I need advice on solving a foundation issue

15 Replies

I have a rehab and flip property under contract. Nice house in a good neighborhood. The issue/potential opportunity: the house clearly has a foundation issue. I am not afraid of foundation issues and have rehabbed houses with foundation issues in the past. This house has had a foundation issue in the past and appears to be recurring. What I want to do is determine the source of the issue and if it is economically feasible to fix. Previous inspections have shown the foundation issue appears to be from excessive water under the slab. A water pressure test was performed and did not reveal a leak. Additionally the water bills are not reflecting a leak. So....seems like the other 2 culprits could be a bad grading job forcing water back under the house or a sewage problem such as a crushed pipe, or maybe something else I have not thought of. Before I buy the house I want to know the issue. Who should I call and/or what tests can determine the source? Anyone out there encounter a similar issue? Any advice or direction is greatly appreciated.

a hydrostatic pressure test to should reveal any leaks in your sewer lines. those generally cost around $200(in DFW at least). and you are correct, a normal water bill would indicate you don't have a fresh water leak...

I would call a plumbing company that specializes in slab leaks and have them perform the test. residential service companies will more than likely do it as well but their guy might not be very experienced and for this type of test it is very important that the actual plumber doing the test knows what he is doing...they are basically using a balloon and bicycle pump haha. So user error is a major problem when they don't do the test often.

I work for a foundation/plumbing repair company in the DFW area so feel free to ask any more questions you may have.

@Jared Benson  thanks so much for the advice! I am in bryan college station. Know any reputable foundation plumbing repair guys here?

You can check out Olshan Foundation Repair.  I have never actually dealt with the one's in Bryan, but the people in Temple and Waco do good, reliable work.

I don't know of anyone in Bryan/college station. Sorry, olshan does good work but will be THE most expensive company you come across.

Definitely need to perform a hydrostatic test on sewer system.  The main test is not going to be that expensive but performing an isolation test will be costly.  We did one last week and found 3 slab leaks, cost $2,500.  You should be OK as long as there are not multiple leaks.  Worst case scenario all lines have to be replaced which could cost $12-20K.  Pic is of a toilet removed and line filled with water after installing a test ball on sewer line.

this would be a bummer if you bought a nice turn key house had no idea of texas foundation issues and ended up with a 12 to 20k bill somewhere down the track.

I bet these issues cause many of the default scenerios and opportunities for the next investor to come in and swoop up the house when the first investor did not have enough money to fix a problem they never knew could occur in the first place.

Funny every how this issue is very real but hardly mentioned by those that sell homes in Texas to out of state or country folks.

I know its the same over in MS  I bet I have funded at least 50 deals that had major foundation issues and the previous owner could not afford to fix it and ended up just letting the house go... My client comes in and buys it for pennies on the dollar I fund the A and D they fix foundation at what is usually 8 to 25k per  and wa la you have a new performing rental.. last investor owner is Fubarred but new owner is happy... dog eat dog world out there...

Originally posted by @Rocky V. :

Definitely need to perform a hydrostatic test on sewer system.  The main test is not going to be that expensive but performing an isolation test will be costly.  We did one last week and found 3 slab leaks, cost $2,500.  You should be OK as long as there are not multiple leaks.  Worst case scenario all lines have to be replaced which could cost $12-20K.  Pic is of a toilet removed and line filled with water after installing a test ball on sewer line.

 Can you explain what's going on here? How is fresh water (I assume that's what's in this picture) getting into the sewer line and backing up into the toilet? What do you mean by "slab leaks"? Is there a break in the supply somewhere due to foundation issues and it's flooding under the slab? 

they plug the sewer line leaving the home and then fill up the lines with fresh water. After filling it up they put the ruler in, and if there are no leaks the water level stays the same. if there is a leak the water level drops. Slab leak = leak under home

Originally posted by @Daniel Moore :

they plug the sewer line leaving the home and then fill up the lines with fresh water. After filling it up they put the ruler in, and if there are no leaks the water level stays the same. if there is a leak the water level drops. Slab leak = leak under home

 Thanks for the explanation, that makes much more sense! I thought they pulled the toilet and found standing fresh water and that was an indication of a leak...now I get it!!!

@Katie Neason  Here in DFW you can get investor pier pricing from 150-200 a pier, just as a heads up for comparison there.

@Troy S.  - there are two types of foundations in texas, ones with problems, and ones that will have problems ;)

Originally posted by @Daniel Moore :

@Troy S. - there are two types of foundations in texas, ones with problems, and ones that will have problems ;)

 That's hilarious but seems absolutely true from what I've seen here on BP. You Texans repair foundations like it's no big thing. Around here, foundation issues are (usually) big $$$ and not all that common thankfully. 

@Troy S.  - the worst foundation i saw had an interior fireplace that had sunk so bad, i could roll a basket ball under interior walls. The sole plate had separated from the slab and there was a gap big enough to crawl under. All points of the home drained to the middle. 

Don't put your toddler in a walker or they would end up in the fireplace. 

Originally posted by @Troy S. :
Originally posted by @Daniel Moore:

@Troy S. - there are two types of foundations in texas, ones with problems, and ones that will have problems ;)

 That's hilarious but seems absolutely true from what I've seen here on BP. You Texans repair foundations like it's no big thing. Around here, foundation issues are (usually) big $$$ and not all that common thankfully. 

 Do you mean to say that everything is bigger in Texas - except foundation repair bills??

Just one of the things that keeps me up at night as I work on acquiring my first rental :-)

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