You’ve heard *things* about getting your pier and beam foundation repaired. Like:
It’s going to be expensive. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to cause more damage. etc.
You’re like, “Are these things about house leveling really true, Karen?” As you wonder out loud to your co-worker. Because who doesn’t talk to their co-workers about foundation repair?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing both slab and crawl space foundations (like pier and beam) for the past 35+ years. We can tell you what’s real and mythical about pier and beam foundations. We know what it takes to level and take care of them in the long term and can fill you in with the truth about these myths.
This article will explore 10 common myths about repairing and caring for pier and beam (or crawl space) types of foundations. We will reveal what is true or false or somewhere in between about these typical misconceptions in the world of house leveling.
We’re not going to waste any time here and just jump right in. These are in no particular order of importance or common-ness. It’s just fun to do it as a countdown so we’re gonna.
Myth 10: House Leveling and Pier and Beam Repair Are Different
I don’t really know if this is an actual common myth or not, but this is my clever way of talking about something that might confuse a few folks right off the bat.
TRUTH: House leveling and pier and beam foundation repair mean the same thing. In other words, the difference between house leveling and any type of crawl space foundation repair is the number of actual words being used. House leveling is two words, which is nice and efficient.
Also, crawl space homes, pier and beam homes, and block and base homes are all very similar and these terms are often used interchangeably. Some parts of the country (like Texas) like the term pier and beam and will call any kind of crawl space foundation home a pier and beam house even if it’s technically not.
Other places in the country prefer the term crawl space homes. There is no scientific reason for this, just local language choices.
No matter what term you use for the type of foundation or the process of repairing it, just know that we will use each of the terms occasionally and interchangeably. So treat them like they all mean about the same thing. We even have a whole article that goes into more detail about the house leveling vs. pier and beam foundation repair topic.
Myth 9: House Leveling Is Going To Be Messy
This is a common misconception that sorta has some truth to it but it depends on a few factors. How messy your house leveling project is will depend on three things:
- Where the settlement and issues with your home are located,
- What approach is needed to reach and repair those issues, and
- What contractor you choose.
For the most part, house leveling repairs can be done outside and underneath your home in that handy-dandy crawl space. This is one of the big advantages of living in a crawl space home if you happen to need foundation repairs. Much of the work is done outside of your living spaces and it should not be messy inside the home.
However, some crawl spaces (ironically) are not at all easy to *crawl* around in. When there is no clearance or space to work in the crawl space, then the approach has to be made from inside the house by cutting through the floors. In this case, it would be quite messy inside and you would likely want to move out of your home during the repair process.
Each contractor also has their own style and own level of care, consideration, and organization on the project. Some contractors are messier than others and some contractors will only access by cutting through the floors even if there is another way. So who you choose to do your repairs can have a big impact on how the repair job impacts your home environment.
TRUTH: The myth of how messy house leveling can be is this – for 95% of homeowners it’s not messy inside. But for about 5% of homes, it might be better if you move out to avoid the mess. As for the outside of your home getting messy, it all depends on the conscientiousness of the contractor you choose.
Myth 8: House Leveling Is Going To Be Expensive
The question of how expensive house leveling will be is relative and depends on the person. Some people, like my co-worker Karen*, think that anything over $100 is expensive. So if you’re Karen, then yes house leveling is expensive and so is a trip to The Cheesecake Factory for a family of four.
But as far as home foundation repairs go, house leveling on a crawl space type foundation is relatively inexpensive compared to foundation repairs on other types of homes. House leveling is generally less expensive than slab foundation repair by at least half or more.
Also, your home is likely the biggest (and most expensive) investment you have. When it’s time to repair your biggest investment, it’s probably going to cost some money. But if spending that money means keeping you safe, dry, pest-free, secure, and happy – then people find it to be a good and worthwhile investment.
TRUTH: How expensive house leveling is depends a lot on your perspective and thoughts on the matter. In general though, repairing a crawl space foundation is much less expensive than repairing a slab foundation. But the cost also depends a lot on how much of your home is damaged.
For more on this priceless topic, check out the Cost of Pier and Beam Foundation Repair: How Much for House Leveling?
Myth 7: You Only Have to Do Pier and Beam Repairs Once
Some people have it in their mind that house leveling is something you only have to do once and then it’s *taken care of* forever. While this could be a little bit more true for slab foundation repair, it’s not true for crawl space types foundations.
TRUTH: If you have house leveling completed on your crawl space foundation, you should consider doing maintenance every 5 to 8 years to keep things in shape.
For some reason, it’s not highly publicized that maintenance is required on pier and beam foundations. This kind of maintenance really should be planned for and expected just as you would plan to get your oil changed in your car.
What happens when you don’t get your oil changed, like ever? A major problem and the same could be said if you neglect to ever do maintenance on your crawl space foundation.
Crawl space foundation maintenance is highly recommended to protect your home from a more significant (and costly) problem. The good news is that a maintenance visit for a previously leveled crawl space home should cost much less than that initial visit because the more extensive work has already been done.
Myth 6: Watering My Crawl Space Will Prevent Foundation Issues
You might find a lot of conflicting opinions on the myth topic of *watering* your foundation as a prevention technique. Well, guess what, here’s another opinion for you to consider.
Water, excess moisture, and poor drainage are huge causes of settlement and eventual damage to crawl space foundations. We do not ever recommend that you run a hose under your pier and beam or block and base home to prevent foundation problems.
But in times of drought, like we commonly have in Texas, you don’t want the expansive clay soil to dry out so much that it causes your home to sink either. Drought is the main cause of the sinking of homes aka foundation settlement.
Sometimes when there is a drought, we tend to just *let it all go* and don’t water anything at all. But this might not work in your home’s favor in the long run either.
OPINION-BASED TRUTH: Don’t water your crawl space foundation because it can backfire or cause other issues. May I present a happy medium between literally running a hose under your house and letting it shrivel up like a barren wasteland in the summer – just water your lawn and landscaping to keep them alive and healthy even when the climate gets dry.
Want more maintenance tips? Check out this article: Top 3 Maintenance Tips for Your Pier and Beam Home’s Foundation.
Myth 5: You Have to Move Out During Pier and Beam Repair
We kinda touched on this in Myth No. 9 about messiness. Most of the time you don’t have to move out so this is a myth for a lot of homeowners. But sometimes it’s true. Let’s sum it up fast since we already kinda talked about it.
TRUTH: For 95% of homeowners the work can be done outside of your living space and you don’t need to move out. But for about 5% of homes, it might be better if you move out to avoid the mess of a house leveling contractor cutting into your floors from above. This should only be true if they can’t reach the damaged areas another way.
But as we mentioned earlier, some contractors choose to approach the repairs by cutting out the floors no matter what. So, this is a good question to ask any foundation contractor you are thinking of using.
Myth 4: I Can’t Sell My House If I Get Foundation Repairs
Some people think that your home will have some sort of black mark on it if you get foundation repairs. As if the “Home Buyer Gods” will look unfavorably upon your homestead and deem it unworthy of ever finding a new owner again. *gasp then faint*
TRUTH: This myth is false for a lot of reasons. You can definitely sell your home if you have had your home leveled or your pier and beam foundation repaired. It might even work in your favor and make the process easier as it gives your house the “I’ve been well taken care of” look while avoiding buyer requests and worry.
Homes sell or don’t sell depending on the real estate market in your area more than anything else. A home can sell in any condition if someone is willing and able to buy it. So the market will determine if your house sells, not if you have had foundation repairs.
For more on this topic, check out: Does Foundation Repair Affect the Value of My Home if I Sell?
Myth 3: House Leveling Will Cause Damage To My Home
House leveling should not cause damage to your home, it’s hard to call someone a *repair* contractor if they go around breaking more stuff than they fix. You should expect the levelness and sturdiness of your floors to improve. You should expect doors and windows to be able to open and close again after pier and beam repairs.
You should also expect wall cracks to close up. However, foundation repair contractors do not repair drywall. So you have to get someone else to do that work.
There are a few scenarios where some damage can be caused, like if your home got fully remodeled before it was leveled. That is a whole new can of worms and damage might occur in that case. Or if one crack closes, another crack might open up that had previously been patched or painted.
What if your floors have to be cut into because that’s the only way they can get to the damage? Well, then your flooring will need attention afterward with repairs or replacement.
TRUTH: For 95% of homes, your home will not be damaged further by house leveling. But there are some known exceptions and random accidents that make up that other 5%. Read up on all the details here: Does Foundation Repair Cause Other Damage to My Home? Landscaping?
Myth 2: If I Just Wait, My Crawl Space Foundation Will Improve
There is a thing called seasonal settlement where homes can move a little depending on the climate and rainfall levels. Crawl space homes are more susceptible to this type of movement since the foundation does not penetrate very far into the ground.
For some time, your doors might work better or worse. A small drywall crack might open and close back up throughout the year. But if you have a real problem, waiting will not make it better and could make the damage worse or result in higher house leveling costs or collateral repair costs (like when you have to get your drywall repaired).
TRUTH: If you have minor seasonal settlement, yes your home can improve. But at some point, it could stop improving or it might never improve so it’s also a likely myth. That’s when you know you have an issue that needs attention or at least an inspection from a house leveling contractor.
Certain issues will not improve with time unless action is taken, like wood rot, termites, degraded/displaced piers, or insufficient original support.
Having someone take a look to determine the source of your problems will help you know what to do. A professional assessment can tell you if crawl space foundation repair will help or if you have another issue like poor drainage.
Myth 1: I Can Just Level My House On My Own
Some people think that they can just level their pier and beam home on their own. It can’t be that hard, right? Or an even better (or is it worse) myth is that you can just hire any ol’ day laborer to get this done for you cheaply.
Since crawl space foundations are older, you would think that they would be simple. But pier and beam types of foundations are actually quite complex and interconnected. They are like a pile of “Pick-up-Sticks” where you move one thing and then other stuff moves too. In other words, they are anything but simple when it comes time to repair and level them.
TRUTH: Even though a crawl space foundation feels like a primitive arrangement of wood and stone, bricks, or cement blocks, leveling a home takes expertise and know-how.
We cannot tell you how many times a homeowner has tried to hire a random couple of guys to do their house leveling only to end up calling us afterward because it was not done properly.
Hiring a legitimate and experienced local contractor with great online reviews is frankly your best bet to getting this job done right by trustworthy people. There’s a lot more to house leveling than meets the eye.
Now if you have a load of common sense and determination (along with no fear of dirt, bugs, or confined spaces) you could feasibly do some preventative maintenance on your own. Our recommendation if you choose to take on some maintenance and basic shimming: make sure you have plenty of all three of these: time, bottle jacks, and beer . . .
How To Know if You Need House Leveling or Crawl Space Repair
Now that you know *oh so much more than you ever thought possible* about house leveling and pier and beam foundation repair myths, what’s next? Well, maybe I’m thinking it’s how do you know for real if you need repairs?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been getting questions about these kinds of myths since 1985 and in reality, the most common question of all is: Do I have a foundation problem or not?
Check out this article about the most common signs you will see in your home if house leveling is needed: Top 3 Problem Signs for Your Pier and Beam Home’s Foundation.
*Disclaimer: No Karens were harmed in the making of this article and I do not even have a co-worker named Karen. Just being silly.