When Foundation And Slab Cracks Threaten A Construction Project
Cracks in building foundations and slabs are a common and potentially serious building defect throughout San Diego and Southern California. Foundation and slab cracks can be caused by a number of different conditions, and can be a symptom of a serious problem that may affect the safety and structural integrity of a home or building.
Slab and foundation cracks frequently indicate that the soil underlying the structure is in some manner unstable, causing the building to move, and the foundation or slab to crack. Any issue related to a slab or foundation crack needs to be investigated by the proper professional to determine if the cause of the crack indicates a serious building problem that might affect the safety of the structure.
What Is A Foundation?
A building foundation is typically the concrete upon which the building structure rests. In a more technical explanation, the foundation serves the structural purpose of transmitting “loads” from the building structure into the earth. Accordingly, the building foundation serves an important function in the structural safety of the building. If the building foundation is compromised in any manner, the building itself may potentially be unsafe. Foundations are designed to meet certain minimum requirements to withstand earthquakes and other forces such as wind.
What Is A Slab?
A building slab is typically made of concrete, and has a thickness that can range from at least six inches for a conventional residential structure, to a much greater thickness if the slab is required to serve a structural function. When a slab cracks, this often means that at least six inches of concrete under the structure has cracked. Frequently, the cracking of a slab indicates a serious problem related to building movement. The foundation is located around the perimeter or edge of the building; the slab is the concrete area under the floor of the building.
What Causes Foundations And Slabs To Crack?
Cracks in slabs and foundations are often caused by building movement. Building movement may be caused by unstable soils underlying the structure. Unstable soils can be generally attributed to two different causes:
- Expansive soil: Much of the native soil throughout Southern California and the far west is expansive. This means that the soil will swell, or become larger when water is added. Clay soil is a common type of expansive soil. A common problem occurs when a new home is built on expansive soil, and lush new landscaping is added around the home. The homeowner waters the new landscaping, and this water seeps into the soil, where it becomes saturated. The soil expands, and can expand to such an extent that it actually moves the building structure, causing cracks in the foundation, slab, stucco walls and other elements of the home.
- Soil subsidence: Many homes and buildings are built on “fill soil.” Fill soil is commonly placed to fill in canyons, slight depressions in the terrain, and other areas that need additional soil so that a flat, uniform building pad can be created. When this nonnative soil subsides, or settles, the building also settles. A common problem occurs when a structure is built on both fill and native soil. A cut/fill transition is created, and when the fill settles, the cut, or native soil, does not. The result is building movement and slab and foundation cracks.
Slab and foundation cracks can indicate serious builder negligence. If cracks in your slab, foundation or stucco are discovered, contact attorney Bryan R. Snyder immediately. Bryan can arrange to have experts inspect your property to determine the cause of any cracking or problems. It is important to act quickly so that any claims that you may have do not legally expire before action can be taken.