Choosing A Foundation Repair Contractor
This can be a tough job for you to decide which company to go with. To start out - you should get at least three (3) estimates from different companies. In rural Missouri you may have to call for a company several hours away to find someone qualified to do the job. That's normal. Foundation repair companies have protected large areas of the state they provide service in.
Don't just go by the advertising. Some of the slickest companies out there have very nice TV commercials or radio ads. They may be the best fit - but maybe not. The companies that appear the largest may just have large marketing budgets.
An Internet search will of course bring you several options for foundation repair companies. When searching, use terms like "Foundation Repair Columbia MO" or "Foundation Repair Company 65201" to narrow down the search field to companies closest to you. It should be obvious that companies that don't have to travel as far "should" be cheaper.
You will see sponsored ads on Google at the top and bottom of the listings. They paid to be there and may or may not be your best choice. Just check them out and see how close they are to your location.
Once you find their websites - see what affiliations they have like:
- Better Business Bureau
- Dealer Networks For Products
- Local Chamber of Commerce
- Other Industry Organizations
Keep in mind though - anyone can pay to be listed with Better Business and Chamber members. So that in itself doesn't mean much in how well they do their jobs. It does mean however they are worried about their reputation.
Look for reviews on the company at places like:
- Home Advisor
- Angie's List
- Yellow Pages Online
Reviews posted on their website of course are all going to be positive - why would they post a negative review? So checking third party review sites may give you some insight as to how well they treat their customers.
Check Yellow Pages
Checking your local phone book for listings will ensure those companies likely serve your area.
Check Dealer Network Sites
Once you know what type of products you need you could also visit the main dealer site for a dealer network to find a local installer.
Fee or Free Estimates For Foundation Repair
Most of the time foundation repair companies will offer a free estimate. There are some legitimate reasons why some may charge. Foundation repair companies get bombarded with calls and emails wanting free estimates from home buyers looking at a property. It costs labor and gas to do an estimate and most folks in the foundation business will tell you - home buyers rarely turn into customers. So it is costly for them to provide that service for free.
Free No Cost Foundation Estimate For Owners
In this case companies typically do not charge for the initial evaluation for structures not listed for sale. Some foundation contractors charge for this service if the house is on the market even if the seller calls for the estimate. The fee is typically $150.00 to $450.00 depending on the time required to complete the evaluation and to prepare the recommendations.
Fee Based Estimate For Buyers
Buyers wanting a real estate foundation inspection in which the property is listed for sale is subject to an inspection charge just like if you call the bug guys, or a home inspector. Usually this fee can be applied to the work performed upon awarding us the contract. Buyer should make arrangements with owner and/or realtor for approval - in fact they need permission to have an estimate so communication is the key. The fee is typically $150.00 to $450.00 depending on the time required to complete the evaluation and to prepare the recommendations.
Selecting A Company
Now that you have foundation repair companies schedule to come and visit your property, be sure to allocate time for this. This is not something you do over a lunch hour. Most inspections take a couple of hours and they need to for good reason. It is in your best interest to be there for these inspections (see our section on The Estimate - What To Expect )
Also not a good idea to have them all come at the same time (just to save you time). Have them come on different days. Many estimators are flexible and can come after 5PM in the evening and some weekends. They need to be able to see well - so after dark isn't a great time for an inspection. Also consider having all the owners (husbands and wives, business owners, etc) available to speak to the estimator or at least set something up for everyone to be there prior to signing the contract.
After you have had several foundation repair companies visit your property they will either provide you with a written estimate on the spot or within a few days. Be sure and evaluate the approach each company is taking.
- Inspect the entire structure with your input, to help understand what areas of the structure are involved
- Take exterior foundation measurements
- Take interior floor elevations
- Take digital pictures as part of the evaluation and reviewed as needed with the property owner
- Provide indications of cracks and areas of foundation failure should be indicated on their repair design plans
- Provide you with complete repair design plan that includes an explanation of any problems discovered during the inspection and a thorough explanation of the course of action recommended to correct the problems
- Provide recommendations should include a drawing that outlines the type and placement of pilings showing spacing and property dimensions. (Hand or computer drawings are fine).
- Provide an estimated cost for the repair including any potential add-on charges.
- Provide a list of references of property owners with similiar foundation problems that you can contact.
- Provide warranty information.
Never consider using a company that tries to quote you over the phone. They can't see the entire problem - how can they provide a complete solution. Trust me there are too many unknowns.
Never consider using a company that won't provide everything on the list above.
If something doesn't check out, back up and call someone else. This type of repair is too important not to clearly understand what is going on before the work begins. If you don't understand the contract or the warranty information, get help from a family member and/or an attorney.
IMPORTANT - get everything in writing. If the estimator promises to replant bushes along the north wall - get it in writing. It's too late to argure over things like that once the job begins and the crew is on site. Verbal agreements are ok - but written word is king.
Selecting the Right Solution
Every company out there is going to tell you their solution is the best one. It has been preached to them over and over again. The fact is many of the products are exactly the same or very similiar with regards to quality and capacity and often times in comes down to how they are installed.
- Use our Solutions tab of this website to weigh the pros and cons of each solution presented to help aid your decision.
- Weigh first the company(s) you are most comfortable with and their reputation and references. Eliminate any you don't feel good about.
- Review warranty information and the design plan. Is it covering you well, is it complete?
- Make sure in the final estimates you are considering - are they comparing apples to apples? Are they all doing the same amount of work?
- Finally after everything else is narrowed down - review the pricing. Most reputable companies put their best price out there first thing. You aren't buying a car - so you don't need to play games at this point. Things like % discounts, senior discounts, and such are marketing tools some may use - but at the end of the day - what's the price.
- Get a non-biased second opinion if necessary. Still not sure - you can hire a structural engineer that can review your property and present solutions based on engineering (not products). You can also have them review your final proposal to ensure the foundation repair company is doing what is needed.
If there is a wide range of solutions presented, it may be because you have a very complex problem (like heaving and settling) etc. Different estimators will view things differently. If this is the case then #6 above is absolutely essential.