Saturday, June 4, 2011

residential piles

I recently reviewed another residence in distress in which the garage piles had failed, the grade beam had failed and broken apart, the garage floor slab had heaved. Previously, the sidewalk had sunk and been replaced with unistone. The driveway was showing distress. Once more the sewer line was adjacent to the piles. What it all comes down to is eight feet of loose fill will settle 3 to 5 inches, dragging piles down when they are loaded. Unreinforced slab do not work. Unreinforced grade beams do not work. The final load was likely this winters snow load, and the piles failed rapidly, dropping one garage wall 3.5 inches at the front, and that corner of the garage grade beam bowed out 2.25 inches at the floor slabs. In addition the buck downs were 14 inches, leaving about 12 inches of concrete block under the man door.

When will home buyers be protected? Not under the current system of codes, permitting, and no quality enforcement. The government is only interested in the appearance of enforcement, the political necessary part. Mind you, this was a 27 year old house. Yard drainage was less than ideal.

Ultimately, the builder must held responsible for the structure for a long time. How can we do this? Ultimately, an independent third part should provide a code adherence certification, to be registered on the title. The code would need revision that no one would be happy with. This would produce a requirement that each excavation, and back fill, every bit of work on the property be tracked on the title; hence, the owner would know what he was getting, not if it was going to hold up. All the common shortcuts would not be permitted.

Many of the contractors are not even aware of the problems of common construction methods. Steel on the bottom of the concrete slab, unreinforced concrete construction, permitted in the building code is just wrong, for long life. The building code, federally created, modified and adopted by provinces, municipally sort of enforced model we have now does not work. Inspection is by "permitting companies", that can only make money by paying their "build code inspectors" less that the government would be required to pay, to do the same work for less money, or do less work. It is not logical to be able to do the work "profit" less than the government.

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