Never ending draining issue...

aucorleyMarch 13, 2012

So we began our site prep back the first week of February and to this date, still are not able to put in our footings. About two weeks ago a larger sump pump was installed to drain a 10 ft drainage hole dug to pull water off the envelop of the house. I know we are being impatient, but not seeing any progress after days of dry weather have left us confused and feeling ignored. We know we just need to lay low and wait it out. Good news is the next 5 days we are expecting 80 degree weather and mostly dry. Sooo trying to be patient. Anyone else dealt with a poorly draining lot?

Below is our word from our builder:

The envelope is still drying and the pump is working. However, the ground is not dry enough to compact on. I've been out there every day since we installed the pump to check it. Yesterday I also went out with the excavator and dug 4 test holes, 2 in the rear, and 2 in the middle/front. They showed that the bearing soil in the rear is 4' down, and 2' down in the middle/front. With the ground continuing to dry out, that leaves us with 2 courses of actions:

1. We stay on our original course of action and continue to wait it out until the ground dries out enough to compact dirt on top of dirt.The positive is that this is the most cost effective way to proceed, with only the extra money already quoted to you. The negative is that I have no timeline for when this will be ready for us to proceed. It's a waiting game. But as you've seen with the pump in place, the ground is drying out, even with the rain we've had.

2. We sub-soil out all the dirt, down to the hardpan bearing soil(at its 4' depth and 2' depths respectively), bring in 18 loads of 2"

rock, place and compact it. Then place a layer of geofabric down on top of it. Then bring in 25 more loads of fill to bring it back up to the current grade depth that it is now, then proceed with our original plan of placing the 50 loads of fill dirt on top of it to bring the grade up to the right height. This will entail more money in rock, fabric, fill dirt, machine time, compaction, and compaction testing. I'm happy to do this and we can start almost right away with this, if this is how you want me to proceed. Here is a cost breakdown on that:

a. 25 Loads of Fill Dirt @ $100 = S2500

b. 18 Loads of #2 Stone @ $365 = $6570

c. Extra Machine Time and Labor for Placing Rock, Fabric, Fill, & Compaction = $2000

d. One roll of geofabric material = $900

e. 5 Extra trips by Geotechnical Engineer = $1000

f. TOTAL ESTIMATED EXTRA COST OF THIS C.O.A = $12,970.00 + Original Course of Action Cost of $8500 = $ 21,740.00 over the $6k budgeted estimate for Site Prep

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If your soil is drying out so slowly, I would be concerned that you have a sub surface moisture problem like a hidden spring or have wetlands issues with the whole lot being so damp. I'd also be concerned about the runoff generated by you pump, and the impact that it has on the surrounding lots. That is HIGHLY regulated these days and could end up costing you some hefty fines. Did you have an environmental impact engineer do an assessment before you started the build?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 1:22PM
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Yes, thank you GreenDesigns, we have a Geotechnical Engineer overseeing the process of site prep. The pumped water is fed down PVC pipe to the culvert which is filtered with hay bales into a drainaged pipe by the lot next to us with their approval.
There is leech water filling the hole dug for pulling the water off the lot, but it is becoming less and less as the days dry it. We will have a drainage system to pull water off the lot with the sump pump for our long term solution.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 3:42PM
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Sorry for the issues. Our last house was a very similar situation. I think we probably have more fall than you though. We had to wait it out after installing a french drain with gravel to the surface drained to daylight. I think things should be drying out for you soon.

Not sure if you have the slope, but I would suggest running pvc pipe wrapped in gravel and silt fabric to daylight both inside and outside your envelope. The nice thing about the one inside the envelope is that it can double as your radon mitigation system. We tried a new technique that worked great by having the radon vent stack exit the envelope UNDER the slab which prevents two building envelope penetrations.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 9:26PM
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We had this issue. We have a high water table and soil that just does not dry out - solid clay. We could only put the house below ground at 4'. Once we started excavating more, it became more painful. We had some spots that couldn't get solid ground for about 12 feet. We spent a lot of money on gravel, compacting, etc. It was very painful. We have a french drain under the house, did lost of waterproofing things and are now framing.

But, I feel your pain. And, if it makes you feel any better, I wish my issue had cost 20K! That's how much we had to spend just on gravel.

We initially excavated Feb 1 (maybe), and it took several weeks to get that all resolved.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:21AM
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I'm amazed at those site prep charges. I had to deal with a non-draining site and muddy clay, which required excavating down to bedrock at 14 - 15ft. Filled up about 3 - 4ft with crushed concrete (and now have a very tall basement). Excavation was ~$4k, crushed concrete was ~1k. Footprint = 850sf.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 11:01AM
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We obviously did all we could to get our water drained away as quickly as possible, and it was just about the same extra cost you're looking at.

I'm not even sure this website works anymore, but try it. It has a picture story of our "swimming pool". I started this website when we first started our build, and never really kept up with it. Got bored with it I guess. It's pretty haphazard, but hopefully you can see the pics. Just click the menu items on the left.

The puppy was our 14 yr old Pekingese that had to be put down right after this photo was taken. I miss her so much. Even on bad days, those big brown eyes would make me feel better. She was a real sweetie.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo tour of our home build

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 11:52AM
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jrldh - we wanted to just go with the extra tall basement (my husband is a high school bball coach and my boys play all the time...we thought it would be perfect to do a couple hoops in the basement). But, we weren't able to put the house down that low, with the water table so high and drainage issue, the engineers wouldn't go for anything lower than 4' below grade level (for bottom of foundation)and they wouldn't go for crushed conrete (which is much less expensive then the gravel we had to use). Our footprint is over 3200 sq ft....the french drain is about 3' below the bottom of the basement, and in many cases we have 8 ft deep of gravel.

We also had additional expenses that were our choice. For example, we had increased concrete expenses bc we never intended to excavate the entire basement. But, because the house was going to sit up 5ft above grade level, and we were not budging on giving up the kitchen walkout (I do not like basement walkouts), we had to build everything up. So, that lead to grading plan changes also. And, the planned partial foundation walls turned to full height, the porches all needed foundation walls, and the garage is now a structural general, it was a painful ripple effect to get the house how we wanted it. But, this is our "forever" house, so we just swallowed the pill and decided it was worth it to us.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:28PM
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Wow, thank you all for the reality check and suggestions. We are going to have a French drain and sump pump in the crawl space to insure we won't have trouble with moisture under the house. The plan is to build the lot up and grade to the drains on each side of the lot. Living in the South can have some really wet fall/winter months and I should be thankful we caught this before it became an issue years down the road.

@ Joyce_6333--Thank you for the site. Wow, I just thought our pool was bad, but you win!! LOL! And the puppy is precious, so sorry for your loss.

Does anyone know how long the compaction of lot build up could take? Is it a day job or something that takes a series of days to accomplish????

Thanks again y'all!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:39PM
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I agree with you, Aucorley, that it's a good thing you caught it now. Just our thoughts when it looked so ominous at first. We had an unusual amount of rain the week before our dig...7" in one night...otherwise, we may never have known, until the next big storm. Now we have no worries. I don't know if you saw the picture of the pipe with the water flowing out of it? That water runs all the time, even through the winter. It's from the spring they hit during the dig, and it's still running a year and a half later. It runs into the pond behind us. Now during the spring thaw, it's really gushing.

I believe our compaction took a few days. Our builder had a "compaction inspection" done...not really sure if I got the term right, or if that's what it's called. But he wanted to ensure it was done right.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:14PM
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Our compaction was only a couple days as well. And, yes, just be thankful you caught it in time. We had originally planned to start excavation last August...when it was dry as a bone in our area. Had we not had some of the permit delays that we did, we would have started digging in August...and when the fall downpours came, we'd probably have ended up with a swamp in our basement.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:27PM
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