free foundation repair estimate
Austin: 512-320-1911
Toll Free: 877-302-5111
San Antonio: 210-220-1911
  • Your crews were efficient & effective in their repair. Thank you, Superior, for a wonderful job. - J. Schwarz
  • Wow! I'm impressed with Superior... I would highly recommend this company to anybody. - Bonnie T.
  • Their crew was fast & efficient. I recommend Superior to anyone needing foundation repair. - T. Johnson
  • Superior Foundation Repair's service was outstanding. - R. Williamson
  • Superior Foundation Repair offers a better, more permanent solution to level foundations. - J. Daniels
  • I would highly recommend Superior Foundation Repair. - Clark T.
  • I was impressed with the crew. They had great attention to detail and were very neat. - D. Pimentel
  • I couldn't have asked for a better experience. The quality of the work impressed me every step of the way. - S. Wallace
  • From start to finish, my experience with Superior Foundation Repair was enjoyable and cost-effective. - Chris V.
  • Finally, we have found a foundation repair company that we can truly rely upon. - J. Honegger
  • A reliable local company that stands by their word and takes pride and care in their work. - D. Golding

house leveling

Superior Foundation Repair on Angie's List

The Super Service Award Reflects a Consistently High Level of Customer Service

Superior Foundation Repair has been awarded the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the second year in a row. The Super Service Award is an honor bestowed annually on approximately 5 percent of all the businesses rated on the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service and health providers.

How Angie’s List Members Describe our Services

Throughout 2011 we received multiple reviews, all of which are available on our online profile, and accessible to all Angie’s List members. Our customers were very thorough in their reporting, and left detailed reviews of their experience with Superior Foundation Repair.

Following are a few of the adjectives used to describe SFR in our reviews:

  • knowledgeable,
  • polite,
  • honest,
  • punctual,
  • friendly,
  • professional,
  • efficient,
  • hard-working,
  • patient,
  • would recommend,
  • very satisfied,
  • wonderful,
  • recommended,
  • easy to work with

Central Texas Foundation Repair Focused on Service

“At Superior, serving our customers is one of our top priorities. We are continually optimizing our procedures to better serve all of our clients, and the Super Service Award exemplifies and validates our continued commitment to excellence,” Brady Barnett, Superior Foundation Repair.

Super Service Award Shows Dedication to Consumers

“Only a fraction of the businesses rated on Angie’s List can claim the sterling service record of being a Super Service Award winner because we set a high bar,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “The fact that Superior Foundation Repair can claim Super Service Award status speaks volumes about its dedication to consumers.”

How we Won the Award for Foundation Repair

The Angie’s List Super Service Award winners are determined by strict criteria such as earning a minimum number of reports, an excellent rating from clients, and following the operational guidelines set forth by Angie’s List. Ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List, but members can find the 2011 Super Service Award logo next to business names in search results on AngiesList.com.

SFR Provides Austin Foundation Repair and San Antonio Foundation Repair

Superior Foundation Repair services Austin and San Antonio area, providing free Foundation Repair assessments, a Superior solution to leveling foundations, and a commitment to excellence in both customer service and Foundation Repair. Contact Superior today for all of your Austin Foundation Repair, or San Antonio Foundation Repair needs.

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A house with severely cracked wallsThis article will examine the question of whether relying solely on the levelness of a slab as a basis for recommending foundation repair is an accurate way of determining the need for underpinning. The simple answer to this dilemma is no. While slab measurements are a widely used method of determining the levelness of a slab, they cannot and should not be the sole basis for determining whether a home needs underpinning based on a variety of reasons, 3 of which we will be examining.

Reasons Why Basing Foundation Repair Recommendations
Solely on Measurements is an inexact Science

  • No newly constructed slab is perfectly level
  • When a new home is constructed, numerous factors affect the slope of the slab, including it’s shape, support materials, extent of soil preparation, and the weight of the structure which is built on it among other things. For these reasons, and the fact that human handywork can never be absolutely perfect, a perfectly level slab at the time of construction is absolutely impossible.It is absolutely feasible, that at the time of construction of a home, a slab can have a slope of 2 inches or more, and the home will be properly designed to support this deflection. Thus, any leveling done on this house in the future to correct the slope can adversely affect the structure of the home.
  • The nature of Expansive soils means that slab foundations are constantly moving
  • Because of the characteristics of expansive soils in and around Austin and San Antonio the moisture content of the soil is always changing. In short moist soils expand and dry soils contract, for this reason measurements taken over extended periods of time will show different levels of deviation. As previously stated, while measuring the deviation of a slab is a widely used technique, it is not the only factor which should be considered when evaluating a foundation.

    “The foundation surface changes as the soil shrinks and swells. While the foundation may become more level with time, at least some damage to the supported structure does not disappear, such as cracks in brittle wall coverings. Thus, it is possible that a house that shows cracking in brittle wall coverings may fail to be properly diagnosed because the foundation surface profile was judged to be “level” at the time of the inspection.” excerpt taken from Using Slab-on-Ground Elevation Measurements in Residential Foundation Engineering Performance Evaluations

  • A level reading can be obtained on a structure that actually needs repairs
  • Because of the two factors previously discussed, a slab which was not completely level after construction, and, which is experiencing soil expansion or contraction underneath the slab, at any given time, based on the conditions, can exhibit a level reading.

    “Either foundation deflection (bending or angular distortion) or tilt (planar rotation) may affect structural integrity and performance. Determining the deflection and tilt of a slab-on-ground foundation is an approximation without an as built or previous floor elevation survey, because the original surface configuration is unknown. Therefore, a floor elevation survey can provide valuable information, but should not be the only basis for evaluating foundation deflection and tilt.” excerpt taken from the Guidelines for the Evaluation and Repair of Residential Foundations Section 5.4 – Deflection and Tilt

Relying on Measurements Alone Would be Irrational

As described, measurements of slopes in foundations are not the only way to tell whether a foundation is in need of repair. Relying solely on measurements to determine the condition of a foundation can lead to inaccurate evaluations, and more damage to a home. Knowing the soil make up of the area in which the home is located, the shape of the slab, observing signs of foundation problems, and familiarity with slab construction all contribute to making an informed decision on whether to recommend foundation repair or not.

“There is no rational, logical reason to refuse to make a positive diagnosis merely because the surface profile does not conform with one of two distortion profiles that are used for design purposes.” excerpt taken from Using Slab-on-Ground Elevation Measurements in Residential Foundation Engineering Performance Evaluations

A combination of Measurements, Observation,
Knowledge of Soil, and Experience

Superior Foundation Repair’s steel pier method of foundation repair has been tested over decades and been shown to effectively counteract the effects of expansive soil on slab foundations by relying on bedrock for support. When evaluating a foundation and recommending repair we combine our experience, extensive knowledge of Central Texas soils, observation of signs of structural damage, along with measurements to determine our recommendations for repair. We have recommended repair on homes which other foundation companies did not recommend repair, and conversely, we have recommended no repair on homes where other companies have recommended repair. We always stand by our evaluations of slab foundations.

If your home is exhibiting signs of foundation problems, then contact Superior Foundation Repair today to have one of our experienced inspectors evaluate the condition of your foundation.

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Slab Foundation

In Texas, there are two main types of foundations used to construct houses. Slab, or slab-on-grade, foundations are the most common and most cost efficient types of foundations. Pier and Beam foundations were preferred up until the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when slab foundations became the norm for home construction.

Cost Effective Foundations

Slab foundations are more inexpensive than pier and beam foundations and can lower the price of construction significantly. In fact the difference in price between the two is often more than the average cost of Foundation Repair (usually between $4500 and $6500 in the Austin area). Not only are they cheaper, but they are designed to move uniformly. Likewise, slab foundations are continually being refined and improved upon to increase their strength and resistance to cracking.

Specializing in Slab Foundation Repair

Superior Foundation Repair has chosen to specialize in slab foundation repair in order to offer our clients the best service possible. At Superior we believe “the Jack of All Trades is the Master of None”, thus, we focus on repairing faulty or failing slab foundations in the Central Texas Area. Repairing a slab foundation is much different than repairing a pier and beam foundation, however, some companies offer both types of repair, aware that the consumer may not know the difference. If you are looking for references for our Slab Foundation Repair services please see our Foundation Repair Testimonials or our Google Maps page.

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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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Simple pressed concrete pilings graphic

Simply put, this method of foundation repair is the cheapest (in price AND quality) leveling system available, and that for a reason. Time and again Concrete Pressed Pilings have been shown to be an inadequate solution to foundation problems. This method relies on pre-casted concrete cylinders to be stacked on top of each other and driven to a point of resistance, oftentimes, within the active zone of expansive soils.

Many contractors promote this method as better than steel piers, because Steel Piers rust (a shameful scare tactic, which is negated by their own used of steel piers or cables to straighten their piers once the have been installed). In addition, galvanized steel piers, like the ones used by Superior Foundation Repair, are desigged to last and withstand elements which cause steel to rust, while contractors using concrete pressed pilings often use steel products which are not galvanized and tend to rust.

A few limitations of concrete pilings can be found in this report from foundationperformance.org

Precast concrete segmental piles are not able to resist significant bending moments due to lateral loads.

Depending upon the soil uplift forces, interconnected precast concrete segmental piles that are connected to the existing foundation system may not be able to provide resistance against foundation uplift if the soil is in contact with the existing foundation system.

If the pile cannot attain sufficient penetration into stable soils, then it may not be anchored against potential movements that occur due to swelling or shrinking of the soils in the moisture active zone.

Oftentimes contractors offering to install concrete pressed pilings will offer to lubricate the soil through water-jetting, in order to push the piers further down. If any contractor offers to introduce water underneath your foundation, run as far as you can. Under no circumstances should water be introduced underneath a foundation, as water is the main cause of foundation problems. This blog post states it clearly:

Another method used to overcome shallow depths is to use high pressure water jetting to lubricate (soften) the soil below the concrete cylinder. A high pressure line is forced down the center of the concrete piles blasting water into the soil making the piles install easier. Common sense tells us that if your home was built on expanding clay soils and you are having foundation issues, the introduction of more water into these soils is not a good solution. Good for the contractor yes, good for your home – No!

In addition to inadequate depth, and cheap materials, the fact that the pilings are stacked on top of one another introduces another problem. Expansive soils can push them out of alignment, thus seriously damaging the integrity of the pilings. Homes that have been “leveled” with concrete piers will need annual adjustments, and the cracking in walls and displaced doors will continue. In other words, your foundation will neither be repaired nor leveled. You will have paid for someone to do work, but that’s really about it.

For a foundation repair system that works, contact Superior Foundation Repair in Austin and San Antonio to level your foundation. Read about our steel pier house leveling process, and 11 reasons to use steel piers to level your home.

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Spreader Footing Foundation Repair graphicSpread Footers are another common method of foundation repair which many foundation repair companies employ. Much like Drilled Bell concrete piers, though, Spread Footers are better suited for new foundation construction, and are typically better suited for areas with stable soil. A simple google search for spread footing foundation yields a variety of topics related to new construction, bridge construction, and commercial construction.

The Wikipedia definition of Spread Footers is:

Spread footing foundations consists of strips or pads of concrete (or other materials) which transfer the loads from walls and columns to the soil or bedrock. Embedment of spread footings is controlled by several factors, including development of lateral capacity, penetration of soft near-surface layers, and penetration through near-surface layers likely to change volume due to frost heave or shrink-swell. (wikipedia:Shallow Foundation)

Spread Footers are designed to act as extra support for a foundation and to distribute the load of the foundation equally among stable soil. However, in order to work properly they involve extensive geo-technical and/or structural engineering design to account for a multitude of variables. Most foundation repair contractors will not have the technical know how to properly design Spread Footers.

Major Disadvantages Related to Installing Post-Construction Spread Footers include:

  1. Spread footers being installed too shallow, oftentimes just 2-3 feet below a foundation, which does not eliminate the effects of expansive soils.
  2. Because they are resting on expansive soils, they will need to be adjusted annually, while cracks and cosmetic damage will continue to form in the house, of which, the costs of repair will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
  3. Many contractors will use inadequate concrete for repair which is not designed to support the weight of the structure.
  4. Foundation Repair will last longer than a week as the excavations are made and the concrete will have to cure before the holes can be refilled.

Many independent engineers recommend Steel Piers for foundation repair because they offer the greatest support. By specializing in steel piers anchored to bedrock, Superior Foundation Repair understands the effects of expansive soils found in Central Texas and the best way to counteract them, while securely stabilizing a home. If you have had an engineer evaluate your foundation contact us for a free estimate on the cost of foundation repair for your home.

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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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Dan Golding - Austin RealtorFirst of all – Definitely use a steel pier foundation repair system instead of concrete piers. Steel piers are more stable in the long term and they don’t settle like concrete piers do. Concrete piers are bigger and heavier and therefore naturally settle over time if not driven all the way to the bedrock. Concrete piers are also more invasive to your property. They are much bigger in diameter than steel piers, so they require a much bigger hole to be dug around your house or cut inside the slab of your house. Superior Foundation Repair in Austin uses quality steel piers and they drive them all the way to the bedrock!

As a residential remodeler and licensed Realtor here in Austin I have dealt with many of the local foundation companies and if you are looking for a reliable, Austin foundation repair company that stands by their word and takes pride and care in their work then Superior Foundation Repair is the one. I have worked with them on several houses and been satisfied every time. If you really want to find out why Superior Foundation Repair is the best then compare their honest, lifetime, transferrable warranty to those of other companies whose warranties are full of loopholes and pages of legal disclaimers.

Another thing is that when you use the biggest foundation companies in town then that company’s marketing costs, advertising costs and office expenses have to be factored into the prices they quote you. I recommend spending your dollars more wisely.

If you want a quality, pier house leveling system that is expertly installed by a company that stands behind its warranty then call Superior Foundation Repair.

—–

Dan Golding is a Certified, GREEN Designated Realtor & Residential Remodeler working for Casa Grande Realty.

Contact Dan via email:  DanGolding.Realtor@gmail.com

or phone:   (512) 590-2786

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Drilled Bell concrete pier image

Drilled bell concrete piers are a common method of foundation repair, but are actually best suited for newly constructed homes and structures. The installation of bell bottom piers in previously existing structures presents a myriad of problems.

Installing Drilled Bell Piers

First, let’s take a look at how Drilled Bell piers are installed in a house. Shafts are dug diagonally underneath a home’s foundation from the exterior of the structure. Once they reach the appropriate depth, either stable soil or bedrock, the bottom of the shaft is widened using special bits to create a bell shaped “foot”. The shaft is often reinforced with steel rebar before concrete is poured into it (further reading). Once the shaft is filled with concrete, the concrete must cure for 1-2 weeks. Upon completion of curing, the house is lifted and placed on top of the Drilled Bell piers.

The numerous Disadvantages of this Method as it Relates to Foundation Repair:

  1. First, an enormous amount of excavation is required and the excavated soil must be redistributed somewhere.
  2. In order to drill underneath the house heavy equipment will be placed next to the home causing considerable disturbance to adjacent landscaping.
  3. Also the vibrations of the drills, depending on their intensity, can cause foundations to crack further.
  4. Water may seep into the shafts before the concrete is poured causing the bell foot (the support) to be compromised. Any water seepage must be addressed before the concrete can be poured.
  5. The presence of toxic or flammable gasses may prevent thorough inspection of the shafts (book: Design of Foundation Systems).
  6. Upon curing of the concrete, pressure is applied, usually using bottle jacks, to the outter edges of the foundation to lift the structure up onto the piers.
  7. It is not possible to install interior bell piers on existing structures.
  8. The process takes 2-3 weeks before it is completed

So it is easy to see that drilled bell concrete piers installed in existing structures are not a viable option of foundation repair. If your home or business was built on top of belled piers, you will have adequate support.

Steel Piers compared to Drilled Bell Piers

In comparison, Superior’s Steel Pier foundation leveling process requires minimal excavation, no curing time for concrete, the installation usually lasts no longer than 3 days, can be installed in the interior of the house, does not depend on soil for support, and causes minimal disturbance to landscaping around the house. Because our steel piers reach all the way to solid bedrock, your home is protected against the effects of expanisve soils prevalent in our area of Central Texas, thus effectively counteracting the most common cause of foundation problems in our area.

Further Reading on Drilled Bell Concrete Piers:

myfoundationrepair.com
foundationdoctor.info
theconstructor.org

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Simple Pressed Pilings - Foundation RepairSuperior Foundation Repair will be examining disadvantages of various foundation repair methods, over the coming weeks, with an in depth look at why these methods are inferior to Steel Piers. The first type of foundation repair we will expose is the often used method of concrete pressed pilings.

Disadvantages of Concrete Pressed Pilings

In homes with Simple Pressed Concrete Piling Foundation Repair, concrete cylinders are driven underneath the home’s foundation one on top of the other using the weight of the slab to press them down until they cannot go any further (known as the point of resistance). Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell what this point of resistance is, it could be bedrock, stable soil or unstable soil. Most engineers agree this method of Foundation Repair is not the correct solution for foundation problems because expansive soil will continue affecting pilings after installation. When the soil expands it can work it’s way in between pilings and completely nullify the support this method is intended to provide (see picture above for example of piling displacement).

There is no factor of safety built into Concrete pressed pilings

The factor of safety is defined as “the structural capacity of a system beyond the applied loads or actual loads” by Wikipedia. Because the weight of the structure is used to press the pilings down until they can go no further, simple concrete pressed pilings have a factor of safety ratio of 1:1 which means any significant weight additions, have a great potential to cause foundation instability. According to Wikipedia: “Buildings commonly use a factor of safety of 2.0 for each structural member.”  This means foundation piers should be able to support the sturcture’s weight times 2 at the least. Superior’s Steel Pier Method supports a structure’s weight comfortably with a safety factor significantly greater than 2 by anchoring the structure to solid bedrock, which prevents future additions in weight to a house, i.e. add-ons, new furniture, etc, from causing any negative affect on a home’s foundation. Superior’s Steel Piers are certified by Independent Engineer Consultants.

Pressed Pilings installed in dry or unstable soil may sink upon the introduction of moisture

Because Texas experiences long periods of dry weather followed by wet weather, the soil moisture content is continuosly changing, causing expansion/contraction of soil (further reading: Article from Geology.com, Blog post on Expansive Soils in Texas, Article from USinspect.com). Therefore pressed pilings inserted into dry soil are unstable from the start. If the point of resistance is on unstable soil, increased moisture can cause the piers to sink further into the ground, or, if the soil is stable, expansion will cause the piers to move.

Oftentimes companies will pre-soak the soil to drive the pressed pilings as deep as possible. This is to prevent the pilings from sinking in times of increased rainfall. Introducing large amounts of water into soil is not good for any home at any time, under any circumstances. Superior’s Galvanized Steel Piers are driven through the soil until they reach the bedrock up to 100 feet below the surface, effectively securing a home’s foundation to a solid rock, which is unaffected by shrinking and swelling.

Further Reading on Simple Pressed Concrete Pilings:

An excellent article on the disadvantages of Simple Pressed Concrete Piers from myfoundationrepairs.com

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