You heard a *story about someone that got foundation repairs* and they said they spent all that money and their home wasn’t even level when it was finished.
My home will be level after foundation repairs are done, right? It seems like a no-brainer that this is the case, right??
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have repaired thousands of foundations in Bryan, College Station, and other Brazos Valley communities like Caldwell and Madisonville over the past 35+ years. Honestly, “level” is not entirely what we are going for with foundation repairs and we have explained this to many a homeowner in our day.
This article will review the main goals of foundation repair and why some homes might not be 100% completely, perfectly, level when the repairs are complete.
Does Foundation Repair Make My Home Level?
Don’t let your head explode here but, your home might not be precisely level when foundation repairs or house leveling are completed. If you were to take the level out of your home toolbox and move it around on your floor all over, that little bubble is not going to be exactly in the middle of the two lines everywhere. It might not even be exactly in the middle anywhere . . .
Foundation repair contractors do not seek to make your home flawlessly level. They have some different *goal posts* they are shooting for when raising and stabilizing a settled foundation. Let’s check it out . . .
The Main Goals of Foundation Repair
There are three main goals for foundation repair and house leveling and these are the things that any foundation repair company will be working towards with the foundation repair process. Notice I said, *working towards* because in some cases we might not get all the way to perfect. Foundation repair aims to:
- Raise your settled home by returning it to its original elevation.
- Restore functionality to “home parts” like doors, windows, trim, built-ins, etc.
- Stabilize the home so that it doesn’t move excessively going forward.
Not anywhere in that list, do you see the word “level.” While the end result after foundation repairs might be somewhat level and definitely better than it was before, we are not trying for some mathematical level of perfection.
We are trying for a functional home that looks level and feels level, but it might not be perfectly 100% level in a way that you can verify with a tool in your toolbox or a “zip level” either.
Foundation repair will attempt to lift your home from its settled or sunken position and bring it back to its original position at the time it was built. Foundation repair will get affected doors, windows, trim, and built-ins back to working order and fitting right. Foundation repair will seek to stabilize and support your home so that it doesn’t continue sinking and moving as much.
Why Can’t My Home Be Level After Foundation Repairs?
When we say we are not going for *level* you say, “Well, why not? Why can’t my home be level after foundation repairs?” Several limitations would prevent your home from being level once the foundation repairs are complete, they are:
- Original construction and elevation
- Additions to the home
- Newer remodeling
- Homeowner intentions
Don’t worry, we are about to explain these four limitations to a perfectly leveled home.
1. Original Construction and Elevation
Your foundation might not have been perfectly level when it was built. Why? Well, it was constructed by humans and things are expected to be slightly imperfect.
It is widely acknowledged and *accepted* in the construction industry and engineers that elevation deviations are to be expected.
According to the 2015 Post-Tensioning Institute’s Evaluation Guidelines for the Performance of Slab-on-Grade Foundations, “normal construction tolerances for levelness are plus or minus 3/4 inch which means there may be a 1-1/2 inch difference in elevation due to original construction and if within this value then the original construction is within acceptable tolerance.”
Crawl space foundation homes are no different. They were not likely perfectly level when they were built either.
Foundation repair and house leveling can only raise a home back to its original elevation and no farther. Since many homes were not level in the first place, they will not end up perfectly level after foundation repairs either. We can’t go beyond the original elevation otherwise other damage can occur in the home and we don’t want to break things.
2. Additions to the Home
Additions to a home can make things tricky during foundation repairs. You are essentially dealing with two foundations: one for the original home and one for the addition or more if there is more than one addition.
The problem with multiple foundations in an addition situation is that they are interconnected. When the addition was added, it was connected to the original foundation in a permanent way. The walls, floors, and ceilings were altered to make for a seamless transition and many home parts are layered on top of each other.
Let’s say just the original home is settling, but not the addition (or vice versa). You can’t raise just one because then the other section gets pulled along with it and many problems can occur.
Any transitions from the original home to the addition would not be so *seamless* anymore. So sometimes homes can’t be raised and leveled as much as they might need to when an addition is involved.
A foundation repair contractor would raise as much as possible without causing damage in a case like this. Truth be told, the foundation repairs might not be able to do anything more than stabilize the foundation where it currently sits to keep it from sinking, but it won’t be raised back to its original elevation.
For more on the *stabilization without raising* concept, check this out: What Does Home Stabilization Mean? Foundation Repair Pros and Cons.
3. Newer Remodeling
If a home needs foundation work, it’s best to complete the foundation repairs BEFORE remodeling. Sometimes this does not happen and unfortunately, it can cause major issues if a homeowner wants to get the foundation done after remodeling has occurred.
We often see things like this when a home has been *cosmetically refreshed* or fully remodeled before selling and then the new owner realizes that the foundation needs work, aka a flip house.
New finishes have been put on the home, like new cabinetry, flooring, tilework, etc., but those finishes have been put on the home in an unlevel and sunken state. So when you try to raise the home, those finishes can all get out of whack and ruined by foundation repair.
It’s kind of like putting a band-aid on your bent elbow. When you straighten out your elbow, the band-aid (i.e. all the new finishes) will be compromised and can get messed up.
We don’t want to cause damage to your newly remodeled home with foundation repairs. So sometimes all a foundation repair contractor can do is stabilize your home without raising the elevation to prevent causing damage to a recent renovation.
4. Homeowner Intentions
There’s only so much you can do with the money or patience you have available. Sure, a home could get more work done with an unlimited amount of money and we could make it a lot more level. But sometimes that’s not practical OR in your budget.
If a homeowner’s original intention is to get their doors working and get a few ugly wall cracks to close up, that’s the needed outcome for the home. Doing more just doesn’t make sense for them.
For more money, more mess, more time, and inconvenience, a foundation repair company could certainly do more repairs to address interior settlement and work to make the home much closer to level. But sometimes that’s beyond a homeowner’s needs, wants, or spending capabilities.
So your own desires for how much you want to spend or what you really want to be corrected can influence how *level* your home is in the end.
Your Home Does Not Have to Be Level to Look Right
Since we know that a lot of homes have already been built with an average and acceptable elevation deviation of up to 1.5 inches, how did anything on your house end up straight?
Even if your floor surface ends up slightly out of level, builders compensate for this slope by making sure all the stuff put on top of your foundation gets put on in a level state. They shim stuff, they lift stuff, they cut stuff to fit. Even when they can’t make everything fit perfectly, they cover it up with trim and make it appear as though it fits perfectly and looks level.
A good example here is a countertop or even cabinetry. Let’s say your floor elevation is sloping slightly when the home was built. When the cabinets and countertops are installed, they make them level anyway despite the slope of the floor.
We assume that the finishes on your home were straight to begin with, even if the floor was slightly sloped. So when a foundation repair company is working to restore your home’s elevation, they are focusing on the visual cues of how all the parts of your home fit together during the raising process, and not focusing on the floor.
Who Can I Trust With My Foundation Repair?
Now you know that we don’t primarily focus on the slope of the floor during foundation repairs. This is a difficult truth for homeowners to understand, but we won’t lie to you about it or guarantee things that we can’t. As with most products and services, you have choices and people tend to trust companies and people who tell the truth.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we serve as the voice of trust for all your foundation repair questions and needs. We have repaired 4,000+ homes and inspected at least triple that number in the Brazos Valley area and are ready to help you through this time of uncertainty.
We place the highest importance on your comfort level and want you to feel great and be knowledgeable about your foundation repairs. Check out some more information about how your needs and our services match up and see if Anchor Foundation Repair is a good fit for you and your home.