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Re: underground house

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Jordan Truesdell, PE wrote:
Back to the original post - I would rather cut off my left leg than put my seal on an all-underground structure made of masonry. The question isn't if the structure will leak, but when. You're on the right path looking for books to see how others have done the assembly. The structural analysis part is easy - it's just loads and resistances. I would probably require two things up front - a solid geotechnical report with at least 6-7 borings, and a contractual requirement that the filling operations be done with a licensed geotechnical engineering firm doing continuous testing. Poor compaction can invalidate your anticipated loads.

Sounds like a fun project. It's going to be a lot of work - I hope you didn't underbid it.

Jordan



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The structural part is simple compared to the waterproofing. Personally I wouldn't do anything other than reinforced concrete with a Xypex admixture for the structure. Detailing the cross-sections is simple, but the isometric details at all the discontinuities are the critical part of the waterproofing design. Once you've clear detailed every component, arrange for pre-construction meetings with everyone & make sure there is one person on the G.C.'s crew who will supervise the entire process (you'll need to walk him through the details, the workers won't look at, or understand, your drawings). You are going to have to make daily inspections of every single w.p. membrane/corner/penetration installation. Then you cross your fingers & hopes the statute of limitations runs out before the leaks start--they will be a bitch to repair $$$. I'm happy to make informal recommendations to the arch./G.C./owner on waterproofing, but my contract is crystal clear that I will assume no responsibility for waterproofing or ventilation issues. Good luck with this--you will need it. This is not like a test in school, or even structural engineering--waterproofing must be perfect, 95% was an A in school, here its a lawsuit.
Chuck Utzman, PE

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