Floating Foundation

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Every now and then I run into something I have never seen before, like a floating foundation!

Brick facade house, nice addition on the side, masonry block foundation connected to the main house with a right angle.  Plenty of crawl space vents.

So far so good.

But when I got into the house, and looked into the crawl space I noticed that the last 5 concrete blocks of support are literally floating in the air!

Interestingly the other side was the same way!

Having never seen it before I shot off an email to an engineer friend of mine, with photos.

He had seen this before, saying that the construction crew left a hole there so they had more easy access to and from the crawl space under the room. 

Then they filled it in later. 

The sink hole bothered me too, beginning where you are looking and continuing down to just under where I am taking the photo.  That sink hole is about 6' deep!

The engineer said that moisture intrusion is the ultimate problem with this, and that he likes to see them finish by putting concrete under that floating portion, to help control water flow.

I sent his answer to my clients.  They had a couple more days in which to ask further questions if they wanted.

My recommendation:  when you see something odd or that you have never seen before, ask questions!  I never have a problem saying that I don't know something and will attempt to find out a valid answer.  My clients always appreciate that, and yours will too.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


close

Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Prince William County Bristow
Groups:
ActiveRainPhotoBlogger
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
Adventures in Home Inspecting
Addicted to Active Rain
Professional Home Inspectors
Tags:
crawl space
floating foundation
foundation problems

Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the chair to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Show All Comments
Rainmaker
948,530
James Dray
Wise Custom Realty - Bentonville, AR
AR., MO., or OK. I can find the home for you.

Morning Jay and that sir is one of the many reasons why I go to AR so I can learn things new.  Most every day someone tells me something I didn't know and today is one of those days

April 16, 2012 04:03 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I could not detect a lintel Jeff, but the engineer says it works structurally.  Soil does seem to be eroding away, on the sides and near the house.

Hard to see from directly above, this is an upside-down volcano and about 6' deep.

And the engineer says it isn't recommended and prefers that concrete underneath.

It is apparently done all over, it's just that I had never seen it and doing this for 31 years that would indicate it's fairly rare around here.

But I found an answer!

And you are right, those blocks are heavy!

April 16, 2012 04:07 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I'm glad James.  That's why I am on AR too - I learn a lot!

April 16, 2012 04:08 AM #6
Rainer
276,790
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

Wow!  That would take you sit up and take notice.  Yet another example of water intrusion and the problems it can cause!

April 16, 2012 04:09 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Kathryn - structurally it seems sound and has been there for 12 years.  But the erosion is a second issue, and the one that had me bothered the most.

April 16, 2012 04:25 AM #8
Ambassador
2,344,090
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

All things considered, it wouldn't take an engineer to tell me that this is a risky home purchase.  Any structure that is offered for sale with an unrepaired "sink hole" is far riskier than my risk tolerance.

The engineer who said he had "seen it before" compared  it to a similar sink hold but without knowing the actual cause.

Living in Loudoun County, my first question would be "what's UNDER that sink hole?"  We have an entire area of  Loudoun County down route 15 north of Leesburg where the limestone overlay area is full of sink holes and they are not something one wants under their home or near their well.

Goodness.  Never a dull moment in the life of a home inspector.

Lintels are fine, but, again, I'm not comfortable with them as a "repair" or "fix" for what could be a continuing erosion problem. 

Yes, I'm severely risk averse.

April 16, 2012 04:42 AM #9
Rainmaker
870,753
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

I would always be concerned, when I saw a sinkhole. That would need to investigated further.

I have heard the term "floating foundation" before, but never really undstood what that meant.

Thank you for sharing the post with all of us.

April 16, 2012 04:56 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Which is why I contacted him Lenn.  He lives out near you!   I did his home inspection!  In my opinion it was a pretty deep sink hole.  He wanted to fill it and stop the erosion with concrete under the wall.  I think that hole has happened over time.

Joe - I had not seen this before, but sink holes are just that.  And probably still sinking!

April 16, 2012 05:34 AM #11
Rainmaker
221,655
Doug Dawes
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor

I guess if you live long enough you'll see most evverything. Notice I said most? =:o) Was there any other indications of defects caused by the unsupported areas?

April 16, 2012 07:34 AM #12
Rainer
277,179
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA
- Pierce, King, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason Counties

Jay -- if the sink hole is 6' deep now, and the home has only been there 12 years, in a couple of years, with some normal heavy rains, they may have enough open space under the house to frame in a basement.

April 16, 2012 09:40 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

No, Doug, nothing.  That was one thing it had going for it, no movement in 12 years.

Steven - the sink hole bothered me a lot.  That's why the engineer said to try to control moisture intrusion.

April 16, 2012 10:46 AM #14
Ambassador
1,069,571
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, bridging spans like that with poured concrete is a no brainer---but with concrete blocks?

April 16, 2012 06:37 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,190,823
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Interesting find Jay, sounds a bit wierd but if the engineer is okay with it...

April 17, 2012 12:28 AM #16
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Like I said Charlie, I have never seen it before.  Nor the sinking like that.  It was baffling enough that I sent them to an engineer.

Tom - he did say it was not recommended.  Beyond that, seeing it before doesn't make me feel better, but they are the clients and they can think for themselves after hearing from me and an engineer.

April 17, 2012 12:55 AM #17
Rainmaker
627,324
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

That is odd. I would think it has to be a problem over time structurally due to erosion. Did you notice any settling any where? 

April 17, 2012 03:27 AM #18
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

None Jim, in 12 years.  But, as the engineer said, the structure might be sound, but not recommended.  Sinking soil can never help!

April 17, 2012 03:28 AM #19
Rainmaker
563,824
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Jay, I have heard of some huge sink hole in Quebec, but have never seen one (or heard of one) around here...

April 17, 2012 01:17 PM #20
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sink holes happen all over, in small scales Chris.  It happened near here in the middle of a road!

April 17, 2012 04:09 PM #21
Ambassador
2,368,830
Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Jay, hope this will be the only floating foundation you find this week!  See you Saturday.

April 17, 2012 07:40 PM #22
Rainmaker
1,218,509
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Any foundation of Webster Street has likely been there for a while Pat!  And I don't remember seeing one before anywhere!

April 18, 2012 02:37 AM #23
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,218,509

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
You may contact me anytime...
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the envelope to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Additional Information