On a sloping lot in Newport Kentucky, this homeowner’s foundation walls were failing and in need of repair.
Horizontal as well as stair-stepped cracking and staining spiderwebbed throughout the basement. Two walls bulged inwards up to 1″ and the rear wall leaned inward 3/4″. The front door was “racked”: a construction term that means it was out of alignment or out of plumb. These signs and symptoms mean it is time to call in a licensed structural engineer. It is always better to catch these things early on, than to wait for the problem to worsen.
This Kentucky homeowner hired Buyers Protection Group to evaluate their failing foundation and design repairs. Once designs were in place, they hired Hughes Construction to install 11 Steel pilasters and one concrete underpinning pier. We found that utilities were in the way of some of the planned pilaster locations. This meant we had to make some minor changes on the design and add two more pilasters. All changes are inspected and subject to approval by the designing engineer.
Often people question why we don’t design foundation repairs, especially considering the decades of experience we have doing work like this. At Hughes Construction we think it is important that:
- Engineering remains separate from the work we do, removing any conflict of interest. So that you know that we are just installing what you need, and no more.
- That you own your designs and can take them to any contractor to compare apples to apples.
- You have the engineers’ report/designs for your records making home sales go much more smoothly.
A licensed structural engineer is the most qualified person to diagnose the problem and design a repair. We work closely with them; navigating obstacles together using our hands-on experience and their knowledge of code, engineering standards, and principles.
This engineer recommended that the homeowner wait 6 months after repairs are completed before repairing cracks. This is because you always want to be certain that the root cause has been addressed first. During these 6 months, cracks are carefully monitored for any changes.
To monitor a crack, make a pencil mark at both ends and write the date by each mark. Or line up a tape measure next to the crack and snap a photo. Then measure the width at the widest point and write that on the wall or make a note on the photo. Check the crack at least monthly for at least 6 months and make additional marks and record dates if the crack expands. If cracks continue to expand or spread, contact a licensed structural engineer to evaluate it.