Help/Advise needed..Post-Tension slab concern

I’m not an inspector nor do I pretend to be, but I figured this would be a great place to hopefully get some professional opinions on our situation. Here’s the “brief” version of our problems. My wife and I bought our new home a little over a year ago and we’ve had nothing but problems with it. We are located in Maricopa, AZ. I apologize in advance if I use the wrong terminology.

    We live in a master-planned community, and on our steet alone there are 10+ of the exact model home that we have, so comparing houses is not difficult. Bascially, I fear something went wrong when they poured our post-tension slab. Our garage sits about 3" lower than our front walkwak, both are on the post-tension slab. All the other exact models are level, but ours isn't even close. So, when we first moved in we noticed ponding of water in our garage anytime it rained. What happned was the driveway slab had a negative slope, thus pushing water into our garage. We informed our builder a and they sent someone out to dig up and re-pour two of the driveway slabs. Well, we no longer have water coming into the garage but instead water ponds on the driveway for days at a time. In addition to this, they created a pretty decent trip hazard between our garage and our walkway. 

   We had an inspector out a few weeks ago and he was pretty shocked at how bad of a job they did. He feels there really is nothing at this point they can do. No matter what, water will pond somewhere because of the fact they never leveled the concrete as they should have. We even looked into selling our home and our agent was pretty honest and said that 99% of all inspectors will advise their clients to have us fix this. There is the problem.... it likely can't be fixed. Thus, if we ever want to sell we are looking at having to reduce the selling price pretty significantly because of the error our builder made. What's even more irritating is the fact they had to have known about this before we closed to on the house, but of course I guess they figured they could get away with it anyway. Mind you, this is in addition to our upstairs flooring having a 1/2" dip in it as you walk down the hallway. Every room after you enter the "lower half" of the upsatirs has loose floorboards, etc. It's bad! Also, in about the same spot downstairs there is a small rise of about 3/8" which lasts for about 12" before it drops off back to level. Could these be related somehow? We alos have windows on one side of the house that make very loud popping noises all throughout the day. One has a a crack running next to the frame inside the house that is at least 1/4" thick. Anyway, our builder refused to acknowledge any of this. 

   So, based on my pictures below, is there really anything that can be done to ever fix this, or is it pretty much too bad for us considering the walkwak and the garage are part of the post-tension slab? 

   Also, is our foundation in danger because of the difference in concrete in the garage compared to the remainder of the house?

   Please note that the last picture listed is of an exact model, which shows the walkway and garage as being much more level, as it should be. 

   So, any suggestions on what we should do next will be greatly appreciated!! We are losing many nights of sleep over this and I fear it will only get worse. Thank You!

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If the builder will not make it right…contact:

They will send a state inspector to your property free, if it is done in a unprofessional like manner, the ROC will make the builder fix it.

Mike…code is minimum 1/4 inch per foot slope away from the home.


   Wow, that was fast! Yea, I think I've just about read the darn AZ ROC codes about a million times now. I've heard some horror stories about how builders get around doing anything they advise them to do and you just keep going back and forth, etc etc. - I guess I'm just more concerned as to whether it really can ever be fixed. Heck, they tried once and you see the results. If they dig it up again and flatten out the slope a bit, then water will just funnel right back into the garage. I guess the super took the day off when they did this!

Mike…call me in the morning…602-402-5305

I know the men at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors…I’ll explain the procedure to get your problems resolved with your builder.

Maybe they could cut a slot in the driveway and install some type of drain pipe to collect the water and channel it away.


   Sorry, I should've asked this in my last response to you. Any idea on why our pour seems to be so off compared to the other house in the picture, which again, all the other houses look just like that? I mean every single house has the same post-tension type of foundation, so it's not like ours was anything different. I just don't get it.

bandag…I was advised by another inspector that because of the expansive soil out here that a drain would only make matters worse. I was told that there is absolutely no way you could make a retro-fitted trough drain watertight. Once the water seeps around the drain, the driveway will heave.

Looking at your pictures, it is not hard to fix…rip the entire drive out and start over, install a french drain (trough), many options available, in which the builder would be required to do.

The interior floors, if the home is still under warranty the builder has to fix it, two years past the close of escrow.

If it is not under warranty…I’ll show you how to fix it…pretty simple actually fastening loose decking under carpeting, if this is the case.

They probably built the entire home to the wrong elevation off the street.

I agree that you have a problem but go the heading “services and additional topics” click on the topic “for all you experts here” and read what is happening to this lady’s new house, soon it may collapse from water pressure. I made a suggestion above and I am sure others will have suggestions for your driveway.

Dale, that was the comment I forgot to add to my last post, It looks like the house may have been built a bit low in elevation. Mike, I still feel a trough type set up would work. I had a old house that had a level lot and I had to get the downspout water away from the foundation because it kept going in the basement. My contractor extended the pipe out and when he got to my new sidewalk he cut a slit in it with a masonary saw and installed a gray pvc pipe probably 4" dia. that was open on top and had a removeable heavy plastic grill on it. He siliconed it real good and told me to made sure it stayed sealed on the sides to keep the water from getting in next to the walk. That was at least 10 years ago and it was fine when I sold the house recently. so something like that should work. get a different contractor to look at it besides the builder’s buddies.

bandag…I’m definitely not arguing that it couldn’t work, but rather if they built the home with a known defect it seems like we shouldn’t have to live with the risk that the drain could possibly leak sometime in the future. - Considering this is something we would have to disclose upon any future sale seems pretty screwed-up being that the builder is the one that made the initial error. - And Dale, yes, we have only been in the home for about 13 months. It was completed in Dec of 2005.


The problem can be fixed. Removing the entire driveway and pouring it with a consistent slope from the sidewalk/street to the garage slab would address the pooling water.

As for the porch, most are not integrated into the post-tension slab. I would question if this were the case for your home. It appears that the concrete at the front door is flat work that is not part of the PT slab….but then again, I may be wrong.

Another option would be to raise the garage floor. This could be done by using an over pour compound depending on how much the floor needed to be raised. You would then have a nice epoxy type floor.

The most extreme option is to remove the concrete garage slab and replace it. This would require all the tendons running through the garage slab to be de-tensioned and possible replaced (due to damage during removal of concrete). To de-tension a tendon you need to expose the end of cable. This would require removing any landscaping or flat work at the edge of the slab were.

As to the raised area of the slab inside, this could most likely be removed with a grinder.

Let me know if you need additional help. I am a licensed PE in the state of AZ.

Just one of the many problems with these planned urban developments (PUD’s). Sometimes the elevations just don’t work out right.

FWIW - It doesn’t look like anything a gutter-drain and grate couldn’t fix (most of these developments already have substantial subsurface drainage systems installed). JMO. . .

Thanks for all your responses!

Curtis- Sorry my picture doesn’t show it, but there’s actually a bedroom adjacent to the walkway in the photo. We were told by our builder that they can’t touch the walkway because it’s also part of the post-tension slab. Funny that you mention it is flat because on all the other exact models in runs even with the garage open, but obviously ours is off by about 3". We still can’t get an answer as to why that is.

As far as raising the garage floor. I wonder how that would work considering we don’t have an actual step into our house from the garage. Unless I’m mistaken I think the garage is required to be sloped to prevent fumes from leaking into the house and to make sure any water that gets in would properly drain out of the garage. So, I’m not sure how they would pull that one off. And even if they were able to do so, wouldn’t the new layer of concrete just hide the real problem and we would still have to disclose it?

As far as removing the entire garage slab. Man, that’s when I would run to find an attorney. That would have to be disclosed I’m sure upon re-sale, and again, we run into the problem of us being penalized for their initial error.

I guess the most frustrating thing is that they should have told us about this ahead of time and you can bet we would have walked away…which is why I’m guessing they never told us!

I have placed and/or inspected cables in thousands of PT slabs. I have never seen exterior walkways or driveways sharing cables with the slab of a residential structure.

I think the builder is stroking you here. Ask to see a plan detail showing the shared cable. My money says they can’t deliver. . .

Subsurface drainage systems are a last resort in my book due to the maintenance/cleaning periodically needed (usually never done until there is a problem) and generally more expensive life cycle costs. I avoid them if at all possible within reason. But sometimes there really is no choice. Highly site specific decision.


I’ll take a few pics this week and it will hopefully show a little better as to what I’m talking about, but if you look at my pictures you can see the wall to the right of the front door, which is a bedroom …That extends down the walkway about 12ft and then the walkwak wraps around it towards the front yard. Based on all I can tell it really is part of the post-tension slab.

Curtis - I also forgot to ask you…If they poured concrete on the garage floor as it is now and raised it up approx 3" as it should be, that would create all types of the problem with the original framing, such as with the garage door, etc.

I’m starting to get a scary thought that there really is no solution.

“IF” the walkway is part of the post-tension slab I’m guessing that can’t be touched.

Removing the garage floor and and raising it 3" upon a new pour would again cause problems with the original framing considering the framing was done based on the current level of the garage floor.

  • So, my only guess would be that they at this point can only offer to put some kind of drainage pipe system in, and I’ve been advised by a few people that this could cause more problems and to not let them do this. So, am I pretty safe to say this could be considered some kind of defect?

Again, please understand I’m not saying a drainage system ,etc couldn’t work, but by no means should we be the ONLY home in our subdivision that is required to have this done. There are 100’s of homes in our area built by our builder, and ours is the only one that is like this. It’s beyond frustrating to say the least.

I agree with Jeff on the front porch. I would suggest get a set of plans.

As to raising the garage floor, it shouldn’t be an issue. The code calls for ¼” per foot of slope in the garage. You actually do not need to have a step from the garage to the house. It typically works out this way, but it is not required.

The typical framing at the garage sits on a curb that is the same height as the house slab, in most cases. So raising the garage floor shouldn’t be an issue. The casing around the doors would need to be trimmed, but this isn’t a big issue. Even is the walls were framed on the garage slab you could still do an over pour or remove and replace the slab.

I deal with finding solutions to these types of problems on a daily basis. There have been 5 solid solutions presented in this thread. And all of them seem reasonable and would do the job. Each has its pro’s and con’s. The question is: what is the best solution for you?

For $2,000 I can fly out and perform a structural observation and write up a recommendation for the repair. I will provide several options that you can present to the developer. I am available Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.