Foundation Inspection Experts in Houston
Foundation Inspections for Your Houston Home
Know the Symptoms of Foundation Movement
Foundations in Houston, Texas are generally either a slab foundation or a pier-and-beam foundation. Many of the signs of foundation movement are common to both; however, pier and beam foundations have some unique issues that would not occur with a slab foundation.
Signs of Problems with Slab Foundations
A high percentage of Houston, TX homes are built on a concrete slab foundation. A concrete slab is simpler in design and construction than a pier-and-beam foundation. Unfortunately, concrete slab foundations are not exempt from developing structural issues.
Cracks are a common sign that your foundation may have shifted or moved. These can be cracks in drywall on the walls or ceiling, cracking or separation of exterior brick, or cracks running across several tiles on your floors. Additional signs of potential foundation movement are doors that stick or swing open on their own, separations of exterior trim around garage doors or windows, or bulges in the concrete foundation.
Signs of Problems with Pier-and-Beam Foundations
Many older homes in Texas and some newer ones in Houston have foundations that sit on individual piers rather than a concrete slab. The foundation has additional reinforcement through structural wood beams. The piers hold your building up off the ground and leave a crawlspace underneath. All the symptoms of foundation issues listed above for concrete slab foundations also apply to pier-and-beam foundations.
Because a pier-and-beam foundation includes a crawlspace and wood in its construction, some of their foundation issues aren’t a concern for concrete slab foundations. Signs of foundation issues in pier-and-beam foundations are often related to moisture, like standing water around the exterior or in the crawlspace. A bounce in your floors that wasn’t there previously is another. The wood construction in a pier-and-beam foundation can crack, twist, or deteriorate over time and is also susceptible to damage from termites.
If you notice these symptoms, it may be time to have a structural engineer perform a foundation inspection. Foundation inspectors at Crosstown Engineering go above and beyond what many other inspectors may offer, especially when it comes to pier-and-beam. We will crawl through your entire crawlspace to visually inspect every pier and beam we can. It’s the only way to give a thorough report.
When Should You Have a Foundation Inspection?
Home Inspectors Aren’t Qualified for Foundation Inspections
A typical home inspection will include a visual assessment of the foundation. That is very different from a true foundation inspection. At Crosstown Engineering, we have home inspectors and foundation inspection experts. Our home inspectors are trained to look for signs of foundation problems. Our foundation inspection experts are all structural engineers. They are often alerted to potential problems after a home inspection. That’s when an engineer can take the inspection to the next level. That is just one situation where a foundation inspection may be requested. Here are a few more:
- While a new home is being built to verify the foundation is constructed correctly.
- At the mortgage company’s request prior to a home loan.
- On homes near the end of a 10-year builder warranty.
- Prior to creating an engineered repair plan for permit purposes.
- Following a foundation repair to confirm that repairs were completed as required.
Hiring a foundation repair contractor without having an inspection completed by a licensed structural engineer is not a risk you don’t want to take. A foundation inspection by a third-party, who is also an engineer, can protect you from paying for repairs that may not be necessary or may fail again in the future.
What Causes Foundation Problems
Understanding the Contributing Factors
In Houston, Texas, foundation problems, i.e., movement of your foundation, are usually connected to the type of soil your foundation is sitting on and how that soil interacts with changes in moisture content. Occasionally, the problem stems from a faulty foundation design or incorrect construction of the foundation. Improper compaction of fill soil or building on earth with a high potential for vertical rise (PVR) can also affect the stability of your foundation.
Water from plumbing leaks, roof gutters, or poor drainage can saturate the soil under and around your foundation, creating unexpected pressure against the foundation. The changes in moisture content in the soil from seasonal changes can also affect your foundation.
Hiring the Right Foundation Inspection Firm in Houston
Advantages of a Third-Party Foundation Inspection
Just because a business offers foundation inspections, it doesn’t mean that they have a structural engineer doing the inspection. Foundation repair contractors often advertise foundation inspection services even though they do not have the training or licensing of a structural engineer. This is not illegal in Texas, but does raise serious concerns.
- No special training or licensing is required of foundation repair contractors in Texas. This leaves their inspection qualifications in question. A structural engineer has to go through extensive training, a licensing process, and ongoing education to maintain their licensing. Which do you think is better qualified for foundation inspections?
- Having a third-party doing your foundation inspection instead of your foundation repair contractor provides accountability and oversight on behalf of the property owner.
We also recommend having a structural engineer do another foundation inspection after repairs are finished. This gives you the extra peace of mind that the repairs were completed correctly.
Foundation Repair Contractors
What You Need to Know Before Hiring
First of all, Crosstown Engineering does not do foundation repair, but we do inspect their work. That means that we are very aware of the differences between the performance quality of the contractors operating in the Houston area. Here are a few things you need to know before hiring a foundation repair company.
- No license or training is required in Texas for an individual to perform foundation repair.
- Foundation repair performed without the oversight of a structural engineer is more likely to fail again in the future.
- Longevity is an important factor in choosing a foundation repair contractor. Several contractors offer a “Lifetime Warranty” of their work. That warranty has no value if the contractor goes out of business in a year or two.
- Beware of repair bids that are a lot lower than the competition. It may be a sign that the business is in financial trouble and unlikely to be around much longer.
Crosstown Engineering keeps track of the foundation repair contractors in the area that operate with integrity. We’re always happy to share that list of contractors with our clients.
Crosstown Engineering – Foundation Inspection Experts
Serving Houston Property Owners
We have the training and experience you would expect in foundation inspection experts. Your foundation is too important to trust just anyone. Always hire a structural engineer for a foundation inspection. And when you do, please consider Crosstown Engineering.
Call us now at Crosstown Engineering to schedule your foundation inspection.