Foundation Repair Companies -
If you have definitely decided that you accept the risks of attempting to level your house and understand that your foundation will continue to move then the next step is to have a structural engineer (not a civil, mechanical, electrical or petroleum engineer) conduct a slab survey of your foundation. The slab survey provides good information to the foundation “repair” company on how the foundation is sitting. Doing a foundation “repair” or leveling is not a structural requirement in most cases so the structural engineer may choose to only assist in monitoring the structure before and after leveling operations. The structural engineer will assess the building before leveling operations begins and immediately after. In most cases the structural engineer will not be involved in designing the underpin system to lift the house. The engineer may assist in providing structural capacities of grade beams to help the foundation “repair” company determine the spacing of the underpin systems. The assessment should include another slab survey once leveling operations is complete. This new slab survey is the benchmark that will be referenced throughout the life of the structure to check for foundation movement.
We have come across some very good and very bad foundation “repair” companies. The bad foundation “repair” companies are hard to identify in conversation because they are pretty good about concealing their objective (offer the same foundation “repair” for a substantially lower fee then everyone else and never get heard from again). The foundation “repair” companies that have impressed us are:
- Ace Total Renovation (pier and beam projects)
- Baird Foundation Repair
- Advance Foundation Repair
- RamJack Foundation Repair
- Perma Jack
We have absolutely no vested interest in these companies nor do we warranty or guarantee their work. However, these companies are established companies that have been responsive with our clients on what should be expected of a foundation “repair”. We have yet to hear either one of these companies selling the idea of foundation stabilization or a “movement free” foundation repair (please let us know if you do). These companies have heard an ear full from us on the engineering theories that pleague foundation “repair”.
A few characteristics of what we think a good foundation “repair” company should provide:
1) Explains the system that they plan on using and what the expectations should be as far as future foundation movements as concern.
2) Does not mention the phrase “ we will stabilize your foundation with our underpin system”!
3) Offers a warranty.
4) Offers to pull a permit.
5) Insists on having the homeowner present during lifting of the house.
6) Walks the homeowner around the “repair” site and explains what was done.
7) Presents a Level A or B foundation assessment to the homeowner from a structural engineer.
8) Is licensed and bonded in San Antonio or within the city the house is located.
9) Can offer some homeowner references on the reliability of the service.
Why do bids from foundation “repair” companies differ so much for the same foundation?
The simple answer is……perspective! As we mentioned before, leveling a foundation or foundation “repair” is very rarely needed for structural purposes. Leveling a foundation is primarily a serviceability issue for the floor, doors, windows and interior finishes. Remember, soils move foundations and they will move foundation “repair” systems as well. The bids tend to differ because each foundation “repair” company has a different perspective on how much a foundation should be underpinned. Some levelers want to level the house as well as the neighbors fence and other just want to level a corner to make a window work. The perspective of how level a foundation should be is relative to the foundation “repair” companies understanding of standard practices (most quote the American Society of American Engineers recommendations which is not a code so it is not required to be adhered to) and the home owners expectations. Choosing the right bid should consider price but it should also consider but it should be relative to what you as a home owner expect after they are done. For instance, if you have a few doors that stick and want them to be free again then express that to the foundation “repair” company so that they can give you a bid to meet your needs. Remember, consult a structural engineer to determine if leveling a foundation is structurally required.