Recent Rain Causes Little Flags to Sprout

We just got back home from a short vacation to Ruidoso, NM. It rained some four inches while we were away, a very good thing in view of the ongoing drought in our part of the world. Pulling into the driveway we noticed little wire and plastic flags in a line from the street to the front fence.

In the back yard there was orange paint on the ground between the cable and phone boxes on the side of the house and the tree where one of the root barriers will soon be installed. (more…)

Continue Reading

Texas a Possible Leader in Foundation Repair – Dubious Honor

Dr. Harry Williams, an associate geology professor at the University of North Texas says that too many new homes in the area are being built on soils that are poorly suited for housing development because of the high expansive clay content of the land.

Texas could become “the possible leader in foundation repair.”

Here’s a link to theĀ  article:


Continue Reading

Keeping Tree Roots Away From The Foundation

We had a bid from Tom the Contractor to install four root barriers to stop the underground tentacles of nearby trees from sucking moisture out from under our concrete slab foundation. We accepted his proposal and are tentatively scheduled to have the work done next week.

His crew will also dig out a row of Nellie R. Stevens holly bushes that grow right next to the house foundation along the west side.

You may recall that whether the hollies should be removed or not is a point of disagreement between the Mike the Engineer who inspected the foundation and this contractor. (more…)

Continue Reading

Can We See the Foundation Inspection Report?

Oh, all right. I had my concrete slab foundation inspected last month by a structural engineer. The resulting report has drawings, measurements, recommendations and enough engineer talk to make me wish I had a pocket protector and white tape on my glasses. While we are not in danger of the roof falling in about our heads there is work to be done.

I’ve put a link the inspection report on this page which is also listed in the ‘Pages” menu to your left. The report is of course specific to my humble dwelling alone but should give you an idea of what an engineer’s foundation inspection report covers. Enjoy the savory numbers and tasty diagrams.

Continue Reading

Protecting the Foundation with Root Barriers

The inspection I had done on my concrete foundation calls for one root barrier to go between the slab and one live oak tree that is 12 feet from a corner of the home. One of the contractors I called for bids thinks I should have four root barriers. Two of them for other trees on my lot and one to protect the foundation from a neighbor’s tree.

One of the trees is in the front yard, is pretty big, and frankly I’m surprised that Mike The Engineer who did the inspection wasn’t concerned about it. It is a maple, and he doesn’t think the roots of that species of tree are all that invasive. Tom The Contractor thinks they are.

Another point of disagreement is the row of hollies along the west side of the house. They can get huge. I have to trim them back at least twice a year. For reasons I can’t recall but were most likely based on laziness, I let them go for a couple years without a “haircut.” They grew a good twelve feet tall and were peeking over the roof line before I delivered their next whacking. Mike The Engineer said if they were red-tipped phontinias they would have to go, but hollies are ok. Tom The Contractor says both types of shrubs are bad for foundations because they can draw enough moisture from under the slab to contribute to settling.

The biggest point of disagreement between these two professionals is whether or not I need underpinning, or piers, installed. Tom The Contractor, who sells and installs piers, doesn’t think I need them. He thinks by cutting all roots headed under the slab, installing four root barriers, removing the row of hollies next to the house and installing a good quality soaker hose system he can get enough water back into the clay soils under the slab to reverse the settling and get some lift.

Mike The Engineer also thinks the foundation will benefit from a root barrier and soaker hoses and suggests waiting a year after installing those items to see if there won’t be some lift. But his report calls for piers after that. 21 of them. Many U.S. dollars.

So I’ve had two experienced professionals come out and look at the foundation and have two different opinions on what to do, both based on “I’ve been doing this for many moons and I know what’s best.”

I emailed the engineer’s inspection report to another foundation repair contractor for a bid on the root barrier a week ago, but haven’t heard back. I guess they are busy. Stay tuned.

Continue Reading