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Lights, Camera… Moisture!

Concrete tilt-up efficient construction technique/


Recently Guardian Group’s Construction Defect Group was called in to consult on a reported leak at a multiscreen movie theater complex. The construction was concrete tilt-up, a common, efficient building technique often utilized for warehouse and industrial purposes. It should also be noted that this movie house sits in a part of the country known for its expansive soil which is soil that swells when it gets wet.


The moisture intrusion was easy enough to spot, even by the naked eye, and so was its proximal source: a wall separation at the corners, with caulk joints torn, where two of the tilt-up walls came together. But the operative questions at hand: what caused the wall movement and, of course, who was responsible? As for the cause, one needs to know that in locations with expansive soils the foundation requires either a thick slab or a deep (20-30 feet) pier system with grade beams. In a pier system, the walls are supported by grade beams which span between the underground piers. What is unique in an expansive soil environment is there needs to be a gap between the soil and the underside of the grade beam. This gap allows the soil to expand and contract without affecting the structure. Our investigation found this gap was not provided on this building. As the soil expanded the wall panels moved, several inches in this case. No sealant joint can withstand this kind of movement.


Guardian’s forensic expert composed a report that made it clear to all parties that fault in this case rested with the foundation subcontractor for failing to install the grade beams with a proper gap to the underlying expansive soil. Guardian’s construction defect specialist also prepared a straightforward repair scope that would enable the owner’s General Contractor to correct the foundation defect with minimal disruption to the ongoing operations of the cinema business.


Drawing upon over 30 years’ complex construction claim experience, Guardian Group, Inc. provides insurance carriers and their counsel the construction defect expertise they need, when they need it. With a reputation for rapid response, professional forensic reporting, and innovative problem-solving, Guardian’s Construction Defect Group delivers the strength your cases, claims and issues require. Kindly call on our interdisciplinary forensic team today.


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