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Why are Home Additions Prone to Structural Foundation Damage?

Oct 12, 2012 • By Matthew Stock with Barry Schilling.

Why are Home Additions Prone to Structural Foundation Damage?

You and your family loved your home, liked the neighborhood (and the neighbors) and hated the thought of moving.  However, your growing family soon began to make the house feel cramped so you decided to stay put and built an addition on to the house - a couple of extra bedrooms and a family room.

Years later, your family is still happy in your home but you’ve begun to notice some odd things happening to the house: There are cracks in the drywall in those newer bedrooms upstairs, the door from the family room to the back yard is hard to open and close, and you’ve noticed that the floors in the addition have taken on a noticeable slant toward an outside corner.  Uh-oh, you have structural foundation damage.

How does Structural Foundation Damage Happen to a Home Addition?

If you were forced to add living space to your home, it had probably been built a while ago.  According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average home in the U.S. included 2700 square feet in 2009 but only 1400 square feet in 1970, so it’s more common for older homes to be expanded than newer ones.

If the original structure of your home had been in place for several decades, any settling or movement of the foundation had probably taken place long before your addition was built. Also, the original foundation, whether or not it included a basement or crawl space, had probably been built with spread footings and other construction techniques that have helped maintain its stability.

Most contractors in the Midwest that specialize in home additions will pour a concrete slab for the new construction without first installing a spread footing under the foundation walls.  With no spread footings, structures are more likely to settle abnormally during times of drought.

The new addition increases the size of the home’s roof, which increases the amount of water flowing from downspouts, usually at the corners of the new addition.  All this water saturates the soil and, when a drought like the current one occurs, the soil dries out and shrinks, causing the outer corners of the addition to sink.  This raises the part of the addition that is attached to the original structure.

Because of these and other construction factors, your addition is moving and the rest of the house is staying still.  This accounts for the cracked drywall, jammed doors and windows and slanted or misaligned floors.  When you see these things happening, you know you have foundation damage.

Also, if it was a DIY or handyman-built addition, it’s possible that the foundation walls weren’t dug deep enough to resist frost heave in cold temperatures.  Whatever the cause, you have a problem that requires the services of a structural foundation repair contractor.   Choose one that will utilize the latest methods to raise and stabilize the foundation under your addition so that it is as functional and seamless as it was the day it was built.

The structural foundation damage experts at U.S. Waterproofing have years of experience in restoring all kinds of foundations and ensuring they remain stable.  Regardless of the type of underpinning that your foundation needs, we’re prepared to return your home to its level best, quickly and cost-effectively.  Why not ask for a free consultation?

Tags: structural foundation damage, house foundation repair, home foundation repair

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