home foundation issues, home structural problems, Residential Structural Issues, Structural engineer, Uncategorized

What Causes House Foundation Settlement?

Some of the more common types of evaluations we perform involve reviewing the apparent downward movement or shifting of residential homes and apartment buildings. This phenomenon is typically referred to as potential “house or foundation settlement”.

Unfortunately, foundation settlement can occur at various times during a home’s history. For every house location, there is a natural level of groundwater in the supporting soil layers below the foundation. Over the lifetime of a house, the groundwater level fluctuates up and down based on the natural weather cycles, precipitation, and change of seasons. Differential settlement in the foundation occurs when a severe change in groundwater levels causes random localized consolidation of the supporting soils under load, and this is fairly common for residential housing. Additionally, if the house was initially constructed on poorly compacted native soils and/or carelessly placed back fill, the subsequent settlement can be significantly amplified. Normal symptoms of the apparent movement widely varies from cracking in the foundation walls, exterior brick veneer cracking, interior plaster/gypsum board cracking, and even severe racking of door and windows.

Structural repairs in the form of foundation reinforcement piers can be a recommendation for homes experiencing severe foundation settlement. Piers help stabilize/reinforce your foundation at the immediate areas of concern and prevent any further downward settlement. Most foundation contractors develop and market their own proprietary methods, procedures, and system design for structural foundation piers. All the various contractors present in the market today offer a collection of different pier systems, but all systems essentially focus on the same engineering concepts and philosophy. Typically, foundation contractors offer their systems as a complete, turn-key design-build package, meaning they design the entire proposed system, perform all the construction/installation activities, and provide a warranty.

Our normal site review and evaluation provides an independent, third-party assessment to determine the severity of foundation settlement and a recommendation on the need (OR NOT) for foundation reinforcement piers. If we feel piers are necessary, we can also provide approximate location limits along the house plan footprint to help ensure all your potential contractors are bidding a similar scope of work. The final design, quantity, spacing, and locations of the foundation pier system will still be determined by the selected foundation contractor who remains responsible for all design liability for their turn-key, design-build installation.

Foundation contractors who visit your home can sometimes employ pressure sales tactics, so our position as a consulting engineer with no skin in the game results in a non-biased opinion on what is truly necessary for your home.

Clayzen Consulting is a structural engineering consulting firm in Cincinnati focusing on evaluations, assessments, and inspections for residential projects and situations. We can help explain the various systems and strategies on the market today and provide a third party, non-biased recommendation on what makes the most sense for your situation.

Your first step is to visit our website at clayzenconsulting.com and send us an email so we can provide you more information regarding our fee structure and normal scope of services, along with list of our upcoming availability.