Is my foundation structurally stable?
A foundation is considered the lowest load-bearing part of a building, and is typically below ground level. The foundation is what supports a house or building. When you have foundation issues, it impacts many elements of the building. There are several common indicators that may justify having your building assessed.
Common indications of foundation concerns that warrant a current condition assessment:
- Cracks in sheetrock above doorways and windows
- Doors jamming or not properly shutting
- Floors not level – sloping in one or more directions
- Cracks in tile on the floor or walls
- Windows that fail to open
- Visible change in condition of floors, decks, porches, retaining walls etc
- Water leaking into basement from floor seams or cracks in walls
- Cracks in concrete walls
- Garage floor slabs that have cracks or have heaved
- Basement floor slabs that have cracks or have heaved
- Baseboard trim that is crooked or gaps under baseboard trim
If you suspect that you have foundation issues then we recommend, before you get repairs, that you contact an experienced structural forensic engineer. Before hiring a foundation contractor, there should be an Structural Engineer’s site visit: condition assessment, evaluation for need of repair, determination of cause and origin, and unbiased recommendations for the repair, if a repair is even needed.
Things to avoid
Too often, the foundation repair sales person’s proposal for repair is not the same as an unbiased Forensic and Structural Engineer’s recommendations. Our customers often tell us they have 5-10 bids from foundation contractors, with various repairs ranging from $2,000 in caulking to $30,000 in piering.
What to do
We recommend you find an experienced engineer to evaluate your property and make recommendations based on the site visit evaluation. Most site visits will take 1-1.5 hours on site for the engineer to physically review, measure, condition assess, determine cause and origin of changes in condition, and then to discuss the findings and concerns with the property owner.
- Find an Professional Engineer (PE) in your state.
- Interview the engineer or review his/her resume.
- For foundation condition assessments, we recommend you find a PE who has experience in three fields: Structural Engineering, Forensic Engineering and Geotechnical Engineering.
- A Structural Engineer is experienced in structures.
- A Forensic Engineer investigates the failure or the cause and origin of a failure
- A Geotech Engineer studies the earth and soils under and around structures
Be aware of any current changes in your home. Take pictures for documenting any ongoing movement or changes. And don’t wait too long to address your concerns. Foundation concerns are like dental work: it is easier and less painful to fix a cavity than it is to fix a cavity that has become a root canal.