New here, so please be nice (and, failing that, please refer to the myriad Ts and Cs
Anyway, here is the situation...
My wife and I contracted a builder to build a house for us last year. After reviewing the list of inclusions (and prices) we decided to get a local earth mover to cut and fill the site for us (given that the builder's allowance was very low, and that we knew that there was a fair amount of rock at the site = $ over-runs on day 1 if we'd had the builder do it). Note that we built on a 5 acre rural block.
The builder had a clause in the contract to the effect that they would remedy - at our expense (via variation) poor earth-works prior to building.
The builder also quoted (as part of the tender) a set amount of "piering" on the fill side, and then charged us a variation for more piering, as the engineer required more.
Now, 6 months later, we're in the house, and are noticing settlement cracking in brickwork (bricks and mortar) and have had an engineer do a walk-round and general assessment.
His basic response is encapsulated below, and has me a bit worried...
To paraphrase, the engineer believes that the cracks are "normal" in modern (brick veneer) construction, and are more a result of shrinkage cracks above the windows owing to the lack of expansion joints (the west wall where some of the cracks are evident is ~13 metres wide). These expansion joints apparently being "good" rather than mandated practice.
He doesn't believe (thank goodness) that the slab or foundations are failing "at this stage" having checked the tiling etc on the fill side (no cracks).
He suggests that, as we completed the site cut and fill ourselves (or under our control), we have no real leg to stand as regards pursuing any claim on the builder...
It's true that the house probably won't fall to bits tomorrow, but the fact that there is cracking in brickwork this early (<12 months after completion) is a worry.
The earth mover we used is a local guy who has been doing this for years, and who took over his father's business when he retired. He knows what he's doing.
Question is, what (if any) leg to stand on do we have when:
1) We used an Earth Mover who "should" know what he's doing.
2) The builder inspected the site, deemed it fit for purpose (else they'd have charged a "make good" variation) and,
3) The builder's own estimation of lineal-metre piering was over-ruled by an engineer (for which they charged us a variation). The engineer mandated approx. 1/3 more piering than the builder had allowed for.
...and yet there is still (albeit minor) settlement cracking?
Can we ask them to "make good", or are we now on our own?
(I'm aware that people will suggest that we should have let the builder "do it all", but the reality is that the builder will almost certainly have "front-loaded" extra costs into site works - etc - to "cover off" such eventualities...However unlikely those eventualities might have been. I guess we're about to realise these costs at the back-end... )