Your slab foundation seems like it’s in very bad shape. But how bad does it have to be before it’s considered *unsavable*? When is a foundation beyond repair? You’re really wondering if it would be a waste of money to try and repair it or if you’re better off scrapping that slab and starting over. This is a big decision and you’re looking for guidance.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing Brazos Valley foundations since 1985. We know a thing or two about when it’s too late to fix a foundation. We can also tell you that in the past 35+ years in business, we have rarely run across an unsavable slab.
This article will cover the reasons a slab becomes beyond repair. It’s not always about its physical condition, so we will explain the other factors that contribute to whether or not a slab can be salvaged.
How to Know if Your Foundation Is Beyond Repair
Here in Central Texas, it is rare to find a properly constructed slab-on-grade foundation that is physically beyond repair. Most of the bad ones have likely already been replaced so these instances are few and far between. Two physical things that would render a slab *unsavable* would be if
- The slab was constructed with no rebar, or
- The slab has huge, gapping, displaced cracks.
Let’s explore these a bit more, shall we?
If there’s no reinforcement in the slab and it’s completely lacking in rebar, it’s just not good enough to save. It was problematic from the beginning with inappropriate support. A correctly constructed slab-on-grade foundation needs to have rebar or steel cabling inside of it to function properly and offer the needed longevity for a stable home.
In other words, a concrete slab foundation without reinforcement is not up to building code requirements for a home or building. So it’s not good enough to save and already beyond repair.
Huge, Displaced Cracks
By huge gaps, I mean cracks wide enough to feel scary or alarming (you might be able to drop a pencil down through it) and there’s no way to bring them back together horizontally. These are not your normal hairline shrinkage cracks that we typically see on concrete surfaces.
Foundation repair raises a sinking slab by lifting it vertically, but our jacks only go up and down. A foundation repair contractor cannot bring two separated pieces of a cracked slab together that have separated away from each other on the horizontal – our repair equipment doesn’t push from the sides.
There isn’t a tool or technique to effectively move a concrete foundation back together like that. At least not that I know of . . .
Is It Worth It to Save My Home Foundation?
Sometimes it’s not the physical condition of a slab that renders it beyond repair. Deciding if foundation repair is *worth it* sometimes comes down to cost vs. value. Is repairing the foundation the best way to spend your money? Is the cost of repairs going to pay off for you in the long run?
Here are the additional factors to consider that can guide your decision to repair or scrap a foundation:
- Does the cost of foundation repairs exceed the market value of the home?
- Is the surrounding neighborhood trending in an unfavorable direction?
These are complex topics, so let’s go into more detail here.
Repair Cost Exceeds Market Value
Let’s say your home is valued at around $150,000 in its current state and you need $25,000 worth of foundation repairs. But you can buy or build a wide selection of new homes in the area that don’t have foundation issues for about $160,000.
It might not be worth it for you to do these repairs because you can buy or build something new instead. Spending that $25K is not going to get you a home worth $175,000, it’s going to get you a home that is still worth about $150,000.
*Unfortunate News Alert* When you do foundation repairs on a home, it does not generally increase the market value of the home when it’s time to sell. Foundation repairs are done on a home to make the home “as expected” and they don’t add more appraised value the way that a remodeling project would.
Foundation repairs and home selling is a topic that requires more explanation than we have time for here–but here’s an article that explores this idea a bit more: Does Foundation Repair Affect the Value of My Home If I Sell?
If you don’t plan on selling anytime soon then spending $25K instead of buying a whole new house might be the better and more affordable option for you. This leads into the next section on thinking about neighborhood trends and what home values are expected to do in the future.
Evaluating Neighborhood Trends
Are other homes in your neighborhood in good condition? Are there many homeowners that take pride in their homes and keep them in spectacular condition? Are homes in the area being revitalized and remodeled? Is everything getting turned into a rental property?
If your neighborhood is on the upswing with signs of homeowner pride and major renovations, then home values are likely expected to go up in the area. In a case like this, it may be worth it to spend that $25K on your foundation repairs.
Here’s a totally made-up example: In 5 years, your $150,000 home might increase in value to $200,000, making the repairs worth the cost. Your home will soon be valued at more than you spent on it.
Let’s sum this up. If you think the home values are on the upswing in your area, it might be worth it to do the foundation work. Whatever costs you put into the house in repairs, the new, higher value will cover or exceed.
Here’s another scenario to consider. The homes around you were once homeowner-occupied, but everything seems to be turning into rental properties now. Do you want to invest your money in fixing up the foundation and then find yourself surrounded by rentals in a few years? It could make more financial sense for you to move and either sell or turn that home into a rental too.
We certainly do not claim to be an authority on home values and when is the most favorable time for you to sell your home or convert to rental. Housing prices are subjective and very much depend on your local real estate market.
These are good topics to explore further with your favorite local real estate expert when faced with *is it worth it* and *neighborhood trends* questions. There’s also a lot to consider when selling a home that needs foundation repairs too.
Can My Slab Foundation Be Saved?
When you’re wondering if your slab can be saved or not, know that the answer to this question is subjective and there’s no right answer for everyone. There’s no number of inches that a slab has sunk or degree of tilt that makes a slab foundation beyond repair. It’s usually a decision based on what you’re comfortable spending and weighing risks vs. benefits.
So let’s break this down into a few simple statements to help you out:
- If there’s no rebar in your home slab, get rid of it and start again.
- If you have horizontal gapping, it can’t be fixed properly so don’t try.
- If you plan to sell soon, weigh the cost of repairs against a potential sales price and seek advisement from your Realtor®.
- If you don’t plan to sell soon, love your home and neighborhood, and your slab is saveable, then get it repaired.
The bottom line here is that you have to make the best decision for your situation. Everyone’s situation is different so the answer isn’t always as cut and dried as the scenarios above. Every homeowner must weigh risks and rewards and pros and cons.
For the most part though, 99.9% of the slabs that we see can be saved. We rarely run across something so far gone that it can’t be fixed.
If You Want to Go Ahead and Get Your Foundation Repaired . . .
If you need to weigh the costs to decide what to do about your slab, or you’re already pretty sure you want to get your foundation repaired, then you need to get a foundation inspection and quote for repair costs.
Hey, guess what? We repair foundations and do inspections too! At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been walking homeowners through their foundation decisions for 35+ years in Bryan, College Station, and surrounding Brazos Valley communities like Caldwell and Navasota.
Wondering what a home foundation inspection involves? Check out The Fast Guide to Home Foundation Inspections – Purpose, Process, Cost for all the *dirt* on this next step.