If you are having a new home built and are considering retaining the services of a professional third-party inspector to oversee the construction of your home you need to read this.
Arguably, the most important part of any structure is the foundation. It supports everything else that you refer to as a house. Many new homebuyers forego having a third-party inspector inspect the building site prior to the placement of the concrete in their foundation for many reasons:
- They are unaware that this is important.
- Their builder convinces them that this is unimportant or maybe even not allowed.
- They are attempting to save money.
All of these are poor excuses. Let’s talk more about this in order to help provide you with a clear path for doing due diligence.
The Texas Engineering And Land Surveying Practice Acts And Rules Concerning Practice And Licensure, published by the Texas Board Of Professional Engineers And Land Surveyors constitutes Texas State law and is to be found in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 22. In this document you will in 137.55(a):
“(a) Engineers shall be entrusted to protect the health, safety, property, and welfare of the public in the practice of their profession. The public as used in this section and other rules is defined as any individual(s), client(s), business or public entities, or any member of the general population whose normal course of life might reasonably include an interaction of any sort with the engineering work of the license holder.”
All Texas residences must be constructed in strict accordance with the International Residential Code (IRC) in The Texas Administrative Code Title 16 in rule 70.100(d).
In IRC 101.3 it states:
“R101.3 Intent. The purpose of this code is to establish minimum requirements to safeguard the public safety, health and general welfare through affordability, structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, light and ventilation, energy conservation and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment, and to provide safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.
In IRC R401.2 we find:
“Requirements. Foundation construction shall be capable of accommodating all loads in accordance with Section R301 and of transmitting the resulting loads to the supporting soil. Fill soils that support footings and foundations shall be designed, installed and tested in accordance with accepted engineering practice.”
If you’re still with me after all that, you may realize that the laws of the State of Texas require that engineers design and builders build foundations that actually perform as intended even on the expansive soils in Texas. If we are in agreement, then let’s continue.
It is a verifiable fact that Texas has the third most foundation failures in the United States. See:
This was also recently reported by WFAA here:
Pardon all the reference material. It is necessary because most folks will not lend credence to the knowledge I’ve gained in the past 45 years as a builder and inspector. But, if it is on the Internet or on TV, it must be true . . .
So, why are these foundations failing if they are properly engineered and constructed? They are under-engineered and improperly constructed in almost every case. Can you now see why it might be at the top of one’s list to have a trained eye observe the formwork prior to placing the concrete in your new foundation? If not, stop here and go play with your Lincoln Logs or whatever it is you do to pass the time.
Now that you are aware, let’s talk about your builder. Builders know that the foundations are half-assed and do not want an experienced inspector looking at them. To prevent this they have several ruses they employ:
- Tell the homeowner he cannot have the foundation inspected.
- Tell the homeowner that only an engineer can inspect it.
- Tell the homeowner that he can have the foundation inspected but he will not make any repairs unless the municipal inspector says so.
- Tell the homeowner he can have the foundation inspected and then not tell him when he is pouring the concrete so that it cannot be inspected.
This is only a partial list. The complete list is v-e-r-y long, much like the IRS tax code or the list of feckless excuses produced by any teenager regarding whatever you expect them to have done. Adolescent, but in the case of most homebuyers, quite effective.
If you are having a house built in the DFW area it is guaranteed to cost you more than $250,000. In order to save a few hundred dollars on a proper inspection does it make sense to put your entire quarter million dollar investment at risk? I think not.
If you think your builder’s “warranty” will protect you – think again. All of them state that structural damages – foundation problems – are not covered unless the house is so badly damaged that it is no longer habitable. You know, like if Godzilla rose up from beneath it and ate the inhabitants.
Do not depend on your homeowners insurance policy to cover you either. None of them cover foundation problems. Why? Because they are fully aware that the foundations here are under-engineered and fail on a spectacular scale.