Does a foundation “repair” company need to pull a permit?
The short answer is yes. There are many benefits to requiring a foundation “repair” company to apply for a permit when leveling your house. The first benefit is that the process will eliminate those foundation “repair” contractors that are not licensed or bonded within the city. You can check the status of the permit application via the City of San Antonio Development Services website (Permit Search). Simply enter your address to monitor that status. Record the permit number for your records.
Another benefit is that the foundation “repair” company will need to be inspected by an engineer in order to close out the permit. Always ask if the engineer inspecting the foundation is a structural engineer. Not all engineers are created equal. The diversity in specialties of engineers is no different than medical doctors or lawyers. They are all professionals but would you prefer an orthopedic doctor to check your bones or your ear, nose and throat doctor. Most foundation repair companies do not know the difference between engineering disciplines. The ideal situation is to ask the foundation “repair” company to provide you with the name and number of the engineer that will be inspecting the foundation. You can check the discipline of the engineer on the Texas Board of Professional Engineer website (http://www.tbpe.state.tx.us/search.php). Enter the engineers full name and the result should be an STR as his discipline. The STR means that he is a structural engineer. A CIV identifies him as a civil engineer, which is a general discipline engineer. You should prefer a structural engineer before a civil engineer. Contact the engineer and discuss with him the inspection process and what he will be inspecting. You should always be present during the engineers inspection so that you can ask questions about the system used and condition of the structure. The structural engineer should provide the foundation repair company with a letter that summarizes his findings.
Should the foundation “repair” company be licensed?
Absolutely! A foundation repair company that is licensed means that the city allows him to contract work within the city and that they are bonded. You should always ask to see the license and get a copy of the license for your records. Some foundation repair companies subcontract the leveling work to other smaller companies. Don’t be alarmed if the sub-contracted company is not licensed. The important item is that foundation repair company that is responsible for the work should be licensed and bonded.