Foundation settlement can cause major structural problems for a home. Fortunately, homeowners have ways to repair foundations rather than replace them. Necessary repairs of moderate foundation damage cost from $8,000 to $12,000 but may be as much as $20,000 to $30,000. Many homeowner insurance policies provide no coverage for damaged foundations, but home equity often makes financing available. Some builders offer home warranty coverage for up to 10 years for major structural defects affecting occupant health or safety. Foundation repairs can be costly, but the more homeowners know about types of foundations and how best to repair them the better they can work with contractors to find affordable solutions.
Foundations on expansive clay, compressible, or improperly compacted fill soils can suffer serious damage from shifting and settling. Signs of foundation problems, cracks in walls or doors that won’t close properly, make professional help an urgency. Damaged foundations not quickly repaired may become irreparable and make the entire home unsafe. For any foundation problem, the longer the homeowner delays the repair the worse the condition becomes. Foundation problems never resolve on their own.
The first thing to do about foundation damage is to obtain an inspection report and recommendation from a disinterested structural engineer likely to render an unbiased opinion as to the best solution. If the homeowner goes first to foundation repair business professionals, they may want to sell solutions best for themselves but not necessarily for the homeowner. It is better to come to them with a professional engineer’s report and ask them to estimate the cost of executing the engineer’s recommendation.
Piering and Slabjacking
Two common methods for securing sinking concrete foundations are piering and slabjacking. In piering, underground supports lift the concrete and keep it in place. The repair crew digs deeply to install piers under the foundation, raise it hydraulically back into proper position, and stabilize it in place. This repair method places multiple piers at various points under the foundation.
Slabjacking pumps a grout mixture into the space beneath the concrete foundation to float it back into its original position. The reporting structural engineer can assess which repair method is better, all things considered, for the problem presented.
Piering, in most cases the costlier method because of the amount of labor needed for excavation and for installation of hydraulic piers, is always a permanent solution very rarely compromised by further settling or shifting of the earth. Slabjacking may be equally effective but more likely to be vulnerable to further structural shifting of the home from soil instability.
Two basic types of foundation problems are cracking and displacement caused by unstable soil conditions, tree-root penetrations, seismic tremors, faulty construction, or concrete deterioration from age, flooding, or long contact with excessive moisture. Other signs of foundation failure are uneven floors and cracked tiles.
Typical Cost Breakdown
It is important to determine the exact nature of the problem. An inspection report from a structural engineer costs from $300 to $800. A soil composition analysis, if necessary, from a geotechnical engineer costs from $500 to $2,000 according to the complexity of the problem.
A simple crack repair to a concrete foundation costs from $400 to $800 according to the extent of the damage. An entire basement floor replacement costs about another $200 to $400. Foundation reinforcement with anchor bolts in areas prone to earthquakes costs from $1,500 to $3,500 or more.
Most foundation repairs demand some underpinning by concrete or steel piers to secure the foundation on deeper, more stable soil. The cost depends on the type of piers, the depth they must reach for stability, and local labor rates. Piers six to eight feet apart cost about $1,000 to $3,000 each. Underpinning a single corner of a home costs about $3,500 to $5,000, sometimes more.
A major foundation repair could remove landscaping around the home and require heavy equipment for tunneling. The project may last from a few days to several weeks.
On the average, costs of foundation repairs range from about $5000 to $7000 if no additional problems or complications are present for resolution at the same time. Costs then could escalate into tens of thousands of dollars.
Written By: David Glenn. David is a home improvement expert that occasionally freelance writes about home maintenance and DIY home repair. He’s also knowledgeable about topics like how to improve social presence and building a reputation online.