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  • Planning went rather smoothly. The implementation of their plan as designed was a different story.
    I received a call at work from the builder saying the frost walls that were planned by ACE actually ended beneath ground level and did I want his foundation crew to raise them to  the proper above-ground height?  It cost me extra to have the frost walls elevated above ground.
    After the foundation was poured, I noticed the north wall of the house was at the outer edge of the deck, eight feet north of where the north wall of the house was planned. Communication with Doug at ACE was frustrating. His recommendations from his email: "1. Collect rainwater from the deck with a membrane on thin plywood sheathing underneath the deck boards so it runs off the deck edge; 2. Set the breakaway panels at the north end  of the house along Line B instead of Line A; or 3. Increase the pitch of the slab between Lines A and B.'" (Line B is where the north wall of the house is located). So, not only had I paid for unnecessary labor and concrete under the deck, it cost me more to have a frost wall added along Line B, where, I believe, the average home owner would expect to find a foundation wall...under the outside wall of the house, yes/no? 
    My questions were met by blaming me for not providing a complete set of house plans or a site plan. I'm not the engineer. If ACE did not have the information they needed, they should NOT have drawn the plans or billed me for them. It's like a doctor not having all the x-rays or instruments he or she needs during surgery and the patient suffers harm because of it. Blame the patient? Our communication ended with ACE's stern statement in an email:  "If you make changes to ACE's plan without authorization, you are responsible for their implementation cost and any consequences, intentional or otherwise, arising from those changes. ACE will bill you for further consultation on this issue at our Time & Materials rate."
    Then to top it off, when I applied for flood insurance, my premiums went from an estimated $700 a year to over $3500 per year because the slab was still at the same elevation of the original frost walls in ACE's design. The underground slab is therefore considered a basement, which is not allowed for new coastal construction in Coastal A zones, particularly if you want to minimize insurance costs, which was my original intent. I 'm sure someone's easy solution to my problem would read like this: "1. Just fill your basement with fourteen inches of concrete to bring it above ground level to where it should have been."
    - Maureen C.
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Structural Engineers in Portsmouth

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