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We came home from work last week to find a large hairline crack in our floor tile extending from our garage, through the entryway, pantry, kitchen and beneath the cabinets to the side of the house. Ceramic tile was installed directly over concrete slab. A few weeks back, we heard loud cracking noises coming from the area that we couldn't identify. I suspect now that was the foundation or tile cracking.

Looking back over construction pictures from 2 years ago, we found that a crack in the concrete was present at the framing stage that corresponds to the tile crack. We have a home warranty for the foundation that lasts for 10 years. The builder called this normal expansion and contraction. I see no joints in the poured concrete slab to allow for controlled expansion.

This was to be our retirement home and now we are very concerned about its structural integrity longterm. I'd appreciate any suggestions on how to proceed.

Garage wall through entryway Exit trough side wall of house Through the pantry into the kitchen

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  • I couldn't agree with the contractor to dismiss these are shrinkage cracks. I'll expose an area to exam the slab, and contact an engineer if the cracks on the slab getting wider and longer.
    – r13
    Jul 3 '21 at 16:42
  • Hairline cracks aren't cracks. Probably a bad idea to lay tiles directly onto recent concrete. Jul 3 '21 at 18:48
  • Regardless of what's going on with your foundation, a quality tile installer will use a decoupling membrane or similar.
    – Matthew
    Jul 4 '21 at 5:50
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All concrete shrinks when it’s 1) new, and 2) when it’s loaded up with the building’s components.

  1. Most of the strength and shrinkage occurs in the first 28 days and would certainly expose any “shrinkage cracks” that were not accounted for in the design.

Control joints are installed during construction to control where these cracks will occur. (We generally try to keep them under walls, cabinets, etc.) Your cracks (in the slab…we don’t have pictures of the cracked tiles) are random and we’re not accounted for in the design.

  1. Every building settles during construction due to the weight of the new construction. We try to keep it small and uniform. I suspect these new cracks are due to your house settling… not from concrete shrinkage.

If these cracks you show in the pictures are just now showing through your tile flooring, the contractor saw the cracks and tried to fix them before he installed the tile.

When cracks occur 2 years after construction, that is usually due to outside forces. I’d check for new construction in the neighborhood or Florida is known for decaying soil conditions.

Summary:

Therefore, the cracks are due to your foundation settling and is covered by your warranty.

You’ll need an attorney. Get one that knows construction law… they all have specialties. You’ll also need an expert witness, like a structural engineer or an architect. Let your attorney help guide you.

You can also contact your local contractors licensing board. They hold a bond from your contractor that could help pay to correct the problem.

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  • Thank you for your excellent information and advice. The cracked foundation had one continuous crack extending from the internal garage wall across the living spaces to the external wall on the opposite side. The tile crack follows precisely the crack in the foundation beneath. Again, I greatly appreciate your insight. Jul 3 '21 at 20:56

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