Home>Discussions>EXTERIORS>Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil
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Shawn43054
Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

Two feet of breakfast area is an extension that not sits on foundation. It sits next to the soil underneath the brick patio adjacent to it. The house is 12 years old and some of the frame has rotten through. The soil under the patio brick is higher than foundation (to cover up the the fact part of the house is not sitting on foundation?). The drainage pipe connection is below the bricks and in the soil. The pipe clog causes water flows underneath the patio brick and cause patio wall to tilt. The inside wall has crack in one place (because of the loading?). What is the best way to fix the problem?

keith3267
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

I wouldn't touch this. I think you need a lawyer and a contractor.

A. Spruce
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil
keith3267 wrote:

I wouldn't touch this. I think you need a lawyer and a contractor.

Agreed! House shouldn't have sold without a pest inspection, at the very least, which would have found this issue. The builder isn't likely to have done this, they know better and have inspectors watching for such things. That leaves the previous owner(s ) who didn't disclose the fact that this area was improperly scabbed on.

As for legal recourse, an attorney will be your next step.

As to how to repair, in all honesty, the best thing is probably to tear it completely off and do it properly, for that you're likely going to need a contractor.

Shawn43054
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

Thanks to both of you!!

I have covered the area with tarp and email the builder. I think it is the builder who did it and this is why: no home owner in his right mind would tear down the wall and rebuild the brick patio just to extend the breakfast area by two feet. There is no sign of modification in that area. The county sketch shows the questionable area as "masonry stoop". I would not think the owner can pull project of this magnitude without a permit from the city. It is much more likely a builder mistake overlooked by the city inspector.

A. Spruce
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil
Shawn43054 wrote:

It is much more likely a builder mistake overlooked by the city inspector.

You'd be surprised at what a not-so-handy homeowner is capable of. Years ago my neighbor did essentially what you have, though he simply set pier blocks on the driveway to support the bay window he created in the living room. He was supposedly an engineer and considered himself handy, I can assure you, he was not and the structure he created is not to code. The home has since been sold, and I don't know how this passed the multiple inspections prior to sale.

You could be right, this could be a builder thing, I'd check with neighbors that have the same exact floor plan and see if any of them have the same bump, if so, then likely the builder snuck it in at the last moment, if not, it's likely something grafted on after the fact.

Shawn43054
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

Thank you, Mr. Spruce.
Builder has come by looking at it and said they did the cantilever but denied they did the patio, I asked what document they checked, nothing. The county website shows the patio and has no record of improvement. Does that conclusively establishes builder built the patio? I asked HOA, they can't find record that previous owner filed application for modification. The county sketch also shows cantilever area as brick steps to the patio. Does that mean the house really had not passed city inspection?
I would expect a polite builder if they didn't do anything wrong, but they are really playing the hardball. Hiring a lawyer only option? What homework I need to do first?

A. Spruce
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

You're probably in for a long and fruitless battle to get the builder to take any responsibility, whether it is truly their fault or not. Likely, if anything, you'll be assessed a small claims award, which means good luck collecting it if the builder doesn't want to pay. So, will it be worth the legal hassles and expense to try to go after the previous owner or the builder, only you can answer that, most people wouldn't bother unless they had access to free legal help.

As for homework, talk to the neighbors, see if they recall anything about when the patio work was done. I suspect that the builder isn't lying, they probably did the cantilever and it was the previous owner who screwed up the grade/patio when they had it installed. The reason I say this is that, typically, builders DO NOT do any landscaping of the backyard, so at the very most, you'd have a 2'x3' stoop outside the backdoor, if you've got more than that, in any manner, then it was probably the previous owner who had the work done. If they did it themselves and buried the cantilever in the process, no surprise.

Shawn43054
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

A load bearing wall on the outer edge of cantilever, is it a concern? Does it violate building code? If the house is not built according to the plan submitted to the city, and city doesn't know about it, does that mean the house has not passed inspection? Should I contact the city? Any advice will be appreciated!

A. Spruce
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

Those are questions that can't be answered without inspecting the structure and viewing the plans. Yes, you can put a load bearing wall on a cantilever, if it has been designed for such. The city may still have the plans on file, though likely not if the house is more than a few years old. The builder will likely have plans for it, though, not willing to share them. Also, house plans morph as time goes on. In fact, it is not unusual for the last house in a tract to be significantly different from the first house build of the same design. Your house could be one such instance.

If the cantilever was part of the original plans, then it was inspected when the house was built, if it was scabbed on after the fact, then it probably wasn't. The home is inspected at multiple points throughout the construction process, including a final walk-through to view the finished structure. The inspectors become familiar with the houses as they're being built, so they'd see something as obvious as a cantilevered section of the house that wasn't formerly there.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

Cantilevering can be fine structurally, but it is NEVER ok to have wood in a house contacting soil. Unless you can find proof that the builder did this, your recourse would be on the seller you bought from who will claim they bought it that way. Eventually somebody will get a judgement against them but you'll not see any money from that unless you're really lucky.

Somebody should have caught this before the sale but they didn't. And it's not to codec so you're going to have to deal with that. Se a lawyer and ask if there is a realistic chance of you being compensated. And get csome contractors cto look at it. You're either going to have to demo the unapproved addition or work with the local inspectors to get a permit allowing you to bring it up to code without demoing the whole thing first. You can probably replace the wood structure with a concrete slab as the easiest option.

Phil

Shawn43054
Re: Wood frame not on foundation and in contact of soil

Thank you, Phil!
I found the evidence builder did it. I can't get photo upload to work, otherwise a picture worth a thousand words.

When I opened the brick patio, the lower portion of the frame has only plastic wrap. So, the dirt was there when the house was delivered to the first owner. A house is not done when plastic wrap is visible.

If cantilever requires special loading calculations, and the cantilever was built by mistake, so no such calculations was submitted to the city or could not get approval with the loading. The solution? Use a pile of dirt to cover it up. If this is the case, it is not just workmanship, it is downright fraudulent, isn't it.

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