Asked on Dec 10, 2011

My patio home is sinking!

by Marcie
It is 30 years old, on concrete slab, the end unit; problems started about 3 years ago and have gotten worse. It is the only one in subdivision doing it. Have had 5 foundation companies out, estimate $20 - $25,000 to jack, pier it up, however, no one knows what the problem is. The city has run cameras and photographed all their lines; I've had my lines checked, all is clear. Before one spends this much money, you have to know what is causing the problem. It's been mentioned to have a Structural Engineer come out. Talked to several and they want $500.00. Can anyone give me some guidance?
The answer is no to construction around, digging, earth moving, etc. Nothing has changed in the 19 years I have lived here. Of course, the HMO says I own the ground it sits on so its my problem.
Dining Room-Crack from top of door frame to left corner of room.
Dining Room-Opposite Wall from window frame left to wall and down wall. Window cracked from pressure
Level sitting on backsplash of kitchen countertop-shows how much back side kitchen off.
Ceiling in Master Bedroom-Last room on back of house. Back side is what is sinking.
  15 answers
  • 3po3 3po3 on Dec 10, 2011
    Sorry to say, but specially since all the foundation experts are stumped, I think the $500 for a structural engineer is well worth it.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 11, 2011
    Have you looked into bringing a "soils engineer" to the party? The structural engineer can evaluate the home but if the underlying ground is the culprit you will need to remedy that before any structural issues are implemented.
  • The only reason for the cracking of a cement slab is the soil under it has shifted. This can be caused by poor water run off and drainage. Type of soil the patio has been set upon, Clay vs Loam type. With all the changes with water both on the overly wet side, or the dry desert type conditions in various parts of the country. This can be one of the many causes that has translated into this crack. It can be simply the use of a sprinkler more often, or being sprayed in a different area. In any case, as the slab begins to sink, it will only get worse faster as it begins to drop. My guess it is dropping nearest the foundation of the home. Very common, and perhaps it has been doing this for several years, only the crack has just begun to appear. I would look into mud jacking to provide some additional support under the slab which would extend its life expectancy
  • w/o looking at the underlying soil, its all guesswork especially if none of the contractors have any experience in the subdivision,,, i'd guess your home's built on ' fill ' ( most rough grading consists of cuts & fills ) which would usually have been done by the site grading contractor - finish grading is usually landscaper's work,,, $ 500 is not expensive in my book for the engineer's work. mudjacking, push piers, soil grouting, chemical grouting, foam injection, & helical piers are some items that may have been/will be recommended.
  • The Money Pit The Money Pit on Dec 11, 2011
    I'm late to this party but let me take this opportunity to suggest the best way to handle such a situation. First, if you call in a so-called foundation repair company, you will get exactly that -- a pitch for a foundation repair WHETHER YOU NEED IT OR NOT! This is obviously a big concern for you and while I do not know enough yet to be able to determine if this is a real problem or a bit of excessive settlement -- I would strongly suggest the engineer route. Here's why...if the engineer says it's not a problem and just monitor it - you cant take that advice to the bank. But if he/she says it is a problem and needs a repair, the engineer can design the repair and, and this is VERY important, CERTIFY it after the repair is complete. This is very, very important because if you ever sell your house, this problem could come up. Having had a report from an engineer that either says "no problem" or that it was a problem which was thoroughly and properly fixed, is critical to both the banks and buyers involved in the transaction.
  • David C David C on Dec 16, 2011
    You need to have a structural engineer take a look. He likely will need to have a soils report to base his design from. You are wasting your time with anyone else... . No contractor can effectively correct the foundation until soils conditions are assessed. If you could take some photos of the entire wall inside and out , along with any terrain information i can give you a pretty good idea where its heading. Quite often corner parcels were the boundary of the development for a reason, its not uncommon for them to be built on un-engineered fill dirt. The corner lot frequently becomes the staging area for all of the imported or exported soils for a project and often just get quickly flattened or graded. It could be something as simple as a giant stump that was graded over and now the foundation is failing it that area, to the building pad in constructed on unstable fill dirt that was improperly placed.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 16, 2011
    When my brother lived in France he told me about a project near his home. This was a new home being built. The land was cleared by cutting down a lot of trees, these were then cut up and buried, then the home was built over this pile....when I heard that my jaw dropped....what idiots I thought. When those logs rot that entire foundation is going to shift in a very unpredictable way...not sure how the "code" system works in France but some new homeowner is going to have a headache in a few years.
  • Thiago DaLuz Thiago DaLuz on Aug 13, 2013
    Yeah, it would be hard to find better deals for <a href="">foundation repair in Greensboro NC</a>. Definitely a situation that requires examining every angle before jumping in.
  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Feb 21, 2014
    One of my rental properties had a crack that did get larger over time. I called a local company and he offered to "caulk" it - I thought that was pretty stupid since the crack had been increasing in size. I found a Geotechnical Engineering company who tested the ground. Found it to be stable & gave a detailed report showing cause. I then had a company use "jacks" to fix the crack and this procedure also made the double garage door close with no more light under the door. I check the house now and then and it looks great. It was costly but worth every $$.
  • Paula Long Paula Long on Mar 12, 2014
    I'm so glad I read these posts because I have the same problem with my garage floor and now there is about a 3in. gap from the garage floor to the driveway My garage is attached to the house and as far as I know I am the only one in this subdivision that has this problem. Each year it keeps getting worse and I have to have someone look at it this Spring before (I'm afraid) the house falls in some big hole. But those prices I see really scares me.
  • This is not all that uncommon, even more scary when you hear about sink holes. The slab is not structural so unless the door frame is becoming out of square or walls are cracking its just the slab that needs to be replaced. I would suggest to have someone come in and drill some holes and test how solid the soil is. Quite often then not contractors fill holes with wood debris from the work site and cover with cement, You can either remove the slab and replace, or have a mud jacking done which lifts the slab intact by pumping cement under the floor lifting the slab in the process.
  • This is a very common problem here in VA where I live. Yes, common, as the land is quickly developed from swamp to subdivisions, the contractors just fill in and build the houses on what is "shrink swell soil". We have red clay and when in times of drought will shrink sometimes up a foot away from the 18" deep foundations here. then when the ground becomes swollen from a rainy season the mud pushes against the house and causes even more problems! I can gauge how dry the ground is by the crack in my garage! which has slowly grown wider. I am not as worried about my home as I am with neighbors who have spider webs in their garages! My house sometimes moves where the antique cabinet will creak from the floor moving! the neighbors paid over $20,000 before they could sell their home to have piers put in and the foundation fixed. There is no way around or easy fixes and paying experts is the right way. We know soon we will have to figure out how to pay this. If you have this problem, you probably have neighbors that do too but they just do not know it. I know that in my neighborhood of 32+ homes and my subdivision of over 2700 homes almost every one has some sort of issue...good luck!
  • Janet Smith Janet Smith on Mar 18, 2014
    That seem like an awful lot of money. I'd definitely get an inspection from a structural engineer rather than a "foundation repair" company. Most of their employees are salesmen who work on commission. You may indeed need foundation repair, but hopefully not $25,000.00 worth. (Check with your homeowners' policy and see if any of this is covered. We have insurance that covers foundation repair.)
  • MagnoliaMama MagnoliaMama on Dec 25, 2014
    This isn't something you want to hear, but do you by any chance live in an area where sinkholes are a possibility? Or could there possibly be old mines in your area? If so, that could easily explain why your house is settling. Or, if you have mostly clay soil, it could be expanding and contracting based on how much moisture is in it. Again, a soil- or structural-engineer might be a good investment.
  • Evey's Creations Evey's Creations on Jun 03, 2015
    Please have a structural engineer take a look at your property, especially if you are in an area with known sinkholes. I showed this post to my hubby who is an architect and that was his response as well. Better safe than sorry.