You are *shopping around* and getting multiple bids for foundation repair services in the Brazos Valley. That’s the advice you were given to get more than one bid, and it’s good advice. Way to go!
But now you’ve got a couple of quotes and you’re wondering: Why is there a difference in the prices from these foundation repair companies anyway? Aren’t they both doing about the same thing? The answer is, kinda but no not really.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been serving the Bryan, College Station, and surrounding Brazos Valley communities since 1985. We can tell you exactly why there are pricing differences between us and other local foundation repair companies. This is a very easy question for us to answer and we aren’t even afraid to discuss this *elephant* in the room about why our prices can be higher for slab foundation repairs.
This article will discuss what is the same and what is different about our slab foundation repair services and another predominant company in the area, Brazos Valley Solutions.
This is not a persuasive article to convince you that one company is better than the other. (I mean, we do have a favorite, but we can be fair.) There are some distinct differences in the foundation repair methods used by us vs. them to point out that make for variance in cost that we can present objectively.
What Is the Same About Anchor vs. Brazos Valley Solutions?
Two things are the same about our company compared to Brazos Valley Solutions:
- Both Companies Are Locally Owned
- Both Companies Do Foundation Inspections and Repairs
If you are looking for a local company, either one of our companies will fit that bill. We believe that choosing a local company with history and longevity in the community is always a better choice for Brazos Valley homeowners. If there are any issues down the road with your repairs, a local company is easy to reach here in town.
Choosing a company from Houston or from *who knows where* is more of a risk because it’s questionable if they will be accessible or even in business later on.
Local, long-running companies tend to operate with more intentional service quality because their reputation is at stake in the community. If a local company does a bad job they have more to lose compared to some outsider, “fly by night” contractor just rolling through town to see if they can make a buck.
So if you need your foundation inspected or repaired, both companies perform these services. But that’s where the similarities end.
What Is Different About Anchor vs. Brazos Valley Solutions?
There are several differences between Anchor Foundation Repair and Brazos Valley Solutions:
- Each company uses distinctly different methods of foundation repair.
I know, I know, it’s a list of one which seems unnecessary, but it’s a big one. This one big difference results in several smaller differences that I will explain real soon. The method used by each company is so different that in many ways it’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Many people think that all foundation repair is the same and all you have to do is choose the company – this is one of the many misconceptions about foundation repair. Most foundation repair companies only use one method of repair, so when you choose a company, you are also choosing their method.
—–>When you are comparing Anchor Foundation Repair to Brazos Valley Solutions, you are not comparing prices for the same method of repair.<—–
In the most simplified and non-technical terms, “foundation repair” basically means putting *some stuff* under your home to raise it from a sunken or settled position back to its original elevation. At the same time, the stuff that gets put under there is also supposed to both stabilize and better support the home to keep it from sinking again.
The difference in foundation repair methods is in *the kind of stuff* that gets used to support your home and how it works. Let’s take a closer look and explain the methods that each company employs next . . .
Brazos Valley Solutions Uses Pressed Piles for Foundation Repair
Pressed piles are made from a cylindrical piece of precast concrete that is 6 inches in diameter and 12 inches long. At each predetermined location where a piling needs to be added under the home, a hole is dug near the foundation to reach underneath the perimeter beam of the slab.
These cylinders are then driven into the ground one by one on top of each other with a hydraulic ram. The foundation repair crew would continue adding more and more cylinders under each location until the ground will not allow them to add any more. A pile cap is placed on top that is wider and two cylinders are placed side by side in contact with your slab.
There are some variations where the cylinders might be connected together and reinforced by a steel cable or rebar. Many companies that do pressed pilings will have some unique connection method that makes them sound different or better, but they essentially all work the same way in the ground.
The tension created between the pile concrete cylinders and the soil is what creates the lifting power/action to push up your home. It’s kind of like the tension created by a spring holding a battery in place, where the soil is the spring. Of course, this is a very simplified explanation but it’s the basic idea.
Installing pressed pilings under a home takes about 2 days on average. The process is fairly quick because they are using precast concrete items that are already made. They also don’t have to do as much digging as the other method.
Anchor Foundation Repair Uses Drilled Bell-Bottom Piers
Drilled bell-bottom piers are created by a different process because the piers are not made from premade concrete pieces. Drilled piers are poured onsite and result in one solid piece of steel-reinforced concrete once cured, rather than many smaller pieces stacked together.
To make a drilled pier, the foundation repair team first digs a 2 by 2-foot square hole at each predetermined location where a support pier is needed. Then after reaching below the concrete perimeter beam of the slab, the team will drill with a long hydraulic drill to a depth of 10 to 12 feet to make the shaft of the pier, which is 8 inches in diameter.
At the end of the shaft, a cutting tool cuts out a bell-shaped base so that the pier will flare out at the bottom to about 22 inches in diameter (like bell-bottom pants if you need a visual). This square hole, long shaft, and bell-bottom base will then be filled with poured concrete and reinforced with steel rebar.
Rather than using the tension between the soil and support, a drilled bell-bottom pier relies on its straight shaft, and wide bell-shaped base to resist soil uplift and create a solid platform to then elevate your home from. Again this is a simplified and less detailed explanation of the bell-bottom pier.
After installing the piers and raising the home, there is a void created under your home where the slab has been lifted. A process called mud-pumping will fill in the empty space to support and fill in any air pockets under the slab.
Installing drilled bell-bottom piers under a slab foundation home takes about 2 weeks on average. The process takes longer because the repair team has to drill out the shafts, cut the bell shape, and pour the concrete. Then the concrete has to cure for 7 to 10 days to dry and strengthen as much as possible before the raising can even begin.
Now that you know a little about how these different foundation underpinning methods are installed and work in the ground. Let’s talk about how these differences make drilled piers more expensive.
How Do These Differences Make Anchor More Expensive?
I won’t be spending time talking about the structural differences between pressed piles and drilled piers here. This section is only about what makes drilled piers more expensive, but you needed to know a little about the structure of the piers and piles to understand the pricing differences.
Four factors contribute to drilled piers being more costly than pressed pilings:
- Skilled Labor, and
- Extra Safeguards.
Material Costs for Pressed Piles vs. Drilled Piers
Precast concrete cylinders appear to cost about $3 each at the hardware store where I linked to them above. Let’s say you need 12 cylinders to go down to the same depth as a drilled pier, plus a concrete pad, and then two more cylinders for the pile cap. So that’s 14 cylinders at $3 each and a pad that is $3 too.
The estimated material costs for one pressed piling would be about $45 worth of stuff.
By contrast, a poured concrete pier with steel rebar inside is about $101 in material costs.
So if you’re just looking at material costs only, it’s clear to see that drilled pier materials are more expensive than pressed pile materials – more than twice as much. The higher cost of materials contributes to the higher overall costs of the drilled bell-bottom pier method.
Time on Job for Pressed Piles vs. Drilled Piers
An average install time for foundation repair with pressed piles is approximately 3 to 4 days total. The crew spends time digging the initial holes, pressing in piles, and raising the home. They do not spend time mud-pumping to fill voids created by raising the home. This makes for a quicker job time and much fewer man-hours to have to pay workers.
An average install time just for making the drilled piers is approximately 3 to 5 days on-site at your home. This does not include the 7 to 10 days of concrete curing time where no work is happening. More man-hours are spent digging, drilling, and pouring concrete.
Next, they spend 2 or 3 more days raising the home and shim it in place before mud-pumping to fill the voids created by the newly elevated home. All the activity of installing drilled piers takes a longer time to complete than pressed piles.
So if you are just looking at the man-hours and paying a crew to do the work, more man-hours translates to a higher total cost for drilled pier foundation repairs.
How Skilled Labor Factors into Costs for Pressed Piles vs. Drilled Piers
I know we just talked about man-hours and worker wages, but this is a little different take on labor costs. Drilled piers take more skill to install properly. You have to know how to dig efficiently. You have to know how to operate the drill and the beller. You have to know how to handle poured concrete. You have to know how to prepare for and perform the mud-pumping step.
There are more steps of the drilled pier process to learn and master than there are for pressed piles. Finding and keeping more skilled people to do the job of installing drilled piers costs more money.
Anchor has team members that have been with the company for 10 to 20 years or more. These guys work hard, are dedicated and skilled, and we pay them what they are worth and deserve as full-fledged employees. We do not hire out subcontractors to do work for us.
Paying highly skilled employees with decades of experience is more expensive and results in higher costs for our drilled pier foundation repair services.
Now, I don’t know how long anyone has been working at Brazos Valley Solutions, what they pay their workers, or if they are even employees. I just know that maintaining an experienced team with longevity in their roles is a big expense for us. This skilled labor expense is one we are more than happy to take on, but it does contribute to higher prices for our services.
Extra Safeguard Services Only Included in with the Drilled Pier Method
There are things that are done as part of drilled pier foundation repairs that “the pressed pile guys” simply don’t do or don’t have to do. Naturally, doing some additional work not provided by a pressed piling contractor is going to result in higher costs for drilled piers.
The extra safeguards used in drilled pier foundation repair are hydrostatic testing of under-slab plumbing, soil replacement, and mud-pumping the void under the home.
Hydrostatic Pressure Testing
Nothing is going to wreck a freshly repaired foundation worse than an under-slab leak. So before anything gets backfilled and closed back up, hydrostatic pressure testing is completed to ensure that no leaks are present under your home.
Many companies that use pressed pilings will leave it to the homeowner to check for leaks on their own after the foundation repairs are done. If a homeowner doesn’t notice that in the contract, then it might not get checked.
As a company that chooses the drilled pier method, we don’t leave it to chance or up to the homeowner to handle later (if at all). We want to make sure that conditions are optimized and double-checked to minimize any future opportunities for further foundation settlement. So an extra cost of $160 will include performing hydrostatic testing for under-slab leaks.
Soil Haul-Away and Replacement
With drilled piers, there is a lot more dirt removal because the entire pathway of the pier is dug out to create the poured concrete form. But this dirt is made of expansive clay soil and once it’s taken out of the ground, it dries out into hard clumps. Trying to put this clay back into the holes would create a lot of air pockets and inconsistency in the fill and support of the soil.
It’s better for your home to replace the soil with something more optimal for backfilling. So the old clay soil all gets hauled away and is replaced with area-specific topsoil. This dirt haul-away and replacement add extra time and material costs to the drilled pier process.
Mud-Pumping the Fill the Void Under a Raised Home
We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Once your home is lifted back to its proper elevation, there is now a gap between the existing soil and the bottom of your foundation. Sometimes is just an inch or two of space, but could be several more inches under some areas of the home.
Think of this gap of space spanning under large areas of your foundation. Does it sound like a good idea to leave that gap empty and your foundation unsupported under all those areas? With pressed pilings, that’s exactly what happens.
With Anchor’s drilled pier foundation repair, the void and any air pockets under the home are completely filled with a pressurized flowing mix of slurry that hardens into a sandstone-like substance. This mud-pumping process adds extra support underneath the entire repaired area of your home and further minimizes opportunities for additional settlement to occur.
The safeguard of mud-pumping the void adds both extra time and material costs to a drilled pier foundation repair project. On average, this adds between $700 to $2,000 in cost to the job for the homeowner. So, yes it makes drilled pier foundation repairs with Anchor more expensive, but we know that filling that void is the right thing to do.
Want To Know More about Pressed Piles vs. Drilled Piers?
I really just scratched the surface on explaining all there is to know about these two methods of foundation repair. I didn’t even get into the pros and cons of each method or give a lot of detail on the installation process or the theories behind these repair methods.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we want to give Brazos Valley homeowners all the information needed to make informed decisions about foundation repair for their homes. Instead of trying to *sell* you on the greatness of our services, we empower you to choose the company and method that works best for you and that’s okay if it’s not always us.
If you want more *in-depth* information on the bigger differences, benefits, and drawbacks between the two major foundation repair methods available in our area, check this out: Bell-Bottom vs. Pressed Pile Foundation Repair Methods: What’s the Difference?