Have you, your family or friends paid for foundation or waterproofing repairs on their house or a previous residence? These repairs can be very costly and very disheartening if the contractor’s work does not solve the problem. When paying for repairs that may cost you $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 or more that have not worked makes the idea of foundation problems a major nightmare and scares homeowners. People lose sleep over the fear of what the repairs may cost. Potential buyers are kept from making an offer on a home for sale because it may have foundation issues or have had shoddy foundation repairs.
With over 100 foundation contractors in the area, 1000’s of homeowners are paying contractors every year. When an individual calls a contractor to solve the problem, the contractor sends a sales person. I recently met a lady that called four companies for bids, but only got three different salesmen. The one salesman that returned under a different company name gave her a different proposal. She lost the “warm fuzzy” feeling of relying on the salesmen. Any potential client of these firms is only getting the opinion of a sales person wanting to sell work, not the opinion of an unbiased professional engineer.
Contractors provide bids to work on symptoms. If you have cracks, they will probably want to install underpinning systems to fix a supposed settlement problem. If the foundation walls are thought to be leaning or bulging inward, probably every one of them will want to install steel I-beams against the wall, which may be an incomplete or improper repair. If a house has basement leaks, most will want to saw-cut the basement slab to install a sump pump and maybe cover up the crack. Almost every foundation or waterproofing company in this area does not understand how external forces affect a foundation. If four different companies are called, you will most likely get four different suggestions.
The best way a homeowner can protect themselves is starting with a Professional Engineer. Contractors’ sales people try to sell you their services with well known and “respected” celebrity advertising, good BBB ratings, “A” ratings on Angie’s list, and sometimes even fraudulently stating that they are an engineer or have a licensed engineer on staff. Any homeowner that skips the Professional Engineer and relies on the sales person may be committing CHECKBOOK SUICIDE. After completing over 10,000 inspections over 18 years, I have homeowners tell me the horror stories. Luckily, some of these have not signed on the dotted line with a contractor. The engineer can provide engineering designs or details that several contractors can bid the same scope of work you can then easily compare prices. Also, professional engineering designs mean you will have a record of the repair work when selling the home. REMEMBER, work installed by a contractor without an engineering design is merely work that has been installed and may only cover up a symptom and cost you more in the long run.
By Michael Montgomery of Buyers Protection Group, Licensed Engineer in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. 1-800-285-3001 www.engineeringandfoundations.com