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Bulkhead Foundation Horror Story - Need your advice

Laura
last month
last modified: last month

Project Description: Whole house renovation in Massachusetts. A crawl space foundation was added for an ‘L’ shape addition (side and the back of the house). The existing basement bulkhead was removed from the back and a new foundation was poured on the other side (the one without the new addition).



You’ll notice that the foundation for the basement bulkhead was mistakenly poured lower than the foundation for the addition.



The builder never discussed this with me. He went ahead and added blocks to raise the height:



I wasn’t happy with this solution as I felt that he should have re-poured the foundation but he convinced me this was a perfectly acceptable solution.

For four months, I constantly asked my contractor why he wasn’t installing the bulkhead door. He said he was researching the doors I was interested in (The Clam door or a fiberglass door). Based on other events that were occurring, I became concerned that he was avoiding putting the door on because of an issue. I measured and discovered that the length of the foundation was too short to accommodate a size ‘C’ door. When I asked him if this was why he wasn’t installing the door, he acknowledged this was the reason. His solution was to build a platform on top of the foundation:







As you might have noticed from the last couple of pictures, the door was improperly installed. One side of the track hangs off the platform and when closed, the front of the doors extend past the platform. Also, if you look at the channel between the two closed doors, you’ll see it’s much narrower towards the house. Here’s a picture when closed and locked (yes, it does rain inside):



At this point, I now have two issues: the patchwork foundation and doors that are not installed correctly. I let the contractor know that I want everything removed and to start fresh. I actually suggested that he have a precast unit delivered, which he was not open to.

I did manage to get in touch with customer service at Bilco (makers of the door) who confirmed that the door is improperly installed as all parts of the door must rest on concrete, which I conveyed to my builder. However, I found this yesterday when I went to the job site:



You can see that he cemented blocks to the front of the foundation (wood and rock is just there until it sets) and extended the platform. I should note that he also told me additional fill is needed so this new section will basically be covered by dirt.

Unfortunately, I think we may end up in court over this. I feel that I paid for a properly sized foundation and not something that is pieced together. Also, I’m concerned that the waterproofing on the original structure was much too low. Another concern is that the latest addition of blocks is not below the frost line.

I'd really appreciate your advice. Am I overreacting? Is there another solution other than to tear everything out? Also, if you notice anything from these pictures that I'm missing that would concern you, please let me know.

Thanks so much!

Laura

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