In recent Insights articles, we’ve discussed the important role a structural engineer’s engineering report plays in assessing you home’s foundation and identifying risks and breakdowns in a home’s structural integrity. In cases where foundation problems are identified, the structural engineer will recommend a remediation plan for your home’s foundation repair. There are many factors that go into the foundation repair plan, but from a high level, there are two typical types of foundation repair: pier and beam foundation repairs and concrete slab leveling (or slabjacking). Here’s a look into each process from a structural engineer’s perspective.

Home foundations are one of two types: pier and beam foundations or concrete slab foundations.

Pier and Beam Foundation Repair

Many older homes have pier and beam foundations, but age doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t as structurally sound as modern homes. In fact, much of your home’s structural integrity relies on the geology and composition of the soil surrounding and beneath it.

In most cases where pier and beam foundation repair is required, the structural engineer will note specific wood members that are damaged or are not functioning as intended. This is usually caused by various issues including instability due to plumbing leaks, water erosion, shrinking soils or other issues that can cause rotting or failed wood members (if your home is a pier and beam structure). Depending on the nature of the damage, a pier and beam foundation repair plan can be very costly, so it’s very important to contact a structural engineer as soon as you notice signs of foundation problems.

Concrete Slab Leveling

Depending on how significant your foundation problems are, concrete leveling may be a viable remediation strategy. In this case, a structural engineer’s report will advise a foundation repair professional on where to install support piers when conducting the concrete leveling. In this identified area, the foundation slab is supported by a concrete or steel pressed pier or a poured concrete pier. Pressed piers are literally pressed into the ground using the weight of the house until the pier system rests on a load bearing stratum of soil and then the house is set upon the piers. Poured piers are created by drilling out a deep long void in the ground, adding rebar, and then a concrete mixture is poured around the rebar to fill the voids (and then the foundation is set upon the cured pier system.

If you’ve recently received a recommendation for foundation report, or if you’ve noticed signs of foundation problems, contact the structural engineers at Crosstown Engineering for a home foundation inspection or engineering report today.