Answer – Poor Design – most old and new homes in Texas are NOT designed or built to withstand nature’s forces of soil movement. This is the simple reason why concrete slab foundations fail.
Texas leads the nation in residential foundation failures with 20% of the national total. Have you ever wondered if the 50, 60, or 100 story skyscrapers in Dallas or Houston have major foundation problems? The answer is they do not. The reason is because they are designed and built to withstand nature’s forces of soil movement – the shrinkage and expansion of clay soils. If not, there would be numerous multi-million dollar lawsuits between the commercial building owners and the designers / builders of these buildings. And commercial building owners don’t sign contracts that require Mandatory (Forced) Arbitration that would prevent the building owners from suing the designer / builder in a court of law.
However, big buildings can have BIG foundation problems and it is usually because they were under-designed and under-engineered. See a great example of Monumental Foundation Failure and Property Loss here.
So why is it different for homeowners of new and older homes in Texas?
- Profits – Home builders make more profits when they use less, not more, concrete in new slab foundations. Less concrete guarantees an under-engineered / under-designed foundation that will fail.
- The homeowner is less sophisticated and usually does not hire a team of engineers to review the design specifications of a new home and its concrete slab foundation prior to purchase. The homeowner assumes that the new home has been “built to code.”
- The new homeowner assumes the building codes in his geographic area will protect him or her from under-designed / under-engineered and structurally flawed building practices.
- The new homeowner assumes the builder of a new home will “fix any defect.”
- The new homeowner assumes he / she can sue the home builder in a court of law. Wrong. Remember that little Mandatory (Forced) Arbitration clause in the contract?
- Thanks to Texas politicans and the lobbying efforts of Texas home builders, the laws in Texas are stacked against the homeowner. (see Mandatory Arbitration)
Do you want to Know More about Shoddy Foundation Construction?
Dozens, Hundreds, Thousands of Complaints against home builders in Texas – many involve Concrete Slab Foundations
“Common complaints included sticking doors and foundation cracks that slice through the center of homes. Homeowners estimate that of 210 homes in Phases II and III of the neighborhood, 70 have reported problems.”
Would you like to know what HUD thinks about expansive soils conditions for new home construction?
Question “Section 1, Item f) Foreseeable Hazards of Adverse Conditions: (2) Does the site have unstable soils?”
If the home builder answers “yes” to the question above then the property is ineligible for HUD funding.
The property could be made eligible if the foundation is engineered to withstand the soil conditions. However, when a foundation fails it is compelling evidence that the engineers’ design failed to withstand the soil conditions.
HUD’s code of Federal Regulation – the gold standard of minimum development and building standards
“HUD Standard 24CFR 200 926(d) “prohibits” HUD funding for many hazards, one of which is building homes on expansive soil.
The property may become eligible for HUD approval if the hazard – in this case hazardous expansive soil – is mitigated. Mitigation in this example allows for an engineer to design a foundation that will withstand the potential or ‘foreseeable’ damages that expansive soils impose on the foundation and the structure of the home.
Further, neither HUD standards nor standard engineering practices recommend that it is permissible to under engineer foundations knowing that it is designed to fail unless maintained by watering.
To be clear, the purpose of engineering foundations is to ensure that the foundation will withstand the hazards of expansive soil. There is no justification for foundation designs that are dependant on regular foundation watering to avoid foundation failure. If so, the foundation is designed to fail.
Housing and Urban Development / Minimum Property Standards / Construction Requirements
HomeOwners for Better Building – The myths of watering foundations and under designed slabs
Too much rain, lack of rain, trees and other “Acts of God” exposed as a fairy tale.
HomeOwners for Better Building – Expansive Soil, Foundation Problems, a Growing Problem Holding Builders and Engineers Accountable for Foundation Problems?
How and Where to take ACTION if you feel it necessary.