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Foundation Repair Costs

Behavior and Effects of Expansive Soil, Copyright Prentice HallWith the Onset of Summer, Comes Contracting Soil

After a fall and winter of higher than average rainfall in Central Texas, thanks to El Nino, a dry summer has the potential to wreak havoc on building foundations across the region.

Soil in Central Texas has Expanded
Due to Recent Rainfall

The soil composition here in Central Texas is comprised of moderate to highly expansive soils, see our post on expansive soils. What this means is that in wet periods our soils absorb water and expand, and during dry periods they lose moisture and contract.

Diagram of Expansive Soil, Copyright Prentice Hall In the example at right, taken from a Prentice Hall textbook, we can easily see the amount of moisture present in an expansive soil multiplies when moisture is introduced causing a phenomenon known as soil heave. As the name suggests soil heave causes the soil to lift upward and can either put added pressure on your exterior walls, if the soil under your house remains dry, or on the center of your foundation, if the soil under your home is affected by leaks or other sources of moisture.

Large Cracks in a Foundation or Walls
are Usually a Sign of Foundation Problems

If your home is experiencing any foundation problems, you will most likely either want to have a structural engineer take a look, or call a foundation repair company out to examine your home.

Superior has years of experience with San Antonio and Austin Foundation Repair. We also offer coupons to our web customers at our Google Maps pages, if you are in the Austin area visit our Superior Foundation Repair Austin – Google Maps page to see our specials. If you are in the San Antonio area visit our Superior Foundation Repair San Antonio – Google Maps page for our specials.

Call 877-302-5111 or follow this link to request a free foundation repair estimate.

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The New York Times

On March 4th the New York Times published an article about the foundation repair industry titled “Shifting Soil Threatens Homes’ Foundations”. The article points out that the foundation repair industry has grown even throughout the recession as more and more home owners have been faced with problems caused by expansive soil (read more about expansive soil in Central Texas).

The Article states:

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.

Clay soils, like those beneath the houses of Mr. Derse and Ms. Wilson, shrink during droughts and swell during floods, causing structures to bob. And because sandier soil loses its adhesive properties in dry conditions, it pulls away from foundations. Heavy rains cause it to shift or just collapse beneath structures. With both kinds of soil, such sinking, called subsidence, usually happens gradually, said Randall Orndorff, a geologist with the United States Geologic Survey. But, he said, “swinging from very wet to extremely dry weather like we’ve been seeing lately in many parts of the country may be accelerating the effect.”

While the author questions whether foundation problems are caused by global warming (this of course is an entirely different debate which we will not elaborate upon), she does provide an excellent explanation of how foundation problems occur. The soils in Texas are especially subject to these characteristics, thus the large amount of foundation repair companies that can be found in Texas.

The article also discusses the cost of foundation repair to homeowners and estimates that around $4 billion dollars a year are spent repairing foundations, a much more conservative figure than the $12.5 billion purported by the Foundation Repair Association. Regardless, foundation repair is a multi-billion dollar industry which people often tend to ignore until they see the signs of foundation problems.

The author also points out, “Subsidence is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies in the United States.” This topic has already been covered by Superior Foundation Repair in a previous blog post and readers should be aware of this fact already (read about insurance and foundation repair).

Another aspect covered in the article is proper techniques for maintaining a healthy foundation.

Landscaping should, as a rule, be installed so that water slopes away from the house and gutters should discharge at least five feet from the house to avoid oversaturating the soil. (read more about landscaping and home foundations) During droughts, experts recommend placing soaker hoses around the perimeter of the house and turning them on for 30 minutes a day. “The idea is to maintain a constant amount of moisture in the soil,” said Tom Witherspoon, a foundation engineer in Dallas. “If you can do that, your house will never move.” (read more about maintaining a healthy foundation)

Among other things there are a few personal stories mixed in with the article which highlight the hardships endured by various families who have dealt with foundation problems.

The article makes some good points about the foundation repair industry and the severity of problems caused by expansive soil throughout the United States, even if the article is loosely based around the idea that climate change may be the cause of foundation problems. However, the author also brings into question whether or not poor construction habits, the increase in new homes, or the availability of good quality soil have contributed to the increase in foundation problems across America. In all the article is an excellent read for anyone interested in understanding foundation repair and how it affects families.

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Image: Daniel Rizzuti

This blog post will examine some of the factors that contribute to how foundation repair estimates are priced and educate homeowners about how foundation repair estimates are formulated.

  1. The Extent of Foundation Deviation

    Deviation refers to the extent that a structure is unlevel. If the home is experiencing severe signs of foundation problems, such as bowed walls, large cracks in the ceiling or walls, or doors that will not open or close properly in a majority of the house, it is feasible that the foundation will need to be stablised with interior piers to a greater extent than houses with a lesser deviation. The more stabilization a house needs, the more the repairs will cost.

  2. The Stability of the Soil

    In Texas, houses situated atop a great amount of unstable soil tend to need more interior piers to counteract the shrink-swell characteristics of soils. Each house sits on a unique mixture of soils and some soils have greater shrink-swell potential than others (read our article about soil types in Central Texas). Another factor that contributes to the stability of the soil is proper drainage. Improper drainage can cause erosion underneath a structure which will adversely affect the foundation, and cause it to sink. Naturally if the drainage problem is affecting the entire structure. More interior piers will be needed to counteract the erosion.

  3. The Size and Weight of the Structure

    Other major factors in determining the cost of foundation repair are the size and weight of the structure. Heavier structures will need more piering closer together to adequately support the weight of the structure. The size of the ground floor of a structure also contributes to the amount of piering that will be needed to adequately solve foundation problems. Larger homes will need more piers to provide support over a wider area.

Contact Superior Foundation Repair today for a free estimate on repairs. Superior’s Steel Piers are certified by Independent Engineer Consultants as required, and, all foundation repair work is backed by a lifetime transferable warranty.

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