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How much does foundation repair cost?

Last Updated Jul 21, 2017 · Written by Richard Kempthorne


You can put some renovations off until next year. Others, like foundation repairs, just can't wait. How much does foundation repair cost? Are there any ways you can save money on foundation repairs without sacrificing quality?

In this article you will discover:

  1. When will know you need foundation repairs
  2. How much does foundation repair cost?
  3. Foundation problems
  4. Structural reports
  5. Piering
  6. Slabjacking


top down view of workers planning a new foundation

When do I Know I Need Foundation Repairs?

Foundation problems can occur fairly frequently. Building structures are heavy by nature and when buildings  are structured upon soil that has a weak load bearing consistency you will often discover that you  have a problem with foundation settlement.

Soil compresses (or settles as it is known in the industry) due to a number of reasons. For example the type of soil found around the  base of the house, levels of moisture changing and how soil is replaced after construction can all contribute to soil compression.

Settlement can cause some major structural issues for your home.

The structural integrity of a building depends on its foundations.  Structural engineers know how to build the most stable foundations for all types of soil and land conditions. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about the natural interaction between the weather and soil. Back in 2005, Australians had to shell out $350 million dollars in home repairs because the drought made the soil dry out and cause house foundations to shift. When heavy rains come, the soil expands and shifts again.

In 2005, alarm bells went off when homeowners started noticing cracks appearing in their walls. These weren't shoddily built homes, either. In fact, the most damage occurred in double brick homes in prestigious suburbs. The homes were built on clay soil, which expands and contracts more readily than other types of soil.

illustration of a crack in the wall of a basement with foundation damage

Exterior cracks are not likely to appear in timber framed homes with cladding that is not rigid

like brick, but there are other telltale signs that you may need foundation repairs:

  • Are windows sticking when you try to open them?
  • Is a door hard to open because it is out of square with the door frame?
  • Are cracks appearing on your interior walls?

There may be other reasons why these things happen, but often they are indications that the foundation is sinking on one side of the house and the house is no longer plumb and square.

It is possible to repair the concrete foundations of your home without the need to rip it all out and start again.

If you discover that your home’s foundations are damaged it is advisable to get repairs done as soon as possible.  As time passes the damage is liable to continue to get worse.

It is also a  good idea to bear in mind this general rule; The longer you take to fix the damage the worse the damage is likely to be.

Workman uses a wheelbarrow while working on a foundation

In addition you should also consider that even if you manage to eventually get the foundation repaired there is still a chance further damage to other parts of the house will also have occurred creating yet more time and expense to sort out.

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?*

It is hard to exactly pin point costs for foundations due to so many factors that can influence the total.

Variables that can make an impact to the cost of your foundation repairs include the cause of the foundations damage, how hard it is to gain access to the area where the foundation has failed and the type of repairs used to fix the problem.

Two of the most common methods to deal with sunken home foundations are

  • Piering
  • Slabjacking

Foundation settlement can lead to major structural problems within your home. There are ways to repair a concrete foundation without having to tear it out and start from scratch. Repairing a foundation can be a costly job, but the better educated you are about types of foundations and how best to repair your foundation, the better you can work with your contractor to find a solution you can afford.

With major foundation repairs involving hydraulic piers costing $10,000 or more, and minor cracks costing as low as $500, most homeowners will pay around $3,969 to repair foundation issues.

Here are a few things that can influence the cost of a foundation repair.

Foundation Problems

Foundations that have been built on expansive clay, compressible or improperly compacted fill soils, or have been poorly maintained can have serious damage as the foundation settles and moves. If you see signs of foundation problems, things like cracks in walls or doors that won't close properly, it is important to talk to a professional right away. Damaged foundations that are not repaired quickly can lead not only to irreparable damage, but to structures that are unsafe. The longer you wait, the worse the damage can get and the more costly it is to repair.

The rule of thumb when you see any foundation issue: the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Even if you get the foundation itself repaired, there may be damage to the inside of your home due to waiting too long that will then also require expensive repair. Often In these cases, much of that extra repair cost could be avoided by acting more quickly.

Black and white illustration of foundation repairs being carried out by tradesmen

Structural Reports

If you see that there are foundation issues, it is worth it to spend the money for a report from a structural engineer. A structural engineer has no vested interest in selling you a solution to your problem and so you will most likely get an unbiased opinion as t the best solution for fixing your problem. If you go straight to a repair professional they may want to sell you the solution that seems right for them, rather than right for you. It is better to come to a repair pro, with your structural report in hand and ask them the cost of doing that particular solution.

Below are methods used to address foundational issues.

Piering

Piering involves digging deep into the earth to solidify the pier.  It is then positioned under the foundation and hydraulic lifts are used to raise the foundation into it’s correct position. It is also ensures that it is stabalised for the future.  You will require multiple piers to be placed at the various sub foundation points for it to work correctly.  

In general piering is the more expensive of the methods due to the excavation and the tools involved however it is also considered a permanent solution that can not be altered by further changes in the earth surrounding the house or the structure.

Piering Cost -

Foundation Repair Cost Breakdown:

  • $300-$1,500 Structural engineer
  • $500-$3,000 Ground assessment
  • $1,000-$2,500 to remove tree roots etc.
  • $1,340 per pier typically 8-10 piers are required for a an average home.

Slabjacking

The process of Slabjacking is exactly like it sounds like - creating a slab and jacking it up underneath the foundation.

A grout mix is injected into the area under the foundation which causes it to lift back up into it’s correct position.  It is an effective method but may not be suitable if changes in the structure or the surrounding earth have occurred.

Approx. $150.00 is required  per drill hole, or 33% of the cost to replace the concrete slab.

Underpinning is the process of laying a new foundation under an existing foundation in order to reinforce or support it. Underpinning can cost anywhere between a few thousand dollars to $100,000 or more, depending on the severity of the problem.

It is impossible for a casual observer to know how much underpinning is needed or how much it is going to cost. If you want to find out how much your foundation repair is going to cost, you have two options:

  • Have a structural engineer inspect your house. This can cost $800 or more, but will be an independent report. They will not quote for doing the repairs, but you will know what needs to be done.

  • Get quotes directly from underpinning experts. They may also have to hire structural engineers to determine the best course of action and you will be charged for the report.

Low angle shot of a newly laid foundation

Although a structural engineer will cost money, if the problem is severe, they can save you money in the long run because you will know what repairs need to be carried out. When you get quotes for underpinning, you can then make an informed decision.

Today, underpinning does not necessarily have to be as expensive as it was in the past. Underpinning professionals have new techniques at their disposal and may be able to inject a resin into the soil to stabilise it. On the other hand, if the problem is a minor one, such as a sinking foundation in a corner of the house, a concreter may be able to repair your foundation more cheaply.

Get quotes for foundation repairs from services that specialise in underpinning. There is no sense spending thousands of dollars on a stop-gap repair that will end up costing more in the future if the underlying cause of the problem is not detected and addressed early.

 

*Cost and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.

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