Temporary and Useless. Those are the words used by the structural engineers at A-1 Engineering to describe the most common type of foundation repair method in Texas. It is called the "Pushed Pile" repair method and home sellers are purchasing this method to pass inspections and sell their houses.
"We have seen it hundreds and hundreds of times in our 37 years of service in Sugar Land," says Martin Dawson of Dawson Foundation Repair, "and most of the time the home seller buys the cheapest, lowest quality foundation repair job available - and they are rubbish. The home seller just wants to sell his house as fast as possible and most don't care if the home slab foundation repair job is permanent or temporary. The seller is just trying to exit the property as cheaply as possible."
What Are The Warning Signs of Home Foundation Issues?
- Cracks in interior walls
- Cracks in exterior brick walls
- Cracks in tile floors
- Doors and windows that do not open or close properly
- Separation of exterior window frames from home's exterior framing
Many times in a home sales transaction the process is put on hold because the buyer's inspector found evidence of movement of the home's concrete slab foundation. Usually, the inspector will find elevation readings outside of acceptable limits and/or cracks in the exterior brick and interior sheetrock.
Mr. Dawson is referring to the common practice of home sellers in Sugar Land, Texas, making required foundation repairs to their properties to qualify for mortgage loans. Often home sellers have to make repairs to various parts of the house, such as roof replacement, HVAC replacement, new carpet or flooring, and/or new paint. But the soils in this part of Texas are extremely problematic - shrinking and swelling with changes in moisture content. This soil movement cracks concrete slab foundations and damages exterior and interior walls in homes. Foundation damage will stop a residential real estate transaction "dead in its tracks".
Homeowners and home sellers are facing a triple threat - dramatic and continuous soil movement due to seasonal moisture changes, home builders that construct minimally functional foundations, and overwhelming confusion about what constitutes a quality foundation repair job. It is no surprise that home buyers are on the receiving end of poor decisions that were made by home sellers. The result is that the eventual owner of the house will be saddled with a poor, and usually temporary, low-quality foundation repair job that will eventually fail.
Can Foundation Problems Be Fixed Permanently?
Yes. A permanent foundation repair job requires a repair method that is designed to be permanent and is supported by engineering specifications and structural engineers. The most common permanent foundation repair method is known as "Drilled Pier" or "Bell Bottom Pier". The Bell Bottom Pier is a slightly modified version with a large bell or foot at the base that provides greater stability, greater weight-bearing capacity, and resists soil movement known as uplift. The Bell Bottom Pier method is more expensive because it involves more concrete, more steel rebar, more labor, and more time. But as Mr. Dawson pointed out, you get what you pay for.
Home Buyers who purchase a Sugar Land or Fort Bend County area home that has had recent slab foundation work should examine the home sellers' transferable warranty carefully. These warranties have several important exclusions as well as a requirement that the homeowner pays for future adjustments to the foundation. After five or six years of adjustments, the homeowner has almost paid for the foundation repair work twice. And there is that nasty Mandatory Arbitration clause that forces the homeowner to forfeit their right to sue for shoddy work in a court of law. Instead, any dispute must be subjected to Mandatory Arbitration - a process that heavily favors the business and not the consumer as evidenced by the 90%+ success rate of businesses in arbitration.
Dawson Foundation Repair has installed thousands of Bell Bottom Piers in Sugar Land and Fort Bend County area homes for the past 37 years. They educate homeowners and homebuyers about different foundation repair methods and the pros and cons of each. Once homeowners understand the differences, and they plan on living in their homes for some time, they usually select a permanent foundation repair method - Bell Bottom Piers.