We’ve all heard some major generalizations about home foundation repair: All foundation repair is expensive. Foundation repair always causes more damage. Foundation repair is loud, messy, and your home is unsafe unless you get it done.
Bold statements, sweeping generalities, and half-truths, especially when you hear words like “all”, “always”, or “never” in a sentence, lead to rumors, inaccuracies, and exaggerations of the real truth about foundation repair. Some are so ingrained into popular thought that they start to seem real. Let’s call them myths if you will . . .
At Anchor Foundation Repair over the last 35+ years, we’ve heard all the myths and horror stories that people bring to the table when they are looking at the prospect of foundation repair. We often have to set the record straight one-on-one with homeowners during foundation inspections, but why not put it in an article too?
This article will review the top 10 mythical questions about slab-on-grade foundations and their repair that we tend to hear in conversation with the public. For each, we will then give the truth on that subject or at the very least our most informed professional opinion. Let the countdown begin!
Myth 10: Will Gutters and Watering Prevent Foundation Problems?
Some people think that having gutters will prevent foundation problems. Many have heard that watering your foundation will prevent problems. These are myths because they imply that foundation problems can definitively be prevented by anything, and that’s just not true.
TRUTH: Gutters and Watering Can Help But It’s Not a Guarantee
The primary use of gutters is to handle drainage around your home and direct it away for many reasons. Poor drainage can *sometimes* lead to foundation problems but just because you have gutters does not prevent foundation problems or ensure that you will never have a foundation issue.
Watering your foundation can help minimize or delay foundation settlement, but one man’s hose is not going to make a big difference against the widespread natural forces of regional draught. Your home is resting on a piece of ground that goes well beyond your property line.
While having gutters and watering your foundation (and your lawn) are all good general maintenance practices, none are guaranteed fail-safes against foundation settlement.
Myth 9: Will All Homes Need Foundation Repair Eventually?
Some people think it’s inevitable that all homes will settle at some point and every single one will need foundation repair. They mistakenly believe that it’s not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. Foundation settlement and problems are going to happen sometime . . . sorry folks, this is not true at all.
TRUTH: Foundation Settlement Does Not Happen to Every Home
Hey, it would be super awesome for all foundation repair contractors if this were true, we would have work lined up for all eternity. But foundation settlement and foundation problems do not happen to every home by any means.
Even in settlement-prone areas like we have here in Central Texas, it’s not even close to the majority of homes that end up needing foundation repair. Improved building codes and better construction practices are the biggest reason why. They’ve simply gotten better at setting standards and improving methods over the years.
By this rationale, foundation repair companies might worry that we will run out of homes to repair someday. But *lucky for us* there are other causes of foundation issues that are not related to building codes or construction methods that can’t be irradicated so easily.
Myth 8: Is it Unsafe to Live in a Home with Foundation Problems?
Many foundation repair contractors try to fill you with a sense of fear and urgency that you Must. Get. Foundation. Repair. Now. Some people also operate under the notion that homes with foundation problems are unsafe to live in and need immediate repair. This is an overreaction in the vast majority of homes.
TRUTH: It is Safe to Live In a Home That Needs Foundation Repair
In a residential home that has experienced foundation settlement in Central Texas, it is quite safe to live in the home. We have seen a tiny handful of homes in our 35+ year history that were unsafe, but the *unsafeness* was not caused by typical foundation movement from expansive clay soils, it was caused by extreme weather events and the homes were unsafe for many reasons.
Now, there are some signs of foundation issues that can make people feel unsafe for other reasons, like if your front door doesn’t lock or latch properly. But your home is not about to topple over on you or suddenly break in a dramatic way. Foundation problems from typical causes happen very slowly over many years and are not dire physical safety emergencies.
This is a tough topic to cover quickly, so check out this article for a deeper dive into this questionable myth, “Is it Safe to Live in a Home with Foundation Problems or Settlement?”
Myth 7: Are My Foundation Problems the Homebuilder’s Fault?
Some people want to identify the exact source of their foundation issues. Whose fault is it so that I know who to blame and be mad at? It’s natural to want to know how foundation problems happen and make sure it’s not your fault either. But in reality, it’s typically no one person’s or one thing’s fault.
TRUTH: Foundation Issues Have Many Causes and It’s Not a Person
The number one cause of foundation settlement and problems is expansive clay soils. Clay soils are prevalent throughout the United States and cause more annual damage to homes than floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. So if ya really wanna be mad at someone, be mad at the Earth . . .
But even with the clay, many factors play a part in foundation movement. Things like rainfall/climate conditions, construction methods, workmanship, drainage or plumbing issues, a lot with a slope, and homeowner impact all contribute to actions and reactions of the living system around your home.
It’s always a combination of situations that lead to your foundation problems, and you can’t normally pin the blame on just one contributor.
Myth 6: Will Foundation Repair Cause More Damage to My Home?
Some people walk around thinking that all foundation repair will cause wall cracks, break tile and windows, and create more problems than it solves. This one is a half-truth (or more like a one-tenth truth) as most of the time it’s false. But in some infrequent cases, foundation repairs can result in other issues for the homeowner.
TRUTH: Foundation Repair Typically Does Not Cause More Damage
Foundation repair and raising the settled home back to its original elevation will close up wall cracks. Doors and windows work better and will open, close, and latch properly after foundation repair (this is a primary symptom that foundation repair seeks to correct not make worse).
Yes, windows could break due to some random situation during the raising process. But that’s not normal, usual, or typical in a foundation repair project.
There are some instances where foundation repair can cause issues though, that’s why this one is a partially true and part false myth.
When a home has been remodeled in an unlevel state with new walls, paint, cabinets, flooring, and all sorts of fresh finishes, doing foundation repair after that *reno* will likely result in damage.
This is because everything was put on the house when the house was wonky, and if you try to *un-wonk-ify* it after that, all those new layers will experience stress and become misaligned during the raising process. We always recommend completing needed foundation repairs before remodeling for this reason. Otherwise, your only option is to stabilize the house but not raise it.
Plumbing under your home is sometimes vulnerable to problems during foundation repairs too (or it already had problems, you just didn’t know it yet). But don’t you think this section is getting way too long? We think so too so we’re just gonna refer you to this article on under-slab plumbing instead. . .
Myth 5: Is a Cracked Slab the Top Sign of Foundation Problems?
Lots of people think that cracks in the floor of your slab foundation or cracks that you can see outside near the ground are the biggest sign that you have a foundation problem. The truth is that it’s never the slab that tells you there’s an issue. It’s the walls, trim, and finishes on vertical surfaces that are the giveaways.
TRUTH: Foundation Cracks are Not a Top Foundation Problem Sign
Slab cracks are not a top sign and in fact, they’re not even on our list at all covering top signs you have a foundation problem. We know that lots of people are out there searching the internet about concerns over cracks in your slab foundation, but here are the real telltale problem signs:
- Diagonal cracks on interior walls, coming off of window and door frames
- Stair-step cracks in exterior brick walls
- Doors that don’t lock, latch or close properly
- Trim separating from walls i.e. brick frieze, chair rail, or maybe crown molding
- Other wall-set fixtures like cabinetry or built-ins that are separating from the walls
There are also signs that people mistake as signals of a foundation problem but they are really false signs of foundation issues. You can even check out our handy-dandy picture guide that covers both true and false signs in one comprehensive article.
Myth 4: Will Foundation Issues/Repair Make My Home Unsellable?
There is this unspeakable fear that if you get foundation repair, you won’t be able to sell your house. Or if a home has foundation issues or previous repair that you shouldn’t ever buy a house like that. Ask any Realtor® and they will tell you this is simply not true.
TRUTH: Homes Sell with Foundation Issues/Repair All the Time
If a home sells with foundation issues or past repairs, then that means someone bought it. For the right price or terms that the buyer and seller agree to, homes can be bought and sold in any condition. Although you might have to do things differently when buying a home with foundation issues or selling a home with a foundation problem, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Sometimes you can get a great deal. Sometimes you are looking for that fixer-upper that everyone else is too scared to buy. Homes that have already had the foundation repairs completed should not be a problem for anyone or anyone’s lender either. Some buyers even like the peace of mind that the foundation issue has already been repaired.
While it is true that some homebuyers will shy away from homes with foundation settlement, that doesn’t mean that it renders any home “unsellable.”
Myth 3: Don’t Only Old Homes Have Foundation Problems?
Some people think that if your home is new or newer then there’s no way that foundation problems can happen. False – all homes are susceptible to foundation settlement that can become issues requiring foundation repair.
TRUTH: Any House Can Experience Foundation Settlement or Problems
We kinda talked about this earlier, but many factors can contribute to foundation issues. Sometimes it’s that *just right* magical combination of lot slope, draught, and drainage factors that creates a foundation problem for a home. Other times, it’s the soil and the age of the home.
We work on homes all the time that were built in the 2000s, which most would consider to be fairly new homes. We also work on homes built in the 30s, 50s, 80s, and so on.
Just because a home is new doesn’t mean it’s still not susceptible to strong natural forces like gravity, expansive pressure, and widespread weather conditions. And some old homes will survive for eons without any foundation problems at all. Age doesn’t matter.
Myth 2: Is All Foundation Repair a Messy Nightmare?
The “jobs gone wrong” and foundation repair horror stories are always the ones that you hear. It was terrible, it was messy, my home was filled with dust and dirt, they didn’t ever tell me what was going on and everything was a disaster.
You never really hear about the ones that went just fine because that’s not a gripping story for people to tell. We’d call this foundation repair myth un-true for the most part.
TRUTH: Not All Foundation Repair is Horrible for Homeowners
Most typical foundation repairs are completed outside the home and no one has to go into your house much at all because most of the work is exterior. Yes, your driveway or yard will have a big pile of dirt in it but all the dirt actually stays outside for the vast majority of foundation repair jobs.
We think that nightmare foundation repair projects usually come from four causes:
- Choosing the Wrong Contractor for Your Needs
- Poor Contractor Manners
- Poor Communication of Expectations and During the Process
- Homeowners that Should Have Moved Out During Interior Repair Projects
If you’ll notice, all of these issues are not really about the “act of foundation repair.” They are more about the choices of the homeowner and the contractor’s service choices as well. This really could be a bunch of separate articles discussing these kinds of problems. So let’s make this easy and let you choose the article that you want to know more about:
There could be more to add here but let’s not go crazy. You can always check out our full Learning Center to answer your “all things foundation-related” questions.
Myth 1: Is All Foundation Repair Ridiculously Expensive?
Most people worry about how much things will cost or at least about making the best decisions on how to spend their hard-earned dollars. A lot of people expect foundation repair to be *crazy expensive* and this is a difficult myth to dispel because everyone’s version of expensive is different.
For example, someone who spent 250K when buying their new house, might not think that 15K is a lot to spend for the very best care and repair for their home.
The cost of foundation repair is the top myth because foundation repair can be a big-ticket item, BUT you have to put it in perspective.
TRUTH: The Value of Foundation Repair Is Different For Everyone
The perspective of homeowners varies on what is expensive and not. And the perspective of homeowners is also different on what they are hoping to “get” for their money or what has the most value and importance to them in the future use of their home.
The best way to bring truth to the question of cost is just to give you some actual numbers. We’ve got an article that compares the cost of foundation repair between pressed piles and drilled piers: i.e. the two most common and readily available foundation repair methods in our area.
Deciding which method is best for you is also a consideration in value. So also check out, “What Is the Best Foundation Repair Method and How Much Does It Cost?”
Can foundation repair be expensive? YES, to some people. Is foundation repair worth the price? YES, if it means you then feel happy, safe, secure, warm/cool, and proud of your home and your home is back to doing its job for you and functioning properly.
Defining Foundation Repair
Now that you know the top 10 foundation repair myths that homeowners tend to think about, there’s one more that people don’t even realize is out there. Another foundation repair misconception that people tend to get confused about comes from what the term “foundation repair” even means. Does it mean mending or repouring your slab? Fixing cracks? Not to us.
Some foundation repair contractors present foundation repair as meaning the same thing as sealing up cracks in your foundation or doing waterproofing in your basement. But foundation repair really has a less broad definition than “doing any kinda stuff” to your foundation.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been repairing foundations in the Brazos Valley since 1985. We define foundation repair services as “stabilizing and raising” your home to its original elevation. It’s specifically about bringing your home up from a sunken position caused by settlement and restoring functionality to things that aren’t working right because of that settlement. It’s not spackling cosmetic cracks or replacing concrete slabs.
Check out, “What Does Foundation Repair Mean and How Does It Work? A Clueless Homeowner’s Guide,” to get the no-myth version of how foundation repair really works for your home in our Central Texas area.