foundation underpinning repair

Foundation Underpinning Repair: Unnecessary?

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Have you ever driven to a home inspection with your stomach tied in knots?  Maybe it’s a listing that you have and you know that there are cracks in the brick veneer.  You know that the seller is strapped and needs this sale.  Can you stomach a home inspector recommending to his client (the buyer) they need to bring in a “foundation consultant” (who happens to be a foundation underpinning repair contractor) to evaluate the cracks in the brick veneer?  Because, “ who is this consultant?”

Why the Need for Unnecessary Foundation Underpinning Repair?

In this day and age, after tens of millions of dollars worth of foundation underpinning repair under their belts, the foundation repair companies you will call will send a “salesman” to the home (who works on a 10% commission alone) to evaluate the cracks.  And what do you think this consultant/salesman is going to recommend?  In their minds, all brick veneer cracks represent major structural problems or foundation failures.  And so they offer the following to the buyer: “I can’t tell you (Mr. Buyer) if this foundation is ever going to move any more, but I can guarantee you that if you’ll let me underpin the foundation, I can provide a lifetime warranty that the brick veneer cracks will never enlarge.” Now you’ve got to agree, that’s a lot to offer someone–a very positive reinforcement/piece-of-mind to protect the buyer’s interest/investment.  But as you know, it always comes with a substantial price.

Have you ever seen a foundation underpinning repair estimate less than about $ 6,000.00?  For typically one days work?  Do you know why?  It’s because the foundation repair contractors in North Alabama have convinced you (The Realtor) and the public that all brick veneer cracks represent a major structural problem.   The fact is that more than half the cracks in brick veneer represent no major structural problems!!  And I mean more than one half!  Consider this: brick masonry is a very brittle material – it’s clay soil baked in a kiln to more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and when it comes out of the oven it is bone dry.  And then… it spends the rest of it’s life taking on moisture (from both rain and humidity) and this causes brick expansion.  If a builder doesn’t provide expansion joints every so often, along the wall, then the brick veneer will make it’s own expansion joints!!! And in Huntsville, these expansion joints are called “settlement cracks” by all foundation repair contractors (and unfortunately by several engineers.)

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