The Problem of Worthless Foundation Repair Warranties
"Virturally all home foundation repair warranties in the state of Texas are worthless," stated Martin Dawson, owner of Dawson Foundation Repair in Sugar Land, Texas. "Foundation repair contractors use three tactics to evade and avoid responsibility for shoddy or failed foundation repair jobs. The first tactic is to exclude as much as possible from the warranty. A list of exclusions is part of many foundation repair guarantees. Once you get past the list of exclusions there is usually some legal language that can be used to exclude just about everything else. The second tactic is to charge homeowners for adjustments when the repair job begins to fail. After three or four adjustments the homeowner has paid for the repair job twice. The third and most effective tactic used against homeowners is Mandatory Arbitration, which is part of almost every work contract for foundation repair in the state of Texas. Historically businesses win in Mandatory Arbitration between 90% and 95% of all cases. There you go - 3 time and money consuming tactics that defeat homeowners and foundation repair warranties with great efficiency."
What Are The Warning Signs Of Foundation Damage?
Cracks. Homeowners will begin to see interior wall cracks. Then they go outside and see cracks in the brick. Then they look at the foundation's base and see cracks there too. Doors and windows that begin to stick and not open properly are also warning signs.The primary culprit for concrete slab foundations is the regular expansion and contraction of clay soils with changes in moisture content. Soil expansion is simple physics and can easily crack concrete slab foundation with upward movement (upheaval), downward movement (settlement), and horizontal movement.
Does Foundation Work Come With Warranty?
In Texas a home builder's warranty is provided by the construction company or contractor who built the house. Home builders in Texas are only responsible for their workmanship for ten years. After that time period there are no "home builder warranties". However, many homeowners are seeing warning signs of foundation damage before the expiration of the builder's ten year warranty. It is the homeowner's task to find a solution for their 'minimally functional' home foundation that is beginning to fail before the expiration of the home builder's warranty.
According to Mr. Dawson, the whole process starts with the "minimally functional" concrete slab foundations built by home builders across the state. These new concrete foundations don't have enough concrete or steel rebar to resist the forces of nature over time. The builders are cutting their costs by a few thousand dollars and leaving the homeowner with thousands of dollars in foundation repair costs in the future.
How Long Does The Foundation Repair Warranty Last?
Usually a foundation contractor's lifetime warranty refers to the portion of the foundation where foundation repair work was done. It usually does not cover any other part of the house, and importantly, it does NOT cover any other part of the home's slab foundation. Since the slab foundation is a single-piece structure, that can be a problem in the future. In addition, it does not cover any damage to plumbing pipes under the concrete slab.
Do Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation Issues?
NO. The home insurance companies in Texas are VERY aware of the fact that "minimally functional" concrete slab foundations fail over time. They do NOT cover or insure this known repair expense in their insurance policies - it is EXCLUDED. In general, insurance polices will cover "unpredictable" events. Other high risk and high cost events, such as Flood Damage, are usually excluded also.
Major Events That Are Generally Insured By Home Insurance Companies
- Water Damage from plumbing pipe failure
- Snow and Ice Damage
- Fire or Lightning
- Riots or civil disturbances
- Volcanic Eruption
Major Events That Are Generally NOT Insured (Excluded) By Home Insurance Companies
- Flood Damage
- Tree Roots
- Flawed Construction
- Foundation Damage caused by natural forces over time
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A House Foundation?
Foundation repair contractors do not actually "repair" or "fix" a concrete slab foundation. They support, stabilize, and level the slab. All foundation repair methods in Texas install some form of underground support for the slab foundation, usually pushed piles or drilled piers. The goal is to provide permanent support for the slab where there has been settlement, to stabilize the slab against future upheaval, and then level the slab as close as possible to its original elevation.
Home sizes and concrete foundations vary as well as the surrounding soil and drainage conditions. Usually the minimum cost for a small job is $5000. Most foundation repair jobs are in the $10,000 to $30,000 range. Large houses with badly damaged slab foundations can experience foundation repair costs over $100,000.
In sum, a foundation repair warranty is only as good as 1) the quality of the foundation repair method used, 2) the quality of the workmanship, and 3) the stability and consumer service of the foundation contractor. Poor quality foundation repair methods, shoddy workmanship, indifferent foundation contractors, worthless foundation repair warranties, and a rigged Mandatory Arbitration system are the standard business practices for homeowners in Texas.
Martin Dawson is the owner of Dawson Foundation Repair, which was established in 1984. His company installs Bell Bottom Piers because they are Permanent, Proven, and Time-Tested. "If you want High Quality Home Foundation Repair then it will cost a little more. You get what you pay for," he advises.