Foundation Cracks in Sugar Land

Foundation cracks will usually get worse over time because clay soils move during weather changes.

This email is from a potential customer that owns a home in Sugar Land, Texas.  The home was built in 2009, making it only 7 years of age when the homeowner emailed us.  Interestingly, the homeowner stated that the foundation cracks have increased in size over the last 5 years.  So with simple arithmetic we can conclude that the house BEGAN to have foundation cracks only two years after construction.  This home is currently valued over $300,000 by the Ft. Bend County Appraisal District.

We feel a great deal of sympathy for homeowners in this situation because we feel they have been “shortchanged” by both the home builder and by Texas politicians.  We feel that have purchased a house with a “minimally functional foundation” that was designed to “survive” for 10 years – the liability period for new home builders.  Unfortunately, this new foundation was subjected to the punishing droughts of 2011 and 2013 which put tremendous stresses upon all area concrete slab foundations. The results were foundation cracks and all of the associated damage in the interior and exterior of the house.

We also feel sympathy for the homeowners because the home builders have been protected from lawsuits by the Texas politicians. All buyers of new homes sign a contract at the time of purchase to resolve all disputes with the home builder with Mandatory Arbitration.  Unfortunately the general public does not understand Mandatory Arbitration.  It is a “stacked deck” in which the business (home builder) defeat the consumer (home buyer) between 90% to 97% of the time. It is not a fair process and there are few legal protections for the consumer.

What will happen?

Then home owner can and should contact the home builder about the problems.  The home owner may want to contact an attorney also. However, the most likely result is the home builder will offer to “repair” the weakened slab foundation with an inferior and low quality foundation repair method – pushed piles.  The home builder’s goal is to “push” the problem beyond the 10 year mark and therefore avoid any future liability.

These low quality foundation repair methods will fail at some point in the future. We have seen it many times and a large percentage of our business is from homeowners with failed foundation repair jobs from other contractors.

The homeowner does have another option.  He / she can install permanent Bell Bottom Piers to stabilize and level the home. This will void the home builder’s warranty but it appears to us that the home builder’s warranty has little value.

We wish the situation were different.  It certainly would be if home builders built concrete slab foundations with more concrete and steel rebar.  We know contractors build better slab foundations for commercial clients because they don’t have any legal protection from lawsuits.  If the contractor builds an inferior concrete foundation for a commercial client then he is at great risk of being sued by the commercial client.  There is NO Mandatory Arbitration in these situations. Not so with homeowners.

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