Foundation Cracks? – Why You Absolutely Need a Structural Engineer
Foundation design types vary geographically. Local soil conditions, climate, and material and labor availability influence foundation design styles. Many homes in the Midwest and northeastern part of the U. S. have basements while southern as well as the western U. S. houses are to be built with solid concrete higher-grade foundation unit systems. Both foundation types are functional and respond to the needs of the locality.
Foundation inspection varies from house-to-house and from building-to-building. Foundation failure does not appear to be related to geography or locality. Often, a residential area with expansive soils may be interpreted as an area with a higher than average risk of foundation failure, where the failure is attributed to the poor soil conditions. In reality, the failure is correctly placed upon novice level design, construction, and foundation evaluation techniques.
A building foundation system separates your home or building from the supporting ground. It prevents your floor, walls, and roof from moving along with the soil it sits on and helps protect you and your family from the outside elements.
Foundation and wall cracks may suggest impending problems such as abnormal water infiltration or other structural irregularities. If your home foundation is very rigid and or so flexible so I guess you may then see different signs on distress such as brittle material cracks inside or even outside on your home. This does not necessarily mean your foundation is physically broken. It may be that your foundation performs poorly due to improper design and construction.
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But how do you know if your foundation is broken and needs repair? What type of structural engineer should you hire to inspect and determine if your foundation system has problems? To find out, ask your prospective inspector the following questions:
- How long have you been designing and building foundations? (Correct answer: I have over ten years foundation design and construction experience).
- What is your educational background? (Correct answer: I have an accredited engineering degree from a college or university);
- What type of foundation inspection training do you have? (Correct answer: I have a professional engineering license within the state of ________ and I have inspected over 500 foundations.
The bottom line is this: If you suspect you may have problems with your foundation, hire a licensed professional structural engineer to evaluate it. Listen in to what they say as you may find you can repair some of the issues yourself by seeking guidance, and picking up tools such as a table saw and a band saw.
That way, you’ll get a state licensed professional with the best combination of education, training, and experience to diagnose and properly repair your foundation. Your piece of mind and the health of your home or building foundation are well worth it.
If your prospective foundation inspector does not answer these three questions correctly as noted above, then it’s likely that inspector is a novice. Do you really want to trust the most important (and likely most expensive) part of your house or building to a less skilled home inspector?
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