Foundation problems cost a bit to take care of, but they can cost even more if they’re ignored. The structural integrity of your house is at stake, so a problem with your foundation is not something that can “just wait”. If you notice floors separating from walls, doors and windows that are “out of square”, or cracks in your walls, you have a foundation that needs checking out.
Causes of Foundation Problems
There are generally two foundation problems. The first is cracking and displacement from soil shifting or erosion, roots, or just bad construction. The second is deterioration from floods, moisture, or a poor mix of concrete.
Foundation problems don’t just pop up one day. Construction issues, unstable soil, and damage from other natural phenomena can only be detected after a house has been standing for a few years. If your foundation is showing signs of problems, such as doors and windows that no longer close properly or cracked tiles and walls, it’s time to call for an inspection.
Cost of Repairs
A properly constructed and maintained foundation should last the life of the building. As stated above, however, there are factors that can shorten the life of your foundation. If you suspect problems with your foundation, the first thing you will need is an inspection.
An inspection and report from a structural engineer can cost between $300 and $800. A soil report from a geotechnical engineer ranges between $500 and $2,000, depending on the complexity of the problem and the amount of detail needed for the report. These reports can help pinpoint the exact nature of the problem, which will give the repair contractor all of the information he needs to get the job done right.
The most damage usually comes from poor soil. Most foundation repairs from poor soil require underpinning. Underpinning involves driving piers down deep into more stable soil. These piers are spaced 6 to 8 feet apart and the cost depends on what kind of pier is used (steel or concrete), how deep they have to go to reach the stable soil, and what the local labor rates are. Piers can cost between $300 and $1,200 each, which puts underpinning one corner at between $1,050 and $2,000 on average.
Overall, all of the needed repairs required for moderate foundation damage can cost an average of $8,000 to $12,000 and can run as high as $30,000. Many home-owner insurance policies don’t cover foundation repair, but check with your contractor to see if financing is available.
How to Mitigate Costs
You can help keep foundation repair costs down through simple routine maintenance and inspections.
Texas has some of the largest areas of expansive clay soil in the US. Be aware of problems that arise after a major rain. The soil may expand and put great pressure on your foundation. The sooner you catch these problems, the lower your cost to repair them can be.
You can also take proactive steps. Ensure that your property has adequate drainage away from your house. Inspect rain gutters and downspouts to be sure they are sending run-off from your roof towards the yard and not letting water sit against your foundation. Keep your rain gutters clear of debris (pine needles are the worst!)
Water is not the only problem. Droughts can force trees to suck up any available water they can find, including whatever it can get from the soil under your house. “Watering the foundation” is an old practice that keeps the moisture content of the soil relatively stable. This will mitigate expansion and contraction that can weaken a foundation. While this may seem wasteful of water, some people install efficient low-flow systems that keep their foundations safe and their bills steady.
Need an Inspection?
If you have noticed any of the problems mentioned above, contact us for an inspection and an assessment of your foundation. With three generations of experience in the business, you could say we have a good “foundation of knowledge” to bring to your job!