Your home’s foundation is vital to the integrity of the whole house, and any problems should be addressed as soon as possible. A sinking or unstable foundation can cause a variety of problems throughout the home that will only worsen with time.
Unfortunately, most foundation repair jobs aren’t DIY projects, and they can be expensive. However, addressing foundation issues is well worth the money to protect your investment in your home. In this guide, we’ll outline typical home foundation repair costs, types of foundations, how to spot foundation cracks and other signs of trouble, and how to save on foundation repair.
Cost of Foundation Repair
There are a number of different issues that can occur with foundations, some of which are more costly and difficult to repair than others. Overall, the cost of foundation repair tends to be between $2,000 and $7,500, with a national average of $4,500. You may be able to have very small cracks filled with epoxy for a few hundred dollars, but severe foundation problems can run you up to $15,000 to $25,000.
Common Issues for Foundation Repair
Cracks are one of the most common issues with home foundations and are caused by the building settling or the soil around the foundation putting pressure on it. These cracks may allow water to leak into your basement walls or crawl space, which can cause water damage. Sometimes, the problem may not be with the foundation itself but with the surrounding soil.
Changing weather conditions, erosion, or even nearby tree roots can cause a foundation to begin to sink. Likewise, changes in soil pressure can cause the walls of your foundation or house to bow. The more significant the issue, the higher price you’ll pay to remedy it. This table displays average price ranges for common repairs.
Foundation Repair Costs by Issue
|Foundation Crack Repair||$250–$800|
|Settling and Sinking Foundation Repair||$500–$3,000|
|Foundation Leak Repair||$2,000–$7,000|
|Bowing Wall Repair||$4,000–$15,000|
Common Types of Foundation Repair
Cracks are typically filled with epoxy or concrete. Similarly, fixing leaks involves sealing the space with waterproof material like vapor board. You may also need to improve drainage by installing a French drain or new tile drains. Issues like house leveling and bowing walls can be addressed in a number of ways, depending on the severity of the problem and the type of soil.
Underpinning, also called piering, involves drilling pillars into the ground underneath or around the basement to help support the weight of the house. This is typically the most expensive method, since you may need a pier every 5 to 8 feet. Finally, foundation jacking involves injecting mud or other filler underneath the foundation to level or raise the foundation itself. Here are average price ranges for each repair option.
Foundation Repair Costs by Type
|Basement underpinning or piering||$1,000–$3,000 per pier|
|Foundation wall stabilization||$4,000–$12,000|
Factors in Calculating Foundation Repair Cost
The type of foundation repair that you need and the issue with your foundation are just two of the factors that determine the price you’ll pay for repairs. Major factors in calculating your foundation repair cost include:
- Home size and accessibility
- Severity of the foundation issue
- Soil stability and foundation settlement
- Labors, permits, and materials needed
To have an accurate understanding of what your repair may cost, you’ll want to have a grasp on these considerations.
Home Size and Accessibility
It’s no surprise that larger homes have larger foundations and thus tend to cost more to fix. However, the accessibility of your home’s foundation also plays a role in the price of a repair. If the problem area or the whole home is difficult for workers to reach, landscaping may have to be removed and replaced, increasing the overall cost of the project.
Severity of the Issue
Unsurprisingly, minor cracks are much easier and cheaper to fix than a sinking foundation. However, catching any of the types of foundation problems early will save you money. The more severe a home’s structural problems become, the more damage they can cause to the rest of the house. In later stages of foundation problems, you may find yourself having to repair cracks in interior walls and floors as well.
Soil Stability and Foundation Settlement
The phrase “solid ground” may be slightly misleading—soil expands, contracts, and shifts depending on weather and drainage conditions. Some types of soil are more stable than others, and ideally, your house is built on the right foundation type for the ground it’s on. However, foundations built on expansive clay or poorly-draining soil will experience more severe settlement. If you find yourself dealing with these soil types, your foundation may require more extensive repairs.
Labors, Permits, and Materials
Beyond just the pilings, filler material, polyurethane foam, or waterproofing sealant that go into fixing a foundation, you also have to consider the cost of labor. Work on a foundation repair averages around $200 per hour. You may be able to perform minor foundation crack repair without needing permission from the city, but bigger repair jobs are usually substantial enough to require $75-$150 in permits.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Once you’ve determined your foundation issue and type along with the pricing factors listed above, there are a few more aspects to consider. A foundation repair is one of the most extensive fixes a house can require, and some homeowners will also need a soil report or structural engineer report. Unexpected problems can pop up, too, delaying your timeline or increasing your cost. However, it’s worth noting that these expenses are not typical for minor repairs.
Even if your home was built on an ideal foundation for the soil type, the soil conditions may have changed over the years. If they’ve changed substantially, you may need to hire a geotechnical engineer to complete a soil report. These reports usually cost between $500 and $3,000. While soil reports are typically completed before new construction occurs, they can sometimes provide a better picture of what’s causing the problem with your foundation and how to solve it.
Structural Engineer Report
Structural engineers are consultants who specialize in the structural integrity of buildings, and a foundation is a large part of this integrity. In advanced cases of foundation damage, you may need to have a structural engineer perform an inspection of your home and its foundation and write up a report on any problems or issues they find. This report can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500.
As with any substantial home improvement project, you might not know exactly how extensive the job is until you start it. There may be unexpected tree root systems or the remains of old repair jobs which need to be cleared away, among other things. It’s always a good idea to have at least $1,000 to $2,500 extra in your budget to cover these unplanned costs.
Types of Foundations
The type of foundation you have will determine what problems you might face and how to best solve them. The most common types of foundations include a concrete slab, crawlspace, cinder block and brick, basement, and pier and beam.
A concrete slab foundation is a layer of concrete, usually between four and eight inches, that rests atop the soil. These are usually found in warmer climates since freezing and thawing of the soil can make even a thick concrete slab crack over time. Homes with concrete foundations don’t have basements or crawlspaces, and though this means no underground leaks and fewer pest problems, it also means the drainage system must be embedded right into the concrete.
Leveling a home with a slab foundation is sometimes called slab jacking or mud jacking. A hole is drilled under the foundation, and since it’s a single piece of concrete, it can be lifted by injecting mud or filler underneath. This is often less expensive than other kinds of foundation leveling. On the other hand, if the foundation settling or shifting is caused by drainage problems, the foundation repair contractor must often cut into the concrete to fix them.
If your house is built on a short footing, usually only a few feet off the ground, then it has a crawlspace. This unfinished, unheated space may house a furnace or pipes for the house and even act as storage space. A properly-built crawlspace is well-ventilated to prevent moisture from building up and causing problems beneath the house.
Crawlspace foundation walls are typically built of poured concrete or concrete blocks, so they may develop cracks. Other common crawlspace problems include leaks and water damage from poor drainage. These are a little easier to address since there’s space to access the underside of the home.
Cinder Block and Brick
Rather than a single slab of concrete, a foundation may be composed of cinder blocks or bricks with mortar in between. Often, the blocks are laid in an overlapping pattern and grouted with steel rods. This method provides the stability of a concrete slab while allowing for more compression and expansion than solid concrete.
However, these foundations can still crack, leak, and bow, particularly along mortar lines. You may see stairstep cracks that follow the mortar both horizontally and vertically. Since they’re made of many pieces instead of a single slab, these foundations must be extensively waterproofed and sealed to prevent moisture from getting in. The stability of the blocks or bricks can be reinforced with steel or carbon fiber, but any drainage issues will need to be fixed first.
A full basement foundation is one of the most expensive types to build, involving the most excavation and construction. However, a basement also expands the livable area of the home and is more suited to climates where the ground freezes in the winter. It’s supported by foundation footings under the perimeter of the space that extend into the ground deeper than the frost line.
Unfortunately, basement foundations are also some of the most expensive to repair. Bowing walls and leaks can cause the most damage in finished, inhabited areas of the home, and wall reinforcements and waterproofing can both be pricey with a lot of surface area to cover. Basement walls may be poured concrete, block and brick, or panels, which all have their own quirks and repair needs.
Pier and Beam
Pier and beam foundations allow a home to sit several feet aboveground, creating an open-air crawlspace that allows easier access to plumbing and electrical fixtures. Often, the piers themselves, which may be made of metal, concrete, wood, or brick, will rest on concrete footing buried deep underground. Here, they won’t be affected by shifting or pressure in the surface soil. The piers are then connected to support beams, which are in turn connected to the floor joists of the house.
If the piers are made of wood, they’re susceptible to rot and decay, and they may need to be replaced by more durable materials. The house above may need extra support in the form of additional piers or foundation supports drilled into the ground. If drainage is the problem, the existing system is usually easily accessible in the crawlspace.
Signs of Foundation Damage
If you suspect foundation damage in your home, spotting the signs early can save you thousands of dollars. The longer foundation issues persist, the more damage can occur in other areas of your home. Here’s what to look for around the house to identify foundation problems.
Fractures or cracks appearing in the foundation are early signs of damage. However, not all cracks are serious; vertical cracks, especially small ones, are considered minor. They should be patched to prevent further damage, but the good news is that they’re usually not a sign of more significant problems. Horizontal cracks, on the other hand, are signs of an unstable foundation. These need to be examined by a professional so a permanent solution can be found.
If you suspect you may have foundation problems, take a walk around the outside of your home and inspect the foundation and exterior walls for cracks. You can also observe whether there’s a gap between the foundation and the soil around it, which may be a sign that the soil has shifted. Keep an eye out for changes in the soil, particularly if you live on an incline, as well as any damp areas or water pooling around your home. Remember that drainage problems are a substantial cause of foundation damage.
Inside your home, you can also check your walls for cracks. There may be more subtle signs, too, like doors or windows that don’t open or close properly and gaps in door frames or between walls. If the walls are bowing, nails may start to work themselves out of drywall and ceilings may begin to warp.
An uneven or sinking foundation can cause your home’s flooring to slope, bulge, gap, or crack. Finally, water damage or actual pooling water in the basement or crawlspace can be a sign of a foundation leak and should be addressed as soon as possible.
DIY vs. Professional Foundation Repair
Most of the time, you simply can’t attempt foundation repair on your own. If you find small, vertical cracks no wider than one-eighth of an inch, you can purchase epoxy and try to seal them yourself. However, larger cracks need to be at the very least assessed by a professional. Foundation repair companies often provide free inspections of potential problems.
Even experienced home repair enthusiasts won’t have the necessary equipment to address more serious foundation issues. A sinking foundation may require the whole house to be held up on jacks, and heavy machinery may be needed to excavate the area around the home to access the foundation. Although it may be expensive, hiring a professional contractor to fix your foundation can keep the problem from worsening or causing more damage to the rest of the house.
How to Save Money on Foundation Repair
If you’re shocked by the average foundation repair cost, you may be tempted to try to cut corners to save money. However, your investment in your home is too important to risk subpar repairs. It’s worth shopping for quotes and cost breakdowns from several local contractors.
Of course, you may end up getting what you pay for, so maintain a healthy suspicion of anyone who offers a substantially lower price than others. However, if you truly don’t have the money for a full foundation repair, ask your contractor about temporary solutions. They may not last, but they can buy you some time to save up. You can also ask about payment plans or request that the contractors do the most critical repairs first.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid spending large amounts of money on foundation repair is to spot problems as soon as you can. Ensure your drainage system, including gutters and downspouts, properly directs water away from your foundation. Regularly inspect your foundation and keep an eye on any cracks to see if they’re getting any larger. If they do, get them inspected as soon as possible.
Foundation problems won’t go away on their own. Instead, they’ll get worse and more expensive over time, so you should address any danger signs as soon as possible. Foundation repair may be expensive, but you’ll protect the stability of your home as well as the resale value of the house. It’s worth consulting with a professional if you suspect foundation problems to safeguard your home’s future.
Frequently Asked Questions About Foundation Repair Cost
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