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Thoughts on this wet crawl fix?


Richard Moore
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I have this 1992 townhouse inspection upcoming this weekend. Seller disclosed a crawl problem discovered during a previous inspection some months ago (deal fell through), and provided a series of photos, supposedly documenting the fix to a wet crawl discovered during a previous inspection some months ago (deal fell through). Buyer's agent sent me the photos.

The agent didn't know all the details, but mentioned that what used to be a single pair of townhouses sitting alone are now surrounded closely by new construction. Also said there was something in the disclosure about "support issues"(?). I told the agent and client that they need to get full documentation on what was done, by who, and who is warranting the work, etc, etc.

There's more photos, but I just posted the clearer ones (none higher res). It appears there was a sump pump originally (dunno if it was working).

Wierd framing and what the hell is the black stuff on the posts. From the photos it looks like something applied rather than "mold". I'm very concerned that the footings seem to be level with the dirt and didn't get cleared before they laid down the moisture barrier. I'll be probing but I'm already not happy. And I have no idea about the adjoining home.

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What do they want you to do; bless it sight-unseen based on photos?

No, it was a heads-up for a "normal" buyer's inspection. (Everett, not Burien) The referring agents (a couple) are good guys and I suspect they are actually concerned for the client. I'll see what I can see, but I doubt I'm going to bless much, if anything. I can't remember ever seeing creosote dipped posts around here. And...in at least one photo it looks brushed on rather than dipped. Do these hold up?

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Where's Erby's Clusterfxxk stamp?

If it was good quality pressure treated creosote, they'll go 40 years full burial. How do I know that? I'm amazed to say I've seen some pole barns I built in Michigan 35 years ago that are still perfect. Ouch.

Those aren't good quality pressure treated, though. Them's a nasty pile o' rot in a few years.

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Those aren't good quality pressure treated, though. Them's a nasty pile o' rot in a few years.

I'm definitely leaning that way. If you look at the photo below, you can see the black on the bracing. It's like the "creosote" was slopped on as an afterthought...which doesn't bode well for it being at the cut ends. Add the flush footings, the soaked soil, etc, etc and...well, this may be my first premeditated kill. I'll update in a few days.

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Afterthought is right.

Check out the water line on the wall in the right of the 4th picture, on the far wall in the 6th picture and where it runs even with the top of the grade beam in the 7th picture. They had major flooding under that building in the past.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I think the footings are fine.

This is out of the 2006 IRC.

R408.6 Finished grade. The finished grade of under-floor surface

may be located at the bottom of the footings; however,

where there is evidence that the groundwater table can rise to

within 6 inches (152 mm) of the finished floor at the building

perimeter or where there is evidence that the surfacewater does

not readily drain from the building site, the grade in the

under-floor space shall be as high as the outside finished grade,

unless an approved drainage system is provided.

As for the water correction methods, I would never "bless" a repair. Just document the water problems and that fact that repairs have been may and recommend the buyer obtain any warranties for the contractor who did the repairs.

If there are no warranties or the repairs were done by the home owner I would tell the buyer that there is a good chance the the problem may still exist.

I always recommend the buyer contact the person who made the repairs. Often the contractor will say they recommended another solution by the home owner did not want to send the additional money.

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Has anything been done to stop water from coming in? Can you see the drain outlet clearly? How many post are there? Are they on top of or sunk into footings? Is there damage to the floor structure? I know...You'll have more for us this weekend. If (may be a big IF) there is no floor structure damage and drainage is taken care of, maybe just the post will need addressing(replacing). May not be cheap, but sure enough, can be done. Have fun...You may not want to premeditate too far, just yet.

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Hi Jeremy,

Here's Oregons building code based off of the 2003 IRC: http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/oregon/R ... ameset.htm

Look at figure R502.9

That's what I was referring to.

I'm not sure what WA requires. (I believe they are in a seismic area as well)

Nope,

Seattle is still using the 2003 IRC here:

http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/Seattle/ ... ameset.htm

Check chapter 5 - No such diagram.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi Jeremy,

Here's Oregons building code based off of the 2003 IRC: http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/oregon/R ... ameset.htm

Look at figure R502.9

That's what I was referring to.

I'm not sure what WA requires. (I believe they are in a seismic area as well)

There is a difference from the IRC. Apparently Oregon added figure R502.9 when adopting the code. My book does not have it.

I agree with you, your code does require lateral bracing. The bracing shown in the photos would be a requirement of your state code.

For those times when your all "shook up".....?

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How have they detailed the plastic around the base of the columns? Just wrapped it around the base of the wood? With large amounts of moisture in the ground, the moisture will be concentrated at the opening as air moves up out of the soil into the space above (stack effect). We mostly have steel posts in my market and a common problem is severe corrosion at the base. Wood will rot much faster, especially if the black goop was painted on as an afterthought and does not cover the bottom of the posts.

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Seattle is still using the 2003 IRC here:

Mike, I thought Seattle was on the 2006 (still no diagram though). See...

http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/Seattle2 ... ameset.htm

Hi Rich,

That's what I'd thought too...until I'd clicked on my favorites link. Hmm, maybe they've got separate links to the 2003 and the 2006. Jeez, what a pain in the keester.

Guess I've gotta replace that link.

Thanks.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Ya mean Oregon's more stringent on something? Wow.

It still looks like the support's were designed to be left in place. If you look at OR's version, you will see that on longer posts that method is required. Granted, the post's in Richard's pic are not much over 4', if that.

R502.9 is pretty vague : Positive connections must be made to prevent vertical and lateral displacement. What do they do in areas outside of OR to prevent the lateral displacement? (besides what's in Richard's pic[:-tong2])

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Ya mean Oregon's more stringent on something? Wow.

It still looks like the support's were designed to be left in place. If you look at OR's version, you will see that on longer posts that method is required. Granted, the post's in Richard's pic are not much over 4', if that.

R502.9 is pretty vague : Positive connections must be made to prevent vertical and lateral displacement. What do they do in areas outside of OR to prevent the lateral displacement? (besides what's in Richard's pic[:-tong2])

Hi,

Well, when you think about the fact that, in addition to foundation bolts, there are seismic anchors around the perimeter, straps that extend up the side walls and the posts are secured to the footings and to the beams above, where the heck are these posts going to go?

I've looked at an awful lot of old housing stock here where there is nothing more than a post resting on a pier held in place by pressure due to gravity and the overwhelming majority of them are doing, and have done, just fine.

I'm not saying that the lateral bracing isn't a good idea; only that maybe it's a little bit of overkill. Then again, I'm sure that the folks that owned those few houses where I did see evidence of significant movement would strongly disagree.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Well, when you think about the fact that, in addition to foundation bolts, there are seismic anchors around the perimeter, straps that extend up the side walls and the posts are secured to the footings and to the beams above, where the heck are these posts going to go?

On new construction, are all of the post's secured to the footings up that way? Can't say I've ever seen that down here.

I don't think I've seen a post displaced from a footing , and that includes the old school ones resting on single bricks, stones, chunks of wood, etc. I've never felt an earthquake either.......

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