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A home is own of the significant investments you will make. Also, owning one is the ultimate American dream. It, therefore, goes without saying that you will protect it not only to preserve the structure but for your family too. Foundation problems are some of the issues you might have to deal with as a homeowner.
A building’s foundation is an indispensable component of your home. Problems with your foundation can lead to myriad issues in your home. You might have to deal with windows and doors that won’t open, cracks in the wall, and gaps, more so between the ceiling and walls. Ensuring your foundation is in the most exceptional condition is, therefore, paramount for structural integrity.
Before we get into the costs, let’s first look at the issues that bring about foundation failure and factors that will influence the amount you pay. Foundation problems are often brought about by soil moisture, uneven settling, and improper soil grading.
Soil water is the main enemy of your foundation. Too much of it causes the soil to swell, which pushes against your home’s foundation, while too little causes the dirt to shrink. However, there is unlikely to be any foundation issues if the soil expands or contracts evenly. Problems arise when just a portion heaves or settles.
Swelling of the soil is more of a problem to your foundation as the swelling potential is higher than shrinkage potential. Moisture gain can be from poor drainage, plumbing leaks or sub-surface water. Snowmelt can also puff up your soil. The excessive water can lead to unwanted intrusion
When it comes to uneven settling, expect the areas near the perimeter of your foundation to settle more as the soil dries more quickly in these areas. Settling will occur more during drought periods.
Grading is a critical aspect construction. It’s done to help prevent water from flowing towards the foundation of your house seeing as it is the foundations worst enemy. However, if not done appropriately, you might still have water flowing towards your foundation damaging it which is often the case if you are constructing your house on a flat area and slopes seeing as they are quite difficult to grade.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what causes foundation repair let’s look at the various factors that will affect the amount you pay to repair your foundation.
Accessibility of sunken or damaged areas – Expect to pay more if the damaged areas are tight spots. That is they are challenging to get to/dig.
Damage extent – It’s astute to repair your foundation upon spotting the damage. However, there are instances we catch the destruction when it’s a bit too late, and the foundation has suffered some sizeable destruction. Expect to pay more for this.
Method of repair used – There are several ways you can repair your foundation, but the two standard techniques are piering and slabjacking. Piering is more expensive than slabjacking.
Reason for foundation failure – Finally, the reason why your foundation failed will affect how much you pay for repairs. Say, the damage was a result of improper grading. Expect to pay more as you will have to regrade unlike if the loss was due to surface runoff which is easier to tackle.
When considering foundation repairs, remember that the longer you wait, the more the damage and the more you will have to incur in mending. Therefore, always engage a professional whenever signs of foundation failure such as cracks appear. Also, the destruction spreads to other parts of your house which will have to be repaired, and the more you wait, the more damage your home suffers. Finally, you are putting your family at risk.
Bottom line, time is your enemy, and repair your foundation the moment you realize your base is failing.
As for the costs, most homeowners report spending about $4000 on repairs. Nonetheless, depending on the location, damage extent, and accessibility of the damaged areas, expect to pay between $1856 and $6344 which is the typical price range. The amount you spend though can be as much as $11000 or as little as $450. These prices, however, are the exception, not the rule.
Foundation cracks can be structurally significant, i.e., they affect the integrity of your structure or not. Any break that is more than 1/8” should be a cause for concern as it means you have an issue with your foundation. Cracks that are 1/8” wide or less do not affect your structure but should still be addressed as they paths for moisture and water which will lead to structural complications.
Cracks that don’t compromise structural integrity are mended by injecting epoxy. Expect to pay between $350 and $525 for crack injections from inside your home. Waterproofing will increase the price. To fix an exterior crack, expect to pay between $900 and $1500. This cost depends on the company, but the accessibility of the damaged part too will determine the amount.
More extensive cracks can be remedied through crack injection, but this is if there is no underlying issue with the structure. However, you will have to invest an extra $150 to $200 for stabilization to prevent the cracks from widening. Nevertheless, structural foundation repair is required if there are concerns about the structure. Expect to pay upwards of $2000 to repair the break and the underlying cause. This price is hefty since often you will have to reinforce the foundation from under the base of the wall.
Other than poured concrete foundations there is concrete blocks or cinder block foundations which from a technical and cost viewpoint are different from poured concrete foundations. The workings are beyond the scope of this post but expect to pay upwards of $1500 to repair block foundation cracks.
Most homeowners think that repairing a foundation leak will cost them a small fortune which can’t be further from the truth. Yes, this was the case a few years back where contractors had to excavate the foundation, but there are now much less expensive ways to repair a basement from within the house. But before we get into the amount you will pay to have your leaks restored, there are a couple of issues that will influence this price.
First are the size and reputation of the company you hire. Well established companies will often charge you more. However, there are cases where smaller companies will cost you more as they have to rent most of the equipment and sub-contract some work. Another factor that will influence the final price is the extent to which safety practices are observed. The number of waterproofing products, the quality, and type also govern the amount you pay.
Taking into account the above concerns, expect to pay between $25 and $150 for tie-rod leak repairs. Window well drain fixing will set you back between $850 and $1200 per window well. Expect to pay more for extra windows, but the cost per unit will reduce as the volume increases seeing as the tools and personnel are already on the ground. You will pay between $100 and $250 for outdoor excavation and waterproofing for every linear foot subject to the depth and accessibility of the site. Also, to prevent future water problems, you will have to put in an indoors perimeter drain weeping tile system which will set you back around $85 for each linear foot. Finally, put aside $900 to $1750 for mounting a sump pump.
Other than the primary repair costs, there other issues you ought to bear in mind. First, you have to budget an extra $500 for HVAC removal and reinstallation. The HVAC will have to be disconnected for a while to allow for repairs. You also have to set aside between $350 to $800 for weeping tile flushing and $300 for a perimeter drain system. Other issues to consider are removal and reinstallation of deck patio, fence, and driveway to allow excavation.
Another common foundation failure is bowing basement wall. Being a structural problem, you should move quickly to mend it and preserve structural integrity while maintaining the safety of your home. Bowing walls are walls that tip inwards and is a sign of poor soil conditions. If there is a time where moving fast to make repairs is critical, this is it.
Bowing walls can be stabilized using carbon fiber strips or steel channels. Of the two, carbon strips are cheaper, but they are only used on walls that have not moved more than 2 inches and will set you back a good $8000. However, if the walls have shifted more than two inches, you will be forced to use steel channels to use steel channels to return stability to that walls and prevent future movement. Expect to pay as much as $24,000 for steel channels to stabilize a 30 ft. wall owing to the higher material costs and given that installation is more expensive and quite labor-intensive.
Settling is a chief concern that you have to address immediately. However, it’s often difficult to realize that your basement has a problem until the damage is done. Some early signs include doors and windows that won’t open, cracks, and leaks. Once these start to appear, engage your contractor immediately in identifying the problem and coming up with a solution. Often the way out will be to have the foundation level which can be done via underpinning/piering or mudjacking. Expect the price to vary depending on the leveling technique you have chosen. Underpinning will set you back between $1000 and $20,000 while mud-jacking costs between $500 and $1500. The expenses are explained below.
|Exterior Cracks||1 House||$900||$1500|
|Tie-rod Leak Repairs||1 House||$25||$150|
|Window Well Drain||1 Drain||$850||$1200|
|Perimeter Drain Weeping Tile System||1 FT.||$85|
|HVAC removal and reinstallation||$500|
|weeping tile flushing||1||$350||$800|
|Perimeter Drain System||$300|
|Fiber Strips||30 Ft. Wall||$8000|
|Steel Channels||30 Ft. Wall||$24000|
Underpinning also known as piering is one of the best ways to repair your foundation. It is considered a permanent solution and you should look into it if you are looking for a long-lasting solution to your foundation problems. Nevertheless, it costs a small fortune, and that’s why most homeowners eschew it. Primarily, it involves digging deep into the ground to get beneath your basement. Afterwards, piers are placed under the groundwork and raised using hydraulics back into place.
Now, when it comes to the fee of putting in piers, there is no exact price as there are some things to consider. First, we have the type of job, the size, and the engineering required. Additionally, we have to mull over where the piers are going into. Typically, most homeowners report spending between $1,500 and $20,000 but this can be broken down further. First, you will need to hire a structural engineer who will set you back between $300 and $1500 depending on the number of hours. Also, you will need soil reports which means you will have to hire a technical engineer. For this, be prepared to part with between $500 and $3000. You will have to get a building permit though this is something your contractor can handle. However, if you decide to get it yourself, expect to pay around $75 to $150. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you will need to do some seismic work which will set you back between $3000 and $4000. The piers will set you back around $1300 per pier which often translates to about $10,400 for the entire home seeing as an average size home needs between 8 and ten piers. Also, you will have to budget an extra $1,000 to $2,500.
Finally, on to the type of support, you can use for your home. First, we have the helical piers which screw onto the ground. If you are looking to avoid the costs involved with excavation, you should put in these as they require a little digging. The second option you have for piers is the resistance piers which are also known as push piers. These are more expensive to put in but are highly recommended by experts.
Also known as mudjacking, slab jacking is one of the cheaper options you have when it comes to mending your foundation. It will cost you about $887 to level your foundation using this technique, but most homeowners report the price to be between $541 and $1308. However, the amount can rise to as much as $2217 depending on the extent of work to be done.
Slab jacking involves pouring a grout mixtures into the spaces where the foundation is settling. Filling these areas leaves no room for your house to sink. The grout will also jack up the foundation that is causing the problem.
There are a couple of motivations why you should consider mudjacking over piering. First, it is non-invasive and thus will not disturb the landscape around the affected area, unlike piering whereby you have to landscape after the work is done. Mud jacking only requires you to deal a couple of 1,” or 2” holes into the basement floor which can are filled upon completion. This simplicity cuts the budget in half by reducing the labor required. Also, it reduces the time taken to make repairs.
You will have to seal your foundation if you are looking to prevent further damage from moisture and water which will set you back between $2000 and $10,000. Water and moisture can lead to some structural issues including warped walls, dropping floors, mold, and cracks. Therefore, they are a considerable threat to the integrity of your home and safety of your family. There are many facets involved, but odds are you will not need every service. Engage the services of a professional who will advise you on the best way forward. Expect to pay a consultation fee of between $100 and $300 for their services.
Depending on your budget and the nature of your moisture problem there are various options for you to choose between.
Exterior waterproofing – Exterior sealing involves restricting moisture from outside your home. It is more common than interior waterproofing (see below), and will solve all issues. However, it will set you back a small fortune between $5,000 and $10,000 seeing as it is more engaging than interior waterproofing. The contractor will have to excavate around the house and apply sealant under your foundation. Afterwards, you will require a foundation drain to get rid of moisture.
Interior Waterproofing – If you are looking for an affordable way to solve your foundation moisture issues, then you should consider using interior waterproofing. All you need is a sump pump and a baseboard drain hole. You will also have to install a drain to give moisture an opportunity to drain. You will pay between $10.50 and $21 per square foot for a drain pipe.
Other than the two techniques above, there are various exterior and interior approaches you can use to waterproof your foundation. However, before we get into that, we have damp proofing which is different from waterproofing. The two should never be used interchangeably. Damp proofing is less expensive and suitable for homeowners on a tight budget. You will only pay between $3 and $6 to damp proof your foundation against a $5 to $10 fee to waterproof. However, despite the cost benefits, damp proofing only serves to prevent moisture but is otherwise inept when it comes to stopping liquid water. That is understandable seeing as it is a coating that’s applied to the outside wall to protect against damp soil and was never intended to stop fluid water. Therefore, if you live in wet areas, it’s only wise you invest a little more to waterproof your foundation.
As for the various exterior and interior waterproofing techniques we have:
Cement waterproofing – This is an exterior foundation sealing approach and the most straightforward means to keep water out. Cement waterproofing involves applying a thick cement coat on your exterior walls. The thick cement lining dries quickly and is impervious to water. Expect a charge of around $1,000 and $1,500 inclusive of labor and any additional work that might be needed. However, the inflexibility of the cement coating is a significant shortcoming. Any movement of joints, or if a crack develops, compromises the effectiveness of the layer.
Foundation membrane – Foundation membrane is also an exterior waterproofing technique. However, it is way better than cement but expensive seeing as it costs about $15,000 to mount fountain waterproofing membrane in an average American home. The layers are designed to be put in by professionals since they are quite unforgiving and wreck easily. Also, seeing as they are built from rubberized asphalt, they are flexible thus ideal in areas with expansive soil. The rubberized asphalt absorbs the effects of expansion and contraction while the polyethylene membrane used to coat the rubberized asphalt waterproofs your home.
Exterior Weeping Tiles – Don’t let the name fool you, these are pipes with punched holes and not tiles. Water gets into the tubes through the holes and is directed away from your foundation. It is more of a preventive measure as it gets rid of the water before it reaches your home. Expect a fee between $100 and $250 depending on the accessibility and depth the installers will have to dig to. Lastly, it is also an exterior waterproofing technique.
There are also methods that you can use indoors to waterproof your home.
Foundation Coatings – This is pretty much the same as cement waterproofing. A thick cement coat is applied on the inside together with the one on the outside. It’s better to put up both barriers as the inner barrier can stop water even if it manages to get past the first obstacle. Interior foundation coatings will be cheaper to put in cost between $500 and $1000 since there is no excavation required. However, it suffers the same shortcomings as exterior cement coating because it’s inflexible. To increase durability, you can use your coat alongside an epoxy sealer. Expect a fee of between $3 and $12 per square foot for an epoxy sealer.
Silicate Sealers – If you are on a tight budget and are looking to keep the look of your wall, then you should consider using silicate sealers. Silicate sealers, unlike concrete sealers, are designed to penetrate the surface on which they are applied which in this case is the foundation. The price for silicate sealers ranges between $3 and $9 for every square foot. Another reason why you should consider these sealers other than preserving your preferred look is that they allow moisture through other than trapping it.
|Interior Waterproofing||1 Sq. Ft||$10.50||$21|
|Exterior Weeping Tiles||$100||$250|
|Silicate Sealers||1 Sq. Ft||$3||$9|
Other than mending your foundation, you will need to take extra measures to prevent future damage. One action you should consider is mounting gutters and a downspout to direct water away from your foundation seeing as water is your foundations greatest enemy. Anticipate a fee between $625 and $1800 for gutters. Also, if money is an issue, consider waterproofing your basement instead of your foundation. It is still as effective, but less expensive. Waterproofing your basement removes the need for excavating reducing the price.
As for planting and landscaping, some plants will have to be removed to allow access to the foundation. Also, it might be that some of the issues might have been caused by the vegetation such as powerful roots. These plants have to be disposed of, and this will cost you $150 an hour. Attached structures such as garages, patio and deck might be a hindrance and will have to be removed before work can commence.
Hiring a professional to handle your foundation repairs vs. doing it yourself often boils down to your skills, your foundation problem, and the type of foundation you have. Nonetheless, the odds are stacked against you, and as a do it yourself, you are restricted to the non-permanent work.
Here is why you should not DIY foundation repairs.
It’s dangerous work – The risks involved in foundation repairs are arduous for a homeowner to identify. First, you cannot tell when foundation failure is pending. It will take a trained structural engineer to determine how serious a problem is. Lack of the knowledge to make these calculations can lead to more damage or you injuring yourself. Other than that, the foundation is bound to buckle and shift seeing as it is unstable meaning you can wound yourself during the repair process. Finally, we have the crawlspaces. Though crawlspace foundations that are buckling at the center are the easiest to DIY, they are dangerous given the conditions. The tiny spaces can force one into awkward positions that might eventually lead to injuries.
Resale value – Your foundation is an essential part of your home. It’s the ground on which your entire house stands and goes without saying that its integrity will affect the value of your house. If you are considering selling your home in the future DIYing, your foundation is going to hurt your resale value. Most home buyers will hire a professional, and they can always tell the difference between DIY repairs and those done by a professional. Also, should loss arise owing to the lack of foundation integrity after DIYing, there is a high likelihood that the insurance will not pay for the damages.
Tools – Going by most TV shows and online tutorials, you can get foundation DIY kits. However, this is not the case as foundation repairs involve more than slapping some strips on a wall. The likelihood is that you despite how handy a homeowner is, they don’t have access to some of these tools. Some foundations will require underpinning which is an engaging task. Cracks which seem like they are DIY friendly need epoxy injections performed under high pressure.
Root problem – Every homeowner should be able to identify when s/he has a foundation failure. Determining the cause of the problem, on the other hand, is not as easy. Therefore, despite being able to handle some of the issues, odds are you will not be able to identify where the problem is, let alone manage it. You, therefore, have to engage the services of a professional.
Despite the odds being stacked against a “DIYer,” there are many jobs you can handle as a homeowner.
Be your general contractor – Some foundation repairs might be quite extensive. First, you might be forced to take down attached structures and will probably mess up with your landscaping which is often the case with repairs that will require excavation. It, therefore, means that a typical foundation repair job will need you to engage more than the foundation contractor but a carpenter to re-construct the attached structure and a landscaper too. Faced with these jobs, you act as your general contractor to ensure that everything goes as planned.
Labor – Some foundations repair are quite engaging and require a lot of labor. A great example is piering where most of your money goes to paying the handy persons. To reduce the amount of money you spend on employment, provide your labor.
Finishing touches – To cut costs you can handle some of the final jobs. These include painting, filling in the excavated areas, or cleaning up.
Trade Associations – If you are looking for a foundation repair contractor, the best place to start is with the trade associations. These often set the standard on the quality of work expected of the contractor and how the contractor should carry himself or herself. These rigorous ethics ensure that members stay in line and are therefore an excellent place to start. When it comes to foundation repair contractors, you can check with the Foundation Repair Association Inc. which is currently a national authority on cracked foundations. The companies in this association are required to be in good terms with the Better Business Bureau with no pending grievances. Another reason why you should trust members in this organization is that they are obligated to carry insurance to and follow strict advertising guidelines.
Company’s Salesperson – A company’s salesperson will tell you a lot about the company. Here, look at the professionalism, knowledge, and certification of the individual. First, find out the number of years the representative has been evaluating foundations as it will say a lot about how thorough he will be. Avoid any company willing to send an individual with little knowledge in foundation repairs despite how compelling their sales pitch is. A poorly done evaluation will only lead to problems in the future. Also, check the representative’s certification. Yes, most repair companies provide in-door training, but this is often not enough. A representative should have independent training in his craft to stamp his authority.
Referrals – The best way to get a credible company is to ask around. Any company can create a list of top references despite how terrible their work was. However, there is a high likelihood that you will get a proficient company by asking your colleagues. Also, check with watchdog groups such as Angie’s list or the BBB. However, the size of the company will be a determinant. Better a large company that handles 3000 jobs annually with 6 to 7 complaints that have been responded to positively, than a small business with two negative reviews.
ICC-ES Evaluation – The International Code Council Evaluation Services ascertains that all building products are code compliant. With that in mind, working with a company that is ICC-ES certified means you are working with a proficient institution and you can rest assured of top quality work.
Insurance – Ask your prospective company whether they are insured. This is in a bid to protect your home and yourself from incurring any expenses for injuries that may happen on your premises.
The foundation repair industry is worth about $50 billion. With such tremendous potential, there is bound to be sham contractors out to swindle you of your hard-earned money. However, rest assured that the industry is a legit industry, and the very first way to avoid scams is to know the everyday foundation repair cons.
Changing name and location tactics – Though this trick sounds outdated, it works. Most fraudulent companies will change their names as they continue with the operation to avoid the backlash from previous clients and move on to swindle unsuspecting new clients. Seeing as it is easier to call out the name of a business rather than the owner, all the owner has to do is frequently change the name.
This plus the fact that companies such as the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List have no way of keeping track of business aliases ensures that these scammers have a field day. Also, the companies will often change location and clients have no place to serve papers for a suit. To avoid such scams, ask how long the company has been in business and their address. Companies that have been around for several years are reputable, and you should consider working with them over newly established businesses. Also, don’t take their work on their address but make it a point to visit them.
Make a call – Most fraudulent companies don’t take the time to hire a professional to answer calls. Ringing them up is, therefore, one of the best ways to tell if a company is legit or not. First, the number provided should be a company number and not belonging to any individual. Also, avoid companies that have a generic answering machine. Any professional company understands the importance of hiring a professional to respond to calls.
Get it in writing – Another common scam is where companies bill you for unperformed or unnecessary work. First, most clients don’t understand the nitty gritty of foundation repair or construction in general, and most fraudulent companies take advantage of this. They will charge you for work that was either unnecessary or unfinished. It is, therefore, better to have the agreement in writing before work on your foundation begins. The contractor is bound by the contract. Also, ensure you put a provision to be notified of any additional charges protecting yourself from the shock of inflated bills that most homeowners face once work is completed. Also, before you sign any contract, ask for a second opinion.
Avoid “today-only” discounts – Often these “today-only” or special discounts are too good to be true. However, they work seeing as some foundation repairs might cost a small fortune, and most homeowners are looking to save money. Contrary to popular belief, these discounts are designed to bait you to hire the company. There is a high likelihood that the institution is going to change the price once you hire them.
Also, the chances are that the “special discounts” are designed to prevent you from considering other proposals, and the price is higher than most other companies. Bottom-line, stay away from special offers and always take estimates from different groups. Rule of thumb is that you always accept at least three assessments whenever you are looking to hire a contractor.
Materials – Much like the unperformed work con, this con preys on the client’s limited construction knowledge. Most fraudsters will bill you for high-quality materials only to end up purchasing items of lesser quality. This means you will end up with sub-standard repairs despite paying premium dollar for it. Also, they might buy extra materials then stash away to save on a future job. To avoid this, always ask for receipts, and inspect the contents once they are on the site. Also, ask the contractor which brand of materials s/he will be using. Look out for any hesitation.
Payments – Since most fraudsters are only in it for the money, this is the one place you can get them. First, never make the full payment upfront. There will no longer be any reason for the company to show up at your work site. Therefore, schedule your payments and have it in writing. Also, only make the final payment once you are content with the work done. Most contractors will ask for a deposit before work begins. The initial payment should not exceed 20% of the total cost.
Some companies pay the technician depending on how well they sell the services to the customer which brings about conflict of interest from the beginning. So, despite how good the technician is, they will be driven by the over making a detail inspection.
If they aren’t, you the homeowner will be held accountable should anything happen while they are on your property. Also, don’t take the company’s word and ask for the insurance papers.
An excellent rating on BBB doesn’t guarantee a flawless job, but it shows that the company is one to be trusted.
As illustrated earlier, most fraudulent companies have a habit of changing names. Therefore, the idea here is to know if the company has been around long enough. Older companies are more reputable than recently established insttutions.
Some companies will leave you with a mess for a yard while most will charge you to return your yard to the condition it previously was in. Look for a company that will handle the clean-up for at no extra cost.
The reason why foundation repair isn’t a DIY job is the technicalities involved and therefore, if you are going to hire professionals, ensure they do it right. After all, how is a homeowner satisfied that the requisite analysis is done and standards met if a structural engineer isn’t involved?
Only work with companies which hire full-time employees. You will be courting trouble if you engage a organization which will sub-contract as the sub-contractors aren’t covered by the insurance company.
Mending your foundation will take a while. In the meantime, you will have to look for a place to stay. Knowing the number of days, you will be away from your home will help you plan your budget.
A contractor and his/her employees are strangers you have invited into your home. The least you can do is ensure that you can are in a position to identify them. All employees should therefore be uniformed and you can tell who is supposed to be on your property and who is not.
Finally, you should establish a contact person. I.e., the person who you call if you have any concerns about the work being done in your home.