Distress in buildings often relates to the movement of the foundation because the walls, ceilings and upper story floors rely on the foundation for their support. When the floor plane moves, the superstructure distorts, construction that needs to remain square warps, and brittle materials that clad building surfaces crack.
Despite the dependence of the building on the rigidity of the foundation, distress in the building can result from other causes. For this reason, as an initial step, it is necessary to measure distortion in the floor plane to determine the exact cause of the distress.
Critical issues related to isolating the foundation as a cause of building distress are:
- Does a pattern of distortion exist in the floor plane?
- Does observed distress relate to distortion in the floor plane?
- What are the possible causes of any distortion observed in the floor plane?
- How can foundation displacement be prevented from causing further distress to the building?