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Foundation Repair: Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Things

You are about to buy a home that has had foundation repairs recently. Is it Ok to buy? It depends. It depends on whether things were done right; more importantly, it depends on whether the right things were done.

BullseyeAllow me to explain. A sharp shooter might be exceptional at hitting the target, yeah, but is it the right target?

The first things first. Sure, you want to ensure the repairs were done in workman like manner with quality control.  Accuracy on The Target. Permits, Independent inspectors, and then hopefully a lifetime warranty with a company with longevity to honor it. These are standard offerings that come with most foundation repair companies. Table stakes.

Now, to the second thing. The Right Target. Were the repairs the right fix for the problem? That is a little trickier to know.

Let’s looks at some of the common 'sales pitch assurances' that are problematic:

  • The salesman for the foundation repair company assured them it was the right fix to solve the problem. Really?Sneaky Salesman
    • Someone who is being paid a commission for the sale? (salaried salesmen are under just as much… or more pressure to sell their quota).
    • If it is not the right fix to the problem… what recourse do you have? Salesman are not regulated by any governing body.
    • The only training sales people typically receive is from their single source supplier. They typically have no formal education in soil mechanics, structural forensics or any other engineering disciplines. Real credentials; not ‘I attended university but never got my diploma’ fake type credentials.
    • If it is done on site in one visit, (something no engineer would do) how careful is it? (more on this in my next blog)
  • It was reviewed by an engineer prior to getting the permits. Current permitting requirements don’t require the engineer to analyze the problem and propose a solution. They only require a calculation for spacing of the piers to make sure they are not spaced too far apart.
  • An appeal to heuristic intuitive thinking. “Like, look its low in some areas… so it needs piles”. Much of this work can be counter intuitive.
  • The company has a Lifetime Warranty. The problem with that is unless they have an engineer recommend the solutions, the only warranty they offer is that their products where installed will perform as promised. For example, every company excludes in their warranty, expansive soil heave. If you have heave after they install their piers, they will just shrug their shoulders.

So, the answer is that unless the work performed was the same work recommended by a licensed civil engineer, that specific work done by a previous foundation repair contractor for a previous home owner may not be all that helpful for you. It may be the wrong target.

Sometimes, the previous owner (to save money) may reduce the work scope. If that reduction is not recommended by the engineer of record, it may not solve the intended problem.

In summary, you must examine for yourself what the engineer of record recommends, then compare that with the work that was done. Then you can have some assurance that the original problem was dealt with in the right way.  It’s not just about doing things right, more importantly, it’s about doing the right things.


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