411 on HOA cracks


It is typical in condominium associations for the HOA to have the responsibility to maintain, repair and sometimes replace concrete slab floor.  These areas are usually covered by carpeting, wood or tile, but when the floor coverings are removed there is often visible cracking.  However, this may not be significant.

It has been said that there are two kinds of concrete- that which has cracked and that which has not cracked yet.  Concrete is known and often expected to crack.  It is common in exterior applications for there to be control joints cut into the finished concrete that allow the expected cracking to take place in the joints.  Over interior slabs it is not as common for there to be control joints, hence there is often more cracking over larger expanses.   Slab cracking under carpeted areas is not unusual and often not a problem.

In connection with new construction and construction  defect litigation, Civil Code Section 896(b)(1) notes that slabs shall not contain significant cracks or significant vertical displacement.  Are any of the cracks wide enough to permit a dime to be inserted?  A quarter?  Is there any vertical displacement of more than the thickness of a quarter, where a portion has raised or lowered, or is the slab relatively level but just cracked?  If none of this is present, the cracks may not be significant or need to be dealt with at all.

If the cracking is significant then it can possibly be patched or filled if there is no vertical displacement.  It can be  ground down and then patched and filled if there is significant vertical displacement.  Wholesale removal and replacement may not be necessary.

One condition that could prove to be significant is if there is settling of the soil under the slab which is causing the cracking.  Leveling may be required, but this is more often unlikely.

The services of a civil or structural engineer may be necessary to make the final call in connection with this.  Or, you might consider have an experienced restoration contractor inspect the conditions and give an opinion on the severity of the cracking.

We can provide advice on the relative responsibilities and need for making repairs.  Let us know if we can be of help or provide an referral to an experienced construction consultant.