I've been recently reading news that buildings are tilting due to torrential rain as the foundation gets weakened and those buildings are ordered to be demolished as well.

Some cases which lead to weakening of foundation

  • Near by water body
  • Excavation work near by building
  • Excessive water went in neighhours borewell

What exactly we can do to see the tilting of building and do something before the situation goes out of control.

Some wisdom would be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


All buildings settle. Most settlement is planned and occurs uniformly and immediately after the weight of the new building materials are added to the freshly excavated soil. (This usually occurs within the first couple of months of loading the weight of the building to the soil, depending on the type of soil.)

Unplanned settlement occurs when something influences the existing soil, such as fresh adjacent excavation, heavy objects, including drywells, etc. create additional unplanned weight on the soil causing settlement.

When heavy loads such as drywell tanks filled with water are installed on one side of a building, it will cause differential settlement, which is very noticeable.

  • Thanks your answer helps to have an idea. If the building foundation is 6 ft , and I keep the dry at 11 feet. Would it still cause differential settlement ?
    – CuriousMan
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 11:23
  • As a general rule, Anything within a 45 degree angle of the bottom of your wall will add direct downward pressure on soil under the footing. Sideward pressure is determined more by type of soil, voids behind wall, etc. If there is very little water in containers (keep containers drained) then pressure downwards and sideways is significantly less. There are typical characteristics for various soils (sand drains better than clay, etc.) but exact calculations could be done by geotechnical engineer. Is this something typical in your area?
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 15:36
  • Anything 45 degree ? you mean another construction or even a Dry well(Cement ring well) ? an open bottom septic tank is below the building at the end of the west wall. Will that also add some pressure ? I'm thinking to build three dry well (Cement ring) to handle drainage(On north end ) will that also affect the walls ? If you have time , could you please go through list of questions I've posted in my account , I'd really appreciate and I'm deeply worried as well
    – CuriousMan
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 12:16
  • I couldn't find much geo technical engineers here. I'm planning to so some soil test first.What's differential settlement
    – CuriousMan
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 12:17
  • 1
    Likely not…the existing ground water has already caused the surrounding soil to settle out (compact all it’s going to compact). New settlement is usually caused by “new” load applied to new or existing supports (footings). Differential settlement is when the new load is applied non-uniformly. Each type of building can be calculated to the amount of settlement expected (concrete = heavy; wood frame = light) and those loads added up and compared to existing type of soil (gravel = voids and likely to compact; clay = fewer voids and less likely to compact ).
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 0:01

Foundation problems are inspected with leveling tools that are very sensitive such as this ZipLevel. The main unit would be placed in the center of the building and then measurements are taken in each corner and in other key places and plotted on a drawing of the building. Once all measurements are done, some math can show you the inclination of the foundation, and problems like tilting or cracking become appearant.

That device retails for around $700, but for a cheap, do-it-yourself option, a simple water level can be used. You can look up water levels, but at its most basic, its just a clear tube filled with water that is open on both ends. You hold the ends of the tube up and the water on both ends will be level. You measure from the floor to the water level and by taking several measurements, you can see if the foundation is tilting.

If the foundation is tilting, remediation is a bit beyond DIY. Catching the problem early is best. A root cause also has to be determined so future problems can be prevented. Poor drainage and even plumbing leaks can be major contributors.

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