Foundation work needed ?

8 Replies

Hi everybody,

I need some unbiased opinion concerning some possible foundation work. The house is in the Houston area (I know we have not the best soils), built in 2001, starter home 3/2, 1500 ft2. Did not flood during Harvey but lot's of rain !

Here are the signs I have seen so far :
-We recently started to see some hair size cracks in the kitchen tiles following the same direction. (around 7 to 8 tiles have cracked).

-The expansion joint next to the garage and front door are wider at the top than at the bottom (0.22" difference between top and bottom)

-There are some small cracks around the kitchen window going through the mortar around the bricks.

-No signs inside the house.

I got a first big for $4400 for 7 piers including two where they would have to break the concrete.

Other elements to take into account, the house has no gutters and the water falls around the house. There is a location next to the entrance where a lot of water ends up.

We have one oak tree on the front lawn and one in the backyard, they have roots sticking off the ground close to the home but the trees are not that old I believe.

I would love to get some unbiased advice which is hard to get from companies that have a vested interest in me spending money.

Thanks a lot !

Picture here would be immensely useful. Cracking tiles - are they cracking on their own or while people are walking on them? How were they installed - on cement board, plywood, etc? Size? 

Stairstep brick facade cracking is probably minor settling. Most brick facades won't withstand much movement before bricks start falling off as you are usually looking at a one brick width. 

Water pooling near the foundation could exacerbate the problem but is rarely going to be the cause of the problem; if the footers are not on firm soil in the first place, gutter water or normal rain water isn't going to matter as all water will eventually percolate and eliminate air pockets. 

@JD Martin , We do walk on them but I am assuming that they cracked on their own because of tensile stress.

Here are some pictures :

The cracks in the tiles started to happen after the heavy rainfall of Harvey.

That definitely looks like foundation movement to me. The crack through two tiles, with the grout apparently intact, looks like floor movement, as does the joint at the door. The straight-through crack on the wall is a little puzzling because it looks like what you would see on a shear, where the underlying foundation just fell straight down, but all the bricks still appear to be horizontally aligned. That looks like two walls butted together from the width of the bricks. That's hard to say, because a butt-joint wall like that can have some of its own slight movement. 

@JD Martin thanks for your answer, so I'm not sure if it was clear but on the first picture, it is a joint as well. The space being larger at the top than at the bottom makes me believe that the left part of the house (the garage) went down a little, making that opening bigger that the top.

What would you think needs to be done ?


7 piers is not a lot of piers, 7 piers for $4400 is a lot of money.  You can try, they're investor friendly and a lot cheaper.  You can go another route and get an independent foundation evaluation with to give you an unbiased report, but at 7 piers, it may not be worth, I've used them before and I believe the report now is over $600 when it used to be around $500.

The reason why I wouldn't get the report for the amount of piers is because you can get 10 piers for around $2000 and if you know there's foundation work needed, might as well just do the work.

If the oak trees are new, I would definitely cut the tree, or if it's too much to cut, I would put the root barrier. 

Thanks a lot @Jerry Ta , I wanted to get the trees cut but learned that it could have a bad side effect as the trees have been sucking a lot of water off the ground. Getting rid of them might lead to other foundation issues. I am definitely looking into the root barrier, is it possible to DIY ? how much does it usually cost ? Is there a typical cost per linear feet ?

You have to dig a trench about 2 feet deep where the tree may penetrate to the house, so you can do it youself, probably a lot of work.  Really cannot remember how much, but was expensive, but I had to do it since the tree roots was already messing with the foundation and it was a big tree. 

thanks for sharing @Jerry Ta , my trees aren't that big yet but I would rather get it done now than later when it starts creating issues with the slab.

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