“Fill is heavy, keep it steady”

The
Structure:

Although the views are magnificent atop beautiful Beech Mountain, they come at a risk. Like many residences that are built on this extreme slope, they are built using extremely high CMU (concrete masonry unit) foundation walls. Fill material is then piled up behind the foundation wall to provide a level grade for means of entrance into the home.

The
Topography:

At an elevation of 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain is the highest town east of the Mississippi. Many homeowners choose to build their houses directly on the slope of the mountain in order to obtain the best view, however many structural concerns come into play that contractors sometimes neglect. If not careful, your house could end up at the bottom of the mountain.

The
Problem:

The combination of poor construction practices, steep grade conditions, and water erosion caused the foundation wall to settle and crack. In addition, the timber deck also showed severe signs of settlement.

Lesson Learned:

“If you build on fill you will pay the bill”

-in this region of the country, fill material on a slope steeper than 2:1 is highly unstable and susceptible to settlement. Due to geometry constraints, sometimes builders are forced to build on slopes steeper than 2:1, if this is the case some standard building practices should take place. The foundation of the residence should always go down to residual
(untouched) soil, or rest on reinforced soil in order to achieve proper stability. Gutter pipes
and water runoff should terminate below the toe of the fill material to protect from erosion. If possible, do not build within 10 feet of where the fill slope breaks downhill.