Before You Remodel Your Home – Check the Foundation
Whether you decided to remodel your Houston home because it was damaged by flooding or because you want to upgrade it so that it better meets your needs and wants, it’s advisable to have a foundation inspection performed before you get started on your renovation plans.
While remodeling your home before repairing your foundation is possible, specialists advise against this. That’s because fixing structural problems before starting your home renovation could save you from having to repair what has already been renovated. If your home has foundation problems you don’t know about, or you choose to repair your foundation after completing your remodeling project, you might need to redo renovation work.
Besides the fact that specific signs of foundation issues may become more apparent as time goes by, foundation repair often requires lifting the home and installing pile guard piers and/or driven concrete piers. Lifting the home may cause hairline cracks to appear in walls, floors, and ceilings. If left unattended, these cracks can grow larger and deeper, eventually leading to structural problems within your home.
Addressing Foundation Repairs the Right Way
Many homeowners wrongly assume that anyone could perform foundation repairs. To help you understand why foundation repairs should be left to professionals, the following points present the importance of these types of repairs. In general, foundation repairs focus on fixing:
The Underlying Causes of Cracks
Before attempting to repair any cracks, foundation repair technicians determine whether the cracks in the foundation, slab, walls, floors and/or ceilings are dangerous or not. Hairline vertical cracks are typically the result of drying shrinkage and normal settling, which are quite common in new construction. Although these cracks don’t pose a threat to the structural integrity of your home, they may allow moisture, rainwater, and insects to enter. To prevent water damage and pest infestations, professionals choose the most appropriate repair products, such as epoxy compounds, joint compounds, grout, latex patching materials, carbon fiber, or mortar mixes, based on the type of building materials used in your home.
Deeper and/or wider cracks that run horizontally or diagonally indicate a more serious problem, which is commonly caused by foundation failure. Depending on the underlying causes of the failure, foundation repair specialists could use a combination of different underpinning methods, which will allow them to jack up your foundation back to its original position, strengthen it, and stabilize it there. Once your foundation is level again, one or more of the aforementioned solutions are typically used to repair all the cracks and gaps in the foundation, slab, floors, and walls, so your home will be strong enough again to stand the test of time.
Adequately addressing the underlying causes of the differential settlement requires plenty of knowledge and experience. Only a contractor specializing in foundation settlement problems, with a strong engineering background, has the technical understanding necessary in order to correctly identify differential settlement and implement the most appropriate repair options that will permanently and properly fix your foundation. Similar to other foundation problems, differential settlement can be fixed by installing pile guard piers and/or driven concrete piers underneath your foundation and driving them hydraulically into the soil until the entire structure lifts, which is commonly known as “point of refusal”. Pile guard piers and driven concrete piers provide a suitable load-bearing structure for your foundation to be lifted back to its proper alignment and held securely in place.
In Houston’s areas that are prone to flooding, the first step in many remodeling projects is to lift the home above the BFE in order to prevent potential flood damage in the future. Home elevation is done by tunneling under your home and using hydraulic jacks to raise it. The hydraulic jacks can also be installed in the crawlspace if your home has such a space. Once your home is lifted, pile guard piers and/or driven concrete piers are placed under the home’s frame or slab and pushed into the ground to the point of refusal. As your home is lifted to reach the recommended or desired BFE, temporary supports are placed under it to ensure stability until the existing foundation is extended or a new foundation is built underneath.
When it comes to home remodeling projects, knowing what to expect and what to look for is half the battle. The other half is addressing foundation problems before starting your home renovation.
Identifying any signs of foundation failure or water damage under the slab during renovation work could prevent the contractor from completing your home renovation on time. Sometimes, soil that expands and contracts repeatedly underneath a Houston home could cause the foundation to crack or buckle. Other times, the type of concrete used in the foundations of older Houston homes may begin to crumble. As well, older properties might have grading issues, which negatively impact the drainage around homes and lead to water damage. Although all these problems can be corrected, they might take several weeks or even months to fix. This essentially means that you’ll need to interrupt your remodeling project and take care of all the issues that may affect the structural integrity before you can continue your renovation.
To prevent foundation problems from interfering with your remodeling project, it’s better to have a foundation repair specialist inspect your foundation before you start planning your renovation. Regardless of the foundation problems found, only a professional contractor will know how to fix your foundation to ensure the safety and longevity of your home. For detailed information about the foundation repair methods that we use at Allied Foundation, please get in touch with our experienced professionals!