The Estimate - What To Expect
First of all - expect to spend some time on this. You need to research the companies, check references and each appointment with a foundation repair company will take 1-2 hours to complete. The foundation repair estimator needs time to hear your concerns, measure, take elevation readings, inspect and document, and formulate a plan of repair.
Some estimators will take all their readings and go back to a quiet office and formulate their plan and want to return to present their solution. That's normal. Some will bid things right on the spot. Many have a mobile office set up in their vehicle where they have the resources to do just that. After all in rural areas of Missouri their office could be 100 miles away and time and gas is money.
Most estimators (some are called sales persons) will want to meet with all the decision makers. That could mean the husband and wife, or business partners. They ask for this because it is more efficient to have everyone there when a decision needs to be made. (It is also better for their ability to close the deal). But let's face it - it is in your best interest also. When all the property owners can hear exactly what is coming from the estimators mouth there is no confusion because of translation. They may also think of different questions that you may may remember to ask. It's just a good idea for both sides.
Now the problem I know is - hey we have to work for a living. We can't both be off to deal with this at times. I understand. At least ask if the estimator can come at off hours, or come and inspect first and present his findings when you both can be there.
An Inspection Should Include The Entire Structure and Property:
- A visual inspection of your property, with your help will help the foundation estimator to understand what where the problems are.
- They should take exterior foundation measurements
- They should take interior floor elevations
- Digital pictures should be taken as part of the evaluation
- Indications of cracks and areas of foundation failure should be indicated on their repair service plan (drawing)
- You should receive a complete service 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
- Their recommendations should include a plan of repair that outlines the type and placement of piers
- They should provide an estimated cost for the repair and any additional fees that might come up.
- They should provide a list of references with contact information - that you can check
- They should provide warranty information about your specific products/services you are purchasing.
Foundation Repair Contracts
Most foundation repair companies will have standard contracts they use that outlines most everything. They will notate specific things related to your job on the contract. The contract usually either includes the warranty information or will be a seperate sheet.
When the estimator sits down with you and explains the repair plan and contract the sales process starts. It is of course in their best interest to try and earn your business at this point in time. After all they just spent a couple of hours not including gas and drive time getting to your property and for most companies haven't charged you a dime. Some will push hard to close the deal and they can return to the office with a deposit check. Don't be offended - that's their job and frankly the companies wouldn't be in business very long if they didn't make the contract process as efficient as possible. Respect their time, listen carefully. HOWEVER - do not commit or sign anything until you have reviewed all the proposals from the the companies you have inspecting. That's just good business.
Once you have reviewed all the contracts - then contact the company you are the most comfortable with. Either agree to sign and mail in your contract or ask the estimator to return to clarify any issues and pick up the check.
Most companies will require at least 20% down before they consider the deal closed. This is normal. This protects them and shows you are serious to do the job.
Often times at the point you are signing the contract you can get a schedule date of when your work can start. The estimator can call into their production department and get an estimated date from them. Don't be suprised if it is two months out. That's fairly normal in this industry. Just know that large percentage of the time this date will change.
Your scheduled date will likely change because of delays on jobs being worked before yours. Weather, employees issues, product supply issues and other factors can affect your job many of which are out of control of the foundation repair company. They should keep in contact with you on a regular basis as time gets close to let you know. Sometimes they may contact you and ask if you would mind if they work your job sooner. This could be because conditions or weather in another part of their service area has them shut down - so they will look for other jobs to do instead. That's great if you are ready - see below for your responsibilities.
Even though you are paying a lot of money for repairs - just know you will have some things you are required to do also. These "should" be outlined in your repair plan and indicate exactly what the foundation repair company expects you to have completed before they arrive on the first day.
This could include things like:
- Contact an HVAC company and have your AC unit disconnected and moved
- Move any TV towers or antennas in the way
- Clean out the interior of the basement where the work may be performed
- Being on site to allow access
Like any construction or home improvement written communication is the key for a smooth job. Demand that from any company you choose to work with. The good ones won't mind because it is part of their standard operating procedure.
Hopefully this guide will take the mystery out of the process. Nobody wants to have to spend money on foundation repair - so let's make sure we are spending it wisely.