Soil strength and quality are extremely important when building a new home since the vast majority of homes built in the USA are built on soil, not on bedrock. Not all soils are the same, so it is vital to get a soil test and inspection certificate before you purchase a new home, but what happens when you buy a home from a “volume” builder? Are these builders obtaining the valid soil testing certificates? The answer is probably yes, but you will probably never be aware of the identity of the engineer that designed your foundation or the inspector that issued the soil-testing certificate. Almost universally, production builders utilize the services of “plan factory” engineers – i.e. allegedly “independent” engineers that spit out an enormous volume of foundation design plans on an annual basis. What should you as a homeowner do, when your new home has foundation issues?
Here in the San Antonio area, foundation and other defects have been making the news, with retainer walls not holding up and causing homes to start slipping down a hill. What happens when you purchase a new home from one of these “volume” builders and you start noticing cracks and defects in your foundation? Typically, when you purchase a used home, you will hire your own home inspector to do an analysis of the home. But when you buy a “volume” home, you are usually going to rely on the inspector and engineer that were hired by the homebuilder. This is not always in your best interest.
In Texas, there is one engineer that designs thousands of foundations for these production builders that has been accused of falsifying and fabricating critical documents. Another engineer has been accused of routinely ignoring residential structural designs by over spanning the beams in the home. What this means for you, the San Antonio homeowner, is that you may have received a home that is unnecessarily prone to have foundation movement and damage!
If you’re seeing cracks in your foundation or cracks in your walls, it’s time to find the underlying cause of your foundations issues which otherwise will remain the subject of speculation and ongoing concern as your cracks continue to grow. Do not rely on your production builder to give you a truly objective analysis. In fact, most of the times you will get the same engineer that may have caused the problems in the first place. It’s time to hire your own qualified foundation expert.
Look for a professional consultant that has experience in foundation repair and with a working knowledge of the foundation design process. Find someone that holds a state license in both civil engineering and has knowledge of construction. Your engineer should conduct a through foundation and structural inspection and issue a written report. If this report shows any negligence on the part of the “volume” builder, it’s time to start looking for a San Antonio foundation defect attorney.