Home Buying in 75039>Question Details

Trulia-Newbie, Both Buyer and Seller in Irving, TX

Foundation issues - whats the best to prevent / avoid ?

Asked by Trulia-Newbie, Irving, TX Tue Dec 14, 2010

While in the market for a house, I was wondering if there is a breakdown by area (city/county,etc or even by builder) about percentage of houses having 'foundation' issues.

This will help me eliminate any high-risk areas or builders if there were such a thing.

Does anyone know where I can find such data related to DFW metroplex ?

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Answers

13
This is a question that I can relate to personally coming from another state, NY, foundation problems were a shock to me. When the house I had bought moved and cracked. This was before I was a Realtor mind you and nobody told or warned me about it, and I had watered adequately enough but was informed that I wasn't. Talk about learning from experience.

When I had bought my first house the foundation was repaired, as per the records I had. Well surprise, It moved and cracked and it had piers put in all around the foundation. So having it repaired doesn't solve the problem it's merely cosmetic. It still moves. It is suggested that the house you're buying has an engineer inspect it.

My second house that I live in now had it repaired prior to me buying it again. And it moves and it cracks in the same places and moves back again however the cracks are less than 1/8 of an inch. Keep this in mind it's not a cure but it is better. There are other things you can do to ameliorate the cosmetics. I live in 75229 zip which is N W Dallas.

To see if there are any problems with foundations in an area or street, drive around and look at the homes for cracks and or repaired cracks.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
This is a question that I can relate to personally coming from another state, NY, foundation problems were a shock to me. When the house I had bought moved and cracked. This was before I was a Realtor mind you and nobody told or warned me about it, and I had watered adequately enough but was informed that I wasn't. Talk about learning from experience.

When I had bought my first house the foundation was repaired, as per the records I had. Well surprise, It moved and cracked and it had piers put in all around the foundation. So having it repaired doesn't solve the problem it's merely cosmetic. It still moves. It is suggested that the house you're buying has an engineer inspect it.

My second house that I live in now had it repaired prior to me buying it again. And it moves and it cracks in the same places and moves back again however the cracks are less than 1/8 of an inch. Keep this in mind it's not a cure but it is better. There are other things you can do to ameliorate the cosmetics. I live in 75229 zip which is N W Dallas.

To see if there are any problems with foundations in an area or street, drive around and look at the homes for cracks and or repaired cracks.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
Hello. What Thea said is right about the watering. Also, the information about Carrollton and Las Colinas having lots of movement.

I have lived in Irving all my life and not had any foundation problems. The soil here has lots of clay, which is very expansive. I had a foundation inspector tell me early on to treat my house like it is sitting on a sponge. When it gets wet, make sure the amount of water is the same all the way around. That is why there are more problems with slopping lawns, expecially toward the house. Large trees and certain types of plants also affect the foundation, so my advise is (after you have found the house you want, during the option period) is to contact a foundation company. They will come out for free and tell you if there is a problem and also tell you what to do to prevent a problem, or lessen the risk of a problem down the road.

Good luck. Call if I can assist.
Karen.mashburn@msn.com
Kmashburn.com
972 816 1955
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 16, 2010
I've not ever seen a map...in general I have seen more in Irving..central irving....north Dallas and Carrollton. But there seems to be pockets. Some people say don't use slab, but pier and beam, but I've even seen that move around in Las Colinas area.
The highest risk I see is when the lot is shaped for water to flow towards the house. You see this in Carrollton a lot. On newer lots the dirt and foundation seem to be pushed up like a mesa. This can help, but not eliminate problems.
I would not rule out any specific area due to generalities, but rather look at the specific home of interest.
Make sure you get a home inspection. They will also provide you information about maintaining the foundation in many cases.
While the areas mentioned seem to have some higher incidents, I've seen issues with individual homes in other areas.
I always try to help my clients look for signs of repair and potential issues before we make an offer and do an inspection. The inspectors and structural engineers are the experts, but I hate to see my clients spend money on these issues, and potentially option money and other monies, only to back out due to potential foundation issues.


Bruce Lynn
Keller Williams Realty
Web Reference: http://www.teamlynn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 15, 2010
Bruce Lynn, Real Estate Pro in Coppell, TX
MVP'08
Contact
That would be most of the Metroplex.......Irving and Las Colinas are Notorious for foundation problems....Here are a few good tips for maintaing your foundation

The soil should be watered Winter, Spring, Fall, and Summer to maintain constant moisture around the perimeter of the slab without creating a muddy state under the slab. Due to the effects of shade and sun, watering should be adjusted for each area of the perimeter. Adjust watering for seasonal changes in heat and rain.

If a soaker hose is used, it should be placed 12 to 18 inches from the foundation and never next to it.
Over watering is indicated by soft soil and/or standing water and should be avoided.
Water should not be allowed to pool within 15 feet of the house.

Be careful not to over water enclosed planter areas that are adjacent or within 15 feet of the perimeter. These enclosed areas should have adequate drainage away from the perimeter of the foundation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
LMAO! That would be the ENTIRE Metroplex, hon! Some areas are worse than others. Carrollton and Las Colinas in particular. It all has to do with the soil and that type of soil is prevalent in one form or another over most of Texas. Anything that says "Clayey soils" on the map below is your problem with conventional foundations. Slab foundations are a JOKE here. You want post and beam, pier and beam or piered slab or "pier slab system".

We have heavy clay soils and expand up to 12" and contract up to 12" - often in the same year. And that's not just a horizontal thing but vertical (up and down) too! That kind of thing just shreds a slab foundation. You'll find that just about 100% of the houses that have slab foundations and that are more than 20 years old have some kind of a foundation issue from minor to severe.

Post and Beam and Pier and Beam are much easier to level since the house itself isn't fixed to the ground. With these kind of foundations, the house sits on top of posts or piers and can be jacked up off them for leveling. With a piered slab, piers are drilled down, preferably to bedrock and then the slab foundation rests on those instead. (Yes, we do have bedrock in some places here but mostly very rural areas.) It works more like the deck on a bridge than a conventional slab foundation.

Anything prior to about 1950 is usually built with either post and beam or pier and beam foundation. Anything built after about 2000 *may* have piered slab - most building codes don't require it. Anything in between 1950 and 2000 is highly suspect of having a conventional slab and thus having "issues".

MAPS - http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth130284/m1/1/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
Trulia-Newbie,

Foundation issues are common in North Texas due to soil conditions. If not properly maintained, any foundation can develop problems regardless of how well it was initially built - kind of like driving a car with no oil in the engine - doesn't matter how good the engine was, without maintenance it will break.

There are a few conditions that can lead to foundation issues ovre time. Hills, trees and lot drainage seem to be common contributers to foundation issues. Houses tend to slide downhill over time. Foundations also seem to fall in the general direction of trees where the root system draws out water during dry seasons. Also, lots that have drainage issues can create the opposite problem for foundations, keeping the soil too wet. All of these issues are generally correctable.

I will second Bruce's recommendation for Structured Foundation Repair. They will provide you with a very fair assessment of the condition of the foundation. Further they will indicate the repairs that are absolutely necessary (if any) vs those that are "nice to have".

One final caution is age of the foundation. Builders have come a long way with foundation technology. The concrete mixture and reinforcement systems used today are significantly superior to those used in the 1960's and earlier. Older slab foundations can be very brittle and thus more difficult for the foundation repair company to level. Generally areas built in this age or older also have an offering of pier and beam foundations which are generally (but not always) easier to repair than slab foundations.

Hope all of these comments have helped you!! You received some well thought out answers.

Best of luck,

Greg
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
I must have read a different question: thus my earlier answer. Contact a foundation repair company (contact several of them). They can easily provide you with this kind of information, however, be aware that it really doesn't matter where in the area you live: foundation issues can affect any home in any neighborhood if the foundation has not been properly maintained. Vigilant maintenance is critical.
Web Reference: http://ww.ellerealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
Maintaining a good foundation is fairly simple. The things an inspector checks for and recommends are that the gradation around the foundation is such that water does not pool in any spot that could compromise the foundation. Check to make sure that when it rains, or when the sprinklers come on (provided you have an automatic sprinkler) that the water flows away from the foundation-- 12 to 18" from the edge of the foundation. Also, if you don't have an automatic sprinkler, get a soaker hose and position it around the perimeter of the house. Regular watering during drought or long episodes of dry weather will keep the moisture fairly even. It's the extremes that can really wreck havoc with your foundation. Besides an inspector, you can also simply google information about foundation maintenance in the Dallas area for more specific guidelines to follow. Protecting your foundation is probably one of the single most important home maintenance steps you can take to protect the value of your home.
Web Reference: http://www.ellerealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
Trulia-Newbie,

Tom gave you the right advice. A qualified home inspector will save you money instead of cost you money. You also need to find a competent real estate professional who knows the area well and has experience in the areas where you are looking. Your realtor, in many cases, also has inspectors whom they trust and can give you guidance. One of the things that I do with my buyers is make sure that the home inspector is ASHI approved. The guidelines for an inspector doing inspections change with localities. You might even check on the inspector with the BBB prior to hiring them.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
Trulia-Newbie,

I am sure you are about to get lots of information on areas to avoid but to be truthful, foundation problems can happen anywhere if you as the home owner do not take care of your home properly.

I would suggest that when you find the right home that you ask a reputable foundation company like http://www.structuredfoundation.com or http://www.anchorfoundationrepair.com to inspect the property. They will give you a report on the condition of the foundation. Make sure that you ask them for instructions on how to maintain the foundation that is geared towards the soil and home that you are looking at.

Now some will say that you should have an independant foundation engineer that is not connected to a foundation company to get an unbiased report and I do not disagree with them. But an engineer will charge you a couple of hundred dollars while a good foundation comapny will do it for free.

Best of luck .. Bruce
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
Data most likely impossible to locate.

All homes anywhere in country can have foundation issues if you don't take care of them especially here in Texas . If you keep the follow the guidelines of hydrating your property you should not have a problem

Older homes pier and beam vs. slab MIGHT have more problems.

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
972-699-9111
http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
The best thing you can do to minimize your risk is to hire a really good home inspector. One that has a building background and possibly engineering as well.

Good luck
Tom
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 14, 2010
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