Hello all -
I am very concerned about the foundation of my home in Houston, TX. It was built in Dec of 1993 by Lennar and we bought it in 1998 from the original owners. When we first looked at the house, we noticed a few cracks in the sheetrock around a column and one on a bump-out over a window in the kitchen. We were told they were just from bad tape and float in the sheetrock. We were in our early 20’s, this was our first home and we knew nothing more then the inspector told us - we had the items fixed and bought the house. The door in one of our bedrooms has closed by itself since the day we bought it - we’ve always had to have a door stop in front of it to hold it open. However, we haven’t had any issues with doors or windows not closing/opening.
12 years later, the cracks that were fixed have re-emerged and gotten worse. The area above the column has actually split on either side at the top. About a year ago I noticed a hairline crack in the foundation below our dining room window. A month ago, I could no longer take the worry and has a structural engineer come out. He confirmed that there is a crack in the slab - it goes all the way across the dining room and living room floor to the other side below another window. Along this line is where the ceiling cracks are above the column. There are also 3 more hairline cracks on the same side of the house and our front porch is buckled a little (although he thinks that’s from a tree to close to the house). He took elevations and he said since slabs are rarely ever exactly level, it’s hard to know how much movement there has really been. There is variation all over the house with the lowest being a -.7.
We knew we had a drainage issue in the backyard (it always stays wet) but never knew it was a big deal. Our front yard is sloped downward to the street so it is always dry (our grass dies every summer no matter how much we water it). He thinks if we can solve our drainage issue (with gutters and french drains) that we can stop the movement. My mind is going crazy imagining waiting and my whole house splitting in 2 one day.
My question is - how long should we wait? The cracks are all hairline - I can’t fit my fingernail in them, although the major one has grown wider in the last year - but still not able to fit a penny in it or anything. I’ve read that post tension is made to resist movement but not cracking - ie it will still crack but it will withstand and hold the foundation to prevent sinking in one area versus another. If this was your house, what would you do? Should I not be concerned?
Thank you so much,