The Cost of Foundation Repair and How to Avoid
By Ross Kirk
A foundation is the base that supports any structure in order for it to stay solid and firm. When this base is not installed properly or the soil beneath is not sound, problems occur that can jeopardize your entire base and structure. The cost of foundation repair can be very expensive if there is major damage. Homeowners expect the foundation to be adequate and dependable but sometimes can be faced with the problem of a base in need of repair.
The Basics of a Foundation
There are three basic types of foundations that builders use before beginning the construction of a home. The most common type of foundation is a slab-on-grade. Reinforced concrete is used to create a base together with the soil that is often referred to as the second foundation. Because this second foundation of soil is important in supporting the concrete, soil testing and approval needs to be done ahead of pouring concrete. If the soil is unsustainable for such a load, the seasonal movement caused by rainfall, drought, and temperature changes can affect the amount of heaving that occurs.
A pier and beam foundation usually has a crawl space beneath the structure. It is constructed with a concrete footing and pier that is positioned to support wood beams and the floor joists. The quality of the ground is still an issue with a pier and beam foundation because of the shallow nature of the base. The cost of foundation repair in either of these two types of foundations can become immense if the soil cannot be supported to sustain the weight.
Basements provide more support for a structure because the footing depth extends far beneath the frost line, four or more feet below the surface. The sinking and swelling of the earth occurs against the walls and limits the amount of damage made by climate changes. There can be certain damage, however in the lateral movement of the walls and floor heave that requiring the cost of foundation repair to be a future issue.
Variables in the Cost of Foundation Repair
Time, extent of damage, amount of square footage and the number of joints involved are the main areas that will determine the cost of foundation repair. The number of hours involved in repairing the damage is the number one cost factor. Labor is expensive especially when you have skilled professionals working. A contractor may use inexperienced laborers to do the job but you must be aware of this component by comparing prices against other contractor's estimates.
The extent of damage can come from a variety of factors. How the problem occurred is vital in fixing the problem. Poor soil, improper drainage and vegetation growth are some reasons that a foundation is becoming unstable and there are different methods figured in to the cost of foundation repair depending on the reason of damage involved. The square footage and number of joints is a determining factor in the amount of time that is required to stabilize your base. It is not as easy as repairing the point of collapse. The entire balance of your foundation will have to be evaluated and sustained.
Average Costs of Professionals
The cost of foundation repair rests on the types of professionals that are needed in assessing the damage and the amount of equipment required. A typical foundation repair that uses hydraulic piercing can run between $10,000 and $14,000 (6 to 8 foot spacing at $1,340 per pile). A simple crack in a poured concrete wall will average $800 to $1500. If soil is thought to be the issue, a geotechnical engineer often receives $500 to $3,000 for an evaluation while a structural engineer can make recommendations for $300 to $1500.
Maintain your Foundation
Because the cost of foundation repair is so expensive, keeping an eye on your base is crucial in problems that may crop up. Dry areas require periodic watering of the ground close to their foundation in order to keep the moisture content consistent. Proper drainage is important so that water is not allowed to collect along the foundation's sides. Make sure your downspouts are carrying water away from your base by 3-4'. Trees should be planted no closer than their ultimate height.
You can help control the cost of foundation repair by proper maintenance and having any issues such as noticeable cracks inspected early. It is definitely worth the service call.
Ross Kirk is the owner of Marco Concrete Lifting, a residential and commercial foundation repair company serving the Charleston, WV area. Kirk writes about issues relating to all types of foundation, concrete and waterproofing repair projects.
For more information, tips and advice visit http://www.marcoconcrete.com
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