Cheap foundation repair sounds almost too good to be true. I’ve talked about this before. There is nothing wrong with finding a good deal, but after talking to a concerned homeowner today I really feel like I need to share her story. This is a sort of “buyer beware” warning. I must first and foremost say that with any product or service you plan to spend money on you really need to research it before hand. Especially in this day and age were you have a variety of resources at your disposal that can give you all kinds of information on a company or person.
In Texas, your home is covered under warranty by the builder for 10 years for “major structural defects” or problems that put the owner in danger. You can read more about that here. Now if the home is under the 10 year warranty and has foundation problems, the builders will have to pay for the repairs. A lady called me and told me that her home was under warranty so she had a company come out and make the repairs and subsequently offered a warranty on the job they did.
Now, eleven years after the home was built and just barely outside of the 10 year warranty, she finds that foundation problems are resurfacing. It shouldn’t be a problem though because the foundation work had a warranty on the job they did. Right? Except, the company that offered the warranty no longer is in business. With neither warranty the customer is in a tough spot.
The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of the time a reason that a homeowner can get cheap foundation repair, or even wonder why some “companies” can under bid others by a lot might be an indication of the validity of said company. They might not be insured. They might be a fly by night operation. They might even go out of business in a couple of years leaving you with a worthless warranty. Whatever the case may be, make sure to do your research before hand. Make sure the have insurance or what their rating is with the BBB. Another good indicator is if they are apart of the Foundation Repair Association. After all, you get what you pay for. If you really are looking for cheap foundation repair the best method is to shop around, compare quotes, and talk with the evaluators.
Continuing our types of retaining walls discussion, last time I talked about Gravity walls. This time we add a little to our Gravity wall design and take a look into Cantilever walls. Before exploring the design of Cantilever walls it is important to understand the definition of cantilever first. Understanding what gravity helps demonstrate how a Gravity wall operates, and the same can be said about Cantilever walls.
Cantilever House Design
According to dictionary.com cantilever is any rigid structural member projecting from a vertical support, especially one in which the projection is great in relation to the depth, so that the upper part is in tension and the lower part in compression. Think of a long beam that is sticking out, supported by another part of the structure. Cantilever theory was introduced by Galileo in the 16th Century.
Remember the how the Gravity wall worked? With the design of a Cantilever wall you can use far less materials than the gravity wall. Instead of relying on its mass and gravity this wall uses another “beam” design to direct where the pressure is being distributed. Usually a Cantilevered wall will be in the shape of an inverted T. It has the ability to convert horizontal pressure (from the dirt behind the wall) into vertical pressure (on the ground below).
It is important to take in consideration the movement of the soil when constructing a Cantilevered wall. Also, if the pressure load is not taken into accurate consideration, the wall could slide.
Having a home with foundation problems can pose many issues for the residents. Many expensive issues. If steps are not actively taken to prevent foundation problems from occurring, and the situation isn’t addressed soon enough, you could be looking at a hefty cost for repairs. But all of that could be avoided just be being informed.
Consistency. Consistency is the name of the game. The largest reason we have problems with our foundation is not actually because of the foundation itself. Most of the time the structure didn’t fail, it is largely to do with the soil that the foundation is sitting on. Whenever you have a home sitting on top of Vertisol soil, it is important to maintain the consistency of the water in the soil around the home. Because Vertisol soil is so absorbent it is very sponge like. Damp soil expands. Dry soil contracts. This expanding and contracting shifts the house so much, that inevitably can cause all kinds of damage to the house.
After going long periods without rain (especially during the summer) the soil becomes dried out and cracked. Since it is important to keep the soil consistent to prevent that expanding and contracting, and since it is impossible to control when it rains, it is easier to keep the soil around your home damp. Not drenched or a deluge. Just a little damp. During those dry summer months your garden isn’t the only thing that needs to be watered. Getting a soaker hose is the preferred method, but the least you could do would be to water the soil around your foundation for 5-10 min twice a day.
While it is easier to keep the yard damp than it is to keep it dry, sometimes you will have too much water caused by drainage issues. In that case too much water brings many problems of its own. In which case you could have more than just foundation problems on your hands. Regardless, if too much water is the problem, it might be wise to regulate it with some drainage. Whether too much surface accumulation or subsurface management, there are many types of drains or solutions for the variety of situations you might be in.
To sum it up, it all goes back to consistency. It is important for your soil around your foundation (and your yard for that matter) to remain at a consistent level of wetness. You can’t decide when it rains, but you can decide when to water so it is easier to keep your soil damp than it is dry. Water the soil around your foundation (especially during the summer) and have drains installed if too much water is accumulating. Taking these steps could save you headaches and plenty of money.
On April 30, 2013, Geo-Tech Foundation Repair participated in our first Adopt-a-Highway clean up. It was a little hot (some people got sweatier than others) and traffic was a concern. But everyone was in high spirits and we had fun cleaning up.
There was a little goofing off…
And some interesting trash collecting skills…
And mysterious items collected.
I will say that we scoured the highway cleaning up trash. Being our first Adopt-a-Highway there was a certain…. learning curve. Next time things will be done much more efficiently. For example, maybe next time instead of everyone in a group, we split up to cover more ground quickly. When you have 8 people in a row picking up trash from the same area, the area might get a little clean. A little too clean. And be careful when doing an Adopt-a-Highway. We had no idea that part of the area was property of the railway. We had someone come tell us to stop picking up trash near the train tracks.
playing picking up trash on the train tracks isn’t safe.
But aside from our Adopt-a-Train-Track approach to the TxDoT our area looked good after we were done with it. We had fun and helped the community. Now all we need is our Adopt-a-Highway signs to be installed so everyone can know how awesome we are. If you would like to participate in Adopt-a-Highway visit their site here. All you need to do is clean the area at least 4 times a year. No cost! Our next pick up is scheduled for July. It’ll be a lot hotter, but a lot more organized.
I used to know a guy that always said “any guy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow can call themselves a foundation repair company.” And it’s almost true. As I’ve written before, Texas doesn’t require foundation repair “companies” to have a license yet. The Texas House is working on passing this legislation to help prevent fraud, but at the moment it is up to the buyer to make those judgement calls.
Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping around.
1. The Price
If it is too good to be true, it just might be. It is always good to get a couple of quotes before making a decision as big as foundation repair, especially if the price seems cheap. (Foundation repair typically isn’t) If a company is offering substantially low prices there is probably a reason for it.
2. The Better Business Bureau
One easy thing to do is check them out on the BBB. What kind of rating do they have? What were the complaints and how did they resolve them? DID they resolve them?
Other than the BBB what organizations are they apart of? Check and see if they are a member of a chamber of a commerce or if they are involved in the community or other organizations and groups. Visibility is a good sign of integrity. Organizations want good reputations and don’t allow members that have bad ones. Being a member to one gives a company some credibility.
4. Foundation Repair Association
Along the lines of legitimacy is the Foundation Repair Association (FRA). The FRA is a professional national organization comprised of many different foundation repair companies. It exists to promote high ethical standards in the practice of foundation repair and to promote cooperation between the foundation repair industry and government. Being a part of the FRA demonstrates product knowledge, a standard of ethics, and that they are a helpful partner. Not being a part of the FRA could be a red flag.
Another easy red flag. Are they insured? If a company isn’t insured, that’s a big sign. Liability insurance is required by law for all foundation repair companies and yet many do not carry a policy. Make sure to ask for a copy of the policy.
Find out what kind of warranties (if they even have one) that the company has. If they don’t offer one, chances are they won’t (and can’t) back up their claims.
Make sure to do some research before you make your decision. Don’t be scammed. Some companies will tell you need work done when you really don’t.