A building’s structural integrity literally rests on its foundation. This is why even minor foundation issues should be repaired in a timely manner. If you put off a repair thinking that it can wait, the minor issue will turn into a big problem and you’ll end up spending even more money to fix it.

You don’t want to let that happen. If you see signs of foundation settlement like wall cracks or you’re having trouble opening doors and window, contact a foundation repair professional immediately for an inspection.

brick wall with stair step crack

What you need to know about hiring a foundation repair contractor

We probably don’t need to tell you that a foundation repair is most definitely not a DIY project. Only a licensed, experienced foundation repair specialist should fix your foundation problem. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when hiring one…

  • Get more than one on-site inspection and proposal. Foundation repairs  could be major construction projects. Therefore, you’ll want to get more than one opinion and proposed solution. A visual, on-site, residential inspection should take less than an hour.  
  • Do plenty of research and educate yourself about the various foundation repair techniques used today. You want to hire a professional foundation specialist because they have plenty of experience and a good reputation, not because they’re offering to do the job for the lowest price or because they gave you a slick sales pitch. The more you know about foundation problems and repair techniques the easier it will be for you to weed out the fly-by-night hustlers and make information-based decisions.
  • Make sure the contractor’s repair will be evaluated by local building officials. This is necessary to ensure they are up to code. Reject any proposal that does not include this.
  • If you’re going to have hydraulic piles installed to lift or stabilize the building, ask the contractor if they charge extra when the piles need to be installed deeper than the standard 20-30 feet. A reputable foundation repair specialist will always charge extra for this. Beware the contractor who doesn’t because they may not install the piles deep enough in order to save themselves money.  The physical property condition of the soils below your building changes with depth.  All piles should be installed to a load bearing soil strata and to a minimum calculated load bearing capacity. Piles typically are installed to various depths depending on the soil conditions.
  • Make sure the contractor is willing to remove any shrubbery that’s too close to the house where the piers need to be installed.  
  • Evaluate the warranty being offered for the repair and consider what you’ll do if the company goes out of business.  
  • Consider hiring a structural engineer to do the inspection and repair proposal. A structural engineer has no financial stake in whether you do the proposed repair or not. After the inspection, the engineer will write up a detailed report including a proposed solution. You can then present this to the foundation repair contractor. 

illustration of a house with a foundation problem

Questions to ask before hiring a foundation repair contractor

  • What kind of training and certification do your employees go through?
  • Can I see your license?
  • Are your repairs evaluated by local building officials?  
  • How do you test your piles? (This is a load test to verify that the piles are able to support the weight of the structure.)
  • Do you carry liability insurance and workmen’s comp? Ask to see proof.
  • Will permits be necessary for this repair and if so, who’s responsible for obtaining and paying for them.

Questions to ask before hiring a foundation repair contractor

  • What kind of training and certification do your employees go through?
  • Can I see your license?
  • Are your repairs evaluated by local building officials?  
  • How do you test your piles? (This is a load test to verify that the piles are able to support the weight of the structure.)
  • Do you carry liability insurance and workmen’s comp? Ask to see proof.
  • Will permits be necessary for this repair and if so, who’s responsible for obtaining and paying for them.

building inspector checking foundation

What’s included in a foundation inspection

The goals of a foundation inspection is to determine whether or not your home’s foundation is structurally sound and doing the job it was designed to do. It will also determine if your home’s foundation is up to code and if it needs any repairs. It will be comprehensive and include both and interior and exterior evaluation.
The structural engineer or foundation repair specialist performing the interior foundation inspection will…
  • Check elevation levels in the house to make sure they’re all the same or within code.  
  • Examine any cracks to determine if they pose a threat to the foundation’s structural integrity.
  • Examine all load-bearing devices and support beams.
  • Examine all windows and doors it make sure they fit properly.
  • Examine all floors and walls to determine their structural integrity.
  • Determine if there’s water damage, mold, or a problem with ventilation.
  • Geotechnical or geophysical testing may be recommended to evaluate the subsurface soil conditions in order to accurately propose the correct repair.
 
The structural engineer or foundation repair specialist performing the exterior foundation inspection will…
  • Check for cracks on exterior walls and determine if they pose a threat.
  • Check for degraded or crumbling concrete.
  • Examine exterior walls to determine if they’re bulging or buckling
  • Examine drainage around the home’s exterior including irrigation for landscaping.
  • Geotechnical or geophysical testing may be recommended to evaluate the subsurface soil conditions in order to accurately propose the correct repair.
The structural engineer or foundation repair specialist will then write up a report detailing the inspection’s findings. Any damage will be detailed and include a proposed repair solution.  If the foundation repair contractor did the inspection, it will include cost of the proposed solution and how long it will take to implement. If a structural engineer did the inspection, you can now take the report to a foundation repair specialist for review and a repair plan.

Cost of foundation inspection

Typically, foundation inspections are free. However, if they’re for real estate transactions, they usually cost a few hundred dollars.

Foundation repair cost 

It’s impossible for us to say how much a foundation repair will cost. This is because price is dependent on a variety of variables including the type and extent of the damage, the repair solution, and your geographical location.
We can say though that any repair should come with a warranty. Also, if you’re worried that a foundation repair contractor might suggest an unnecessary and expensive repair, you can contact a structural engineer and ask for an inspection. They can then write up a report that you can give to the foundation repair contractor.

Foundation repair is a permanent solution

Lifting and stabilizing a foundation via hydraulically advancing galvanized steel piers or replacing a foundation is not a temporary fix, it’s a permanent solution. If it’s done properly, you’ll never need to do it again.

You must disclose foundation repairs when you sell a house

If you have a foundation repair or replacement done, you’ll need to disclose this to all potential buyers. However, this can work in your favor, especially if you live in an area with expansive soil. Showing a potential buyer that they’ll never have a problem with the foundation because it has already been fixed can be a strong selling point.

Will my homeowners insurance cover a foundation repair?

Probably not. However, if the foundation problem was caused by a plumbing problem, it might. If the problem was caused by soil issues, you’re probably out of luck. Check your homeowner’s insurance to make sure.  
Foundation repair is not something that you should ever attempt to do yourself. If you have a foundation problem your first two steps should be…
  1. Call either a structural engineer or a foundation repair professional and ask for a foundation inspection.
  2. Educate yourself about foundation problems and their various solutions so that you’ll be able to make an informed decision about how to handle your home’s foundation repair.
Every homeowner should know how to spot the signs of foundation damage. Check out our are articles 11 Signs Of Foundation Failure and Top 5 Causes Of Foundation Problems for more information.