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My house in Columbus, Ohio. I found yesterday that two feet of breakfast area is an extension that not sits on foundation.foundation at right, there are two feet to the left that is on brick

It sits next to the soil underneath the brick patio. The house is 12 years old and some of the frame has rotted through.wood has rotted

The soil under the patio brick is higher than foundation (to cover up the the fact part of the house is not sitting on foundation?). The drainage pipe connection is below the bricks and in the soil. The pipe clog causes water flows underneath the patio brick and cause patio wall to tilt. When I finally tried to fix the tilt, I found out two feet of house is not on foundation.

I am the third owner of this house. I am pretty sure the extension is not the act of previous owners. The place is shown as masonry stoop on county website. The fact was not in the sale disclosure and not discovered by my inspector three years ago. The builder is a large, reputable builder.

I am looking for technical advice as how to fix it right, what else I need to look for and ask builder to fix. Whether the right solution is to add foundation underneath or eliminate the extension? Need to open the area where siding touches the soil to check for rotten studs?

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    A picture would be helpful here to determine if you have an error in foundation size or if this may have been a planned and engineered cantilever. – user2448131 Sep 5 '16 at 15:00
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    While my house is much older, your first photo looks very similar to the cantilever under my front window. This picture is way too cropped to, but maybe you can see what i mean. – Jason Capriotti Sep 5 '16 at 16:21
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    Thanks, Jason. If it is open in the air like your window, I would believe it is planned that way. The cardinal rule of wood framing is soil should not touch wood frame and soil should be 6 inches below foundation. My situation does not fit that rule. – Shawn43054 Sep 5 '16 at 16:28
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    When you say "what recourse", are you looking for how to fix it or legal? Just want to be sure. – Jason Capriotti Sep 5 '16 at 22:24
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    A cantilever is fine, it's a common architectural element. Sitting on a masonry foundation is fine if it provides proper structural support and is designed to keep the wood dry. You can't simply stick some foundation under a cantilever after the fact. You never want to build up a dirt foundation under a cantilever, especially if you create a drainage problem. The wood getting wet and staying wet will rot away the cantilever's support. All you can do at this point is expose the original structure, inspect it and repair any damage, then do a properly designed job to achieve what you want. – fixer1234 Apr 23 '17 at 19:41
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I think you'll need to start by removing some or all of the brick and dirt. I'd start there.

Then you can inspect underneath and figure out what needs to happen. If it's properly constructed then you won't need to do anything. I definitely wouldn't assume it needs to be removed until you know what shape the joists are in.

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Possible solutions

First you'll want to take out enough dirt to properly assess and repair the damage to the structure itself. How you finish the external protection depends on whether you want to:

  • Remove the raised patio entirely and replace with stairs
    [Fix house wrap and repair/replace any mangled siding if desired]
  • Keep the patio and mitigate drainage issues
    [Waterproof the buried area properly (all the way down to footings), and/or add a drainage system to carry water away from the structure]

Observations

The cantilever is fine, it was likely done to reduce the excavation and material of the foundation (basement?). Or, if you prefer to think of it more positively, to expand the size of the main floor beyond the foundation walls. The only problem is the fill against a non-waterproofed section of the house.

Even before reading the OP's comment, my impression from the pictures was that the porch area was added after the house was built. Note the siding trim ending at the sliding door; there were probably steps leading down from the doorway originally. Probably the masonry stoop shown on the plans, though since I don't see buried concrete stairs (people are lazy, why move/dispose) and the vapor barrier seems original, I'd bet it was only ever temporary wood steps for getting the initial CFO. Most likely scenario here is that a previous owner just put in the raised patio without a permit or city inspections.

As far as prospects for legal recourse (IANAL), in reverse chronological order:

  • Your inspector (who btw typically has 0 liability no matter how badly they overlook something) could potentially have caught the discrepancy with the plans on file, but most don't look at plans that close (if at all), and they certainly wouldn't have dug up the patio to check.
  • Previous owners weren't necessarily aware the damage (took you 3 years to find it) or that the porch wasn't original, so they wouldn't have known to disclose anything.
  • Builder got sign-off from the city against the plans on file, so they have documentation they did the work properly at the time and didn't install the porch. BTW I believe that the builder could easily remember the general project details, even 12 years later; I can recall many aspects of houses I worked on 20 years ago.

Since you have no evidence of who put in the porch or when, or that the last owners had cause to know about the damage and disclose it, I doubt you could hold any of these parties responsible for repairs.

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