How does the home owner get a fair price on the cost of foundation repair? To begin with, remember the following rule of thumb. Foundation repair companies are in business to sell piers.
They sell steel piers, drilled piers, pressed concrete piers, and helical piers. The more they sell and the more they can charge you per pier, the bigger the salesman’s commission and the more the company makes. Don’t forget that.
Be aware that in large metropolitan areas with foundation problems, several companies that do foundation leveling may also own other foundation repair entities. This means you have a real possibility, without you realizing it, of getting multiple bids from the same company. They just use different names. And the different phone numbers could be going into the same office.
Beware that most every foundation contractor has a preferred type of pier. They may say they have them all but they probably also have a “favorite” one. The favorite one is usually picked because it is cheapest for them to install.
Another reason for a preferred type of pier is inventory control. It’s easier and less expensive for foundation repair companies to have a single product they use all the time. The biggest reason for a “favorite” pier or repair method is to have a cookie cutter operation.
If they treat all slab foundation repair jobs the same that means anybody can do any job. They don’t need a seasoned crew experienced in several methods of foundation leveling if all their repairs are basically performed the same way. They just need a foreman and a bunch of day laborers.
Beware of the foundation repair company that lowers the price of piers and then makes up for it by installing more piers than you really need.
So how do you avoid stepping into the net of the pier salesman? There is no magic bullet, no absolute guarantee, but you can do this.
Hire an independent licensed professional structural engineer with residential foundation experience who has no financial ties whatsoever to any foundation repair company to inspect your slab.
For usually the cost of one pier or less, the engineer can inspect your foundation and produce an unbiased report on whether or not you need piers, what type would be best for your situation, how many and where.
If he can save you from one unnecessary pier, he’s paid for himself. If you don’t need piers at all, you’ve bought some piece of mind.
How do you find a structural engineer? Do an internet search using the terms “professional structural engineer” or “residential structural engineer” or “foundation engineer,” keywords like that.
Search for civil or structural engineering trade associations in your state. Or search for foundation repair trade groups. They will have a membership list that usually includes structural engineers. And of course you can check your local Yellow Pages.