17. Why you need to stay away from the repair question
The TREC SOP does not require that you render an opinion as to whether the foundation should be repaired.
Why the TREC SOP does not require you to address the need for foundation repair
Ever since the TREC published a SOP for inspectors, the requirements in the SOP have been closely tied to the wording in the TREC standard contract for purchasing a resale home. I can remember when the contract required the owner to make repairs only wuired ime sooosly rI am regularly surprised, when reading the foundation section of reports by TREC inspectors, how often the report fails to state an opinion of how well or poorly the foundation is performing. Let’s start with a definition straight from the TREC SOP.
Definition of performance:
Achievement of an operation, function or configuration relative to accepted industry practices standards with consideration of age and normal wear and tear from ordinary use.
What is the function of a slab foundation on expansive soils?
The main function of any foundation is to transfer the load from the building and the foundation to the supporting soil without excessive foundation settlement. This is rarely a problem with expansive soils. The soils are too strong and the loads are too light.
Expansive soils present a design consideration that is unique to expansive soils. When a slab foundation is placed, moisture begins to accumulate in the supporting soil. This makes the soil swell, especially in the middle area of the slab. This causes the slab to tilt and to bend into a tilted mound shape. As the slab bends, it causes distress in the house structure typically in the form of diagonal drywall cracks, stair-stepped cracks in the brick veneer, sloping first story floors and door issues.
You should form an opinion concerning foundation performance by looking at the house, not by looking at the foundation
The foundation is engineered to mitigate, not to eliminate, distress and damage due to foundation movement. The question is: how well or poorly is the foundation performing considering the age, location, and construction of the house.
Remember: all foundation inspections are comparative
For any house, you should compare the performance of the foundation, as measured by distress and damage to the house, to the performance of other houses in the same area, the same age and of similar construction.
How to craft your performance opinion
Here is an example of a favorable performance opinion: Based on my experience with similar homes in southwest Houston, I judge the performance of the foundation to be typical.
Instead of using the word “typical” you could save it is “average”, ‘average or better’, etc.
Here is an example of an adverse performance opinion: Based on my experience with similar homes in southwest Houston, I judge the performance of the foundation to be worse than normal. Indicators of poor foundation performance that I observed included sloping floors, cracks in drywall and doors that were not latching and doors that would not fully close.
Don’t make these common mistakes
- Movement was observed. Nonsense. You did not observe movement and, if you did, so what? All foundations move.
- Do not use boiler plate like this: One or more of the following was observed: drywall cracks, sloping floors, etc, etc.