Be Selective When Choosing a Foundation Inspector

These days almost anyone who appears to be an adult, has a hard hat, a tape measure and a clipboard can claim to be a foundation inspector.

Even a well educated registered professional engineer can make the claim. But if his field of expertise is aeronautics or electrical, might as well have your dentist check the slab.

In his book “Foundation Repair Manual”, Robert Wade Brown offers theses pointers for choosing an engineer to inspect your concrete foundation, be it slab or pier and beam:

  • The engineer should be registered as a structural or civil engineer.
  • He or she should be independent, unbiased and not associated with any self-serving entity–foundation repair company, builder, insurer and such.
  • If possible, the engineer should have extensive hands-on experience in foundation repair.

In short, try to find an engineer who has a lot of experience with residential or light commercial foundations yet is not tied directly or indirectly to any particular contractor, builder or insurance company.

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    • VJ
    • January 24, 2007


    I am a buyer looking a buying a property. I noticed on a house we like that the brick veneer is overhanging the foundation by an inch. I think there is half inch skim coat on the foundation. I am wondering if this is within the safe limits or unsafe. I am a layman when it comes to construction. I am looking for some information before investing my life’s savings.

    I read a lot of articles on BIA web site but couldnt find anything that clarifies this.


  1. This Masonry Advisory website says a brick overhang of less than 1 1/8 inches is ok, but still indicative of sloppy work. Whoever did the form work for the foundation prior to the pour did not include enough room for a proper brick ledge.

    The best thing to do is have an independent structural engineer or qualified home inspector take a look at it for you. They will know if the brick overhang meets local building codes and can look for other problems as well.

    • George Runkle
    • February 23, 2009

    Very good points for choosing an engineer. I am an engineer in this business and I’d like to point out something else that might help. I give my clients a list of foundation repair companies, and I found one that I hadn’t worked with, so I met with them. I was suitably impressed, and was going to add them to my list.

    Then I get a call from them – they were adding me to their “partner program”, where I would get $100 for the first referral I sent to them, and a percentage of the job for every referral after that. Considering my fee, and the cost of repairs, the “referral fee” could be easily higher than the fee I charge my clients. So, the kickback (which is what it is) would be something to have me unethically direct clients to that company, and diagnose repairs where they aren’t needed to increase my “referral fee”.

    This type of thing is certainly unethical, and maybe illegal. Before you hire an engineer, make him or her put IN WRITING that he or she does not accept kickbacks, referral fees, or any other significant compensation for work sent to foundation repair companies. You don’t want the engineer coming up with non-existent problems to make more money at your expense.


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