Do Not Sign That Foundation Repair Contract Until You Know The Facts

Home repairs are usually confusing with so much information and claims. Foundation repair is a fundamental home repair job and many of the common repair methods fail to meet minimum standards.

Martin Dawson always educates homeowners when he makes a visit for an inspection. He feels they deserve to know the facts about the various foundation repair methods and their differences. Once they understand the quality of the different methods they usually pay a little more for high quality vs. low quality. Martin Dawson is the owner of Dawson Foundation Repair in Sugar Land, Texas. Most people want to maintain their homes for the long term and that means they want a permanent and proven foundation repair job. When people buy low quality foundation repair to save 10% or 20% they usually don’t understand the quality differences in the repair methods.

Comparison of Pushed Piles and Bell Bottom Pier
Comparison of Pushed Pile and Bell Bottom Pier

Dawson Foundation Repair has been supporting and re-leveling commercial and residential foundations in major cities in Texas for more than 37 years. Their primary markets are Houston and Sugar Land because of the large number of failing slab foundations.

Common Signs of Foundation Issues / Problems

  • Cracks in the interior walls
  • Cracks in the exterior brick walls
  • Cracks in tile floors
  • Doors and Windows that stick or do not close properly
  • Uneven floors
  • Fireplace is pulling away from house
  • Gaps around exterior window frames or doors

The repair method used by Mr. Dawson’s company is the Bell Bottom Pier repair method. It is an enhancement of the Drilled Pier method in that the bottom of the drilled pier is hollowed-out in the  shape of a bell.  This design gives the bottom or footprint of the Bell Bottom Pier a greater surface area for more stability, more weight bearing capacity, and more resistance to soil movement called uplift. This repair method requires more skill, more concrete, more steel rebar, and more time and is usually more expensive than lower priced, lower quality foundation repair methods.

Tile floors cracked after soil movement damaged home's concrete slab foundation
Tile Floor Cracked from Soil Movement that has Damaged Slab Foundation

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?

There are a number of variables that determine the cost of a home owner’s foundation repair job. First is the degree of foundation failure. Sometimes portions of a concrete slab have cracked and settled (fallen) 3 or 4 or more inches. Second, has a portion of the foundation failed or does the entire foundation need new support structures. Third, what method of repair will be selected. But in general terms most foundation repair jobs in Sugar Land are between $15,000 and $30,000.

“There are 3 quality factors we try to impress upon the homeowner and they are permanency, strength, and the factor of safety,” stated Mr. Dawson. Using his website, comparison handouts, and engineering studies Mr. Dawson impresses upon home owners that there are great quality differences among the various repair methods. “The homeowner should know that the cheaper foundation repair systems are basically temporary. And useless. Those are the words used by the structural engineers at A-1 Engineering on their website to describe the most common foundation repair method in Texas, the Pressed Piling method,” he stated.

Permanency is the fact that the Bell Bottom Pier repair method for slab foundations will last for the lifetime of the building structure. The individual piers are built as a single structure of concrete and steel rebar. The engineering term is monolithic. Monolithic structures are far stronger than stacking concrete cylinders one on top of another. The vast majority of structural engineers are well aware of the permanency factor and they have written about it.

Exterior Brick Cracks
Soil Movement Has Cracked The Slab Foundation And Exterior Brick Wall

Strength is an important factor because every year there are vertical, horizontal, and diagonal forces of soil movement that can destroy an underground support system stated Mr. Dawson. He sees what clay soils in Sugar Land can do to a concrete slab foundation every day. If the home builder uses a minimum of concrete and a minimum of steel rebar then it is highly likely that the home foundation will suffer significant movement, cracks, settlement, and upheaval over the years. When you install a support system under the original concrete slab foundation it will be subjected to the same forces of soil movement. Our Bell Bottom Piers have tremendous strength and weight bearing capacity. Mr. Dawson tells homeowners they can buy a temporary fix or they can pay a little more for a permanent solution.” 

The Factor of Safety is a measure of how much more weight an underground foundation repair system can support if necessary. As Mr. Dawson has pointed out, the temporary cheaper repair methods have a Factor of Safety of 1, which means their maximum ability to bear weight is limited to the weight of the home at the time of installation.  And over time the Factor of Safety of these repair methods will fall below 1, which means they can no longer support the full weight of the house. Bridges and highway overpasses are always built with a Factor of Safety greater than 1 because common sense demands that some safety be built into systems that may have to support more than their calculated maximum weight.  Therefore Dawson Foundation Repair uses Bell Bottom Piers, which have a Factor of Safety of 5 to 20 depending on soil condition, which is many times greater than the weight of the commercial building or residence.

Mr. Dawson has stated that Dawson Foundation Repair is the premier foundation repair company in Sugar Land, Houston and Texas. They are one of the very few contractors in Texas that install high quality Bell Bottom Piers.

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