You suspect or have just been told that you have foundation problems. Your thoughts are:
Is my home crappy?
Did I do a bad job picking this home or taking care of it?
Did I cause this problem? Was it the land or the builder?
Sounds like you’re upset about your foundation settlement. It’s natural to seek reasons and wonder why this is happening to your home.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been helping Brazos Valley homeowners understand the causes of foundation problems and how to handle them for 35+ years. We’ll get you the real *dirt* about the source of your foundation problems.
This article presents the main cause of home foundation problems and explains that it’s rarely something anyone can control. Spoiler alert: it’s not because of you and your home is not crappy!
Do I Have Foundation Issues Due to a Poorly Built Home?
With today’s municipal building codes, it’s rare to find a home that was truly *poorly* built. There are generally minimum standards in place to prevent such things. There are a few limited circumstances where builder error could be involved. But for the most part, homes are built correctly.
If your home is older before some standards were put in place, the chances are slightly greater for builder issues. If your home was built in the country, outside of any city building codes, there are also some greater chances of a builder cutting corners.
There could also be some other conditions around your home that cause foundation problems that don’t have to do with construction quality, like drainage issues, or under-slab plumbing leaks. You don’t have a *bad* house, but you could have unrelated contributing factors.
Whether a home is “well-built” or “not-so-well-built”, both can still be just as susceptible to the greatest cause of foundation issues and that cause is not your builder or a sub-par home. So, it’s unlikely that your foundation issues are due to poor construction. This is just something that happens in our area. Keep on reading to find out the top cause . . .
Did I Pick a Neighborhood with Foundation Problems?
Some homeowners wonder if their neighborhood is known for foundation issues. It’s true that there are sometimes areas with more foundation problems. We do find that some neighborhoods tend to have more issues, but in general, foundation issues are found everywhere in the Brazos Valley.
Many times, it’s the terrain of a neighborhood that can contribute to foundation movement. Homes on hills and even gentle ups and downs are pretty to look at but harder to safeguard against settlement.
If all the homes in a particular neighborhood were built at a certain time before a certain code was put in place, this could create a situation where many homes in one area are affected by foundation issues.
It’s important to keep in mind that home construction is an evolving industry and an always-learning venture. There were definitely times in home construction when an idea is tried, and only time tells if it was an effective solution or not. But you don’t know the results until decades later after a new concept is implemented.
Slab-on-grade foundations have certainly gone through some variations and continue to be tweaked for efficiency and performance improvements.
Foundation problems take many years to form. We often don’t know for 20, 30, or even more years if something was a good improvement or a bad choice (This thought applies to many situations in a quickly moving, technological society actually.) Sorry, maybe that was a little too *deep* of a thought for a foundation article . . .
Did I Cause My Foundation Problems?
Many homeowners worry that they have done something wrong and caused their foundation issues. This is a common concern but also one of the big misconceptions about foundation problems and repairs. In 99.5% of cases, there is nothing that you could have done to cause your foundation settlement.
Foundation problems are almost always far beyond the control of one person. The things that cause foundation issues are powerful and relentless. One human is frankly not that capable.
The only way that a homeowner could really affect their foundation is if they left a water hose running for months on end dumping thousands or millions of gallons of water around their home. Then, yeah you could cause foundation problems that way . . .
What Does Cause Foundation Settlement?
We’ve talked about all the reasons foundation problems are not your fault and that you couldn’t have caused them. I know you want to know, “Well, what DOES cause foundation settlement most commonly?”
The most common cause of foundation settlement is the most common thing there is: dirt. Our dirt. It’s everywhere and we can’t get away from it. It’s expansive clay soils. The soils that dominate our Central Texas area are powerfully affected by moisture fluctuations, in both wet and dry conditions.
The damaging effects of expansive clay soils cause more annual homeowner loss than tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters combined. That’s some dramatic damage.
Expansive clay will expand and contract throughout many years from season to season. This puts tons of invisible and imperceptible stress on your home. Even something very strong like concrete can’t withstand this repeated movement.
We often compare the effects of clay soil to bending a paperclip back and forth. At first, it just bends and is somewhat flexible. If you bend the paperclip long enough, the stress is too much and it breaks. The same sort of thing happens to your foundation in expansive clay soils throughout the years of rainy and drought seasons in our area.
Could I Have Prevented These Foundation Issues?
Much like you didn’t cause the foundation issues, you can do very little to prevent them if they are going to happen. Sure, there are a few ways to try and prevent foundation problems. You should try to do anything you feel is doable for you. But in the end, preventative measures are not guaranteed.
For example, a widespread drought that affects the entire soil system in your county or region is not going to be deterred by your garden hose. There are always a few things you can do in an attempt to prevent foundation problems. But the forces of nature are far too powerful to overcome in many cases.
If you live in the Bryan-College Station area, the greater Brazos Valley, Central Texas, or a large amount of the US, there’s a good chance that foundation settlement affects homes in your neck of the woods. There’s just no getting around it for most of us.
Handle Your Foundation Problems with Confidence
Now that you’ve had a chance to *absorb* this information about expansive clay soil causing your foundation problems, the best thing to do is stop worrying because you did nothing wrong. Beginning the process of handling your foundation problems with confidence starts with education. Knowledge is power, as they say . . .
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we offer fair and impartial assessments, empowering education, and a fully transparent repair process. After 35+ years in business, we want you to know as much about foundation repair as we do (if you’re interested anyway) and we’ve got no secrets to hide from the Brazos Valley community.
You’re in the house you love and you deserve to be 100% on board with your home repair decisions. Maybe now you’re wondering if and when to get started on foundation repairs. Check out, “Should I Do Foundation Repairs or Not? Now, Later, or Never,” for some insights.