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Moving Faults and related foundation damage

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         (__)                  Dennis S. Wish PE                    
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Dear SEAINT Listservice, 

About a month or so ago I discussed a client that had a foundation problem 
where the building was settling (differentially) and moving in a north to 
south direction. The building was on a level and flat site located at the 
base of a Cove (a horeshoe shaped area surrounded on three sides by 
mountains). 

A geologist was brought in who performed X-ray studies of the site. He also 
reviewed airiel photographs taken up to 50 years ago and on file with the 
local water district.
There appears to be a fault located on the site that, combined with reduction 
of underground springs) is causing or contributing to the differential 
settlement and the movement of the fault.

Today I received a phone call from a woman who is in escrow to purchase one 
of the single family homes in this exclusive country club. She was given my 
number by the director of the country club who I am working with to resolve 
the problem that is affecting the club house.
Some of the single family residences are experienceing cracking of the slabs, 
differential settlement of the slab on grade foundations and interior gypsum 
cracking.
She asked my opinion as to whether she should invest in the home or start 
looking for something elsewhere.

I tried to avoid an opinion but advised her to weight the potential cost of 
repairs (when known) with the association dues that she will pay to maintain 
the buildings.  I also told her that we have not received all of the 
information or a commendation from the Foundation company hired to 
investigate the damage.

I do not now, nor have I in the past considered the problems to be life 
threatening. I would expect that a solution would include isolating the 
foundation from the movement of the formations below. This, in my opinion, 
will be a costly repair.

I recommended she hire a geotechnical firm that can evalute the information 
available at this time so as to help her put her choices in a financial 
perspective. I do not feel that this is my responsiblity since I can only 
work with the results of the geotechnical hired by the club and determine an 
adequate fix for the buildings.

I am interested in how some of you might have handled the situation had the 
country club recommended the prospective buyer call you for an opinion. 
Remember that you are hired by the board of directors of the club and that 
all of the information is not yet available to draw a professional conclusion.

thanks
Dennis

Regards,

Dennis
Dennis S. Wish PE
Structural Engineering Consultant