I live in the Dallas, Texas area where we are bombarded with advertising from foundation repair companies. Some of the ads are more soft sell than others but it seems they would all love to come out, shake your hand, ask how the kids are and give your concrete slab-on-ground foundation a free no-obligation inspection. Some companies specialize in one repair method or another, usually meaning pressed concrete piles or steel piers. Other contractors generalize by offering all types of piers. Most say they will pack up the contracts and slowly back away if they think your foundation is fine.
So a coupon from one of these contractors arrives the other day offering $500 off the total cost of a foundation repair job. So far so good. Now comes the fine print. The discount is only good if you need 15 or more piers and must be taken the same day as the inspection. No pressure there, right? What’s a homeowner to do?
If you have the classic signs of a slab foundation that may need some leveling, things like windows and doors that stick, cracks in the walls inside and out, or floors that seem to slope, here is a prudent course of action:
- Spend a few hundred dollars for a foundation inspection by an independent structural engineer. Look for one that has plenty of experience with slab foundations.
- Ask the engineer if he or she has any financial ties to any contractor or lender. They should not. The engineer may recommend certain contractors based on professional opinion of their methods of repair and reputation for good work, but never on money.
- The inspection report from the engineer will detail how many piers you may need and of what type. Steel, drilled bell-bottoms, and pressed piles are the most common.
- Armed with that information, get bids from at least three contractors.
If the idea of a $500 discount still swirls in your brain you could have that contractor come out last. You’ll have much more information with which to make your decision and you’ll know if the discount is meaningful or a marketing ploy.