Doesn’t home stabilization mean the same thing as foundation repair? You want your home to be stable and foundation repair makes your home stable, right?
Well, that’s sort of what stabilization means in foundation repair land, but not exactly. My dad would say, “Close . . . but no cigar . . .” I don’t really know where that phrase came from, all I know is that it means you’re almost right but not quite.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, sometimes we only stabilize homes, sometimes we raise and level homes and provide long-term stability for the future. Both options are considered foundation repairs that we’ve been doing since 1985.
This article will explain what foundation stabilization means in technical “foundation repair terms” and how it’s different from our typical foundation repair project. We will also cover what home stabilization is best for and the pros and cons of its use in foundation repair.
What Does It Mean to Stabilize a Home Foundation?
The word stabilize is a bit confusing here because we stabilize all homes in a general sense by adding support under them during foundation repair. The technical difference comes in what we do after adding the supports.
Definition of Stabilization as a Foundation Repair Term
Stabilizing a home means adding support where needed to hold a part of your foundation right where it is to keep it from sinking further. If you like more industry-sounding stuff, it’s installing piers (or other vertical support) under and around the lowest section of the home to prevent further foundation settlement.
Either way we say it, stabilization as a foundation repair term equals holding the house where it’s at, but not raising it up to level or the home’s original elevation (which may or may not have been completely level from the beginning).
Stabilization is kind of a partial repair because we are not taking the steps to raise up the settled areas as we would in a more typical foundation repair, but alas . . . sometimes it’s the best choice for your home in the cases we will outline for you in a bit.
How Stabilization Affects Cost of Foundation Repair
A foundation repair professional would use the same number of supports under the home for stabilization as for leveling. So the cost per pier installation is about the same.
But the work would cost a little less because the crew would not be raising the home to level or doing other finishing work like testing the under-slab plumbing for leaks and mud-pumping to fill the void left by raising. Fewer steps in the process equal less cost.
At each pier/support location, your home would be held in place with shims at its current position. If leveling were desired later, this could be done using the pier framework placed during a stabilization job.
Foundation Stabilization Is Best For . . .
You may be wondering why anyone would choose stabilization over leveling, but there are home situations that might warrant this choice. We end up doing stabilization without raising in about 5% of the homes we repair so it’s not the majority of projects.
Here are three scenarios where stabilization could be your best option followed by some pros and cons.
- An already remodeled home where you don’t want to damage extensive work that was just done. Someone with an extensive and recent remodel would not be happy about having more repair work messing up their wow-factor renovation and then have to pay for more repairs.
- A home foundation that has tilted or rotated but not cracked and has no typical symptoms of foundation issues like cracked walls, misaligned doors or windows, or separating trim work.
- An addition was installed on an already unlevel area of your home. One part cannot be leveled without ruining the other because they become interconnected during the build-out. Also, repair points on the original home can become inaccessible due to the addition build, making it impossible to correct levelness.
Pros Of Foundation Stabilization
- Protects a recent remodel from damage
- Prevents further movement (if it happens) in the future
- Costs slightly less than leveling
- Takes less time to repair due to less work/steps needed
- Allows for leveling to be done if desired or needed later
Cons Of Foundation Stabilization
- The home will not be level – this is kind of a big one
- Future support might not be needed, it is only a “just in case”
An unlevel home is a big con because ultimately, the problem is not fully fixed and could still need to be raised and leveled later on. With stabilization, your home will be safe and won’t sink further. But the repair doesn’t totally prevent the need for future or more extensive work.
When we say “future support might not be needed” it means that you really don’t know if your home needs to be stabilized, it’s more of an insurance policy to prevent movement that may or may not happen down the line. It’s difficult to know if you really need to invest in this type of repair.
When Foundation Stabilization Is the Only Choice
Is there ever a time that choosing foundation stabilization over leveling is a clear choice? Good question. Let’s look at an example.
Richard has finished an HGTV style remodel and his wife has been proudly showing it off to their friends and family. They knew they had some foundation issues before the remodel, but chose to spend their money on the “pretty stuff” instead.
In a perfect world, every homeowner that is thinking about remodeling in the future should do leveling first if you have foundation issues. We have had dozens of calls after a remodel has taken place and it is a tough spot for a homeowner like Richard because he really has only one choice IF he doesn’t want to redo his reno.
The home should have been leveled first but wasn’t. This results in stabilization being the only option but it is not optimal for the needs of the foundation.
Don’t paint yourself into a corner (that’s a remodel joke) and leave yourself with only one option. A better plan of attack would be to save for and complete the foundation repair, and then save for and complete the remodel. Don’t risk ruining a beautiful renovation with further foundation failure symptoms.
Should You Choose Stabilization Or Leveling For Your Home?
All homeowners have different goals and needs while living in their home and the choice is ultimately yours when it comes to selecting stabilization over leveling. There is no wrong answer most of the time, with the exception being the one mentioned above about remodeling.
“We are going to help you think through this and help you make the decision you feel most comfortable with. Our goal is never to pressure a homeowner into repairs they are not ready for or don’t align with their needs. I might even suggest that waiting or not doing the work is what I would choose for myself if it were my home.”Craig Tripp – President, Owner, CEO, Foundation Repair Extraordinaire
Ask yourself the following questions and review the answers:
- Am I trying to save money and get this done more quickly? Stabilization would cost a little less and take slightly less time.
- Did I already complete a remodel or addition and don’t want to mess it up? Stabilization would be your best choice.
- Are doors, windows, and trim all functioning properly but you want peace of mind that the foundation will not tilt or rotate further? Stabilization will work for you.
What Are My Options Besides Foundation Stabilization?
Well, I guess there are two choices if stabilization is not for you. Choice one: do nothing, and see if your home continues to move or not. It’s kind of a “roll the dice” choice because no one knows how it will turn out. Will your house experience more foundation settlement or will it not? We’re not fortune-tellers (we’re only foundation repair people) so it’s not something anyone can predict.
Choice two is to go ahead with raising the home back to its original elevation, knowing that it might cause damage to new finishes that were placed on the home in an unlevel or unraised state. Everything can be repaired though it will cost more funds in remodeling, at least you will know that your house is back where it’s supposed to be.
What Does Foundation Repair Look Like Anyway?
Honestly, there’s not a huge difference in the experience for a homeowner between stabilization and leveling using the drilled bell-bottom pier method. It’s a matter of a few days less work for stabilization. The real difference is in the end results.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we want to be 100% transparent and honest with homeowners so that you can make the best foundation repair decisions for your home. After 35+ years of serving Bryan, College Station, and surrounding Brazos Valley communities like Caldwell and Brenham, we find that what works best for you, works best for us also.
We’ve got an article that details the basic steps taken in a drilled pier foundation repair project so you can take a closer look at what it is like in the first place. Check out, “Drilled Pier Foundation Repair: 4 Steps to Expect in a Typical Project.”