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Structural Support

Building Problem Solutions

On The Drafting Board


Complaints: Design & Construction Defects

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (156)
Proper evaluation of design and construction defects requires careful analysis of available information, as well as determination of the need for additional information if feasible. 

All-too-often, attorneys do not have adequate knowledge to effectively handle design and construction defect claims. You should consider having qualified structural engineer perform evaluation before hiring attorney. You can then be able to develop questions for such attorney based on engineering report as well as discussions with engineer about claim. 

Initially, vast majority of home owners do not understand that there are two basic functions for any construction project; design and construction. It is essential to determine which party is responsible for each defect. For some defects, both parties may be partly responsible. 

Early in 2017, prospective buyer called me in to evaluate condition with crack in foundation wall of large one-story house with "slab" foundation. One relatively minor crack had been noted by general home inspection firm. However, I determined that entire foundation was in good condition. 

Prior to my evaluation, buyer had contractor look at foundation. Representative of contractor, which is relatively large firm, presented buyer with written proposal, including plan that was not prepared by engineer, to "repair" foundation by installing 39 helical steel cost of $52,000. 

Prospective buyer, who decided not to purchase property, did not want to file complaint. After discussion, I filed claim against contractor firm and representative, with NJ Board of Professional Engineers, for; (1) Consumer fraud, and (2) Practice of engineering without a license. The Board has been reviewing complaint. 

Defective foundation walls; extensive problem

Posted on April 26, 2012 at 7:22 AM Comments comments (36)
Defective foundation walls are a common problem, especially for concrete block walls. Foundation walls around full basement are all-too-often cracked and pushed inward by soil against the wall.
In New Jersey alone, at least several tens of thousands of basement foundation walls built in the last 40 years have a major problem with excessive height of soil backfill. Many of these walls have been damaged or severely damaged.
This extensive problem most often begins with faulty design. The wall is not thick enough to resist lateral force from soil pressure against the wall. Height of soil backfill (measured from basement floor) often exceeds.........or greatly exceeds........standard limits specified by the building code.
Defective construction methods can also be the cause, or contributing factor, for damaged foundation walls.
Other factors include improper drainage that allows soil against the wall to become saturated (or frozen), tree roots pushing against wall, and weight of vehicles on driveway adjacent to wall.
On the web site, see "Foundation Wall Design" and "Cracked Foundation Wall" for further information.

New Homes; Failure to Design For Wind

Posted on October 15, 2010 at 8:26 AM Comments comments (11)
During evaluation of two new homes (one for new owner; one for buyer) in New Jersey, design plans were reviewed. Each two-story single-family home is in a development containing 200 or so homes, built by the same major builder.

Design wind speed is over 100 mph for each house. The building code (IRC 2006 NJ) requires specific engineering design for wind resistance when design wind speed is 100 mph or greater.

In each set of plans, a standard detail is provided showing an exterior wall, with plywood sheathing. There are no other details that should have been provided if the house had been designed to resist wind force as required by the building code.

It is reasonable to conclude that each house was not properly designed to resist wind force.

Although further investigation is necessary, this lack of adequate design may extend to every house in each development.

New Jersey Home Warranty Program

Posted on October 9, 2010 at 11:52 AM Comments comments (37)
Homeowners in New Jersey should carefully consider the risks of filing a claim through the NJ New Home Warranty Program (NHWP). For many owners, results are frustrating at best, especially for structural defects.

See the article on this site for basic description of the program and detailed discussion about one recent case. Home Warranty Case Study.