When the words “foundation repair” are spoken, feelings of fear and nausea are often accompanied with visions of thousands of dollars flying out of your pocket. I have met few people who get excited about foundation issues and paying to have them repaired.
Investors: Understanding foundation repair can make you money!
Here is my story:
Our family had flipped eight houses that required foundation repair before I had any understanding about why foundations needed repair. I would see cracks in the sheetrock or in the brick outside, get a funny-house feeling, or notice doors not working and know it needed repair. I would call our favorite foundation repair contractor and tell him to fix it (and give me my lifetime transferable warranty). I didn’t want to know the details and I didn’t care — that was until last summer.
I went to work for a local foundation repair company as a slab repair estimator. The training and education were fascinating and opened my eyes to how big of a problem we have with the way foundations are typically laid.
Builders must accept this fact: A concrete slab on grade was never a good idea.
Homeowners must accept this fact: When they go to sell their home, a foundation problem has to be addressed.
Investors must accept this fact: If you refuse to deal with foundation concerns, you will lose deals.
As a teaser, lets look at some ideas that many people have about foundation repair and try to straighten them out.
4 Misconceptions about Foundation Repair:
1. The foundation is NOT the problem.
In most cases, the soil underneath the slab is the problem. I would tell customers, “You don’t have a foundation problem.” And as they would sigh in relief, I would continue, “You have a soil problem.” As confusion set in, I would explain how foundations don’t move unless the soil beneath it does.
2. Water is THE variable.
A slab foundation simply follows the movement of the soil. The soil only moves when it is hydrating or desiccating. Simply put, when soil gets wet it expands, and as it dries out it shrinks or compacts. Obviously, it is impractical to isolate your house from rain, so even hydration of the soil is the key. So, water is the variable that makes the soil dynamic, nothing else.
3. Voids are NOT a problem.
Many customers would ask if we fill the voids under the slab once the foundation is lifted. Like pier & beam construction, the load is on the beams. Concrete slabs typically (and should) have a thick beam around the exterior and in a grid pattern through the interior. The weight of the house rests primarily on these beams.
4. Cracks do not tell you WHERE the problem is.
Homes with foundation movement will manifest cracks. Sometimes the cracks are small and sometimes they are very pronounced. A crack in a foundation is a hinge. In other words, a relief point for movement in the slab. Typically, the issue is not where the crack is, yet movement somewhere else on the house has caused it.
Capitalizing on Your Knowledge about Foundations
If you live in an area where foundation repair companies exist, then you need to become knowledgeable about this issue. You may not have time to go through the process of bringing out an estimator and getting a bid, so knowing where you are at with a visual inspection can give you a leg up on the competition!
In a future post, we will look at a proper investor strategy for working with sellers whose home has foundation issues.
Stay Tuned… next week I am going to show how to quickly determine the severity of a home’s foundation in just a few simple steps!
Photo: Armchair Builder