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  • Foundation Settlement




    I. Purpose of Investigation: 2 of 4

    At the request of the owner, Thomas R. Price P.E., of Structural Solutions LLC, inspected the motel building in KY, in the attempt to determine the cause of drywall cracks, and apparent settling and raising of the building over time.

    II. Description of Building:

    The building is a two storey hotel structure, with load bearing walls supporting the 2nd floor slabs, and wood truss framed roof. Age is approximately 20 years. The facility is currently in operation as a hotel.

    III. History:

    Problems with the ground floor slab were encountered some years ago, and portions of the slab were removed and replaced. The subgrade fill was found to contain organic material, and mold had grown sufficiently to bow the floor upward.

    IV. Field Observations and Notes: 3 of 4

    The inspection took place on August 29, 2006. A drywall gap was observed, in a number of rooms, between the wall and ceiling. These gaps typically tapered from zero to as much as an inch, across the width of the room.

    Our best information is that only every other interior wall is bearing load down to a footing. This may explain the pattern of tapered gaps. If the non-load bearing walls are inadvertently carrying load, they will tend to sink, since there is no footing.

    If the non-load bearing walls are not carrying load, the tapered gaps might be explained by the load bearing walls sinking, due to inadequate soil strength.

    Or, it could be that the non-load bearing walls are being pushed up, while the load bearing walls are not, due to mold pressure building up under the slab. The weight of the footings, and their deeper bearing, may be holding the load bearing walls down, while the non-load bearing walls are more free to move upward.

    The adjacent lot has a grade level approximately 8 ft. lower than the grade level at the building perimeter. It is reasonable to conclude that the building has been constructed on fill material.

    V. Recommendations: 4 of 4

    Normally, building movements of this type would point to inadequate soil bearing capacity, and the appropriate repair would be to utilize some sort of foundation improvement (underpinning, widening footings), or soil stabilization procedure.

    It must be determined whether mold growth is the cause of building movement, because Foundation or soil strengthening would not likely solve the problem.

    In order to determine the best repair procedure, a local soils testing engineering firm should be involved, as well as a contractor familiar with foundation work. Information from these sources will be necessary in order to proceed with the structural design aspects of any repair procedure.


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(517) 403-6875 
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Structural Solutions LLC
1200 Troon Ct. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
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General Information:     ssllc.tp@mail.com

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