The new Cincinnati Bell Yellow Pages has 21 listings for foundation contractors and 22 listings for waterproofing companies. Angies List has 33 listings for foundation repair contractors and 39 listings for waterproofing companies. “YP” on the internet has 101 listings. These lists give the consumers several choices. I have been told that some of these companies are “highly respected”. Do the homeowners that give these high recommendations have enough knowledge to determine if their house received the correct repair work? Does the homeowner really know if the contractor understood the cause of the foundation issue? The contractors send out sales people, who aren’t formally educated in the topics of foundations, to provide bids for work. Some of the contractors canvas neighborhoods offering free inspections. Buyer beware!
Contractors provide bids to homeowners to provide work for a host of perceived problems. The salesman for the contractors can be very good at explaining why their solution will repair the issue. Some well-versed homeowners can determine the provided solution doesn’t make sense, but not homeowners have the necessary knowledge to make that determination.
Homeowners seeing foundation cracks, exterior brick cracks or interior cracks may contact up to 6 or more foundation underpinning contractors to fix their “settling” foundation. Most likely, every contractor will offer underpinning systems for the fix. However, there are several causes for these cracks that foundation underpinning will not repair. Contractors may also make a problem worse or cause additional problems. I recently inspected a house with prior repairs that are in the process of making the house fall over – the expensive solution is going to get even more expensive.
Have you considered calling a Professional Engineer first? The engineer can analyze the issue and provide suggested solutions for the perceived problem. I frequently hear that calling an engineer first is scary, because we will find many problems that weren’t obvious and must be disclosed. A recent client that told me his friends said not to call an engineer. However, I discovered he only had a minor problem with a low-cost fix. He could have opted for the contractors first and spent thousands of dollars on non-existent issues. Calling an engineer first quickly gets you to the bottom of the real problems and puts you on the path to real fixes. Remember, no engineer = checkbook suicide.
By Michael Montgomery of Buyers Protection Group, Licensed Engineer in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. 1-800-285-3001 www.engineeringandfoundations.com