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RE: Foundation settlement

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There is no published limit for settlement.  Settlement is not usually the issue, it is differential settlement that causes the problems.  The geotechnical report will usually provide estimates of potential differential settlement, and the acceptable range is usually in the ½ to ¾ inch in 40 feet range, some more, some less.


Most states have a Code of Ethics in their licensing laws.  SEAOC has a code of standard practice they publish.  Standard of Care is a legal distinction, basically it means that the actions taken were in line with what another practicing professional engineer would have done in similar circumstances; as in this is what one would expect as the standard level of care in the industry among practicing engineers.


Standard of Care is not published, it is usually determined through legal argument on a case by case basis.


Unfortunately, geotechnical reports are not required by code and statute for all projects.  If a geotechnical report was provided, then you have two issues: engineering and geotechnical, both with varying standard of care.  If a report was not provided, then it may have been designed under the code tables of allowable values.  The code values provide no information or guarantee that a compliant design will not be constructed on poor soil with resulting structural problems.  In residential, soil related issues are second only to moisture as the cause of distress, and geotechnical evaluation is not required.


The other issue is grading and consolidation, whether the site was properly prepared and compacted.  This brings in another standard of care.


From: Mark L. Puccio [mailto:mpuccio(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 10:07 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Foundation settlement


Does anyone know of a published standard that states what typical allowable foundation and or SOG settlements can be. I am looking for something similar to the allowable deflection criteria in table 1604.3 of IBC 2003 but for foundation settlement.


Also, is there a published Structural Engineers Code of Ethics or Standard of Care –




Mark L. Puccio P.E.,S.E.

MP-Squared Structural Engineers