what is a crawl space

What is a Crawl Space?

One of the most frequent questions I hear from people moving to Huntsville from elsewhere is why homes here are often built on crawl space foundations. What is a crawl space, they ask?

Answer: It’s like a basement that no one ever enters.

It can be a beautiful, clean, dry space beneath the main floor of a home and the ground below, or it can be damn nasty. The former is good. The latter can be harmful.

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New Quote: Two Times is a Charm!

No, I don't care what you say; I'm changing it from three to two!

Today, I looked at two houses with the same inherent construction problem, both attributable to contractor ignorance or amateur construction.

It's called failure to provide a structural ridge "beam" to support a cathedral ceiling  (rafter-framed) roof.

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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good

Views and Trees and Wildlife and Fresh Air

The Bad

Having to walk up/ down the hillsides with bad knees or drive in icy weather!

The Ugly

Selling your gem and finding out the buyer insists that you spend $25,000 or more on foundation repairs before he will honor his purchase offer!

 

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cracks in brick veneer homes

Top 5 Causes of Cracks in Brick Veneer Homes

Based on my personal experience over the past three decades of inspecting houses, I would say that differential brick expansion is the most common cause of cracking in brick veneer homes. The second is sag in double-wide garage door steel lintel beams. The third is steel lintel expansion. The fourth is differential foundation settlement and rounding out the list at fifth is reflective cracking.

As I’ve said many times, foundation repair contractors lump all five of these into one category: foundation settlement or foundation failure. This is literally the farthest thing from the truth when talking about cracks in brick veneer homes. We seldom see any differential foundation settlement problems that warrant expensive foundation underpinning repairs!

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fha-permanent-foundation-for-manufactured-home

What is an FHA Permanent Foundation for Manufactured Homes?

The saddest question I often hear in my engineering inspection practice is, "Buck, I need an engineering inspection of a manufactured home foundation for an FHA loan. The mortgage underwriter wants assurance that the foundation meets their "permanent foundation" guidelines. Can you do this and what is the cost?"

Why is this a sad question?  Well, it's because I've never inspected a manufactured home that had a foundation meeting this guideline.

Why is this?  Well, it's because the foundation beneath the home was never designed per the guidelines to begin with.  And this is sad, because an FHA Permanent Foundation would likely ensure that the manufactured home would survive the worst of thunderstorms and straight-line high winds and perhaps even some lower category Hurricanes, nor would it ever likely settle or sink into ground unevenly.

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why

Why?

Realtors and others often ask me, "Why are you always harping on and on about cracks in brick veneer, and the questionable practices of the foundation repair business?" Listen, if you could see the unbelievable things I see each and every day in my structural engineering business, you'd understand why I get so riled up about it. I'm not exaggerating when I say I get AT LEAST a half dozen calls a week where I'm being called in to evaluate a problem that was found by a home inspector who stated to his client (homebuyer) that he was not qualified to evaluate or offer professional advice.

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when is structural repair necessary

When is Structural Repair Necessary?

I've been asked on several occasions, "How do you know or decide when a structural repair is necessary?" That's a good question. Let's talk about it.

Basically, most of our structural problems in the Huntsville-metro area are related to insufficient use of engineers to develop structural framing plans for large, complicated structures, AND the sole reliance on untrained home builders or framers to build such structures. 

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e.d.

Is Your Home Suffering From E.D.?

Over 70% of structural claims occur four or more years after the sale date of the home. Claims that occur earlier than this are characterized as E.D., and are often a sign of a more severe problem. E.D. claims cost an average of 33% more to repair than the average of all claims. The timing and severity of claims is particularly important to home builders that maintain financial reserves to pay claims. 

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