It seems that North Texas and surrounding areas have become the center of foundation repair scams for the entire country. I understand there are over three hundred and fifty foundation repair companies operating in North Texas. While I don’t doubt the number it would be extremely hard to document an exact count. Foundation companies pop up, come and go, change names, change owners and disappear almost every day. All it takes is a pick-up truck, a couple of laborers and you too can be a foundation repair contractor. It is easy to be fooled by media advertising and cheap prices.
I have been involved with the foundation repair business for over thirty-five years. I have seen foundation repair scams come and go. Often leaving a trail of failed foundation repairs and unhappy customers. The point is, there are a lot of pier salesmen and consequently a lot of scams.
Many believe most foundation failures are the result of droughts. This is not true! It has been my experience that this is simply a gross exaggeration. While that can happen under extreme circumstances, the majority of foundation failures are the exact reverse. This year’s drought and every year’s drought is going to cause foundation movement down the line. Foundations poured during a drought are likely to experience swelling soils as time goes by. We have basically been in a drought since the 1930’s. A large majority of homes were and will be built when the soil was/is already dried out and shrunken or contracted.
If the soil is already dried out when foundations are poured, it would seem likely that the soils would not shrink much more, but would expand when the rains came, and that’s what happens in many cases! As the soils become unevenly wet around the home, a part of the home is lifted, and, it causes the illusion that other parts of the house have settled. The pier boys then convince you to buy piers, and it is easy to do, because of the misinformation you have heard, “that you need piers”, when in reality you need to fix your drainage and let it dry out!
If the homeowner knows it has heaved, then it only makes sense to let the soil dry. It will come back down naturally, to near original grade. This can take a year or more before you should even consider piers. At that point usually, the need for piers is gone. When that happens there goes the salesman’s commission check. Bottom line: foundations fail for many reasons and usually, in areas of expansive soils, that does not mean that they need piers. Foundation companies thrive selling piers, good pier salesmen make a living selling piers, and are trained to sell piers, many times, when piers are not the least expensive option, best option or even a viable option, it’s just the only option that makes them money.
To get it done right consider spending a little money for some help from someone that will not profit according to the type of “repairs” that are recommended. Get somebody on your side that has no connection with the foundation contractors. You want someone who will benefit by your being happy and referring your friends. Get somebody on your side that will be your advocate, your check and balance.
Here are more foundation scams: Pier salesmen elevations will not tell you if your house has settled. See elevation page. Thinking that “Lifetime Warranties” cover you for the failure of the repair, They Don’t! I will explain both warranties and bids/contracts.
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Richard Rash, Foundation Repair Consultant