Most foundation repair


Homeowners should be well informed about what type of foundation repair system is being installed to lift or level a house. Don't be fooled by the sales pitch or the Life Time Foundation Repair Warranty. Get a second opinion from a structural engineer before you decide to invest thousands of dollars on foundation repair that is unjustified and unnecessary.

If you are getting foundation repair based on the premise that a foundation repair contractor is going to "stabilize" your foundation from moving any further, then you should call a structural engineer that can give you a non-biased opinion on whether or not you really need the repairs or if the repairs will work. Or you can call us after the repairs fail. Before you decide on getting the foundation lifted, be fully aware of what type of system is being installed, what it can do and what voids the warranty.

Concrete pressed piles are the most common type of pile installed throughout San Antonio and Austin. There are many type of piles to choose from and concrete pressed piles is the pile that is most likely to move and cause more damage to the building.

To realize that foundation repair is really not a "repair", one must first understand that lifting a foundation (foundation repair) should be implemented as a tool to benefit the overall performance of the building and not just to level the floor.

Leveling the floor should not be considered a "repair". Its a leveling job. Leveling the floor by adding piers or piles is major surgery on a foundation. Having major surgery by installing a poorly designed system (bad foundation repair) will only cause additional complications in the future. Complications such as: pier heaving (upward pushing of the piers), additional settlement, lack of support and breaks in the actual foundation slab cause major damages to the building and plumbing which is very expensive. Additional information on foundation repair inspections can be read at FREE Foundation Repair Inspections.

There are two schools of thought in foundation repair:

  1. One side sees foundation leveling as the solution to foundation problems
  2. Other looks to problems that caused the movement and uses foundation repair as a method to improve the structural condition of the building.

Most foundation repair companies will evaluate your building's levelness and tell you if you are "out of code" or "within tolerance". Don't be fooled. There is no "code" requirement or "tolerance" to really base the justification to "repair" a foundation. Next time you hear it, ask for the specific code section or reference that states it. Typical answer is..."I have been doing this for 30+ years and that is the industry (foundation repair industry that is) standard....OR.....engineers that we work with say its the standard".

This is where THE FOUNDATION REPAIR SCAM comes into focus. What is the scam? Foundation repair companies will claim that your foundation has shifted and by letting them install their system, they will "stabilize" your foundation from additional movement.....BUT READ THE FINE PRINT. They fail to tell you what might be causing the foundation movement or what impact foundation repair will really have on your foundation.

Lets think about it....if conditions exist that caused your current foundation to move then you can bet that those same conditions still exist that will influence your new "foundation repair" system. $30,000 later in "stabilization" will help you realize that you were not told the full story about to expect. They won't tell you. They can't tell you. Why? Because they have not gone through the exercise of designing an actual foundation to evaluate how foundations are expected to perform. Engineers that are trained to design and evaluate the foundation are better suited to provide an opinion on whether your foundation is performing as should be expected, conditions that may have caused the movement and what to expect if foundation repair is done.


The picture above shows really bad foundation repair. The view shows the pile cap made up of "cinder" blocks (grey pieces) stacked on top of each other. In this case, the stacked blocks started to move outward due to the building wieght and the blocks inadequate design and construction. Will you let your home be supported by something so unstable? The repair companies warranty will not cover failure due to moving soils. Read the exclusions. 



Most warranties have exclusions for when an occurrence will not be covered. The irony in most foundation repair warranties is that the stated condition that is excluded on the warranty typically already exists before and well after the foundation repair company installs the foundation repair piers. So.....if a foundation repair company installs their foundation repair piers within bad conditions that already caused foundation problems, they will SCAM you out of warranty work because they will claim that bad conditions exist as noted on their warranty declaration. Thousands of our clients that have been caught up in this have all echoed the same response.........."why didn't the foundation repair company tell me I had bad conditions and that their piers don't work under those bad conditions. Now they want me to do more 'foundation repair' to fix the problem".
The first issue is that foundation repair is being seen as the solution. This is where a structural engineer's evaluation comes in. A-1 Engineering is an expert at assessing buildings to provide you with our non-bias and objective opinion on whether your building will benefit from foundation repair.



Bad foundation repair can break your foundation. The picture above shows the "cinder" block pile cap for the foundation repair pile with a large crack in the foundation directly above the pile. The large break in the foundation happened as the foundation repair contractor was lifting the building. Since the contractor wanted to level the floor at all costs, the foundation broke in half. There is not enough foundation repair that can repair this damage. 

Foundation Stabilization

A Preventative Measure

At times, foundation repair is sold to owners with the promise of giving the owner a "preventative measure" or a method of "stabilization" before a foundation problem happens. What healthy person gets a hip replacement or a kidney transplant as a preventative measure to staying healthy. Most would agree that to stay healthy you should create a better condition for the body. That is the same for a foundation and a building. Getting an evaluation from a structural engineer will help you get a better understanding on when conditions justify foundation repair and the risks associated with it.

In our experience, foundations go bad (i.e. need re-leveling) as soon as 6 months after the repair and as late as 10 years- the reason being that foundation repair compaines don't understand how foundations are designed and expected to perform. Foundation repair companies will tell you that foundation movement is "foundation failure". A structural engineer that is familiar with the impacts of foundation repair will educate you in how foudations are designed, expected to perform and discuss conditions to improve the performance of the foundation.

Don't let foundation repair companies scare or confuse you into lifting a building without a clear objective.  The following article is meant to educate the general public and assist in making better choices. Foundation repair is very expensive major surgery to a house so getting a second opinion from a structural engineer will be in your best interest.   

Here are some great questions to ask the foundation repair companies:

  1. How many projects did you honor a warranty on this past summer?

  2. Can you provide a reference for one of the clients that you honored the warranty work on?

  3. Can you revise your warranty agreement to cover the piles or piers in case of swelling or heaving soils?

  4. Explain how your pile or pier is expect to perform when soils heave or swell? Will your pile fail and is that covered in your warranty?

  5. Its not a bad idea to tie payment for the work with proof that permits have been obtained for the work. The first payment can be tied with proof that the permit has been obtained and the final payment should be tied with proof that the permit has been closed. Red flags should come up if a contractor can not get a permit OR if they say that the home owner is required to get the permit. The person that gets the permit is responsible for managing it.

  6. If you get convinced to get the work done, be sure to get a copy of the elevation readings before and after the work is done. Its a great idea to retain the final payment until both documents are provided. sure to that you can read the numbers. Getting a paper with numbers that are hard to read does you no good in case you want to get the numbers checked.

Don't let foundation repair companies scare or confuse you into lifting a building without a clear objective.