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jmihl

Foundation Repair methods

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My house needs extensive foundation repair. I had several estimates done last year, and was wondering if anyone had insight on the pros and cons of the Cable Lock system vs. non-proprietary methods (i guess bell pier?). We have a slab foundation.

I was interested in Atlas because of the Cable Lock, and because they will tunnel underneath the house, sparing my (elderly) family any interior hassle. However, it's quite the premium, although that's mainly the tunneling part. Are some methods more reliable than others?

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However, it's quite the premium, although that's mainly the tunneling part. Are some methods more reliable than others?

I am in the same situation as you, but I am just living with the crack in my foundation in the mean time. What kind of premium was it. Just so I can have an idea.

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My house needs extensive foundation repair. I had several estimates done last year, and was wondering if anyone had insight on the pros and cons of the Cable Lock system vs. non-proprietary methods (i guess bell pier?). We have a slab foundation.

I was interested in Atlas because of the Cable Lock, and because they will tunnel underneath the house, sparing my (elderly) family any interior hassle. However, it's quite the premium, although that's mainly the tunneling part. Are some methods more reliable than others?

have you gotten an actual engineer to determine your problem? most of hte companies don't use them. My parents had their slab evaluated and basically the guy said that their problem could be fixed but that it really wasn't something he'd spend a large amout of money on becasue it wasn't bad. he'd instead spend the money to get the old cast iron pipes undground replaced which will be a problem. their house is vintage 62

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I am in the same situation as you, but I am just living with the crack in my foundation in the mean time. What kind of premium was it. Just so I can have an idea.

I don't have the estimates anymore, but it was something like 32 to 37 piers for $17K-20K, or $30K with the tunnel. Atlas and I think Du West came out.

have you gotten an actual engineer to determine your problem? most of hte companies don't use them. My parents had their slab evaluated and basically the guy said that their problem could be fixed but that it really wasn't something he'd spend a large amout of money on becasue it wasn't bad. he'd instead spend the money to get the old cast iron pipes undground replaced which will be a problem. their house is vintage 62

With the tunneling, they would look for, and fix (for extra) any leaks, which we probably have. A hydrological test would come with the package. I did think of having an engineer come out, but never did. A plumber awhile back did say many of the pipes around here (built in 1958) were not in good shape.

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If I remember correctly the old pipes have a life span of around 50 yrs...once they leak they will wash away soil and thats when the cracking starts

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If you have the original cast iron plumbing, and you are going to be tunneling under the house, then that would be the time to have the sewer lines changed to PVC. The cast iron plumbing only has a 50 year life span, or so I am told. Tunneling is the expensive part, usually about $200 per linear foot. If you have bathrooms in the center of the house and they have to tunnel to reach them, that is when it gets expensive.

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Oof. Yeah, we're probably looking at foundation and plumbing in one fell swoop. So has anybody gone through either set of repairs? Any thoughts on how it went? Thanks for the comments so far.

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I've had a lot of experience with foundation repair companies recently. I live in a townhouse near the Heights that is one of four attached units on a common slab. The biggest problem with foundation repair companies is that most of them want to do as much work as they can while the crew is on site. That's why most of them will propose something totally different than what a professional engineer would say to do.

Here is my experience with different companies in town:

Atlas Foundation Repair- The sales rep came out to the house, shot elevation readings and proposed to put in 135 piers (total across all four units) at $350 each ($47,250). That would have been going through the floor. Tunneling would have added an additional $40,000 to the estimate. The proposal did not include the cost to break any builder's piers ($125 each).

Olshan - I believe these guys own Atlas. You will get the same estimate/proposal from Olshan. Olshan is the "national" brand name.

Du-West Foundation - The guy they sent to my house was a real sleazebag. He didn't take any readings, measurements, survey, anything. He just looked at the cracks in the floor and sheetrock. He looked at the sized of the house and said I should be prepared to pay $150,000 easily. He then went on to tell me that he personally had recently patented a new type of pier that if builders would use it, would remvoe the need for anybody to ever have foundation repair again. I asked him to leave my property and to never even think about coming back.

Allied Foundation- These guys are the bargain-basement shop in town. Their price is $150 per pier. Additionally they promise to be done in one day. The catch is that they will not do interior piers. Anyway, the guy came out and looked at my house. (I'm in the end unit, which is where 95% of the problems are occuring.) He proposed to basically put piers every 5 feet around the exterior of my unit only (total price of $2700). This was way different than what my engineer had proposed. When questioned, the guy from Allied got up on his high horse and told me that my engineer didn't know anything about levelling houses. He then went on to tell me that the engineer's methods for creating his reports were faulty, the equipment that he used was widely considered to be inaccurate, etc.

Anyway, he left me with his proposal. I talked to my PE, who said that what the guy from Allied was proposing would fix my problem, but would not necessarily be such a great idea for my neighbors. So, I asked him to come back and look at my neighbor's units as well. An hour before he was supposed to come back for his appointment, he called to cancel. Basically I took too long to decide, and since he had a backlog of work he really didn't need to spend any more time on me.

I asked my engineer for another reference on a repair company. I won't tell that company's name now since I don't really have enough information to form an opinion thus far. I will say that the guy is honest, straightforward, and is actually working with the engineer to come up with the best solution for everybody. His prices are very reasonable: $160/exterior, $225/interior breakout. His proposal is closer to what my engineer recommended - 44 total piers for a total price of just over $8000.

My recommendation for anybody needing foundation repair is to hire an engineer, then ask the engineer for references on a repair company. My engineer is Richard Keelan from Keelan Engineering Services. Telephone number is 281-339-5565. He's a very straight shooter and will be able to give you a reference for the best repair company for your particular situation.

Edited by Sleepy Owl

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My opinion/experience refers only to the Houston Area. I have leveled a few hundred stabbed homes, talked to a few hundred home owners, currently a junior pursuing my bachelors in construction management at the University of Houston (hardly matters here), and am in the process of kicking off my own foundation company. I have seen alot and heard alot over the years. Sleepy Owl's experiences sound about right. As far as which method is best for slabs:

Builders Piers=new construction

Bell bottoms=sand

6" solid friction pilings=clay

8" solid friction pilings=bogs

There are no horizontal shear forces in the soils beneath your home, so cable lock is excessive.

And the hole in the center of the cylinder causes the cylinder to fail from vertical force about 10% sooner than solid cylinders.

Concrete never cures.

That's a good thing.

The idea of Steel Helical Piers is cool, but, like bellbottoms, aren't installed truely vertical.

Remember Steel costs more and rusts. Unless concrete is poured around it, I won't trust it. 

Seems to me that alot of companies are patenting new technology so they can charge top dollar.

Foundation repair should last a lifetime. It is hard for me to see myself paying for technology that hasn't, yet, stood the test of time. 

All types of piers have a percentage of failure. However, I've had a pretty good experience with the 6" solid friction pile piers. To a point, when it rains, friction pilings experience increased surface friction from the expanding clay. 

I hope this helps.

 

 

 

Edited by ICHL

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