What foundation repair do I really need? Tom Anderberg provides foundation consulting for homeowners to help them make the right job decision.
Let’s start here. What is the “true” foundation? Most people, even some professionals, will tell you that it’s the concrete. Answer: the ground. Every time.
Concrete, which is most commonly used, basically keeps your wooden box off the ground. See article – “How Concrete is Made”. As simple as it may seem, even you make a shoe print when the ground is soft and not compacted very well. This may be over simplistic, but the point is that many homes and buildings can or may have issues with two common problems: 1) the concrete (or support material) is settling which in turn causes building deformation, i.e. cracking etc. and 2) the concrete (or support material) may not be strong enough to resist seismic activity or compression due to material failure.
The first problem, settlement, is most common because either the “concrete” may not have been engineered properly to address the existing soil conditions or secondly the soil conditions may have changed due to water issues and/or other variables.
In essence, to properly address “foundation” concerns, it becomes important to assess the structure in a way that takes into effect many factors including its age, what the elevations are and where settling is occurring most, drainage conditions (surface and sub surface), what the owners intentions are etc. Solutions may vary from foundation repair, replacement, pier support, drainage system installation, or even doing nothing.
To properly diagnose the “foundation” it is usually best to get a good sense of direction as to what your conditions are and what they mean to you before committing to a fixed remedial plan of repair. And yes, utilizing quality geotechnical and structural engineering is important before hiring a contractor of choice but making sure that the costs are in line with the end result is paramount. This is where the initial consultation regarding your potential project is most valuable.
Once the general scope and direction of repair is determined with regard to the potential costs and benefits, depending on the project, it is often wise to get initial engineering consultation(s), as well, along with a few contractors who might actually perform the work to make sure the “end costs” will stay in line before committing to a fixed plan.