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Cadillac, Chevy or Yugo?

 

To a homeowner, foundation repair may be a confusing enigma.  You have 3 salesmen from 3 different companies show up look at your home.  They all give differing observations and recommendations:

They all are trained to be confident and convincing.  You, the Homeowner, have not had years of experience dealing with these problems every day and so are at a severe disadvantage in dealing with those that do. How in the heck do you figure out who is right and who is wrong?

The approaches to the investigation are different…. Whose method is the correct method? The logic used may be different. Whose logic is the best? Which is supported by the facts? What are the facts? For a tiny taste of the complexity of the subject matter, see my 12 posts on the rules of thumb for diagnosing foundation repair http://www.foundationaz.com/proper-investigations.html

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Engineers go to school for 4 or 5 years to study, specifically soils or to study specifically structures, followed by 2 very rigorous exams, and 3 or 4 years’ apprenticeship before they are allowed to makes observations and recommendations and seal them with the seal regulated by the state. They then are constantly under scrutiny of the Board of Technical Registration.

So again, how do you the homeowner, with none of that information or training, sift through the various claims and decide which ones are the best? With the limited research you can do on the internet try to make the best judgement you can? I encourage that. We do everything in our power to educate the homeowner and empower them with objective information…. But in all reality we know they don’t have the time or resources to become as informed as licensed professional engineers.

Sometimes, the argument that appeals to our emotions is the one we go with. Perhaps we feel the problem is large….. so the plan with the most to it seems right to us…. But how do we know that this plan is not just someone wanting to pay for their kids new braces? Perhaps it is the smallest plan because we like the fact that it is less expensive. Sometimes we are told what we are hoping to hear and we latch onto that regardless of its basis in factual support.

Thankfully, there are Engineering practices that provide guidelines. There are guidelines on how to conduct a foundation investigation. Good Engineers are trained to follow these guidelines and apply them. Following standards of conduct that have nothing to do with whether or not their kids need braces. And using data driven observations to make evidence based recommendations.

As a homeowner, this methodology should carry more weight than the emotional arguments presented by a salesman who is being paid a commission to present himself as a bigger expert than even the licensed professional engineers. When I hear salesmen with no engineering training voice advice contradicting the recommendations of a licensed professional engineer, I hear someone who is in violation of state statutes for practicing engineering without a license. More on that in a future blog!

In my next blog I will give a case study that highlights and exemplifies the points made here today.


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