foundation repair

Discussion in 'Horn Depot' started by orangebones, Sep 22, 2011.

  1. orangebones

    orangebones 500+ Posts

    hello friends, long time no see. the drought has done a number on the clay upon which my house sits, it seems.

    i dialed back my watering when we were rationed to two days a week, and in the last 2 months, i've had several cracks in the drywall appear throughout the house. more troubling, i found about a 16 inch stress crack across a few bricks coming out of the corner of a window. on the same wall (within a few feet) there is also some separation in the mortar from the slab to the eaves, and two window frames on that exterior wall are also separating from the masonry. the gaps are between 1/16 of an inch or so, to nearly a quarter inch in spots.

    here's the deal. foundation problems are not that uncommon in my neighborhood. however, i have walked around the perimeter several times and i cannot find any cracks in the slab itself. based on the above, is it possible that the house has shifted as a unit, without any fracture to the slab?

    second question. how much does foundation repair generally cost, and how long does the process take?

    third question. we have never intended to stay in this house for a long time. what kind of drop should i expect to see in my home's value (as a percentage?)

    thanks, and i'll hang up and listen.
  2. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    I can give free advice. I am an attorney who has litigated several hundred claims related to foundation problems, but you will have to both indicate your desire for the advice and promise not to put me back into the litigation deal. PM if you want the free advice.

    You can always hang up on me if you don't like it when I try to steer you to better solutions than litigation.

    Google Balandran v. Safeco.
  3. orangebones

    orangebones 500+ Posts

    thanks. I'm also an attorney, and the builder, while not a client, is a good guy whose family I've known for a long time. so, unless my insurance company decides to chase it over my objections, litigation is very unlikely.

    i'm really just looking for estimates on what i should expect to pay out of pocket, if i opt to not file an insurance claim.
  4. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    The picture is much bigger than that, but I can't help but advise that "foundation repair" is ********
  5. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    A slab on grade requires stiffness. Once that is gone (cracked) there is nothing you can do. "foundation repair" companies will sell you as many piers as you can pay for, but they won't give you a warranty that is worth a ****. They will warrant that the slab will remain close to where they theoretically levelled it, but they won't set a benchmark so there is never anything that can be tested to see where they put it and then they say they only warrant against "settling" and without a benchmark it's not verifiable. Even if they set a benchmark, the best they can hope to do is prevent settling and they don't do **** about heaving which means that when we are out of this drought you will have some heaving and differential movement. A cracked slab will move again. It won't surf. A raft-mat slab is designed to float and it is supposed to be stiff enough to withstand the ENORMOUS forces that act on it and float. I have often used the analogy where I contrast surfboards and inflatable rafts and then put them in the Pacific Ocean. You can't stand up on an inflatable and once you crack a slab it is an inflatable. Putting piers underneath it won't change it and having the Scarlet Letter F (for foundation damage as opposed to A for Hester Prynne's sin) cannot be undone and the damage to the worth of your home cannot be undone. Be very careful about complaining so loudly that you can't look a buyer in the eye and say it wasn't a big deal.

    Did I mention that piers don't do ****?
  6. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    After Balandran, the insurance companies changed direction and got TDI to allow them to write their own policies. Read yours to see if you even have a chance before yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre.
  7. Horn89

    Horn89 1,000+ Posts

    Well, I'm not an engineer and it sounds like Nick knows a lot more than I do, but my personal experiences with foundation repair were pretty different than that.

    I bought a rental property many years ago, and got it for a great price because it was built on a slight grade, and one side of the home had "settled" significantly. No cracks in the slab, but the edges had fallen as much as 2 1/2" in some spots. The drywall on that side had been patched and patched and patched some more.

    For around 10K, I had it leveled with piers around the perimeter. One corner of the house had to be leveled twice... the repair company came out a few months later, said, "Yep, it has fallen a bit," and raised it again.

    I owned the property for the better part of a decade, and it was rock-solid the whole time... no cracking in the bricks, no drywall repair at all... it was fine.

    Sold it last year for a nice profit.
  8. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    A cut and fill deal is different and that sounds like what you had. I am pleased your experience was good.
  9. Scooter

    Scooter 250+ Posts

    Hey Nick - you sound like you know what you're talking about. My home is pier and beam but the problem is 1"-2" settling with the two downhill corners of the stem wall. Would foundation repair be recommended? Jacking up the stem wall footings is expensive and messy I'm reluctant to do it unless I have to.
  10. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    Pier and beam is a completely different system from raft-mat slabs. Depending on your soils (where are you?) they may rock and roll forever. I'm guessing,but around 70 years ago we started ripping floating wallpaper off of walls and installing rigid gypsum. Not very flexible. It cracks.

    A minor relevelling will not fix the cracks in the sheetrock so you are going to have to (or want to) do that anyway. Get a bid and then decide what makes more sense to you. Pier and beam heaves worse than it settles. If it is wood,sometimes it rots and settles. In TX we have been in an extendeded drought so you probabaly don't have heaving in every part of the house but the corner. If this is your last home you might want to bother to relevel, but pier and beam just naturally shifts and you'll possibly go through the deal more than once. As a cheap guy, I'd not want to do it often, but it's your home.

    It's not an extremely exact science for residential, but slabs are about stiffness and floating and pier and beam is more about flexibility and tolerance. Piers don't go down to the bedrock of China. They rely on friction to keep them from rocking and rolling. Sometimes slippery clay soils will squeeze a pier up like you might do by squeezing a gooey pumpkin seed. I have no experiences where a drought settlement ended up totally corrected by a change in climate. It may have happened, but then who would contact me (a lawyer) when it did?

    In Las Colinas, for example, there are soild that have the power to lift 30,000 pounds/sqfoot for several inches (swell potential and PVR or potential vertical rise). Dead loads in your home are probably in the 150 pounds/sqfoot range. Do the math. A 2000 sqfoot house can be lifted by a swell (or drop) in a single foot.

    You have to be totally stiff or totally flexible. Interior finishes on a pier and beam home need to be flexible like wallpaper on gauze backing. Lacking that, you are probably looking at more movement down the road. Which is cheaper? Fixing some rock every few years or relevelling a beam that may end up shifting again? Your call.

    All the foundation repair will do is raise the beam above the pier and insert shims and you will not get a warranty that will ever pay off. Without setting a benchmark and recording levels they will always be ableto say "We only guaranteed that corner wouldn't move. Something else moved so we now have to level the rest of the house".

    Yeah. I'm a bit of a cynic.
  11. Scooter

    Scooter 250+ Posts

    I had 16 piers put under the two back corners of my stem wall footings. I live on a hillside in Arkansas.

    My hope is now I can do major renovations without fear of continual and chronic settling. That was basically what I paid for. To truly level the entire house would have been hugely expensive.
  12. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    If you wish to send me the findings from your soil samples and repair specs I will give you a frree opinion on whether or not to invest more money. I do not wish to be your lawyer. Just a free service to a fellow Hornfan. Nothing more.
  13. BigWill

    BigWill 2,500+ Posts

    Good to see you posting Nick. I hope you're feeling OK these days.

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