More On TREC & Foundation Performance


Some time ago there appeared on the TREC website an answer to this question:

What should a TREC licensed do if he or she is unsure what to report concerning foundation performance?

As I recall the advice went something like this:

It is common and understood that a licensed TREC inspector with little experience might be unsure about what to report concerning foundation performance. As he or she gains more experience, they will become more comfortable making comments about foundation performance.           

So far I have no critical comments. There is always a degree of uncertainty when forming an opinion about foundation performance. In a typical situation, it is always true that more or different information might change your opinion.

But then the TREC functionary added something that should have never been brought up. He or she wrote that the inspector should focus on how well or poorly the foundation was performing as intended.  This was after the TREC SOP had droppped

Then there was a comment about the foundation performing as intended.

What, pray tell, does the phrase performing as intended mean as applied to a slab-on-ground foundation?

The problem with the phrase: performing as intended

Whose intent are we talking about? The builder, the engineer, the homeowner, the buyer, the seller: the list could easily be extended. The TREC home inspector cannot possibly be held to such a vague standard. 

What about deflection?

The deflection referred to is the allowable deflection published by the various code authorities. But there is a problem with this: There is no code authority that applies the L/360 rule or any other allowable deflection rule to an existing foundation. 

So what should be reported?

To my mind, it is really pretty simple.

First: ignore what the codes say about design.

Second: unless you are a PE, addressing repair can cause you nothing but trouble. Better to advise them to talk to a PE.

Third: render an independent opinion concerning how the foundation is performing as compared to other houses you have inspected that is similar in age, construction, location, repair history, etc, etc. Here is an example:

Independent Opinion Concerning Foundation Performance: It is my opinion, based on my personal experience, that the subject foundation is performing in an average manner taking into consideration the location, age, repair history, and construction of the house. It should be understood that other professionals may have different experiences and therefore different opinions. 

Recommending that your client consult with a Texas Professional Engineer does not say anything about how the foundation is performing.

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