Ask a Professional Engineer

Q: You’ve recently expanded your foundation inspection and foundation repair services in Dallas to serve the Ft. Worth area. Can you explain why these services are in such high demand in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area?

A: The Dallas and Ft. Worth areas are thriving cities, and as Forbes recently reported, they are two of the largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States. With this growth comes an increase in home and building construction, which is often done at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, building at this speed increases the chance that building structural issues may exist or develop over time.

While there are areas of the Dallas Metroplex that have stable ground, the majority of the Dallas / Ft. Worth region is vulnerable to soil issues, specifically due to the presence of a thick shallow layer of highly plastic clays. In this environment, the moisture conditions of the soil change during wet and dry times which can cause the soil to shrink and swell. This active layer of soil beneath the home may cause plumbing leaks, structural movement, foundation cracking and cosmetic damage.

Given these environment factors, our engineering firm wanted to expand into this area because we have a team of licensed professional engineers who are experienced in helping clients protect their home foundation. Beyond an initial home inspection, we are able to provide engineering reports to homeowners. These reports are not only useful for evaluating the home foundation, but can help homeowners obtain a foundation repair permit, which is helpful when trying to secure FHA loans or transferrable warranties.

Q: What are the top services offered by the Crosstown Engineering firm?

A: We offer an array of civil engineering services including: foundation inspection, sinkhole investigation, forensic inspection, permitting, reporting and drainage design.  We also offer traffic counting services, small structural design, soils reporting and erosion control services upon request.

Q: What is your favorite project or type of project and why?

A: My favorite part of any project is having the opportunity to work directly with homeowners, especially when we can help alleviate concerns they have regarding their home foundation. For the majority of our clients, their home is their most important asset — and one that they have worked hard to obtain. With our thorough home inspections, our team of professional engineers is able to help homeowners identify any foundation or structural issues and provide the appropriate recommendation needed to preserve the health of the home.

Q: When should you hire a professional engineer?

A: In my experience, the following are just a few scenarios where a professional engineer should be consulted.

  1. If an independent contractor claims that your foundation needs to be repaired, it’s advised that you seek a professional engineer’s recommendation. The primary reason to request this second opinion is because in Texas, contractors are not required to obtain licenses, and unfortunately an unlicensed contractor may leave a homeowner susceptible to substandard evaluations.
  2. If you install piers under your home, it’s imperative that you consult with an independent structural engineer.
  3. If any sort of physical structure or land feature needs to be altered or built, it’s advised that a structural engineer take the lead on the project.

Q: What advice would you give to a homeowner who isn’t sure if they need a foundation inspection?

A: The first thing I would suggest is for the homeowner to look for the telltale signs of foundation distress (examples below).  If any of these signs are present, a professional engineer’s report and home inspection can help determine if a foundation or sinkhole repair is required.

  • Cracked foundation
  • Sticking doors and windows
  • Sloping floors
  • Ceiling and wall cracks
  • Cracked tile
  • Sagging beams
  • Separated drywall
  • Sloping exterior facade grout lines
  • Cracked brick

Q: What is the top question you get from customers?

A: The most frequent question I get is, “What caused this crack in the building’s foundation?”  When homeowners identify a crack, it’s natural that they instantly want to know the source of the crack and how to stop it. A general answer is as follows:

First, and perhaps the most important aspect to consider when answering this questions is that the structural system of your home — hidden behind your walls, floors, and ceiling — is interconnected. For example, this means that if a crack surfaces on the west side of your house, the source of the crack may have actually occurred on the east side. How is this possible? Here a few plausible causes:

    • The crack may have surfaced because the contractor did not install the building material properly or used poor material
    • Thermal fluctuations may have caused the crack
    • The age of the home and materials may have aged and dried out

In order to accurately evaluate and repair the foundation crack, a structural engineer must conduct a home inspection.

Have additional question for the Crosstown Engineering firm? Contact us today.