Case of the month: The Damaged Driveway

Oct 1, 2012 by

The homeowner’s residence suffered a recent water line failure.   One of the concrete pads was also said to be recently cracked, possibly as a result of a broken water line.   The homeowner submitted an insurance claim for the recent damage to their driveway.

The residence was built circa 1978, with an attached two-car garage.   The driveway between the street and the garage was composed of four concrete pads.

GEI was assigned to review the supplied water line detection and repair documents and to inspect the site to identify and determine the predominant cause and approximate age of the observed damage to the concrete pads.

Our expert inspected the residence in the presence of the homeowner, who noted that cracking was evident on the slab following repairs to a broken water line.   The property was a single-family, timber-framed building, aligned facing east on the principally north-south street.   Only the front area outside the residence was inspected, comprising concrete pads fronting the garage.   Our expert took a series of photographs and measurements of the site to document his observations.

The garage entry driveway exceeded the width of the garage door, thereby incorporating entry to the side gate also.   The affected parking pad was that of the south-west corner, adjacent to the garage where the homeowner stated that a crack, principally east-west in direction, had appeared in response to her husband having parked his vehicle outside the garage on the driveway.  All four pads had differing levels of cracking and damage to them, which was acknowledged by the homeowner.

The claimed newer cracking observed was principally east-west from the garage to the street, approximately along the mid-line of that south-west pad of the four pads.   That newer cracking formed a junction with some acknowledged older cracking, aligned north-south.

Because the other cracking was acknowledged to be pre-existing, the expert took particular note of the age of the edges of the claimed newer cracking.   In cases where concrete has recently (within the last one to two months) cracked, the concrete edges show a bright fresh appearance.   The edges of cracking thus formed are matching in all respects on each side of such crack and there are rarely, if ever, missing sections of concrete.   The crack in such recent cases is normally clear of debris and does not include any plant growth.  These same observations were absent from the cracking in the driveway of this particular home.   The edges were not bright, there was debris in the depth of the crack, and the edges of the cracks exhibited missing sections, which were not in evidence in the near vicinity.   Based on the expert’s observations and experience with similar cracking, it was not probable that the stated cracking was recent.   There was no evidence of tilting to the edges of the cracking, such as might result from water movement under the slab to create consolidation of the soils in an uneven pattern (tipping the slab either upwards or downwards), and it was probable that the cause of the cracking was the same cause as had affected the cracking to other slabs in the area, namely, gross ground movement.

In reviewing the documentation supplied, it was apparent that the insurance claim was being made to cover the cost of replacing all four pads, on the basis that all four pads were cracked.   It was evident from the inspection that all four pads had cracked because of ground movement.  Water movement under one of the pads was not responsible as a cause of consolidation of the soils under one slab to have resulted in the observed cracking.

 

Based on the foregoing, it was the expert’s opinion that the predominant cause of the claimed pad damage was large ground movement over a protracted period of time.   The damage was not caused by the broken water pipe, but was instead the result of long-term earth movement consistent with the other visible damage.   The approximate age of the observed damage was not less than six months prior to the date of inspection.

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