On proper waterproofing
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What I’ve seen uncovered ranges from pure greed to plain stupidity, skimping on materials that will be hidden or just leaving things out. For example, whole neighborhoods were built over landfill with a kind of foundation wall called a grade beam, spanning over the tops of poles, called piles, rammed deep into the earth. These beam/walls incorrectly went down just deep enough to enclose the basement and, sadly, not a fraction of an inch more. So the top of the now-sagging basement slabs, with no reinforcement in them, just touches the bottom of the walls. Over the years the floor and wall separated. You can stick a pencil between the two and touch the smelly clay/silt the house sits on, built on landfill that was not cleared properly.
Films show the bulldozers pushing sand and soil over swamp plants, burying them, leaving plants to decay. Now that the plant life below has rotted away, large air pockets have formed, which will cause the next problem: sink holes. The foundation walls might have been waterproofed but were no match for flooding from below and above. Had the walls gone deeper than the floor slabs and the waterproofing been joined and continuous, as it should be the next time around, only windows would need protecting. Your home, carefully detailed as a system, can be more waterproof.
© 2012 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.