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Holly000 02-21-2012 12:30 PM

Vertical deflection
My new home was constructed in 2011. I moved in Oct. 2011. The first day, I noticed problems with my laminate floor. After a year long battle with the builder and flooring contractor, the floor was completely replaced (throughout the entire house). The new installation was finished in the beginning of January 2012. We immediately began to notice the same problems (boards peaking end to end and side to side all over, lifted boards, curling corners, gaps).

After re-reading the inspection report that caused the floor to be replaced, I read; "there is vertical deflection of 1/8" in 3'). I contacted my builder and was told the acceptable tolerance is 1/4" in 20'. I don't understand what this means. Our floors have a lot of movement. If I'm in one end of the house, and you place a glass of water on a table in the opposite end, the water moves quite a bit.

There were installation problems with the first laminate floor (no expansion gap, joint staggers far too short).

We have a quiet floor, and I now believe there are not enough concrete pads or support beams to support the floor. The bounciness is especially bad in the area where there is no concrete support under the house.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Holly :)

oldognewtrick 02-21-2012 12:35 PM

I would suggest calling a structural engineer and asking for an inspection of the support and framing. It would be worth the expense of paying for an unbiased opinion of the integrity of your floor system.

oh, and welcome to House Repair Talk!

Arbutus 02-21-2012 01:07 PM

It sounds like your floor is wavy, with close peaks and valleys. The 1/8" deflection over 4 ft means that over a 3 ft section the floor dips down 1/8" then back up. This is more then laminate floors are made to handle. Your general contractor said that 1/4" deflection over 20 ft was acceptable, and I'd agree, but if you break that down, that allows 1/8" deflection over 10 ft and, 1/16" over 5 ft. and even less then that over 3 ft.

If this is the source of your problem and you get the floors replaced again the subfloor needs to be leveled before the new laminate floor is laid.

Is your laminate over concrete?

Holly000 02-21-2012 04:23 PM

My home is on a crawl space, not a slab, so no concrete.

And thank you both for you replies. It has helped me decide what my next step will be. Phone call to a structural engineer. My next door neighbor has the same model home as I have, and they are having the same typed of problems. Our floors were also replaced in the bathrooms and laundry rooms because there were staples popping all over. At the time, we were told the wrong staples and subfloor were used. But we had staples popping again the day after the new installation.

Thanks again for your replies!

Holly :)

nealtw 02-21-2012 04:29 PM

Like Oldog said: hire an engineer and pay for a report. Have him check the whole structure. Do you have a new home warrentee?

BridgeMan 02-21-2012 09:02 PM


Here's my report (I'm still a licensed P.E. in 4 states). Keep in mind that I'm working "blind", so please bear with me:

Based on the foregoing discussions, you have either "wavy" floors or "wiggly" floors, or a combination of both. The former, to the degree mentioned, is highly unusual in a new home. It would mean that both uneven floor joists and deficient-thickness subflooring were used. Not necessarily impossible, just not seen very often. The excess floor movement you described is also quite unusual. I just did a test in my own beat-up, 70-year old farm house--my wife confirmed that a glass of water on the kitchen table has no appreciable movement whatsoever when I did jumping jacks on the floor in the next room. And I'm no dainty ballerina, weighing in at 255 lbs. That being said, it sounds like your house's floor support system could be framed with joists that are over-spanned/over-spaced (too long and too far apart for standard applied live and dead loads), or the main interior support member they rest on is under-designed for the distances it spans (too flimsy).

In either case, it sounds to me like your builder and his warranty need to be brought into the picture. And it would help to have a local building inspector present when the builder shows up, as well. Before you call for an on-site meeting, it would be worth your while to go down into the crawl space with a tape measure, and verify that what's there is what the home's construction plans say should be there. Things to check include size and length of main support beam; size, spacing and construction type of main beam intermediate support members; size, span and spacing of floor joists; and thickness and type of subfloor (can do by pulling a furnace register, or looking at the crawl space entry point). And pay particular attention to any notching or cutting of floor joists (or even the main beam) for utility access, and take pictures of same.

It sounds like your builder was somewhat lax in the quality control aspect of your home's construction. If he gets snotty and says he's completed his obligations under your contract, then you simply need to remind him that he will continue to pay for finished flooring replacements until the work is done to both your and the flooring supplier's satisfaction. Something like a new floor every month sounds about right. No threat, just fact.

And it might not hurt to carefully document everything that's happened and what's been done to date, including dates of remedial work and all phone calls. And for sure, have a tape recorder running for any future meetings with the builder, just in case you need more ammunition for a legal claim.

Holly000 02-21-2012 11:53 PM

Bridgeman, thank you so much for your comments! While the one year home warranty has expired, the problems began before it had, and we have a paper trail that's miles long documenting what work has been done, when we reported problems, as well as the long struggle to have the floor replaced.

Your comments have helped me formulate a game plan for my next steps.

Again, thank you very, very much.


aureliconstruction 02-22-2012 07:04 AM

It could be as simple as adding a header underneath the floor joist, hoping that it is the basement.

Holly000 02-23-2012 04:44 PM

For now, I'm in a holding pattern. I guess I'll let my builder and flooring company do their inspections. If I don't hear what I expect, my husband and I have a structural engineer ready to look at the floor and in our crawl space.

Our neighbor who's having the exact problem will keep us abreast of what's happening with their inspection, as we will on theirs. I am so ready for this to be over. 15+ months of aggravating back and forth with my builder. Our last step will be to hire a lawyer with our neighbor. One way or another, the problem will be diagnosed and repaired.

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

Holly :)

nealtw 02-23-2012 05:29 PM

In your first post, you said you had a quiet floor. Did you mean to say you had a Silent Floor System or something like that.

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