were all outside watching and another neighbor told me it looked like soup coming out of the truck.

That's what concrete looks like when it comes out of a truck. I am not sure how well someone can visually inspect the quality of a concrete mix, at 3:00 a.m., in near-dark conditions by people who probably know nothing about concrete.

Another thing is that I bought this as an inventory home so I was never there for any phases of the build. I had mold in my second bath cabinet that they tried to cover up after I noticed it the first week I moved in and it came back 6 months after i closed and they finally replaced the cabinet. I've had numerous issues with my A/C which I am still not satisfied with because my house stays humid and i need to set the A/C to 70 to feel cool.

In my home inspection reports, it indicates that the differential between the return air and any register should be between 16 to 18 degrees. You can buy a heat sensor at Lowes or Home Depot, like what the inspectors use, for cheap. You can check yourself. Before you call anyone, or try to fix anything, check this differential temperature. If you are getting the proper temp differential, no one is going to help you fix an A/C problem that isn't there.

In all my rooms my ceilings are bulging which they say are normal. I even had 2 light bulbs in the attic where the glass detached from the metal screw base like the glue or whatever holds it together melted, I questioned the attic ventilation as its really hot up there and I even have TechShield and I can see felt over parts of my ridge vents, again their response was its all normal.

It is going to be hot in the attic, no matter if you have TechShield, ridge vents. It gets hot up there. When you say you see felt over parts of your ridge vents, again what is the magnitude of this problem? Is the entire ridge vent blocked/covered by felt? Or is it just in a few places? If it's in a few places, I would say no issue.

I don't mean to get off topic but this house has been a nightmare and I have lived in a newly constructed home for the past 15 years, moved every 5 years, and this is house number 4 and I have never seen those houses with issues as this one and none of this looks normal to me. This house cosmetically inside with all the dry wall issues and the garage floor makes this house look 10yrs old IMO and this house is not even 12months. These issues were not apparent but started to show around March when the weather warmed up and I've been living there since December '07.

A brand new house is going to go through some changes once it is built. There will be some settling. There may be some bowing of sheetrock in places. You're right though. It may be only a couple of years old, but looks like it is 10. But in 10 years it will look that way. In 20 years, it will look that way. In 30, same thing.

If you have bowed sheetrock on the ceilings... That needs to be 5/8" and not 1/2", which is used on walls, typically. You may want to check that.

I had the level down so you could see where the concrete dipped down below it which is where two cracks intersect. Also I found only one of those "terminated" ends on the side of my foundation which is on the left side if you face the front of the house. Other than that one my foundation sides are all smooth.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the "dip" in your slab in that spot. You're going to find little dips and valleys all over the place. And I stress "little" as in, if you were to walk across those spots, you wouldn't really even notice.

The anchors typically have concrete patched over them. On brand new construction, it may be difficult to see them all. For the one that you can see... How far down is it, below the brick line? I am guessing 3" or so.

My uncle suggested to have the concrete bored to see the thickness of the slab and take a soil sample under the slab. He doesn't know what is required in TX or if its any different in any state, he says there should be a minimum of 4" slab and a layer or mix of sand beneath it since the ground here is clay and highly expansive. Anyone know what the foundation requirements are?

I'm not exactly sure what this test is going to buy you, really. So you bore down and take a soil sample. Wow. Your house is built just like all the others in the neighborhood. Sand should be used as fill, however, many builders probably don't even bother. The fill, however, provides support in the interior of your home's slab. The perimeter beams, which provide the support, are down 18"+ to undisturbed earth. So at this point, unless the interior of your house is caving in, I would say there's nothing wrong.

Don't get me wrong. Things should be built right. And as they say, "if you ever want anything done right, you have to do it yourself." That's why I try to do as much work as I possibly can on my places. It also gives you an appreciation for those things that you cannot do, or need someone else to fix (e.g. leveling a slab foundation, etc.) Of all the messes I have had to fix, and got myself into, what I see in your home is peanuts compared to some of the situations I've been in. And this coming from a person, who in the next month, will be tearing out an entire living room ceiling because instead of using 2 2x12's to span an 18 foot distance, the idiots used 1 2x10 - spliced in three different places! The ceiling bows/sags really bad. But that can be fixed...

Edited by BryanS
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A brand new house is going to go through some changes once it is built. There will be some settling. There may be some bowing of sheetrock in places. You're right though. It may be only a couple of years old, but looks like it is 10. But in 10 years it will look that way. In 20 years, it will look that way. In 30, same thing.

If you have bowed sheetrock on the ceilings... That needs to be 5/8" and not 1/2", which is used on walls, typically. You may want to check that.

BryanS thanks for your comments and knowledge.

In regards to the ceilings the builder admitted he uses 1/2" in the house and only 5/8" in the garage. My uncle told me they use 5/8" through out to avoid those issues. At first the builder wanted to mud, smooth out, and retechture my entire house. Then they came back saying its normal and they wont do anything.

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It's true 5/8" sheetrock resists bowing more than 1/2", but it has more to do with the spacing of the joists where the sheetrock is attached. 16" spacing will hold sheetrock fine. 24" spacing will likely have problems.

Builder says I do have 1/2" in the house and I just checked and my spacing is 24". Is the builder liable for the bowing and should they repair it? If so how?

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a house shouldn't be built with 24" spacing IMO. that's just cheap.

So pretty much I got a cheaply built house? The funny thing is that I backed out of a KB that I had issues during the construction phase which was much cheaper in price and larger and this home is smaller and cost me $22k more and I thought I was getting a better quality house. I guess I now regret not taking the KB which I never thought I would say. Also this weekend my kitchen sink had a leak and now the bottom board of the cabinet under the sink is warped and discolored now.

So all the foundation and ceiling issues are just cosmetic and a sign of poor craftsmanship and there is no way that the builder is obligated to do anything about this?

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1/2" sheetrock has been installed on 24" centers for years. However, many builders consider is bad practice for this exact reason. Your builder should have issued exact guidelines for which sheetrock issues are considered "warrantable" and "not warrantable". If the deflection qualifies, he should definitely fix it.

The foundation issues are completely normal, especially for a post tension home. You don't need to worry about that. Be very careful when removing any concrete around the cables. They are under 25000 pounds of pressure and if you knick them and they pop, it is likely you will lose any flooring, furniture, or limbs that are in the way. It makes me very nervous that you are going around exposing cables. This can also put your foundation warranty at risk - consult a professional engineer.

Sometimes the cables are not in the center of the 4" slab because they have to be bent around plumbing pipes. And I believe the requirement is that the cable has to be about 1.5" from a pipe. This would explain the fact that the cable is only 0.5" from the top of the concrete.

As for the quality of your home, check out the superintedent in charge of your construction. If he is attentive to you and acts like he cares about the issues you now have, he probably cared when he was building your home. If not, then he probably wasn't concerned when he was building your home. Even great superintends will have a the occaisonal leaky sink.

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Well heres an update if anyone is interested.

The builder VP and area manager came to my home last week to look at the issues. They all said it was normal but they were going to send out a P.E. to look at my house. Well they came by yesterday and the guy took no more than 10min to look at my house and said they were all normal and went on for 30min about his life story about concrete. Then he starts talking about the TRCC and arbitration and how I cant sue the builder or the laws that require the builder to pay 3x the amount of the home no longer exist and some other laws and acts that no longer apply. Well.... I never once ever brought up anything to do with attorneys, arbitration, TRCC or anything about going after the builder, only that I plan to have my own P.E. to come out so I thought all these comments coming out of left field was just odd. He also talked how a P.E. doesn't mean they know anything or that the word engineer is meaningless. My thought....umm aren't you a PE?

After all this I wanted the guys business card, well he didn't have one. Then I pressed him on who he worked for as an engineer and his role in the company. Well he finally tells me he isn't an engineer but a forensic inspector. Maybe someone here may know what that is? Well he said he writes up a report to give the engineer. So pretty much the builder hasn't brought in an independent engineer as they told me they would. I contacted a PE that I plan to hire and told him what happened and he said thats all abunch of crap and his report is worthless. Another thing the company name he told me, I looked it up and its an insurance company and I can't find anything that this company has to do with engineering. According to the builder they went to the company that designed the foundation and requested an engineer and they got him. Again according to the builder. But this company I cant find anything on them that they do drafting, architecture or any civil engineering. I am sure that any engineer wouldn't put their neck on the line for a builder especially if the plans were to code on paper and any construction defects wouldn't go back to him but the builder.

Any thoughts on this?

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a forensic inspector is definitely not a PE. you should pursue the engineer route! they are giving you the runaround.

whenever someone wants to get their foundation leveled, most companies you see on TV don't employee engineers either. this is why i always tell people to hire a structural engineer so that they will know where the problem lies and what needs to be done to solve it. You just don't put piers randomly as many companies do.

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Structural Engineering firms typically will staff several "forensic inspectors". These inspectors are trained to read the engineering diagrams and specs and verify that the slab makeup is ready for concrete. Typically they have to go through state administered testing to qualify for this.

Most Engineering firms only have one or two actual PE's on staff. But, they may have 10 inspectors. The PE's are the structural designers and will rarely ever leave their office.

The Engineer will typically sign off on the slab once they have recieved the satisfactory report from their field inspector.

Point is ... Although you may not have seen an actual PE, it is more than likely that the inspector's opinion is correct.

Fact is every home that exists in Houston will have surface fractures in the concrete. It is not a matter of "if" but "when". It has more to do with the way the concrete was cured.

Again looking at you pictures, everything you've shown is extremely common. In fact, the picture you've shown of the outside of the home is not a crack at all, but it is actually a joint between the brick mortar and the slab.

One more note:

Cost range for forensic inspector $35-$75 per visit

Cost range for PE inspection visit $225-$275 per visit

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Structural Engineering firms typically will staff several "forensic inspectors". These inspectors are trained to read the engineering diagrams and specs and verify that the slab makeup is ready for concrete. Typically they have to go through state administered testing to qualify for this.

Most Engineering firms only have one or two actual PE's on staff. But, they may have 10 inspectors. The PE's are the structural designers and will rarely ever leave their office.

The Engineer will typically sign off on the slab once they have received the satisfactory report from their field inspector.

Point is ... Although you may not have seen an actual PE, it is more than likely that the inspector's opinion is correct.

Fact is every home that exists in Houston will have surface fractures in the concrete. It is not a matter of "if" but "when". It has more to do with the way the concrete was cured.

Again looking at you pictures, everything you've shown is extremely common. In fact, the picture you've shown of the outside of the home is not a crack at all, but it is actually a joint between the brick mortar and the slab.

One more note:

Cost range for forensic inspector $35-$75 per visit

Cost range for PE inspection visit $225-$275 per visit

Well this inspector didn't even want to look at the problem. I told him let me get my ruler to show him that the cables are less than half and inch below the surface and magnets to show him that the cable is at the surface across the entire rooms and he didn't want me to. Like I said he spent 10min walking through my house and didn't even bend down to look. He spent more time talking about his experience with concrete, nothing to do with my house and about how I cant sue the builder when I haven't ever made that assertion all I have done was raised the question if this is an issue or not and how we can fix it, not bulldoze the house. This guy sounded like an advocate or an attorney for the builder than an independent engineer..er .. inspector.

What is also interesting is that he divulged that my neighbor is having the same problem and that they have done boring and that this inspector said everything is normal over there. Well I told my neighbor tonight and I showed him my house and he showed me his and found our problem is the same but he chiseled away more of the cables than I did. He also found that out of 5 bores only 1 of them had 4" of concrete and the rest was 2-3" and that there hasn't been any sand in any of the soil samples of the bores and in this area there is suppose to be a 60/40 mix. According to the company that was suppose to test the concrete, there isn't sufficient enough of concrete to test because the slab was so shallow and they need 3 good samples. I also found that this inspector kept telling me the wrong name of the company. The abbreviations were correct but the words in the middle were wrong. So I now found the name of the company that I was able to get from my neighbor. They do deal with loans, insurance, but they have a side part that does engineering. I plan on calling the company in regards to this guys visit. This engineer, I assume, wouldn't agree with this guys behavior during this inspection.

The crack on the side of the foundation is exactly at the same location of the crack in the garage that spans the entire garage. I measured both cracks from the front to the cracks and both were the exact measurement. Just pointing that out. I do have an expansion joint in the brick which is a few feet away from that location in the photo. I have brick at the expansion joint that has detached for the mortar. Also the original pictures are 3mb each. The crack on the side goes from the mortar down into the ground.

I asked to see the reports of the inspections of the foundation before, tension cable testing, and during the pour and the builder said that they don't have to have it done and no builder does. According to the engineer that I'll have out said that the builder cant get insured unless he has those inspections. The insurance is Home of Texas or RWC is what the builder refers them to. I will say that much on names at this time. I know some people been interested in who this builder is.

The entire way that this builder been handling this is just strange to me, or the people involved at least. Now they want to focus on all the other issues I have had since day one which is nice. They haven't done anything yet but they are being assertive on trying to get these things done and trying to schedule their crew, so they say.

Also the engineer told me there are codes for these foundations, PTI or Post-Tension Institute.

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I asked to see the reports of the inspections of the foundation before, tension cable testing, and during the pour and the builder said that they don't have to have it done and no builder does.

OK, this is a little disturbing. Most builders will have these inspections done. Your builder is not telling you the truth.

Any reliable 3rd party warranty company would never insure a foundation without the satisfactory Pre Pour, and Tensioning reports. They usually won't require an "inspection during the pour"

Technically, these inspections are not required by law. But the TRCC has made new laws, and starting in September of this year, all builders will be required to have these inspections done in the areas without municiple inspections.

If your neighbor is only getting 2-3" concrete core depths, you may have a reason for concern.

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OK, this is a little disturbing. Most builders will have these inspections done. Your builder is not telling you the truth.

Any reliable 3rd party warranty company would never insure a foundation without the satisfactory Pre Pour, and Tensioning reports. They usually won't require an "inspection during the pour"

Technically, these inspections are not required by law. But the TRCC has made new laws, and starting in September of this year, all builders will be required to have these inspections done in the areas without municiple inspections.

If your neighbor is only getting 2-3" concrete core depths, you may have a reason for concern.

i think that's what he's been pointing out the whole thread, many builders don't build a quality product and try and weasel their way out.

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If you think what this person is experiencing is out of the norm I will tell you to look at Homeowners For better Building and Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings. The problems are getting worse. A recent editorial by Richard Weekley ( Dave's brother) in the Chron. last week prompted numerous responses about the homebuilding industry.

TRCC has yet to hit a big builder. The so called fines, most of which are for late registration are given to smaller builders. One builder was hit with a fine for fraud and deception. The fine, $500 and 2 years probation, but the complaints keep rolling in.

People basically have to take things in their own hands.

When my problems arose, my jerky builder called in an engineer to do testing. The results showed problems and the builder actually dismissed the findings. Did that twice. It is a long bumpy road when you end up with a bad house and your builder refuses to act ethically.

Edited by linyer
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i think that's what he's been pointing out the whole thread, many builders don't build a quality product and try and weasel their way out.

Yeah, I remember the previous post of the guy with standing water on his 2nd floor patio. These stories are disturbing to hear.

I know the recent downturn in the suburb construction market has caused many of the volume builders to cut back on staff and services. This in turn will ultimately result in lower quality construction. It is a shaky time for them. The big guys are trying to provide low cost housing, all the while construction material pricing is going up and sales are flat.

I'm really suspicious of the volume builders right now.

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I know the recent downturn in the suburb construction market has caused many of the volume builders to cut back on staff and services. This in turn will ultimately result in lower quality construction. I'm really suspicious of the volume builders right now.

Recent? most builders are trying to maximize their profit which results in poor workmanship even in the higher end ones. there's one over on vassar that they paid over a million for and the place flooded after a heavy rain.

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Recent? most builders are trying to maximize their profit

which results in poor workmanship even in the higher end ones.

... :huh:

Hearing about all these problems, I guess you have to hire a 3rd party company to watch your builder. There are too many Yahoo's out there pretending to build homes.

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I contacted the engineer who the inspector worked for and told him about how he acted during his inspection of 10min and didn't let me show him how close the cables were to the surface with a ruler or how they stretch along the entire rooms with a magnet. Also how he gave me legal advice that only helps the builder, and was incorrect from what I researched,when no legal opinion was asked. I told him he seemed to be an employee or advocate for the builder than a representative of an independent engineering company. This inspector didn't even have a note pad. I said all this while he had me on speaker phone with the inspector in the room. The engineer didn't really say much and thanked me for the info and the inspector couldnt recall what he looked at. I don't know if he was surprised by his inspectors actions or surprised that I would call them out on this. He asked if he could see the report from the engineer that I will have out but if his guy would of done the job he should of he would of had a report to reference. This engineer was the one who designs the foundations for this builder also. I don't see why this company would go about this situation like they are if they have nothing to hide. I am sure that his designs are to code and that the builder is the one at fault, if there is fault, since they didn't make/pour per his specs. Why would they play this game? Or is it perhaps just a bad inspector? Also what I found later is that the engineer is the VP of the company, and the inspector in question is the CEO of the company...does that make sense?

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This engineer was the one who designs the foundations for this builder also. I don't see why this company would go about this situation like they are if they have nothing to hide. I am sure that his designs are to code and that the builder is the one at fault
how are you sure of this? His design may be good, but you have no idea whether it was executed properly. is the proper tension applied, etc.
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... :huh:

Hearing about all these problems, I guess you have to hire a 3rd party company to watch your builder. There are too many Yahoo's out there pretending to build homes.

Totally agree. We built a house a year ago and are still dealing with issues of the builder not knowing what he was doing and no one other than me watching them and making sure that it was built correctly. If I ever build another house (doubt it), I will have a 3rd party inspector checking at key points to ensure that the builder did his job. You can't rely on the city inspectors as they don't always check everything and most homeowners don't have the time or knowledge to build a house - which is why you hire a builder anyway....

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After reading this post and all of the replies, I thought I would propose a scenerio that would possibly explain the proximity of the cables and wire ties to the finished floor surface.

If this home is in a typical entry level price range, the slab pour was probably tailgated, meaning that the mixers all backed up to the form and the concrete was placed directly into the form via the truck chute. Most production builders forego the $650.00 - $900.00 expense of a pump truck. As a result, the pour is a lot more labor intensive and difficult from the concrete finishers standpoint. It requires them to drag the wet mud around with with rakes and screeds to get to the center and any other area that the chutes can't reach. The pour takes a lot longer because they have to orchestrate the movement of the trucks in and out. As a result, one of their favorite things to do, in direct conflict with the engineers specifications, is to add as much water as they can get away with to the concrete while still in the truck. This facilitates two things, it turns the concrete to "soup" ( as described by the posters neighbor ) and it makes it much easier to work with for the finisher. It will flow throughout the beams and therefore relieve them of the need to drag and place it as necessary.

I would propose that the exposed cables and their close proximity to the surface is the result of them being displaced from their starting locations ( hopefully straight, firmly tight, and sitting on 2" chairs ) by the finisher allowing this wet mud to be blasted into the form from the truck chute with little regard for what was happening to the integrity of the slab design. Unfortunately, the pour was scheduled for "late at night" per the poster. It was probably one of several, and ran late. Everybody was probably more concerned with going home than taking care to insure a proper placement.

In addition to the displaced cables, the addition of significant amount of water, changes the way the concrete cures. Once the finishers have done their work and remove the finishing machines from the slab, things probably looked pretty good. The results of the excessive amount of water in the concrete don't show until later in the form of shrinkage cracks, which are evident in the pictures that were posted. They result from the excess moisture trying to find its way out of the finished surface. As any engineer will quickly state..."they don't impact the structural integrity of the slab", but they sure look crappy.

These statements are my opinion only, based on what I had read above. Unfortunately, I don't know what to do to help you get your builder to acknowledge that they did a poor job in supervising the placement of your slab.

Edit: I went back and re-read that you did have a 10 year warranty on structural components provided by Home of Texas. To my knowledge, all 3rd party warranty providers require the builder to provide a pre-pour, pour ( with an engineer or inspector on-site during placement ), tendon stress , cover-up, and a final (with slab elevations shot and documented ) inspection in order to issue a warranty to the homeowner. Therefore, it's curious that the builder stated that "nobody" has to provide these inspections. Did you receive a package of information explaining the parameters of the warranty from Home of Texas. The only reason this is important is that your builder will probably take little to no action on the issues you have now, however, if in the future ( 5,7,9 years from now) you do have a slab failure you will be dealing with Home and not your builder.

Edited by RCH99
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I have just found out that not only the engineering company that did the plans for this builders foundation for my community, they do all the plans for all their communities over Texas. As I mentioned that the builder had this engineering company to bring out an inspector to inspect my foundation. Also I found out that the engineering company that made the plans for the foundation also did the inspection of the foundation before it was poured. So the company that designed the foundation and inspected pre-pour, were the ones that came out here to inspect the current issue and took 10min to look at it and told me this is all normal. To me this would seem to be a conflict of interest for the builder. How would the TRCC look at his report since they were so involved with the house to begin with? To me both the builder and now this engineering company seem to have something to hide.

I know this thread has gone off course from questions about the foundation to me blabbing about my current situation with the builder over the foundation. If any admin locks this thread thats ok but I feel this site has lot of experienced people and I enjoy reading your opinions.

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