Need a little foundation advise. During an inspection yesterday I discovered two pretty significant cracks in the exterior foundation wall at the two outside corners of the attached garage. I could almost get my pen in the cracks but not quite. When inspecting the garage I found the foundation wall to be pulling away from concrete slab (2-3 in.). So the foundation wall in bowing away from the slab. It appears the foundation cracks are from some negative grading and a downspout that exits right next to the foundation. Also, there is a crawl space below the garage that is damp especially in the corners with the cracks. On my report I suggest filling cracks and landscaping correction. But I keep thinking there’s more to it. I’m thinking because two corners are cracked the foundation wall is lacking support because it’s not properly attached to the rest of the foundation and being pushed away by the weight of the structure. Any thoughts?
I would refer that to an engineer or contractor that utilizes an engineer.
What is the age and location of the house?
I doubt if its a real major repair (assuming small older home) but it could be made into a very major issue if you fail to properly report it. The repair process on this type of issue ranges from doing nothing to spending thousands depending on the owner and who is paying for it.
The foundation wall has bowed outward 2-3 inches?
The corners are anchored into place by the footings which run perpendicular to the bowed wall. If the center of a wall bows, either the ends of the wall must move closer together or something will break. Whatever is weakest- in this case the mortar joints- will break first.
The two foundation repair contractors I’ve been involved with here have been pretty straight shooters. Many roofing contractors you can’t trust any furter than you can throw them, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either foundation repair company.
There’s an advantage to that since they’ll usually look for free and provide a diagnosis and price for repair. Successful foundation contractors often have big jobs going so they have less incentive to decieve in order to get the work. I think they’re less affected by the economy. Foundation repair can be near the top of the priority list since it’s a matter of protecting a fairly large investment.
May be different where you are.
Home inspectors observe and report the current conditions. Engineers observe and report causes, predictions of future activity, and resolutions for structural issues.
Sometimes out of ignorance or the desire to impress a client, a home inspector will embellish his report with what he thinks may have caused the problem…or how to fix it. In some states, unless the HI is also a licensed engineer, he can get himself in deep trouble.
Back to my thoughts. Your description of the defect in your post would be sufficient for your report. If your interest is in saving your client money, refund your fee. If you want him to have the protection of a professional opinion with “teeth”, recommend a detailed inspection by a structural engineer. Let him decide on his own to seek the lesser expensive alternative of a contractor.
In my state, the majority of counties (80%) do not have or enforce building codes and do not license contractors. To recommend one is to recommend Bubba’s unemployed brother-in-law who will look at it and fix it for a case of beer.
Let him seek the cheaper alternatives on his own. You provide him with the professional advice most likely to assure an accurate assessment.