When a homeowner suspects they have foundation problems, they are faced with several questions. For example:
- is the foundation movement "normal" in the sense that it is caused by seasonal variations in weather patterns?
- is your foundation moved to the extent where repairs are even needed?
- who should you get to evaluate and diagnose your foundation? a foundation repair contractor, or an independent engineer?
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If, after a proper evaluation, it is determined that foundation work is needed, which foundation repair contractor should you use? They all seem to have different repair methods. Is one repair technology better for your specific situation?
Some foundation repair companies do not offer more than one repair method. And not every repair method works best in every situation or soil condition.
If you want unbiased answers and advice, call an experienced foundation engineer. He can be of great value in helping you sort through the process and options, especially if he is independent of the foundation repair contractors.
Once you suspect you have foundation problems, you might wonder what your options are or what are some things you should consider. Below are some points to consider about the process.
- A property owner will either choose a foundation repair company to inspect his foundation and make repair recommendations OR will choose an independent engineer to conduct an analysis of the foundation.
- Foundation Repair Contractors. The primary advantage in using the foundation repair company to do a foundation inspection is that their initial inspection services are free; they make their money by selling their pier products. If you choose this option, I recommend that, at the minimum, the foundation repair salesman take slab elevations during his visit to your home.
- Independent Engineers. An engineer will charge you a fee for the foundation inspection and repair recommendations. I always recommend that the engineer take slab elevations as part of his analysis (the Texas ASCE calls this a “Level B Inspection”). However, some engineers only conduct a “Level A Inspection” which does not include slab elevations.
- Prior to proceeding with the foundation repairs, discuss with your foundation engineer the limitations of foundation repair work, i.e., just because one area of the foundation has been underpinned with piers, it does not mean that the other areas will not move in the future. Make sure you understand what the engineering report says is required for repair. And make sure the final report is certified by an licensed professional engineer, and get a copy of it for you records.
- Does your city require a building permit prior to conducting foundation repairs? To get the permit, does the city require an engineering report by a licensed engineer? Once the foundation repairs are completed, does the city require the engineer to certify that the work was done according to his design specifications (to close the permit)?
- Some questions to consider asking foundation repair companies: are the salesmen that
conduct a survey actual professional, licensed engineers with the State of Texas; does the
foundation repair company have the capability of installing several types of piers (if so,
what is best for your soil conditions); do you get a copy of the salesman’s/engineer's
evaluation and recommendations; how long has the repair company they been in business under
their current name and state charter; what is their warranty and how is it activated; do they
have insurance; is the repair plan certified by an registered engineer, and if so will the
engineer inspect the foundation prior to beginning the repairs; will their engineer perform
a spot inspection at some point during the repair process (or come back after the foundation repairs are completed);
will they obtain a building permit from the city; will they conduct a plumbing leak test after
the work is done; do they offer free brick mortar repair; will they need to remove a lot of
landscaping to install their piers; do they need to
- If you are planning on either selling your home or refinancing it, it is usually helpful to have an engineer certify the foundation repairs. To do this requires that the engineer make an additional visit(s) to your property. Usually, the engineer charges for these additional services.
The advantage to hiring your own engineer for analysis is that the engineer can provide straight-talk to you about what is happening with your structure. His goal is not to "sell" you on a particular repair. He is also able to provide a recommended repair solution instead of having to rely on the repair methods of a specific foundation repair company. For these reasons, GEO Dynamics recommends the owner retain the services of an independent professional engineer to evaluate the structure.
Even choosing an engineer can be a chore. Some guidelines one can use in finding an engineer is to look for an experienced engineer who has at least a decade of experience in analyzing foundation movement problems; one that he and his company are both licensed by the State of Texas to offer engineering services; one who is active in industry organizations; one who is recommended by other engineers (or your friends); one who is highly rated on Angie’s List; and one who serves occasionally as an expert witness in litigation matters.
Making sure you understand the entire process and your options are vital to your peace of mind and confidence of the repair. Who you choose to help guide you through an accurate assessment should be willing to explain the entire process including your options for repair. Choosing an independent engineer to evaluate your foundation is the first step to keeping those options open.
call GeoDynamics today: 972-497-9998