How to Look

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Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

  1. Excessive weight placed on a driveway slab, especially at outside corners, will cause settlement and cracking—like in the photo at the top of this page. An example would be a concrete or septic pumping truck with one set of wheels on the slab and the other set on the ground.

  2. Sinkholes can also cause driveway damage. While rare, they do occur in the Alachua County area. Not all sinkholes are as dramatic as the ones in the news that swallow up a house overnight. Many start out as a small depression in the soil that grows over time until a collapse occurs. To learn more about both sinkholes and clay soil, go to our blog ”What’s my chance of buying a Gainesville home over a sinkhole?”

  3. Poor site preparation can cause driveway cracking in the first couple of years after construction, typically due to inadequate soil compaction before placing the concrete.

    Concrete is strong in compression because the small and large aggregate stones in the mix can carry large loads. However it is weak in tension (bending). To offset this weakness, steel is added for strength. In the case of a driveway it would be a light gauge steel mesh embedded in the slab at the time the concrete is placed. Glass, steel or plastic fibers can be added to the concrete mix for added tensile strength. A concrete slab shrinks slightly during the curing process in the first couple of months after it is placed, and most driveways and walkways are scored to encourage the hairline shrinkage cracks to happen in the notched lines, where they are less noticeable.

  These conditions can have the same effect on asphalt driveways and walkways, except asphalt also tends to crumble at edges as it deteriorates. 

    There are many products designed for home owners to repair small driveway cracks—from special caulks to hydraulic cement—but sometimes the cracks become more of an eyesore after filling them if the work is sloppy or the surface appearance of the fill material is significantly different than the surrounding concrete. Larger cracks that are trip hazards can be ground down even with the lower side of the crack by a concrete service. We consider an abrupt change in the surface of more than a half-inch to be a trip hazard. Driveways that have severe cracking will need the damaged area cut out and replaced.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.


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