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Did Builder Cut Corners w/ Pier & Beam on Clay Soil?

Discussion in 'Residential Foundation Codes' started by Kevin Stokes, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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  2. jeffc

    jeffc Bronze Member

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    I'm not an enginer but I played one on a web site user forum. This is my very rough approximation of the proper beam size:
    According to the Southern Forest Product Association, 2 x 8 SP (southern pine) #2 has an Fb of 925,
    upload_2018-11-6_9-4-37.png
    The 1986 Wood Structural Design Data with 1992 Revisions list 2 x 8 SP spanning 11' can support 65 lb per foot.
    upload_2018-11-6_9-10-47.png
    65 lb per foot with 3 members gives you 195 lb of beam capacity per foot. (Could get a slight increase due to redundancy)
    The center beam over the kitchen and living room should have 775 lb. of capacity per foot. [31'/2 x 50 (40 live load and 10 dead load) = 775 lb. per foot]
    I think over stressed and sagging beams are contributing to your situation.
     
  3. HForester

    HForester Member

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    Regardless of the beam sizing, what the piers are resting on is, apparently, not stable.
     
  4. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    I appreciate the fact that most posters are not engineers and that individuals will focus on the things, such as joist span tables, that they are familiar with but suggest this ignore the more likely problem.

    Piers two feet deep in expansive soils is asking for trouble. When they install the floor they protect the soil around and under interior footings from any rain and allow the soil under the central piers to dry out with respect to the outer piers. In expansive soils this could result in significant differential pier elevations.
     
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  5. jeffc

    jeffc Bronze Member

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    What would be the advantage to just addressing the piers? I usually take a holistic approach. If the perimeter beams and center beams are contributing to the problem, I would include them in the scope of the work/repair.
     
  6. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    Without a proper investigation there is no way people in 40 plus states and canada can solve it.
    Is it expansive soil?
    Are the framing members overspaned?
    What are the other loads?
    Without these, it's just speculation.
     
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  7. Paul Sweet

    Paul Sweet Sawhorse

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    Long ago when I was an architectural engineering student at the University of Texas I worked for a designer on some commercial buildings in east Austin. The foundations were 30 ft. deep piers (probably 3 ft. or so diameter) with belled bottoms. They were reinforced to keep the expanding soil from snapping the concrete. We used hollow forms below the grade beams to keep the expanding soil from pushing the grade beams up.

    This would be overkill for a residence, but it shows that 2 feet is way too shallow.
     
  8. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    Foundation Failures…Why so many in Texas?
    https://blog.mysanantonio.com/markeberwine/2009/05/foundation-failures-why-so-many-in-texas/
    How is it that for over a century contractors have built skyscrapers and massive structures that span acres, and millions of homes that have withstood decades of rain and drought, yet Texas Homebuilders have such a dismal record when it comes to constructing foundations that properly support the walls, ceilings, and other superstructure components? Simply put, why are there so many houses in Texas with foundations that have failed or are otherwise in need of foundation repairs/stabilization?
    The favorite excuse that shoddy builders use when explaining away yet another failed foundation is ‘Texas soils’. Somehow we are expected to believe that the soils in Texas occur nowhere else in the world. While quality homebuilders are busy building homes with solid, properly engineered foundations that will last for 100 or more years, shoddy builders are busy petitioning the Texas legislature to continue to allow them to build substandard houses.
    Shoddy Homebuilders and the engineers they hire to design low-cost, minimally functional foundations, would have homeowners believe that the reason a foundation fails is because the homeowner did not ‘water around the foundation’ properly. If the foundation fails, the shoddy homebuilder will tell the homeowner it’s because the homeowner did not ‘water around the foundation’. If the homeowner says he or she did water around the foundation, the builder will say “you watered too much”. It is a no win situation for the homeowner.
    Texas law allows builders to construct minimally functional foundations that require large volumes of water be used in the soils around the house to ATTEMPT to keep the foundation from failing. Doesn’t it seem odd, or bizarre that with all the emphasis on responsible water usage and water restrictions, that Texas lawmakers would continue to allow, session after session after session after session, homebuilders to construct house foundations that require artificial hydration of the soils that support the slab?
    Imagine this, better yet, experience this for yourself…. When you come home from work today observe all of the brown and dying yards/grass in your neighborhood as a result of city/local watering restrictions. Then notice the commode that you just used is ‘low-volume’ water saver unit mandated by federal law. Next, as you begin to shower, notice the minimal water flow. That’s right, federal law requires that the showerhead water flow is a maximum of two (2) gallons per minute. As you head to your favorite restaurant, notice how they don’t automatically serve a glass of water to everyone at the table. If you want a glass of water you have to ask for it. This has been the case for years. Finally, as you return home from the restaurant, walk over to the outside water faucet and turn off the water to the ‘soaker’ hose. The soaker hose that for months has been dumping hundreds and thousands of gallons of precious water into the ground in an attempt to keep your foundation from failing or at the very least, to keep too many cracks from forming in the walls and ceilings.
    Are you starting to ask, in the words of Bruce Bowen, “Hey, what’s goin’ on here”?
    I’ll tell you what is going on. Each legislative session, shoddy homebuilders and their lawyers descend on the Capitol to browbeat and mislead our lawmakers about the need for laws that allow builders to construct what, in many cases, amounts to ‘disposable housing’. Homebuilder ‘trade-group’ representatives continually warn our lawmakers that if the builders are made to construct quality homes, it will drive homebuilders out of business. This statement is continually made, in spite of the fact that many builders operate with 30% profit margins. Compare this with the 2% to 12% profit margin at which the majority of other businesses operate.
    Year after year, homebuyers shop prices between various builders. They will take a set of house plans to multiple builders to obtain bids. The bids for building the ‘same’ house will vary by tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. How does this happen? Well… Quality builders bid the plans to build a house that doesn’t develop foundation problems, doesn’t develop dozens and dozens of cracks in the interior walls, ceilings, and exterior walls, and doesn’t have warped and unlevel countertops, leaking roofs, and a multitude of Code violations. Simply put, quality builders take pride in their homes and their prices reflect quality construction. Meanwhile, the shoddy builder bids the house knowing he can construct a substandard foundation, isn’t required to repair cracks in the walls and ceilings or the exterior walls, and paints the house with paint so thin and watered-down that the house has to be re-painted a year after construction.
    If you are contemplating having a home built or buying a new home, know that Texas laws are designed to protect shoddy builders. Once you build or buy that new home, you are at the mercy of your builder and the laws designed to protect your builder. You had better do your homework. Knock on doors of houses that your builder has built. Find out how the builder treated them AFTER the contract was signed and AFTER closing. Find out how any warranty claims were handled. Were there repairs or excuses? If you are buying a ‘spec’ home or a home from a volume builder, walk the neighborhood and ask the homeowners about any problems they have encountered. Look for problems common to multiple homes and start by looking at the homes that are the oldest in the neighborhood. In addition, hiring a competent Home Inspector to inspect the house as its being built, or at the very least, once the house is completed, is a decision smart buyer’s make.

    Welcome to Texas...
     
  9. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    What he said
     
  10. Kevin Stokes

    Kevin Stokes Registered User

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    This is our builder to a T. When we first started having issues, he claims that he consulted an engineer and the engineer recommenced we place soaker hoses not around the perimeter of the foundation, but down the center line of piers in the crawl space. When we tore this "idea" apart, his simple reply was "come on, this was a cheap house." True, it is not a large home and is not in a planned subdivision, but you still expect a properly designed foundation on a small home that costs 200k.
     
  11. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    Because you have contractors cutting corners.
    There is nothing wrong with that, contractors need to value engineer, but they also need to take responsibility for defects.
    Your State government, just reaffirmed yesterday, with the election, does not care about you......
     
  12. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

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    The alternative is Californication, and nobody but Californian's want that...
     
  13. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    Be clear that expansive soils do not just occur in Texas., California has significant areas of expansive soil but we do not have the same number of problems. We understand what needs to be done.

    It is easy to take cheap shots at California but look at our economy. Also consider that in spite of some problems, we probably have one of the more effective systems of building regulation.

    One of the problems we have is that too many people want to live here. So if it is so bad why do so many people want to live here?
     
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  14. HForester

    HForester Member

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    Some really expensive buildings have been built on poor foundations.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/is-millennium-tower-safe-still-leaning-sinking-2017-9


    Its just not homes built by corner-cutting home builders. The earth is not as "terra firma" as most people assume. The home builder made an assumption that the earth at the footing elevation was stable. That assumption allowed him to be competitive in a market where builders are usually evaluated (in part) on dollars per square foot. For homes, it is rarely about the concealed details and more about "the look".
     
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  15. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    Its the "nation of Texas" ruled by caliber, not laws.,
     

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