Foundation/Structural Engineer Scams
An engineer is often required to inspect a foundation, required by the mortgage company, the city inspection department, or the buyer of a home. The homeowner, or the future homeowner, relies strongly upon the engineer’s recommendations in order to prevent future costly foundation repair bills.
Here are some recommendations:
- On a pier and beam house, or frame house, the engineer should be required to crawl under the house and inspect underneath it. If the house does not have enough crawlspace for a visual inspection, then it must be excavated enough for the engineer to perform the inspection.Under the house, the engineer should visually inspect for standing water or damp areas, improperly spaced joists or girders, missing girders or shaker beams, undersized joists or girders, tilted or damaged pier supports, or supports too far apart, and rotted sub flooring. If the engineer notices a musty smell, it could be a sign of poor cross ventilation.
- The engineer must look for drainage problems and offer recommendations how to fix the drainage.—Water should not accumulate under the house and pond. These ponding areas can cause settlement of the foundation, and in some cases, because the foundation supports to up heave.—Water should not accumulate against the foundation. Water should drain away from the foundation. Ponding water can seriously damage the foundation, causing settlement, and sometimes upheaval.
—Cross ventilation under a pier and beam is essential. Without good ventilation under the structure, condensation can develop and rot the lumber, the soil under the house can remain moist—causing foundation problems, and mold and mildew can develop.
If the engineer says he is not a drainage expert, then find another engineer who is.
- The engineer doing the inspection should actually be an engineer, registered with the state, and not a graduate engineer, or an assistant to an engineer.
- The engineer must follow a proper guideline to determine if a foundation should be raised.FHA guidelines require the foundation be raised if it has settled more than 3/4 inch in 17 feet.1/16 inch per foot is out of tolerance.
1/4 inch per 4 feet is out of tolerance.
This also means the doors may be difficult to shut and may not lock, and the brick and sheetrock is starting to crack, so the engineer should be required to follow the same guidelines.
- The engineer must require pressure grouting to fill a void under a slab foundation after it has been lifted at least 2 inches. The engineer should be familiar with this process. If the void is not filled, water can accumulate under the slab, causing serious interior movement in the center of the slab, inviting costly future foundation repairs.
Following these guidelines should assist the engineer, and should also educate the purchaser of a home with foundation repair and drainage issues. The engineer must understand that he works for the homeowner, or future homeowner, and must make protective recommendations.
Also see: REAL ESTATE SCAMS | FOUNDATION REPAIR SCAMS
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