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Construction Defects: What is Expansive Soil?
At the Naumann Law Firm, we strive to deliver high-quality legal services to our clients. The cornerstone of our service is to maintain regular and ongoing communication with clients.
Expansive soil is a very common issue that can cause substantial damage to a home or property. Our firm has handled numerous cases dealing with expansive soil. Today, our firm wants to share with you some information on expansive soils and how we traverse the issues they present to our clients.
WHAT IS EXPANSIVE SOIL?
Expansive soil is soil that has a high concentration of clay. It is natural and commonplace throughout the southeast United States and much of Southern California. Expansive soil will absorb water and expand during rainy seasons, then during dry seasons, the soil will also dry out and contract. This expansion and contraction can damage slabs and foundations. Construction and grading must be done carefully to avoid such problems.
HOW DO DEVELOPERS PREVENT EXPANSIVE SOIL FROM DAMAGING A HOUSE?
A geotechnical engineer will assess a site before construction, making recommendations to the developer. Typically the developer can do one of two things. He or she can remove the top three feet of high expansive soil and replace it with three feet of low expansive soil. The second option is to increase the thickness of the foundation slab and footings. If the developer fails to follow these recommendations significant damage can occur. Furthermore, the expansion and contraction of the soil and the damage to the house will continue indefinitely. This condition can be repaired. The typical repair is the construction of a “cutoff” wall. A cutoff wall is an underground wall, four to six feet in depth build around the entire perimeter of the house. This prevents the clay soil from expanding and contracting.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE EXPANSIVE SOIL?
The most notable way is probably through visual cues. Oftentimes, doors and windows become hard to operate. Significant cracks at interior drywall, exterior stucco, floor tile, hardwood flooring or the garage slab can occur.
Exterior Stucco Cracks: Settlement and hairline cracks are common. However, if you see a large amount hairline cracks or the cracks measure greater than 1/8” in width, you may have an issue.
⦁ Interior Drywall Cracks: These are much less common than stucco cracking. Frequent drywall cracks are almost a sign of expansive soil issues. In addition to drywall cracks, your interior doors may be difficult to open and close. The trim around interior doors may also separate.
⦁ Floor Cracks: If you see a crack through grout and through tile, like the photograph below, you may have a serious defect. Spotting cracks at a garage slab is much easier due to the smooth finish of the garage surface.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT EXPANSIVE SOIL ISSUES?
Do not hesitate to call our law firm immediately. We have successfully recovered millions of dollars in monetary damages for our clients with expansive soils issues. We retain a team of geotechnical experts with decades of experience diagnosing and resolving these types problems.
Once you contact our firm, we can send our team to your property for a free inspection. Many times, our team can recognize a serious soil issue from the first inspection. If structural or foundational issues are not resolved, expansive soils will continue to cause serious damage.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR FIRM DURING THE CURRENT COVID-19 LOCK DOWN
We thank you for your patience in this challenging business environment. For over 35 years, The Naumann Law Firm has provided legal excellence for our clients. During these difficult times, and when we ultimately recover from them, our resources continue to be available to you. Please contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.
The Naumann Law Firm represents homeowner associations, high/mid-rise condominium and condominium conversion associations, single and multifamily residential homes and commercial property owners in construction defect litigation. Please contact us to set up a consultation.