You are about to have a tunneling project start at your home because you have an under-slab plumbing leak. You may or may not have committed to the job yet and you need to know about unforeseen extra costs or just want to know if there are any when tunneling under your foundation.
It seems like every home project comes with extra or unanticipated costs, amiright? Well, under-slab tunneling is no different but we want you to know about them upfront so that you won’t be caught off guard later on.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been serving Bryan, College Station, and the surrounding Brazos Valley communities like Brenham and Caldwell for 35+ years. We know that the best policy for homeowners is 100% transparent information so that you are prepped and ready for the repair road ahead.
We do hundreds of feet of tunnel each year and can surely fill you in on costs that come up. This article will explain the extra costs to anticipate during under-slab tunneling. We will discuss both the expected and unexpected costs so that you can be fully prepared for this project.
What Else Do I Need to Pay for When Tunneling is Needed?
Tunneling with Anchor Foundation Repair costs $400 per linear foot of tunnel. The average tunneling job cost with Anchor falls within the $4,000 to $6,000 range. That cost covers both the digging and then the backfilling afterward (and includes mud pumping for full tunnel support). There’s also a $650 fee for the initial hole starting point which requires extra work digging down to get underneath the foundation.
You might be thinking, “Well, what else is there to pay for then?”
Here’s a quick list of the kinds of things that come with extra costs during tunneling. Some are definite costs that you will have no matter what, while others are *potential* costs that could come up during the repair project. Extra costs during under-slab tunneling can come from:
- Plumbing repairs
- Concrete chipping
- Leak location with cameras
- Additional tunneling
- Additional plumbing repairs
We will go over each of these in more detail, but they are going to be divided into expected vs. unexpected categories. *Spoiler Alert* only one is for sure expected and the rest are things we can’t necessarily anticipate until the tunnel is already dug and your under-slab plumbing issues have been fully uncovered.
We don’t want you to be mad because we didn’t know about this *extra stuff* that could happen. It’s the kind of stuff we don’t know until we start the work and see what’s going on under your slab. It’s impossible to predict all the potential issues, unfortunately, because they are buried in the ground.
That’s why we put together this article for you so that you can a least be ready for the unexpected.
Expected Extra Costs During Under-Slab Tunneling
The one absolute extra cost with under-slab tunneling is plumbing work. You will have plumbing repair costs that need to be paid for separately. When we do tunneling work, we are digging the tunnel to allow a licensed plumber to easily reach the repair location. We do not perform the plumbing repairs ourselves.
So you do need to plan on paying for the necessary plumbing repairs to fix your under-slab leak in addition to your tunneling bill. It is difficult to estimate plumbing repair costs in advance of tunneling.
We try to give estimates in this article about extra costs but again, it’s hard to know what needs to be done before a tunnel is started at your home.
Unexpected Additional Costs During Tunneling Projects
So plumbing repair for the known leak is your only *for sure* extra cost. These four others are things we cannot know until we get down there and see what’s happening. Unexpected costs come from:
- Concrete chipping if your leak is in a beam
- Leak location with cameras if your leak is hard to find
- Additional tunneling if the original leak is fixed and it turns out you have more
- Additional plumbing repairs to fix the newly discovered leaks
We will *dig in* to each of these separately to explain further. Bad puns cannot be helped, it’s a disease but there is no cure, unfortunately. It’s a good thing that under-slab leaks have a cure though, huh?
Extra Costs for Concrete Chipping When Needed
Sometimes under-slab plumbing leaks end up being encased in concrete. This can happen when a leak occurs where a plumbing line is passing through a concrete support beam under the house. You have to chip the concrete away to reach and repair the leak.
When concrete chipping is needed it takes extra time and work. We charge $65 per hour for any concrete chipping that is required to uncover damaged pipes. This does not happen all the time. About 25% of tunneling jobs call for concrete chipping work.
Extra Cost for Leak Locators If Leak Is Difficult to Locate
Sometimes it’s difficult to locate your leaks. This can happen if a hairline crack is present that does not leak water all the time so there is no visible evidence to go by. When leaks are hard to find, a leak locator service might need to be called in to find the cracks with the aid of a camera inserted into the plumbing lines.
Leak locator services are an extra cost to a contractor that specializes in this type of service. Sometimes your chosen plumber can do it too, but it does take extra time and cost more to bring out the scoping equipment.
We have a list of experienced under-slab plumbing contractors that includes a leak location specialist. You do need to pay for this extra service separately but it’s a less common occurrence that might happen in only 20% of tunneling projects.
More Tunneling Than Expected If Other Leaks Are Found
Sometimes it looks like there is only one broken plumbing line under the home, but it’s in a different place than originally thought, or more leaks are discovered after the first leak is repaired. More tunneling is needed. Anytime more tunnel length is needed, the cost goes up due to extra labor and material.
When the lines are repaired, your plumbing system will be checked by hydrostatic pressure testing to ensure that all the leaks are fixed.
Unfortunately, other leak locations are often identified after the plumbing test that also need to be repaired. We cannot and won’t leave any leaks or line breaks unrepaired under your home. So additional tunneling may be needed to reach and repair the additional issues.
Extra tunneling equals extra costs. We do additional tunneling work at a rate of $400 to $500 per foot and depending on how long the tunnel already is to begin with.
Some of the other extra costs already mentioned do not happen too often, but this scenario is a more common occurrence. About 15% of our tunneling jobs end up needing some extra tunneling work that was not expected initially.
Additional Plumbing Repair Cost For Unanticipated Leaks
If more leaks and more tunneling are needed to reach and repair more leaks, well . . . you guessed it . . . more plumbing repairs will need to take place. A plumber will need to return to your home to fix these additional issues and it will add to the plumbing repair costs.
Repairing Under-Slab Leaks Prevents Further Problems
Despite the potential for extra costs, tunneling is a more convenient and *less inside mess* way for homeowners to handle under-slab plumbing problems.
So now that you know about the potential extra costs that can come up during a typical tunneling project, you are fully informed of both the expected and unexpected costs. We wish we could know for certain how many leaks you have under your home ahead of time but it’s truly impossible to know everything in advance.
Just remember that repairing all the leaks under your home at this time is the best way to prevent further problems from developing later. Your home, your plumbing system, and your foundation will be in the best possible condition for a stable and worry-free future if everything gets taken care of during this time.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we work to educate and inform Brazos Valley homeowners about important home repair decisions, processes, and costs with no nonsense. After 35+ years in business, it’s the fair and honest way to do things and that’s just how we operate.
You might be wondering about the hydrostatic pressure testing we mentioned in this article now. We’ve got details on the hydrostatic plumbing test to get leaking pipes repaired if you’re curious.