Is This A Structural Crack?

 
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:54 PM   #1
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Is This A Structural Crack?


NEWB here. First post. Glad to have found this forum.

I'm a GC in Arizona. Generally, I see monolitihic and post-tension foundations. We bought a house in Florida (I have no professional contacts in FL) and while tearing up the carpet, we noticed a very large crack. The house was build in 2005 and has a 10-year structural warranty. We called the builder to come out and the guy was a complete jerk (thats aside the point). He basically left saying the crack is "non-structural".

This foundation is a stem wall foundation. The guys said this is a "floating slab" and essentially we can remove all the concrete without affecting the structural integrity of the house, which makes sense to me. However, I would like some other opinions. I have seen cracks in concrete as this is normal, but there is a good elevation change in the cracks. Some areas are between 5/16"-3/8".

What do you guys think? If I am posting in the wrong section I do apologize.

Thanks,

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Old 01-30-2011, 07:58 PM   #2
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Is the slab the only thing cracked? If this is structural, I would think a wall might show something also. Looks like maybe a lack of compaction, or some crappy fill in my opinion. Did you not notice this prior to the sale?

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Old 01-30-2011, 08:49 PM   #3
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


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Is the slab the only thing cracked? If this is structural, I would think a wall might show something also. Looks like maybe a lack of compaction, or some crappy fill in my opinion. Did you not notice this prior to the sale?
There does not appear to be any cracking on the drywall (walls and ceiling) or on the outside of the house where the stem wall rises to.

Unfortunately, we did not notice the crack upon initial inspection as the floor was carpeted and there was a bed over the cracked area. It was not super noticable to feel since the carpet was laid and they had thick padding. However, while painting (inching along the wall with a roller) I was able to feel it. It felt like there was an extra piece of carpet padding under the floor. Since the carpet was getting replaced, I puled it up and then noticed the crack.

Thanks for you response. I look forward to what others have to say.

Last edited by jatepper; 01-30-2011 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:53 PM   #4
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


I'd have to agree that if you don't see any cracks in the walls this might be non-structural. However, you seem like a smart guy with his ducks in a row. You should hire an inspector to come in and review it, and give you a report on it. Perhaps if it is structural they can prove it and provide you with evidence to the company holding the warranty work.
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:56 PM   #5
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


They needed to disclose this defect in the house. It is illegal to hide something like that without letting you know about it. You would likely have legal recourse unles the home was sold "As Is"
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:09 PM   #6
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


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They needed to disclose this defect in the house. It is illegal to hide something like that without letting you know about it. You would likely have legal recourse unles the home was sold "As Is"
Well, we bought the house as a short-sale and of course it was sold "as-is, where-is". However, the home owner (not the bank) signed a document stating there was no known defects to the property. The previous owner may not have known about it. The house was built in 05, sold in 07, and then sold to us. Furthermore, the person who sold the house had tenants in the house.

At one point the crack had an attempted repair. There was epoxy at one point placed in the crack. But, who knows if the original owner or the second owner was involved in that repair. The repair could have also been done before the home construction was completed. So, this could be complicating to prove. Again, with the carpet, the crack was not really noticable, especially since there was a bed right over it. When we closed, the room was cleared and we could not see a ripple in the carpet or anything. Only discovered the crack from "inching along" while painting the walls.

Last edited by jatepper; 01-30-2011 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:10 PM   #7
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Of course there aren't any drywall cracks. They fixed them just before you bought it. In fact, I'm guessing the seller made a lot of cosmetic "fixes" before putting it on the market. It'd have to be a damn good drywall repair for me not to be able to spot it if I was really looking for such things.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:13 PM   #8
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Still think you have a case. That should have been disclosed as part of the As Is sale. How can you make an informed decision without all the information on the house. Not sure what can become of it, but call a lawyer and have a short conversation with him to see what all this means.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:23 PM   #9
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


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Originally Posted by txgencon View Post
Of course there aren't any drywall cracks. They fixed them just before you bought it. In fact, I'm guessing the seller made a lot of cosmetic "fixes" before putting it on the market. It'd have to be a damn good drywall repair for me not to be able to spot it if I was really looking for such things.
At one point I thought this could be. However, I don't think the seller really cared about making repairs or what not as he was selling the house short. He was not paying the bills on the house, so why would he even bother making some drywall repairs? I can usually tell when drywall has been repaired and I did not see any evidence of a repair. Does not mean they didn't do one, but if they did they did a great job.

The crack elevation change is deeper in the center of the room and continually gets closer to elevation as it nears the wall. The wall is an exterior wall and I checked out the outside wall and again, it looks to be good with no cracks.

In my opinion, based on research I have done on stem wall floating slabs, the slab could crack for a couple of reasons, which someone already mentioned. Either poor fill dirt or bad compaction.

We are contemplating hiring a structural engineer to check this out. We also have the home inspector who inspected the house coming back out to take a look. I'm not totally convinced it is non-structural, but I am leaning that way.

This forum is a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate all the responses. I look forward to hearing some more.

Thanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo G View Post
Still think you have a case. That should have been disclosed as part of the As Is sale. How can you make an informed decision without all the information on the house. Not sure what can become of it, but call a lawyer and have a short conversation with him to see what all this means.
The thing is lawyers are not cheap. If this is a non-structural repair, it would cost a fraction to repair compared to taking legal action for a "quick fix".

Last edited by jatepper; 01-30-2011 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:38 PM   #10
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Disclosure is a waste of time unless you can show/document that the seller actually knew about the problem.

That looks like it could be a true floating slab that is poured between short or tall stem walls. The slab bears on the soil and is not connected to the stem walls for obvious reasons. If the slab is not compacted well or construction debris (wood scraps, drywall, beer cans, etc.) is dumped in the area, there can be settlement and cracks. - Very common problem in attached garages and basement since they are the last areas to be poured.

I have a townhouse I bought 5 years ago and it stood out, but was not structural or that important since the location was more important. Our HOA is aware and has policy of paying 50% of the slab replacement since it happens frequently on the last finished unit in each of the two story quad homes.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:48 PM   #11
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


One place to check if it structural or not and most likely wouldn't have been repaired even if the drywall was, is to go in to attic, if accessible, where the damage is. Check the rafters and the framing to see if there is any separation, in the loaded areas. This should be able to, at the least, be able to help you discern whether you should go through expense of an engineer. Most likely, that's where they'll start to begin with. Any separation or splitting at all and I'd get my ducks in a row, if not, it's probably inferior slab installation or poor soil composition.
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Old 01-30-2011, 11:00 PM   #12
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


After having bought a house and 'discovering' a huge sewer line issue and discovering that the seller absolutely knew about it before the sale, we looked into what recourse we had.

At least in Washington state, it seems like it was a total discretionary call that judge would make as to what damages could be collected. Best case, you could get rewarded damages, plus attorney fees. Or you could just get damages, and in either case, it would be 12 to 18 months down the road. Worst case, you could get nothing and be out your attorney fees. We had positive proof that the seller knew (renters and neighbors) but still decided to let it lie.

Wasn't worth the time, energy, effort to try and go after them. I believe scumbags get what they deserve in the long run.

As far as the concrete goes, if there are no visible cracks (or repairs) in the foundation, and it was a floating slab, you're probably fine. Of course, you still get to deal with fixing it.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:46 AM   #13
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jatepper
NEWB here. First post. Glad to have found this forum.

I'm a GC in Arizona. Generally, I see monolitihic and post-tension foundations. We bought a house in Florida (I have no professional contacts in FL) and while tearing up the carpet, we noticed a very large crack. The house was build in 2005 and has a 10-year structural warranty. We called the builder to come out and the guy was a complete jerk (thats aside the point). He basically left saying the crack is "non-structural".

This foundation is a stem wall foundation. The guys said this is a "floating slab" and essentially we can remove all the concrete without affecting the structural integrity of the house, which makes sense to me. However, I would like some other opinions. I have seen cracks in concrete as this is normal, but there is a good elevation change in the cracks. Some areas are between 5/16"-3/8".

What do you guys think? If I am posting in the wrong section I do apologize.

Thanks,

Handen Construction, LLC
It looks like a settlement crack to me. I'd get a foundation repair company in to mudjack the slab.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:01 AM   #14
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Thank you all for the responses. If it is just a floating slab, I dont think I can financially justify jacking up the slab to perform the repair. However, this house is in Florida and I live in Arizona. My sister now lives in the house. It is a really bad situation. She is sleeping in the family room and the room remains empty (master bedroom of course) until it can be repaired and carpeted.

My father called a couple of concrete contractors. One said he does not think it is structural concrete and one said he thinks it could be structural. For corrective actions, I guess we have a couple of options. First, we can have the concrete grinded down flush and fill with an epoxy. Our section corrective action would be to remove the base boards, pour in some concrete, and float the entire floor. What would you guys do? I personally favor floating the floor, but again, I am not too familiar with floating slabs.

I was in the attic a few days before discovering this crack. I installed a fan in that bedroom, so I was right over the crack. Though I was not particularly looking for damage to the raftors, I was all over the place in the attic and did not notice anything.

Great responses thus far. Thanks guys! Keep them coming!
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:06 AM   #15
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


The problem with either of those repairs you suggest, is that if the fill or compaction is the problem under the slab, who is to say that all settling has occurred?

You could spend the money to repair, only to have the slab shift again in a year or so.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:15 AM   #16
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


even if its not structural its alot of money to fix and leaves him with no options other than carpet if he doesn't fix it. Id be pissed
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:25 AM   #17
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


The main question is whether or not the home is on a floating slab. If there is a foundation and the floor is poured inside of that foundation then the crack in the floor will not affect the rest of the structure. That can be determined with a shovel on the exterior of the home. If the slab is independent of the structure there are ways to fix the floor. Some of them will fix it even if the settling is not finished. These are more expensive fixes. The cheaper solutions will not keep the slab from settling. It is extremely possible that the previous owner had no idea about the crack. It was passed unseen by a lot of prying eyes previous to discovery.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:40 AM   #18
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


I have no idea if the house is done settling or not. The house is 5.5 years old and is likely done settling based on my general knowledge of concrete. The one quote we got to grind down the concrete and fill it with epoxy was $250, which is really cheap IMO. The other guy that recommended pouring/re-floating the floor said it was "too small a job" for him and did not give my parents a quote.

We are having the home inspection company come back out on Wednesday to inspect the home. I know this guy is not an engineer, but I would still like his opinion. We will likely hire a structural engineer regardless to evaluate the crack.

The Division President of the home builder sent me an email this morning stating it is indeed a true floating slab.
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:56 AM   #19
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


i agree that you can't know if it's done settling so you're just throwing good money after bad if you try a band-aid. it's something you could do yourself if you wanted to just grind it down and pour some self-leveller over it for a cosmetic band-aid, but the real solution is to jack it up and put some grout under it. of course you're going to have to fix it or disclose it eventually so you may as well just get it taken care of now while the room is cleared, imo.
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:17 PM   #20
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Re: Is This A Structural Crack?


Since this is in Fla. it is definitely not a heaving situation. Mudjacking will stabilize the area and level up the floor. Expensive but cheaper than replacing the floor.

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