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View Full Version : They are calling it "slope failure"


YellowDogSVC
01-26-2010, 03:15 PM
In San Antonio. We have had a lot of rain after a long drought. Not sure if that is a factor. Some of these developers cut corners. I have worked around some of the job sites and have seen things that don't look right but heck, if you cover it with enough dirt... I was under the impression that all of these slopes greater than 4 ft. needed to be engineered. That "retaining" wall looked a little shoddy for holding back that much dirt but was supposedly engineered. Another issue I see, a number of developers clear all the trees out under "ag use" while the cows are still grazing and before the property becomes a development. But that's another loophole the greedy developers use to rape the land. No roots to hold the soil. Poor soils, high clay content, no place for water to go..disaster.
Not saying this was one of those cases but it's common here and a lot of that dirt looks like fill.

http://www.ksat.com/slideshow//news/22334287/detail.html

mudmaker
01-26-2010, 03:30 PM
WOW! I wonder how the insurance companies are reacting to that. Did this happen all at once or gradually? Looks like aftermath from an earthquake.

YellowDogSVC
01-26-2010, 03:39 PM
WOW! I wonder how the insurance companies are reacting to that. Did this happen all at once or gradually? Looks like aftermath from an earthquake.

happened in a few hours then really started spreading. you can read about it at www.ksat.com it's big news here

mudmaker
01-26-2010, 04:09 PM
I think Centex may be in a bit of trouble beings the city said no permit was issued for the wall that failed. I am sure someone is scrambling to find the engineered plans for the wall!!

ProTouch Groundscapes
01-26-2010, 05:59 PM
thats absolutely ridiculous. I agree that these developers feel they can get away with murder because they have their "contacts" in the local or state level governments. I dont trust development built houses, lots of cut corners etc...

AWJ Services
01-26-2010, 06:03 PM
I wonder how much of the soil was fill behind the wall?
Engineering a wall that size is important but without inspections during construction by the engineering firm they can always say the wall was not installed correctly.
What a mess.

Lawn Man Dave
01-26-2010, 07:17 PM
I think Centex may be in a bit of trouble beings the city said no permit was issued for the wall that failed. I am sure someone is scrambling to find the engineered plans for the wall!!

Looks like Centex has admitted to not having/getting the permits.....

"A representative for Centex Homes admitted Tuesday afternoon that the company didn't have the right permits to build the failed retaining wall and are are to blame for the subsequent hillside collapse that has devastated a Northwest side community"

RockSet N' Grade
01-26-2010, 09:03 PM
This interests me alot. I am going to follow this. By Centex stepping up first they set up an interesting offensive posture. Watch their attorney's earn their money now.......they will go after the city as being a culpable party for what ever legal reason they can, cost the city big bucks in legal fees and then come to some type of settlement where they share ownership of the situation. Lot's of subs will be bankrupt by this by being drug into the mix. Interesting stuff........

YellowDogSVC
01-26-2010, 09:46 PM
This interests me alot. I am going to follow this. By Centex stepping up first they set up an interesting offensive posture. Watch their attorney's earn their money now.......they will go after the city as being a culpable party for what ever legal reason they can, cost the city big bucks in legal fees and then come to some type of settlement where they share ownership of the situation. Lot's of subs will be bankrupt by this by being drug into the mix. Interesting stuff........

they didn't exactly step up. At first they stated there was engineered plans and permit but the city had no record..

This interests me alot. I am going to follow this. By Centex stepping up first they set up an interesting offensive posture. Watch their attorney's earn their money now.......they will go after the city as being a culpable party for what ever legal reason they can, cost the city big bucks in legal fees and then come to some type of settlement where they share ownership of the situation. Lot's of subs will be bankrupt by this by being drug into the mix. Interesting stuff........


maybe they will stop using exchange students to build all the rock work in San Antonio. It's entirely possible the plans were in a foreign language.. English.

Outdoor_Maintenance_2010
01-27-2010, 12:41 AM
something like that happened around here, ended up that the city had to move 4-6 houses.The city give them 175 000$ each to move there homes,since its was the city;s fault for hiring idiots to do the work.

http://i49.tinypic.com/10p9fo5.jpg
http://i47.tinypic.com/2iiu991.jpg

White Gardens
01-27-2010, 02:31 AM
Part of me isn't buying the fact that the whole slope slid due to the retaining wall failure.

I'm sure that the wall was the main issue, but that whole hillside slid. I would think that no retaining wall could withstand a massive movement of soil such as this.

I'm going to say that the soil structure is partially to blame and that issue should have been addressed before the project even started.

YellowDogSVC
01-27-2010, 10:17 AM
Here is my thoughts as an observer.
The ground is very hard in Texas even in San Antonio. We were in a bad drought when those homes were built (most likely) and the ground was hard, dry, and had virtually been shrink wrapped. Add tons of fill with a dozer or scraper and it's tilting a hot pizza. The cheese slides off the dough because it isn't anchored to anything. Gravity is a hell of a thing and the developer probably knew that but the super didn't compact or put enough large rocks in the mix to help stabilze the slope.

As for the retaining wall, I haven't see it up close but doesn't it look a little small? Wouldn't a gabion wall been more effective along with more gradual slope?

This affects all of us in the dirt industry. More regulations will come up in my area because of this and much like the infamous San Antonio mulch
fire of 2007, the rules are never designed to make a contractors life any easier.

I am going to follow this story and try and learn something. Personally, I'd like to see more custom homes (built into the landscape) instead of cookie cutter neighborhoods that unfortunately make the land conform but I realize that these types of neighborhoods are big business and they aren't going anywhere.

AWJ Services
01-27-2010, 10:33 AM
Part of me isn't buying the fact that the whole slope slid due to the retaining wall failure.

I'm sure that the wall was the main issue, but that whole hillside slid. I would think that no retaining wall could withstand a massive movement of soil such as this.

I'm going to say that the soil structure is partially to blame and that issue should have been addressed before the project even started.

When the wall is engineered soil composition, fill , water flow, etc are figured into the walls design. Usually these plans will have a wall block that the Wall manufacturer establishes as applicable to the load ratings establish by the engineering plans and will work in that application. Ultimatley the installer is responsible that all engineering specifications are abided by and the wall block is installed to wall block manufacturers specifications as well as the wall is properly back filled. If all 3 do there job the wall stays in place.

Hopefully the truth will be available.

YellowDogSVC
02-02-2010, 11:03 AM
Update. Slope has been stabilized and made it through the rains but the lawyers are swarming like bees. A number of people, who were not directly affected, have already sued out of fear of further collapse. the news found the saddest little, non English speaking immigrant and translated her story about how she is suing because she is in fear of another wall collapse. She is downhill but from what I gathered, not exactly in danger of having her house wash away. The landslides here are gradual and though some happen quickly, most don't go far. The hills aren't that steep.

White Gardens
02-02-2010, 11:36 AM
Keep us up to date, I'd like to know what the final word is, if there is going to be one.

YellowDogSVC
02-02-2010, 04:45 PM
Keep us up to date, I'd like to know what the final word is, if there is going to be one.

they halted repairs last week when the rains moved in then resumed. I think it is stabilized. more heavy rain is moving in tomorrow, though, and we'll see. It is not uncommon for the ground here to resist compaction. the clay swells and shrinks with sun and rain cycles. I have seen county roads excavated and oversize rock dumped where the clay was then resurfaced with base and asphalt.
Out in the country we just live and work with shifting soils but the city slickers run to the lawyer. I think they would be better off negotiating for neighborhood improvements and repairs. Too many builders put in walls and fences only to have them look like hell after a few years. Maybe the property owners could negotiate with the developer for that rather than tying him up in court..BUT...the lawyers start circling at the smell of blood. Makes me sick. How can lawyers sleep at night? Must be on a pillow stuffed with blood money.