Foundation problems — those two words strike fear in the hearts of homeowners everywhere. Laredo foundation problems happen often, and they’re one of the most expensive, extensive problems you can have when you own a home.
Your home is a huge investment. As equity builds, your financial future becomes more secure. Foundation problems aren’t just expensive to fix, they can decrease the value of your home. We’re going to take a look at why they’re such a big deal, what causes them and why buying a WestWind home means you never have to worry about them.
Laredo Foundation Problems and Resale
Foundation problems are expensive to fix. You don’t just have to worry about the foundation itself, usually you have issues inside your home you also have to address. Unfortunately, we’ve talked to too many homeowners who scraped and saved to put their home back together and thought the problem was behind them. Then, when they later decided to sell, they encountered another harsh reality.
Texas property code requires most homeowners to fill out a Seller’s Disclosure form when they list it for sale. The form asks if you are aware of “Previous structural or roof repair.” Laredo foundation problems fall under structural repairs. If you’re aware of any current or past foundation issues, you’re required to disclose them.
Laredo foundation problems scare buyers. People who would otherwise pay high market value for your home will be nervous about even considering it.
Signs of Laredo Foundation Problems
If you’re wondering whether or not your home might have Laredo foundation problems, look for these signs:
- Cracks inside – Look around windows and doors. If your sheetrock has cracks, that could signal a problem.
- Floor cracks – Floor tile or wood may start to separate where large cracks develop in the slab.
- Uneven flooring – You may be able to feel a rise or fall when you walk from one side of the room to the other.
- Sticking windows and doors – When something is hard to open, that means corners are no longer square.
- Exterior cracks – Brick and stucco might develop cracks. Siding sheets might separate from each other.
Causes of Laredo Foundation Problems
If you’re reading a home builder’s blog, you might be thinking about purchasing a home. You want to avoid ever experiencing Laredo foundation problems in the first place. They seem so prevalent in our area for a number of reasons related to both Texas soils and inferior construction methods.
Western Rio Grande Valley Soils
Laredo is in the Western Rio Grand Plain, an area with 5.3 million acres that stretches from Del Rio to Rio Grande City. In Laredo, as you probably know, it’s fairly level.
Most of the soil is deep, brown or gray alkaline clay and loam. Our area faces soil management problems because of limited moisture. We just don’t get much rain. However, when it does, it rains a lot all at once. Clay soils and dramatic weather fluctuations are a perfect recipe for Laredo foundation problems.
Think back to what you learned in high school science class. Heat causes expansion. Adding water causes increased volume and swelling. Expansion and contraction break down rock and other hard surfaces.
Clay soils are extremely expansive. Experts refer to them as “heavy” soils because they have very fine particles packed closely together. When there’s no moisture, they become hard and brittle. Clay itself hardens and cracks, and anything relying on it for support shifts.
When rain comes, clay absorbs water. The more water each particle absorbs, the more it swells. Those tiny, fine particles all expand, putting pressure on your foundation. They cause movement and cracking, shifting everything from one place to another. Then the rain stops, soil dries out and contracts again, causing another shift. In times of drought, soil in entire areas shrinks, changing whole neighborhoods.
Clay is one of the most challenging types of soil to build on, and a huge contributor to foundation damage. The ongoing expansion and shrinkage over time almost always cause issues if builders don’t take precautions.
Loam is better for home construction. It has particles of mixed sizes and is good for moisture retention and drainage. If you could build your home completely on loam, there would be a much-reduced chance for Laredo foundation problems. However, that’s not usually an option.
Hot Weather Exacerbates Evaporation
We don’t have a lot of rainfall in our area to begin with. When we have weeks of hot, dry weather and blistering wind continually sweeps across level ground, the little moisture left in soil evaporates even more quickly. Foundations shift and sink.
If you have trees in your yard, they also suck up water by the gallon. They release that water through their leaves through a process caused transpiration. Your soil dries out even faster.
Inferior Ground Preparation
Builders blame foundation issues on Mother Nature, but they can be avoided. All of Laredo exists on challenging soil. It’s been that way for a long time. It’s not a question of if the soil will shift, only when. Ethical, experienced builders know this, so they take steps to prepare their homes.
Some builders get in a hurry. They want to complete one home and move on to the next. Also, they want to make as much money as possible. They scrape off vegetation and topsoil and import fill to high or low spots. Then they don’t take the time to compact it properly or allow for settling.
Part of protecting your foundation is keeping moisture levels consistent. Sometimes builders don’t prioritize proper drainage around foundations, so water pools in some areas. Concentrated flow causes erosion, stripping away foundation support. Moisture buildup causes the type of uneven swelling and shrinking that leads to cracks. Pretty soon you’re in need of repair for your Laredo foundation problems.
Shoddy Foundation Construction
When you build on challenging soil, it’s irresponsible to cut corners on foundation construction, but some builders do. If you take your home plans to several area builders and choose the one with the lowest bid, he or she might be providing you with the least amount of foundation support they can get away with.
If builders don’t use quality steel and concrete, your entire home will sit on a weak foundation. The slab you expected to last for a lifetime may start to show signs of failure in just a few years.
How WestWind Prevents Foundation Problems
More than a million square feet of WestWind Homes foundations have never failed, proof we build homes to last for many lifetimes. We have that level of success because we stick to our tried and true processes.
Extensive Soil Testing and Analysis
Before we build, we find out exactly what type of soil your foundation will rest on. We don’t just rely on our own tests, we hire third-party geotechnical engineering firms, test companies and labs to perform a comprehensive range of tests to make sure soil will provide enough support.
Not all concrete is created equal. We regularly ask outside geotechnical firms to put ours to the test so we have consistent results and unbreakable strength. Slump and slurry tests check concrete workability and consistency. Before builders pour your foundation, we put cylinders of concrete under extreme force to evaluate the maximum number of pounds per square inch we can expect it to support.
Foundation and Framing Reviews
We asked a licensed professional engineer to review all foundation and framing plans for structural integrity. During construction, we also ask outside firms to inspect your home’s support systems to meet standards of the International Residential Code Texas (IBC), the Texas Insurance Chapter 2210.251 and the 28 Texas Administrative Code 5.4606.
All that happens before we even start to build. Then, we start our process of ground preparation and allow settling to occur. Each step is indispensable, but perhaps one of the biggest reasons WestWind foundations are so durable is that they are post-tensioned. Our slabs are reinforced with stranded steel cables inside of plastic sheathing, then we pour concrete. Once the concrete hardens and cures, we stretch and elongate post-tensioned cables. The slab becomes compressed and lifted, which keeps it from cracking.
Post-tensioned slabs require more technical expertise to build than standard rebar slabs. When they’re designed and installed by an experienced engineer and qualified contractor, they have much less cracking and permeability, making them a natural choice for our area.
Avoid Laredo Foundation Problems with WestWind Homes
Our dedication to durability and lifetime value doesn’t stop with a home’s foundation. It starts there and never really stops. Our goal is to do our best and provide buyers with the home of their dreams whether we’re working on luxury kitchens or neighborhood amenities. Even after you buy your WestWind Home, we’re available for 24/7 customer care to make sure you experience uninterrupted enjoyment.
If you’re looking for a new home in Laredo, we have homes available in communities like Altavista at Escondido, Emerald Riverview and Green Ranch. Many are even available for quick move in. Browse WestWind Homes for sale in Laredo or request more information online today.
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