There are several areas in a house or commercial building where structural defects may cause serious damage. The critical question is will the defect become visible before too much serious damage is done? A crooked beam or column, a warped ceiling or floor, a cracked cement wall, for example are usually evident visually and can be repaired withing months of the structure being occupied. Foundation problems, however may take years for signs to become evident that something is not right.
Foundation defects are usually caused by one or a combination of these events:
Improper Design • Improper Materials • Improper Construction
They become a serious problem when they are discovered during an inspection and are in violation of a building code and/or they cause actual damage to the overall structure.
Some of the common foundation problems arise due to:
Insufficient depth of foundation • Insufficient width of foundation • Soft-spots in sub-soil • Insufficient steps in strip foundation on sloping ground • Sulfate damage to concrete • Water intrusion • Improper grouting and/or caulking leading to water intrusion
When these mistakes start causing damage there may be a shift in the structure above and a domino-like effect begins to corrupt all structural elements. Foundation weaknesses have been known to cause the collapse of entire buildings.
How to Identify and Rectify Structural Foundation Defects
Because foundation defects tend to be the most expensive to repair, it is a good idea once a defect is suspected to hire an expert to confirm there is a defect and what (or who) was it’s cause. Once the defect is identified and confirmed it may be necessary to have physical evidence which is collected in a manner that will be admissible in a hearing for damages, perhaps during a mediation or civil court.
When this becomes necessary, an experienced structural engineer who is also an expert witness is the go-to authority to have in your corner. Understanding how to approach a foundation defect case from the perspective of a mediator, judge, or jury is absolutely essential to winning the compensatory damages that a homeowner or building owner may be entitled to. Photographs of a crack in the foundation are insufficient to prove inadequate design, construction, or materials. Only an expert structural engineer has the expertise to determine cause and effect.
Justin Hall has been handling foundation defects for over a decade and has successfully prepared solid cases for property owners who are victims of structural defects. The first step in getting the facts is to call Mr. Hall at (501) 436-0091 and he will be able to quickly tell you if he can help.