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Structural Inspections Contains discussions about the structural portion of a home inspection. This includes foundations, framing, etc.

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  #1  
Old 10/20/12, 7:48 AM
Tom Phillips Tom Phillips is offline
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Default Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Hi,
I purchased a new construction home in NJ. The foundation of the home is a poured concrete floor and walls (3 concrete wall sides since it is a walk-out basement).

I have not closed on the house yet, but have noticed several vertical hair-line cracks on the outside walls. I didn't think anything of it until I noticed 1 that is both inside and outside, from top to bottom (about 8') and was wet along parts of it. I would say about 4' of the wall is above ground outside due to it being a walk-out.

Since this crack is so long and wet AND there are numerous other cracks on the foundation walls, would it be smart to hire a Structural Engineer to look at the foundation prior to closing? I know our town inspected the foundation after the pour and approved it, but this crack happened after the fact.

Any guidance here is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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  #2  
Old 10/20/12, 4:26 PM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Hi Tom, I don't think unregistered users are able to post pictures, that's a shame it would be nice to be able to see a picture of what you are discussing. It may be worth your while to either try to get the town inspector to visit again, or to hire a Home Inspector to come and look at it before you go to structural engineer. What area are you in?



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  #3  
Old 10/20/12, 6:06 PM
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Dale Duffy Dale Duffy is offline
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Quote:
I have not closed on the house yet, but have noticed several vertical hair-line cracks on the outside walls. I didn't think anything of it until I noticed 1 that is both inside and outside, from top to bottom (about 8') and was wet along parts of it. I would say about 4' of the wall is above ground outside due to it being a walk-out.
I would not accept this as being "normal", if you have water intrusion now, it will only become more of a problem in the future.

Concrete cracks, this is a fact, but there are waterproof materials available which should have been utilized prior to the foundation being backfilled with perforated drain pipe installed at the bottom of the footing possibly day-lighting outward without the need for a sump hole.

How wide the crack is makes a difference as well, while hairline cracks are normal, cracks which you can place change from your pocket into are quite different.

The direction of the crack can give someone a better idea of what is going on, does the crack follow the direction of a concrete form in a straight direction vertically, or is the crack zig-zagging vertically?

Can you pull a string-line down the wall and see a distinct bulge inward at the concrete?

Regardless, I personally would not accept a leaking foundation prior to closing escrow, and I would want a reputable foundation contractor at the property to witness the repair made by the contractor who poured the foundation.

Its very important the foundation is waterproofed now so your not spending money having it waterproofed after you own the home.

If there is a structural concern, this certainly needs to be repaired now as well.

Hard to guess what you have going on with just a description, but if you have water leaking now, you have a problem now.
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  #4  
Old 10/20/12, 7:46 PM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Now remember that we can not see the foundation and I can imagine several reasons why cracks or what appears to be cracks are present after forms are removed.

Through wall cracks on new construct are suspect.
Call in a specialist. I hate the generic engineers myself. Have a viable foundation repair company do an inspection. Expect to pay $500.
All the best Tom.

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  #5  
Old 10/20/12, 8:59 PM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Thanks everyone for the replies. The crack is a hairline crack, both on the inside and outside of the foundation. It starts at the corner of a basement window and zig zags vertically down to the foundation. It is not a straight line. It zig zags down and left (from the inside) and down and right (from the outside). I do have pictures, but not sure if I can post on here. The wetness was along the entire crack. Also I should note that while it is new construction, the foundation was poured about 14 months ago.

I tried using a flashlight tonight with a friend to see if we could see any light through the crack from inside and outside, but were unable to see any light.

So my take away right now is to definitely have it inspected by either a town engineer or a foundation specialist as opposed to a structural engineer. I definitely plan on holding the builder responsible to fix prior to close but my concerns would be that they would look to repair the cheapest way possible.

Any further thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
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  #6  
Old 10/21/12, 12:35 AM
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Dale Duffy Dale Duffy is offline
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

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Originally Posted by Tom Phillips View Post
Thanks everyone for the replies. The crack is a hairline crack, both on the inside and outside of the foundation. It starts at the corner of a basement window and zig zags vertically down to the foundation. It is not a straight line. It zig zags down and left (from the inside) and down and right (from the outside). I do have pictures, but not sure if I can post on here. The wetness was along the entire crack. Also I should note that while it is new construction, the foundation was poured about 14 months ago.

I tried using a flashlight tonight with a friend to see if we could see any light through the crack from inside and outside, but were unable to see any light.

So my take away right now is to definitely have it inspected by either a town engineer or a foundation specialist as opposed to a structural engineer. I definitely plan on holding the builder responsible to fix prior to close but my concerns would be that they would look to repair the cheapest way possible.

Any further thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
A crack at a window opening is a different story, just make sure the foundation is waterproofed correctly. Concrete cracks, especially at openings.
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  #7  
Old 10/21/12, 7:43 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

CMU Masonry Wall openings should have a lentil (bond beam) with proper barring.
#1 Attachment 59581
#2Attachment 59582
I prefer the #2 lentil. The nailer covers one full CMU and insures the bearing is one full length of the CMU.
It effectively covers both BUTT JOINTS and not just one side. The downward energy is transferred equally across the masonry bond.
This link explains CMU wall erection, openings and load. Enjoy masonry wall design.

In the opening there should be one half and one full unit in the clear and effective span. Deviation of any masonry bond allows degrading to take place.

Last 3 courses before a wall opening should be ladder framed for horizontal reinforcement. To stop spread.
Attachment 59583

Tom factors I can not observe are frustrating to me. Seeing the cracks do not mirror each other through the width and length of the course leave to much imagination allowing unfounded hypotheses.
I wish I knew more about the wall design.
All the best.
Please keep us posted.



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  #8  
Old 10/21/12, 8:07 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Hi, I uploaded some pictures to flickr at this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/88992859@N06/
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  #9  
Old 10/21/12, 10:45 AM
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Dale Duffy Dale Duffy is offline
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Phillips View Post
Hi, I uploaded some pictures to flickr at this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/88992859@N06/
If the foundation is already waterproofed and backfilled it needs to be excavated and waterproofed correctly, this is very important.

Where water is entering apparently the crack wasn't parged at the exterior, or the crack developed in the curing process after being waterproofed, regardless, they need to start over, seal the crack, then waterproof the concrete.

If this has already been waterproofed, I would have someone who knows the ins-and outs of proper waterproofing doing the work the second time or you will be haunted with water intrusion forever.
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Old 10/21/12, 11:05 AM
Larry Kage, CMI Larry Kage, CMI is offline
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Quote:
Originally Posted by dduffy View Post
If the foundation is already waterproofed and backfilled it needs to be excavated and waterproofed correctly, this is very important.

Where water is entering apparently the crack wasn't parged at the exterior, or the crack developed in the curing process after being waterproofed, regardless, they need to start over, seal the crack, then waterproof the concrete.

If this has already been waterproofed, I would have someone who knows the ins-and outs of proper waterproofing doing the work the second time or you will be haunted with water intrusion forever.
I'm with Dale. And, don't let them try to fix it from the inside...



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  #11  
Old 10/21/12, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Because it is a walk-out basement, much of that area of the basement is already above ground. You can see the crack on the from the outside. I know they put on the "black" waterproofing, but not sure how far down. The part of the foundation that is above ground was not waterproofed (no visible black waterproofing). So, I suppose they are going to have to excavate some and make sure it is probably waterproofed?
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  #12  
Old 10/21/12, 11:23 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Also, do you still suggest I hire an independent foundation expert to take a look at it or would the town engineer suffice? I know this builder and they will take the easiest and cheapest route to fix unless told otherwise by the town.
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  #13  
Old 10/22/12, 1:39 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

I would hire someone VERY GOOD at waterproofing, if this guy screwed it up the first time he'll likely do it again.

For the hairline crack at the window corner, no, I wouldn't waste money on an engineer from the description you wrote.
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  #14  
Old 10/22/12, 7:54 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Just like me to not read all the posts. Thank heavens for Flicker.
Sorry.

Post #1 Since this crack is so long and wet AND there are numerous other cracks on the foundation walls,
Post #5 It zig zags down and left (from the inside) and down and right (from the outside).
More cracks?

No parge coat.
Unknow if anti damp was applied.

If I was buying a home I would spend the money to have a foundation specialist. They do anti-damp and/or membrane waterproofing, repairs and can write reports.
My 2 cents.



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Old 10/22/12, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Phillips View Post
Any further thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
Hire a home inspector!



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