Settling bedroom needs inspection by a builder

Q. When we bought a four-year-old house in 1960, there was an existing storage room attached to the garage with a common wall between them. In 1973 the room was remodeled into a boy's bedroom. Then in 1981 the room began to tilt downward and pull away from the garage wall at the roof.

We've attempted to find out just how the foundation was laid and if there were sufficiently deep corner posts sunk before the slab was poured. An architect only says the building is settling as do all buildings.

What steps can we take to ensure the safety of the room and protect it from complete separation from the garage? A reader Santa Ana, Calif.

A. In my opinion, the original outer-wall footings of the storeroom-turned-bedroom were poured in uncompacted fill soil. The heavy rains in your area are likely to have compacted the earth below the footings, thus causing them to settle while pulling away at the roof connection with the garage.

What to do now? Hire a veteran builder to inspect the condition of the settlement.

Ask him to ascertain what, if anything, can be done short of demolition and reconstruction. Investigate the possibility of jacking up and leveling the room while stabilizing it on a properly designed new footing or foundation.

Fixing the blame on someone after almost a quarter of a century will not solve the settlement problem. Spend that energy on solving the problem today.

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