Finding a crack in your foundation is not something you should take lightly. Depending on the severity of the crack and where it’s located, repairing it could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars or more.
Before you panic and take on a second job to pay for a foundation repair, know that many foundation repairs are not as involved or expensive as they might seem to the untrained eye. However, you shouldn’t delay in having a contractor come to take a look and see what you have going on.
Before you make any phone calls, check out this guide to learn about the different kinds of foundation repairs, how much they cost, and how to identify signs of more serious foundation issues.
What is Foundation Repair?
Foundation repair is a catch-all term for work done on your home’s foundation, the concrete base on which your house sits. Your foundation can experience damage over time from pooling water and shifting soil, and it’s common for older homes to have minor cracks. Some degree of foundation wear is to be expected, but large cracks, leaks, and structural failures in other parts of your home are all signs that your foundation needs some attention.
Small problems like minor cracks are easy to fix and typically don’t cost much, while larger problems can cost several thousand dollars to repair. Unfortunately, small foundation problems have a way of becoming big ones, and relatively minor issues like cracks can sometimes be a sign of deeper underlying issues.
Why Foundation Repair is Important?
Your home’s foundation provides support for all the other structures in your house. A damaged foundation can cause a slew of expensive and dangerous problems, such as cracked walls, sagging ceilings, sloped floors, and plumbing issues, including burst pipes. Even though foundation repairs can be expensive, the costs pale in comparison to what you’ll have to spend in the future if you let things get worse.
When is Foundation Repair Necessary?
Foundation repair is necessary as soon as you notice a major problem. Foundation issues have a tendency to snowball and get worse with time, and you don’t want to let your small, easily manageable problem become a huge issue by ignoring it.
The signs to look out for depend on what kind of foundation problem you have, but the most common signs are cracks in the foundation floor, cracks in foundation walls, and water in the basement or crawlspace. Signs of a worsening foundation problem include crumbling concrete due to water damage, mold formation, increased indoor humidity, and gaps around your doors and windows.
In the most extreme cases, you might also experience visibly sagging floors, sloping door frames, visibly bowed walls, and spaces between your walls and ceilings or floors. These problems are often serious and generally require immediate attention from a professional foundation repair expert.
Common Types of Foundation Repairs
What kind of foundation repair you need depends on what’s causing your issue and the severity of the problem. The table below provides a quick summary of the most common foundation repair methods.
|Foundation Repair Type||The Problem it Solves|
|Foundation Underpinning/Piering||Settling and sinking foundation|
|Foundation Jacking||Settling, whether or not it’s caused by shifting soil|
|Foundation Stabilization||Large foundation shifts due to pressure from soil|
|Foundation Sealing||Water damage or water intrusion|
Underpinning or piering is the most expensive and involved foundation repair, but it offers the best long-term prospects. The repair starts with excavation around your home’s foundation before contractors install hydraulic piers to raise and support your foundation. Piers are expensive but are usually a permanent solution to foundation issues, even if the ground underneath your home continues to shift and settle.
Foundation jacking — also called mudjacking, slabjacking, or leveling — is a less robust solution than piering, but it’s also considerably less expensive. Instead of installing hydraulic lifts to support your foundation, technicians pump a special mixture of grout and/or polyurethane underneath your house to raise and support it. The technique works well but is not a permanent solution, and your foundation will need further repairs if the soil continues to settle and shift.
Unlike the previous two repair techniques, which support your foundation from below, foundation stabilization is used to fix a shifting foundation by reinforcing it directly. Foundation stabilization uses either steel or carbon fiber mesh to stabilize your foundation and support your home’s walls. It is usually a rather expensive type of foundation repair but yields excellent results and is sometimes the only solution available.
If your foundation is suffering from water damage, your contractor may recommend sealing it with a waterproofing agent. Water damage to your foundation is often caused by poor drainage solutions, so sealing is only advised after you fix the root cause.
Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause water to pool near your home’s foundation, causing damage over time. Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve by keeping your gutters clear and installing gutter guards.
If you suspect that your yard has a drainage problem, you might have to work with a professional landscaper to redesign the layout of the ground around your home and install a drainage system. You want a slight gradient to the soil away from the base of your home to prevent pooling and encourage water to flow away from your foundation.
You should also consult an experienced landscaper if your home was built on an unstable type of soil like expansive clay. This is common in the southern United States and is especially common in Texas.
Foundation Repair Cost Breakdown & Guide
Foundation solutions can cost as little as a few hundred dollars for filling small cracks that are aesthetic issues only up to several thousand dollars for more extensive fixes like hydraulic piering or steel stabilization. The following table summarizes the cost for the most common types of foundation repairs.
|Foundation Repair Type||Average Cost|
|Foundation Underpinning/Piering||$1,000 to $3,000 per pier|
|Foundation Jacking||$600 to $2,000|
|Foundation Stabilization||$5,000 to $10,000|
|Foundation Sealing||$2,000 to $6,000|
Underpinning or piering usually costs between $1,000 and $3,000 per pier, with an average home needing about ten piers. A contractor’s quote for foundation underpinning can vary depending on how difficult the project will be. The price they quote you includes the costs of excavating, raising the house if necessary, and installing the piers.
Foundation jacking is far more affordable than underpinning, but it doesn’t offer the same long-term assurances. Mudjacking your home will only run you a few hundred dollars, but it won’t save you from future repairs if your foundation problems are caused by shifting soil. It can be the right choice in some cases but is also often little more than a band-aid to buy you time before you need a more involved repair.
Stabilization is another expensive type of foundation repair that will cost between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on how much damage you have. The cost of foundation stabilization depends on what materials your contractor decides to use. Steel is more resilient than carbon fiber, but it also costs more. Experienced contractors will usually recommend using one material over the other, so you usually won’t have a choice.
In severe cases, your contractor might also recommend installing vertical supports to take pressure off of a load-bearing wall. This increases the cost of the project but also leads to better results. Some cases will also require shear panels to protect your walls from future shifts once they’re realigned.
Sealing your foundation is important for protecting it from water damage and costs between $2,000 and $6,000 on average. If your home has poor drainage, you should probably consider re-grading the ground around your foundation before having your foundation sealed. Waterproofing your foundation is a good idea, but only if it won’t be exposed to excess moisture from pooling.
Many foundation companies also offer additional water protection for basements and crawl spaces in the form of crawl space encapsulation, crawl space repairs, and basement waterproofing. If you live in a moisture-rich climate and need your foundation sealed, chances are your crawl space also needs protection.
Is Foundation Repair Worth It?
Foundation repair is always worth it, even if you need expensive work done. Leaving a foundation problem to get worse will almost always come back to bite you in the long run. If you think the cost of foundation repair is too high, consider that the cost of repairing it later, along with fixing whatever structural problems you have from ignoring your foundation, will be quite a bit higher in most cases.
Regardless of financial considerations, foundation repair is worth it from a safety standpoint. Foundation issues can cause real safety hazards like collapsing ceilings, unstable walls, and burst pipes. Any of these problems could endanger you and your family, and fixing them usually requires living elsewhere while the work is done.
DIY Foundation Repair or Hire a Professional?
Foundation repair is not something you want to mess around with if you don’t have the necessary years of experience working on concrete foundations professionally. Most people can handle minor foundation crack repairs but should call a professional for anything larger. Additionally, it’s hard to know whether the small cracks you see are indicative of a larger structural problem, so even if you plan to fill them yourself, it’s worth having a foundation expert come take a look.
The safest bet is to have a structural engineer or licensed contractor with foundation experience inspect your foundation and give you their assessment. Unfortunately, structural reports from a structural engineer can cost several hundred dollars, although the cost is definitely worth it for peace of mind. Some engineers will also be able to inspect the soil around your home to look for signs of shifting that might cause foundation trouble in the future.
How to Find a Foundation Repair Professional?
If you decide to hire a professional foundation repair expert, make sure to do your homework. The best way to find someone to repair your foundation is to ask your friends and family members for recommendations. If you don’t know anyone who has needed a foundation repair, start by reading as many online reviews as you can find. Don’t place too much weight on any individual review, but pay attention to trends across reviews.
Once you have a shortlist of candidates, you should schedule quotes with the top two or three foundation repair companies on your list. Getting multiple opinions is important since foundation repair is a tricky subject, and the assessments you receive will vary slightly depending on the experience of the team that comes to perform your foundation inspection. Most companies offer free inspections, so you don’t have to worry about spending a bunch of money while you shop around.
If you can’t get recommendations from a trusted friend and aren’t happy with the foundation repair contractors you found online, try reaching out to anyone who was worked on your home in the past, even if they worked on something completely unrelated to foundations. Most contractors are happy to give you recommendations and will often know someone who works on foundations even if they work don’t offer foundation repair services.
Frequently Asked Questions
How expensive is foundation repair?
Foundation repairs can cost as little as $300 to $800 or as much as $20,000 to $30,000, depending on the type and severity of the foundation damage you have. In extreme circumstances, total foundation replacements can cost $70,000 or more, depending on the size of your home and the extent of the damage.
Does foundation repair affect resale?
Yes, but probably not how you expect it to. Most homeowners think that a repaired foundation will lower the value of their home, but the opposite is often true. Selling a home with a damaged foundation will often lower its value by as much as 20 to 25%, but a foundation repair from a licensed contractor doesn’t have a significant effect on your home’s resale value. In fact, it will actually increase your home’s value compared to leaving the foundation unrepaired.
What are the signs of foundation problems?
The most obvious signs of foundation problems are cracks in your foundation or foundation walls. Other signs include water in your basement or crawl space, bowed walls, doors and windows that are hard to open, cracks in ceilings or floors, cracks in basement walls, and sagging floors or ceilings.
How can I pay for foundation repair?
Foundation repairs are more expensive than many homeowners can afford. Concrete lifting services are expensive, and installing steel piers or carbon fiber mesh stabilization isn’t cheap either. Luckily, most foundation companies offer financing options for more expensive repairs, making it easy to foot the bill without jeopardizing your home’s safety and resale value by forcing you to choose a cheaper, less effective option.
Do I need a warranty on a foundation repair?
Yes, you should choose a company that provides a lifetime warranty covering its foundation repairs. Luckily, this is the industry standard, so you shouldn’t have to work to find a company that offers a lifetime foundation warranty.