Foundation Repair or Not

10 Replies

I have a 1998 build 2300 ft2 single story SFR south of Houston with some foundation issues that we will be closing this week as a buy/hold rental. We received bids from three companies to repair the foundation who all said the house has about 2-3" of settling across the length of the slab and would require 70-80 piers including some interior piers to fully repair the foundation. There are some cracks in the sheetrock in two bedrooms but in most of the home the slope in unnoticeable and has not affected the finish. I own several rental properties in this area but this is my first experience with this type of repair and am tempted to just fix the sheetrock and hope that the house is done settling. Should I bite the bullet and pay the $6k-$7k for the work or patch and hope for the best?

This is also my first post to the forum and I am honored to be part of this amazing community. I have listened to nearly all of the podcasts and find the information here to be unmatched. Thanks to Josh and Brandon for creating such a worthwhile site and thanks to everyone in the community for the open and selfless advice.

Something is wrong with your numbers. 70-80 piers would cost WAY more than 7-8k. I get piers for $200 a piece and that's as low as ive seen anywhere in DFW. 70-80 piers is an incredible amount of piers for a 2300 sqft, that's hardly even possible considering piers every 6 ft would be the max to install. If the house is only down a max of 3 inches, theres almost no way you would need to pier the entire house. Plus keep in mind if you need interior piers, youll need to go through the slab, so bye bye flooring.

To actually answer your question, a 1998 house is going to be PVC piping, so really what you need to do is get the pressure line tested and see if you've already got busted pipes. Once you know that, its really your call on whether or not to level the slab. If you don't have a sprinkler system, id bet the house is going to move further, especially considering its spring time right now, its going to dry out significantly this summer as it always does, so id guess youll be down more than just 3 inches by August. Maybe get an engineers report, see if they think your done settling or not.

Sorry for the long winded response

@Mike Watts , Since you plan to rent the house you don't really need to do the repairs because renters don't care about things like that.... unless it interferes with their use of the house ....or if it looks really bad. You should be ok with minor repairs for as long as you are renting it.

I think the risk you're running though is in the event that you decide at some time in the future that you want (or need) to sell it. It sounds like you're already committed to the purchase but in the future, you really should run all the numbers on ALL of your exit scenarios before committing to the purchase.....including the option to sell. If the slab repairs are required to sell the house but the cost proves to be too high, you might find yourself in a very difficult situation. The market has a nasty habit of changing so the more options you have the better! You don't want to do anything that would cut off your exit options.

Good luck!

Kevin - Thank you for the post! You are absolutely right - I was mistaken on the number of piers. The house needs 38 piles (30 exterior and 8 interior) for a total price of $5,130. I will look into getting the engineers report regarding the plumbing to help me make the final call.

Michael - Thank you for you post as well! It's certainly a good reminder to consider all exit strategies and I suppose my question would be whether to invest the money on a foundation repair now or just fix cosmetics and put it up for lease. Fortunately, I am picking up the property at a strong discount which should leave most options profitible in the long term. My bank doesn't do interior inspections for the portfolio loans so really I would be out the $5k without any additional return in the shorter term and suppose I could always repair the foundation later if I need to sell to a traditional financed buyer.


I didn't really touch on this in my first post. If it were me, I wouldn't mess with the foundation. Theres a good chance the tenant you have in the house will not keep up with a foundation watering program (even if the house has a sprinkler system, they probably wont use it), If you level the foundation now, youll still probably need to make additional repairs when you go and sell for retail in 5 or 10 years or whenever. Id wait, and then that way if you do break pipes when you lift the slab, you were probably going to be updating the flooring before you sell anyway

Just my opinion though

Hi @Mike Watts  , did you end up deciding to do the foundation work?  If so, how did it work out?  We looked at a house yesterday in the beltway 8 & I-45 south area that has a badly cracked slab.  You can tell as soon as you're inside, because the slope is so noticeable.  Not fixing it would not be an option.  My guess is that whatever the max number of piers is, that's what it will take to fix it.  The flooring has to come out anyway, so that part is not an issue.  We are planning to run the numbers to see if this house could work out, but I'm not optimistic.

We are your neighbors, by the way! My husband and I live in Manvel.

Leigh Ann

Great insight @Kevin Brown  , I'm going through a similar problem right now and your post helped me out. 

@Mike Watts  not familiar with specifics in your area but have you looked into mudjacking? Its common over here and usually cheaper, essentially they pump concrete under it to raise the sunken area.

Any updates to anyone's foundation work? I am considering the same thing, do it now or later?

@Mike Watts hey I'm running into a similar situation now as well. I'm not getting the house at a steep discount like you do so that's my disadvantage but my advantage is the property is currently occupied. Just wanted to see if you got the property and how did it work out?

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