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Wall Cracking = Foundation Problems? Help! - very long

16 years ago

I was planning a major kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room remodel. No structural wall changes, just cabinetry, plumbing, etc.

The house is 16 years old and sits on landfill using a post-tension slab. There are a number of sheer walls built into this house as well (which is why we don't want to go through the trouble and expense of making structural changes). From the very beginning the house had "settling cracks" radiating from windows, drywall seams, and radiating from door corners as well (even on the sheer walls). Several doors have always had the "bonus" of closing or opening, which means some of them don't stay right where you put them mid-open/close. Some of the most offending cracks have always been at the seams where the walls meet the ceilings. (these are all cathedral ceilings). We don't use many of the rooms in the house so don't ever hardly go into them. But with this planned remodel, I have gone through and noticed that there are many of these same types of cracks. My concern is that I don't want to invest a large sum of money in remodel if there is a foundation/structural problem I need to take care of. If I have to do repair work, then there won't ever be a remodel in our future.

I called one structural engineer, but he said I need to pay 4500.00 for them to come out and do a soil analysis. He was talking about having to jack the house up and building a new slab on top of the current post-tension slab, and talking a HUGE chunk of money. He also hinted that some people just live with these things. When I grabbed onto that, he steered me back to having the problem fixed now.

All the houses in the neighborhood have slight wall issues, and since I have plantation shutters, it is very obvious how much the windows are out of plumb.

Is this something that can just be cosmetically repaired and continue living there, or should the foundation be fixed. Though the problem isn't that the foundation is falling apart, it's the settlement.

Thanks.. I apologize for the length of this, but haven't been able to sleep for 2 nights.

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