Inspecting previous sinkhole repairs
If you find yourself in the situation where you’re interested in purchasing home with a history of sinkhole damage, you may want to have the home inspected for peace of mind.
So who do you turn to? Who should you contact to help you be confident in the state of your home?
Who repairs sinkholes?
Sinkhole repairs involve a wide variety of professionals, including geologists, geotechnical engineers, and structural engineers. They also involve the participation of general contractors who act to repair the cosmetic damages after the subsurface repaired.
Additionally, some of the work done by the repair companies cannot be visually inspected. Thus, if the depth of the grouting or pinning was not done correctly, it may not be possible to determine the effectiveness of the repairs.
Suffice to say, if you know the house had previous repairs for sinkhole activity, a traditional home inspector (these people need not be licensed – need a license to fish, but not to inspect homes) is beyond their skill set on this one.
Who to call
I would recommend retaining either a general contractor or an engineering firm. My suggestion would be to begin by gathering information before you determine whether to spend the money on an engineer.
First, go to the building department of the county in which the home is located and obtain a copy of all building permits pulled on the home. There should be a permit for the repair company, and potentially one for the actual sinkhole investigation.
You should ask the engineering firm who supervised the repairs (they will be on the permit) to provide you a copy of the “monitor supervision” certification, or related documents. This document, by whatever name they call it, will include a statement by an engineer stating that the work was done according to the original engineering firm’s repair recommendations.
The seller has information, too
You should also consult with the seller regarding a complete copy of the general contractor’s materials, to assure that the contractor did not simply take steps to cover up, and not repair the damage.
Based on this information, I would recommend consulting with the engineer who supervised the work or consider hiring a professional engineer to evaluate the materials. If you are not willing to commit to these steps.