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RE: Foundation Pinning

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From: GSKWY(--nospam--at) [mailto:GSKWY(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 6:53 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Foundation Pinning

I did not get the sense this was a highly engineered design.  It was warranty work,  and the warranty provider had an engineer that reviewed the contractor's proposals, but I think only one of the three contractors actually used an engineer when coming up with an estimate.

About ten years ago I did what turned out to be my "first" forensic investigation, in Tulsa.
It had to do with an apartment complex owned, by that time, by the city's housing authority. It had been privately built twenty-plus years earlier, and had changed hands several times. The foundation problems were well-documented, and from time to time over the life of the complex each owner had a foundation contractor come in and do an "investigation," and recommend a fix.

The problem didn't really "get worse," so much as it waxed and waned with the prevailing soil moisture content, as these types of situations are wont to do. So it isn't like each proposal was based on an increasingly more severe problem.
There must have been a half-dozen proposals by different contractors (and one engineer working for a contractor), and every proposal was different. Each building in the complex was about 2,000 square feet, and the "solutions" ranged from FIVE piers to SEVENTY-FIVE piers for EACH BUILDING!!
No one here was guilty of taking an analytical approach to the problem--even the engineer. It was all just so much hogwash.
And you know: I'm not even sure what my own proposed solution was, to tell the truth. I do remember discovering that there was no steel in the slab (which is why it was cracked so badly that the upturned slab edges were completely visible).
Anyway, my major point is that most of these "experts" are just guessing. And some of them, I suspect, are just looking to see how many piers they can get the owner to swallow.
More recently I had a client (referred to me by Eric Green, who at least at one time was a regular contributor to the List) who'd been told by a "home inspector" who was NOT an engineer that they had foundation failure, and would have to get it addressed before they could sell the home.
Alarmed, they looked in the Yellow Pages for a "foundation contractor" to come give them a "free estimate" for repairing the "damage." (We could have another conversation about how ironic it is that homeowners and even commercial property owners and managers seem to think that if you have a problem of this kind, a CONTRACTOR is the one to go to!)
This guy told them "Sixteen piers at about $1,000 per pier, installed." The husband and wife nearly passed out. Then they decided to hire an ENGINEER (imagine that!) to give them the scoop, and I told them that not only was there no need for sixteen piers, there was NO foundation failure! I saw no evidence of ANY such problem. Their slab had a difference in elevation from one end of the house to the other that was within the allowable ACI 117 tolerance.
They gladly paid me my modest fee, and last I heard were able to successfully sell their home.
For whatever they're worth, those are my pertinent anecdotes on this subject.

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