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Home Foundations Decayed due to Alkaline Soil Reacting with Porous Concrete

In the early 2000s, developers began building homes in a suburban lakeside neighborhood. Families flocked to the community for its location and value. However, only a decade later, homeowners noticed disturbing signs that their homes were deteriorating. Their homes’ concrete foundations and property fences were eroding at an alarming rate. Concerned about their safety and long-term depreciation, the homeowners contacted Daniel Rottinghaus and Howard J. Silldorf of BERDING|WEIL to investigate the causes of their crumbling houses and navigate the options to repair them.

As the duo of construction defect attorneys examined the properties, they noticed that the soil around the homes was highly alkaline. Moreover, the concrete the builders used was porous, allowing moisture to seep in and out of the foundations. Daniel and Howard realized that water in the soil mixed with the dissolved salty minerals before permeating the cement structures. As the water evaporated, it left behind the corrosive elements. Over time, this cycle dramatically weakened the masonry. In addition, steel cables embedded in the homes’ foundations were exposed to the saline conditions, rusting them nearly to the point of collapse.

However, all these issues could have been avoided had the developers used watertight concrete and structural grout.

Having uncovered the reason for these homes’ disintegrating foundations, Daniel and Howard worked on the solutions and their costs. Next, they compiled their findings to advocate for their clients. Finally, with a mountain of evidence and technical analyses, the pair brought on DK Global. With direction from their engineering experts, DK Global synthesized Daniel and Howard’s arguments into an easy-to-understand animated presentation.

The demonstrative began with an overhead view of the neighborhood plagued by salt-laden soil. Next, the visual showed how the erosive minerals damaged the concrete walls and homes. A lateral view of the homes’ substructure displayed the post-tension cables riddled with rust. Then, the experts’ solutions to restore the properties were detailed: the concrete walls required a complete overhaul to replace the existing masonry with watertight cement; additionally, the homes’ essential hardware needed to be exposed, coated with epoxy, and filled with a waterproof sealer.

During mediation, Daniel and Howard shared the animation and explained how the builders failed to account for the soil’s salt content. They stressed the urgency to reach a resolution, as the homes were continuing to deteriorate and depreciate. As a result, Daniel and Howard secured a multi-million-dollar settlement to restore the homes’ structural integrity.

Daniel Rottinghaus has continuously been named a “Super Lawyer” for over ten years, representing commercial and residential real estate clients regarding construction defects. Daniel has served as a Special Task Force legal advisor for the U.S. State Department and as a Lead attorney for U.S. Army cases involving multi-billion-dollar Iranian claims, earning him the Department of State “Superior Honor Award” in 1993.

For nearly 30 years, Howard J. Silldorf has represented clients throughout Southern California, recovering more than $200,000,000 for his clients in over 100 cases. Howard has earned the Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rating of “AV Preeminent” for representing his clients in construction defect cases, a prestigious accomplishment attained by attorneys of the highest level of professional excellence.


"We used DK Global once, fell in love with the process and fell in love with the outcome and the strategy, and realized that what's making our clients happy is a different perspective and coming in at different angles."
Shelby Powell - BERDING|WEIL
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