In search of help with basement floor

My husband and I are in the process of building a home. We are young, don’t have knowledge in this area and are searching for some help. The home was already at least half way built when we went under contract, and it just needs finishes (floors, cabinets, tile, light fixtures etc.) A few things to know about the home: We are living in an oil boom. There is a large demand for houses, and they are being thrown together quickly and quality has been lacking. We also live in an area with a high water table. The house doesn’t have power hooked up yet.

We walked into our basement one day, to find water on the floor. There was a little bit of water initially, but were assured by our agent and the builder that as soon as the sump-pump was on (no power) we wouldn’t have any water issues. Well, now there are cracks everywhere. We aren’t sure if they were there before and we just didn’t notice, or if they have appeared within the last month. Now, we are obviously concerned the water is coming in through the cracks. The builder is insisting that the cracks are purely cosmetic. They stated they have a perimeter drain, and 8-12in of pea gravel below the floor. They stated the concrete was done too close together (again, no clue what I’m talking about, this is what I was told) and these are shrinkage cracks from when the concrete cured. The house still has no power, and they’ve brought in a generator, and have been trying to get the water pumped out. They have also brought in a large propane heater to attempt to dry the area out, and it has mostly dried. I was also told at this time the house had passed the final structural city inspection a couple of months ago.

My concerns:

  1. This is not a cosmetic issue, and water is coming in from the cracks. We would like to finish this basement, but how do you do that with a constant fear of water coming in?
  2. This passed inspection already - was this before or after cracks? Was there water present? Like I said, we didn’t notice cracks initially, just a small amount of water. Our inspectors here are extremely overworked (Anyone looking for a job?:D) and I can’t even get them to return my phone call.
  3. Since we live in an area with a high water table, how susceptible we are to water is a concern. Is our sump pump going to be running constantly? Is that OK? I asked them to install a second, and haven’t heard back if they are willing to do that or not. We also asked for them to put a back-up battery on them. Also haven’t heard if they will do that.

The builder was fine with us bringing in our own structural engineer to assess the situation. However, they’ve essentially told us they aren’t going to do anything to fix it as it is purely cosmetic in their opinion regardless of what the engineer says that we hire. If we don’t want the house based on what our engineer says, we will be out our earnest money, and have to start over. I’ve shown this to a structural engineer through pictures, and from the pictures they stated they would want them at least sealed with epoxy, but still recommended someone coming to look at the home as you can’t see detail through pictures. I love this house. I want this house. We need help!!! I have listed a few links to the pictures of the floors below.




Are you in escrow or do you already own the house? Its hard to tell from the post.

OK…Alison…who is representing YOU in this transaction? You are allowed to pay for an engineer but the builder says he won’t do anything regardless of what the engineer says (that is bullXXXX). I can’t comment on the cracks from 1500 miles away as that is the engineers job; but my personal opinion is that something stinks about this entire transaction. Isn’t it time to find someone to legally protect your rights. It can’t be the builder or the agent as they have a financial interest in relieving you of your money. You need to consult an attorney to protect your rights. You are in love with the house and the builder and agent are using your emotions against you…to them it is just a business transaction…nothing more.

Alison

Where is exactly this house located. I will look up some soils information.

However my gut reaction is why build a basement in an area with a high water table? Sump pumps treat the symptom, not the problem.

Well said Mark.

No, we are under contract and have paid earnest money but we don’t close on the house until it is completed.

Williston, North Dakota. Most of the homes have basements in that area

In the contract we signed, we can’t take the company to court, only arbitration. I feel foolish after everything that has happened this far for signing this contract which heavily protects the builders. The engineer is going to try to squeeze us in tomorrow while he’s in the area. I’m assuming he’s going to tell me it’s not OK, and preparing to go to war with the builders. I don’t know what my options are with arbitration, but if it gets to that point I will seek legal advice.

I got a hold of the city inspector today. He said he did the inspection in September, and doesn’t have notes of any issues of the floor or any water. He did again tell me the water table is high especially in that area, and most of the homes have sump pumps that are running constantly. He told me he’d stop over there today and call me back, but he never did, so who knows.

I drove by today because I like to see when there’s action going on. There is now a pipe coming out of the side of the house, and my front yard is an ice rink. I’m assuming the power was finally turned on and the sump pump is going and they’re pumping it into my front yard. I’m sure the neighbors will love that.

The builder and agent do not have our best interest at heart, and both know I love the house. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts.

Am not an expert on Williston ND, do not possess any first hand knowledge of possible high water table there but Uncle Bubba does understand more than a few things about wet, leaky basements. :mrgreen: Needless to say, sorry to read about your problems and this may not be of much help but will toss a couple things at ya.

From doing a quick search which doesn’t mean a whole lot eh, I don’t see/haven’t found much if any sort of supposed high water table in that area:-k

Did find a geotechnical report on Townhouses recently built in Williston, located on the east side of 17th Avenue West and and 32nd street.
According to this report, it said, ‘no groundwater was measured in any of the borings and the soil/fill was sandy lean clay’.

Is your house near this area, just asking?
And just saying/reading what report said. That doesn’t mean your place doesn’t.

Understand water levels can fluctuate yearly, seasonally etc.

Again lol your house may, or may not be in/on high water table. I say that because we’ve OFTEN heard around here from quite a few city inspectors or interior basement system co’s etc that our area in a HIGH WATER TABLE area which is bs.

Here we have the Detroit River, Lk St Clair, quite a few canals etc and just about all homes/basements, basements that leak…do NOT leak due to this SUPPOSED high water table area, pfft! This includes quite a few who have/get some water coming UP through FLOOR cracks eh.

All this DOESN’T mean your house, that house, doesn’t sit on/wasn’t built on a spring etc.

From eyeballing your photos, all I can say is, HERE in Mich…when we’ve seen when ‘most, not all’ homeowners get water coming up through floor cracks is they either have a blockage in lateral line and-or floor drains and-or some sort of problem w/existing sump pump or the tiles that go to/from the sump pit need to be snaked etc. Sometimes its just one of those, other times it a combination. Might 1 or more of these be part or all of your problem? Maybe and maybe not.

Sometimes, some basement floors are poured significantly THINNER, some builders CUT CORNERS, a thin floor more susceptible to crack.

Wish we could help ya’s more, sry. :wink:

Hate to bring this up but its prolly best for you guys to know now…just because you apparently NOW (at this point in time) do not see/have any problems/leaks with foundation WALLS, does not mean you won’t. :-&

I’d ask some questions about the foundation walls such as,
where the exterior of walls WATERPROOFED or damproofed, was visqueen etc applied over the tar etc, against the walls…and what was used as backfill against the walls.
And in your photos I thought I saw poured foundation walls so,
did they plug/seal every rod holes with cement or did they just use corks in the rod holes or nothing at all.
This shtt is important going forward because, if they didn’t waterproof the exterior walls and-or used all-mostly clay as backfill or, didn’t plug all the rod holes then you’ll likely have other problems…sooner rather than later, eh.

Allison Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp8qyAA0wZw
( I’ve lost my mind, on what I’d find)

Do you have a inspection contingency? If so you should be able to walk away with the deposit, if you are still within the timeframe.

Read over your contract carefully, if there is anything you don’t fully understand, find someone that can help you. If you are not sure of anything, it could be worth consulting an attorney.

Arbitration is not the end of the world. Thier decision is binding (cannot be appealed) but overall its a faster process.

Also…you need to work hard to look at this logically. You emotions about “loving” the house could really cost you in the long run. If this one pans out…great. If not there are other homes that you will “love”…

Well, we paid a structural engineer to come look at the home. Here were his thoughts:

  1. He wasn’t concerned about the floors. He said they let the cement cure too quickly, and it cracked. He said it’s similar to having the saw cracks we would just have double what normal people have. As long as we have the perimeter drain, and sump pump we shouldn’t see water through the cracks. He would ask them to install a second sump pump.

  2. He would ask them to epoxy inject 2 cracks in the walls. I’m sure they will fight us on this. Is this an expensive thing to have done??

  3. We have a large metal beam going across the basement with wooden posts supporting the entire house. The wooden posts aren’t attached to the beam or the cement, which he said was quite surprising that passed inspection. They’re just in their with tension I guess.

Overall he said he wouldn’t let these issues stop him from buying the home. It did make us feel better, but that’s one persons opinion.

May I ask, how much did the SE charge?
The floor cracks, yeah could be due to what he said but me personally, don’t like the fact a new house already has ‘double’ of what most apparently have (what SE said).

I mean, sheesh, its a new house…I’ve been in quite a few very old basements that have ZERO floor cracks, zip, nada, zilchie.

SE said, epoxy injections for cracks in basement walls.
Well, expoxy injections SOMETIMES last awhile and other times they do not…see videos of failed injections etc

Here they installed wall anchors and tried some sort of weak, incompetent crap to crack(s) in walls, still leaking eh

And here, we did the exterior of a previous injection of poured wall crack
http://picasaweb.google.com/101049034584960315932/April28201302#5871913066418039202

Prior post here, builder paid for epoxy injections, re-cracked etc


Could post quite a few more :wink:

I’ll let Marcel, others here, give you their opinion on beam.

Yep, that’s one persons opinion/SE.
Say again, don’t care for the fact that a new house already has quite a few floor cracks and apparently 2 wall cracks.

The cracks in wall(s) or floor ‘could’ widen’ some in the future, just saying it is indeed possible.

Hope the thickness of the basement floor is not 2" or so and, hope they waterproofed the exterior walls and hope they did not backfill with most-all clay.

Bud Light salutes YOU, Mr. Really Really Really Bad Dancer (call me a doctor!)

Never heard of a slab on grade curing to quickly. It is usually covered and kept damp for as long as possible, and at a minimum of 7 days. Concrete slabs cure slowly. So it did not cure.

In 7 days, the concrete has acheived 66-75% of it’s design stregth.

It is also the most critical time that controls cracking and shrinkage.
Slabs should be sawcut at a 10’x10’ pattern to control wild cracking.

Wood post to support steel beams is not a standard of the industry and proper design.
They should have 4" schedule 40 pipe or equivilent with base plates and top plates bolted to the beam and anchored at the base with a proper slab depression under the column supports or an individule load bearing footing.

Epoxy in an interior crack is Bull S., They need to repair that crack on the exterior and start asking questions as to why it cracked to begin with.

It does appear that the Builder needs to be monitored on his ability to build a home acceptable to minimum standards. (Code).

That structural engineer know what he is looking at that you hired? LOL

:slight_smile:

I had not looked at your pictures at the time I responded.

Looks like water came in through the juncture or the floor and foundation via water table. That tells me the underdrain was non existent or improperly installed.

The cracks in the floor are excessive considering that it was sawcut to control the cracks.

Excessive shrinkage of the slab is usually due to high slump concrete when it is pour.
Water/Cement ratio: too high.

Wire mesh equivalent to 6x6-10x10 to control wild cracking most likely not installed.

The Builder does not necessarily build the foundation. This could be a subcontractor. The Builder is liable for his actions.

What does the rest of the house look like?:slight_smile: