Foundation issues are not uncommon in specific places in the world. However, it’s effect can be damaging and long-lasting, making habitation unconducive. This factor may result in significant structural damage within an apartment as the concrete beneath the ground floor will be in distress. Home foundation and basement defect is one factor every homeowner and potential property buyer should take seriously.
The questions that come to mind when handling such problems are these: How much does it cost to repair the foundation or basement? Is the damage backed by insurance? Interestingly, there is no need to tear the foundation apart and rebuild. By hiring a repair expert and consulting a structural engineer, it becomes easy to address such problems.
Red Flags Arising from Foundational Defects
After constructing a building, the foundation settles with time. Ideally, this settlement should be even to ensure support and balance. But for some reasons, some foundations tend to be uneven or extreme. This problem can lead to distress and structural damage. The following contains warning signs of two categories – interior red flags and exterior red flags:
Interior Red Flags
- Cracks present on the floor
- Skewed windows and doors
- Uneven floors
- Cracked sheet rocks
Exterior Red Flags
- Cracked bricks
- Wall rotation
- Displaced mouldings
- Cracked or broken foundation
- Wall, window, and door separation
Such problems occur when the foundation nestles in expansive soil with varying moisture content. Based on the differential movement, the soil moisture may increase or reduce significantly. As such, a part of it settles, leaving the other part uneven. The results include cracks, displacements, and other structural damage.
Where there is a failure in soil support, settlement cracks are visible on the walls. Often, they are vertical. In this case, the foundation undergoes downward movement. Another scenario involves the house frame distorting after some years of optimum support.
Factors Leading to Foundation Problems
A significant number of foundational or basement issues stem from water pooling, lodging or flooding in soil. The soil expands or retracts, creating movements underneath the building. Such outcomes stem from the following:
- If the foundation nestles on expansive clay soil.
- If the surrounding area has poor drainage systems.
- Where there is an inadequately filled compacted soil holding the foundation.
- If the location is prone to extreme seasonal changes.
- Extension of tree root growth towards the building.
- In the advent of flooding, earthquakes or drought.
- Leakage in the plumbing system, leading to water sipping in the foundation.
It is worth noting that homes built on clay soil are highly susceptible to foundation or basement problems. The soil instability affects the building’s base, creating deformity. Other results include:
- Structural damage
- Devaluation of real estate
- Unsightly cracks
- Tripping hazards
- Equipment malfunctions
Foundation and basement defects can destroy a home’s value, making the building unsafe and inhabitable. For this reason, a homeowner should fix such problems immediately.
Repairing Foundation/Basement Problems
Gone are the days when repairing foundation defects proved futile. With technological evolution and high expertise, construction experts can resolve this problem using different techniques. Two main methods implemented in repairing foundation and basement defects include hydraulic jacking (piercing) and slab jacking.
The former includes driving steel poles into the affected soil and raising or stabilizing the concrete slabs impacted by soil instability, using hydraulic jacks. This technique depends on soil distress type. While the latter involves pumping grout beneath a beam or slab. This procedure creates an upthrust that elevates affected members to the initial level.
Before using any of the techniques, the construction engineer determines the type of distress created. It includes examining the affected windows, mortar joints, trim boards, mouldings, and even present weather conditions.
Foundation and Basement Repair Cost
Repair cost varies from one foundation/basement defect to another. In actuality, factors like the foundation type or commercial structure and the damage severity determines the amount a homeowner will pay.
- Immediate attention is required for foundation cracks that are wider than 1/8”. Such occurrences may cause the home to shift or sink. As such, it is ideal to contact a structural engineer right away. The average cost of repair is $500. The contractor injects patching materials, such as silicone into the cracks to seal it up and strengthen the structure.
- For a leaking foundation, the homeowner will need an excavator to dig around it and fill the cracks up with cement. The contractor will also apply waterproofing material to the interior frame. The repair cost starts from $2,000 and may increase to $6,000.
- If the problem experience is a sinking foundation, a homeowner will need the experience of a structural engineer. This expert will raise the sinking foundation and secure it with mud jacking or piers. Cost ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. It could be more if the soil is porous or there is a poor drainage system.
- Leaning basement walls stem from excess moisture around the structure or poor soil conditions. The solution is to treat the soil with stabilizers and reinforce the basement structure. The cost falls between $350 and $1000 per reinforcing strip or brace.
Do Foundation Repairs Come with Insurance?
Often, foundation repair costs are on the high end for most homeowners. As such, some of them may be interested in some sort of insurance policies. However, homeowner’s insurance does not provide coverage for foundation repairs. If the repair stems from structural ageing, shifting or settling, it is viewed as home maintenance. On the other hand, if the repair stems from damage covered in the insurance policy, there may be coverage.
Hiring a Foundation/Basement Repair Contractor
Repairs encapsulating foundation or basement defects are not DIY projects as they pose potentially life-threatening risks. A homeowner should seek the expertise of a licensed experienced contractor. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Avoid going for cheap repair options. Often, they don’t address the problem entirely. Before hiring a contractor, find out more about the defect and ideal repair techniques. With the information gathered, ask the right questions.
- Hire a contractor whose repair techniques are backed by ICC-ES (International Code Council Evaluation Services). As such, the repair work will meet code compliance. Ensure that the project comes with warranties or guarantees.
Location is everything when it comes to structural planning and development. Potential homeowners should consider the environment of the homes they intend to purchase. For homeowners with basement and foundation problems, consulting an expert will be ideal in finding long-lasting solutions.