Does your house need to be leveled?
As much as homeownership costs and upkeep might frustrate you sometimes, we’re not talking about clearing the site with a bulldozer. In this case, “leveling” refers to restoring like-new alignment to a home that has settled unevenly.
If you haven’t heard of the term before, house leveling is really just another way of saying “foundation repair”, and the lingo often shows up on popular home restoration television shows and home improvement vlogger video channels. Leveling (best left to experienced foundation repair professionals) can be done on virtually any type of foundation, including the common basement, slab and pier-and-beam varieties.
This brief definitive guide covers the essentials you need to know about house leveling.
Why do houses need leveling?
As we’ve established in previous posts about foundation repair and other kinds of structural restoration, all homes are subject to normal settling over time. Settling only becomes a problem when it happens unevenly, putting greater stress on vulnerable parts of your foundation. Here are seven factors that might increase risk of uneven settling:
- Unstable soil conditions beneath your home
- Unusual weather or seismic activity
- Insufficient grading of the soil around your house
- Extreme temperature or groundwater fluctuations that weaken your foundation
- Material failures from age, wear, rot, pests, corrosion, or hydrostatic pressure
- Hidden soil erosion due to conditions on adjacent properties
- In rare cases, flaws in foundation design or construction practices
Any of these conditions can either carry supporting soil out from under parts of your foundation, or compromise the load-bearing capacity of individual structural components. When this happens, the house will settle unevenly, causing surrounding materials to separate and shift out of alignment. It’s important to pay attention to the condition of your foundation.
How do I know if my house needs leveling?
The signs tend to creep up on you gradually, and they can show up anywhere, but one thing is certain — these kinds of problems don’t go away by themselves and will only get worse over time. You may need professional house leveling help if you see common signs like these:
- Floors start to sag, tilt, feel spongy, or give you a “downhill” feeling when you walk
- Doors and windows that used to operate smoothly start to bind, stick, or misalign
- Interior or exterior finish materials begin to crack or separate
- Concrete slabs around the property sink, break, or shift out of alignment
- Architectural elements like chimneys, carports, or patio covers shift or tilt
How does house leveling work?
A reputable house leveling expert will usually provide you with a no-cost, no-obligation inspection of your property. The best ones will follow up promptly with an evaluation of any repairs needed, including a range of restoration options that will be the best fit for your individual situation and budget.
The corrective measures that house leveling experts use may include one (or an engineered combination) of these field-proven methods:
- Adding shims where support members have shifted or separated
- Restoring the load-bearing capacity of supporting soil in the affected area
- Repairing, re-anchoring, or replacing deteriorated beams
- Adding concrete piers in carefully engineered locations
- Lifting sections of the foundation back into alignment with steel or concrete piles
- Lifting unsupported slab sections with synthetic materials or slurry compounds
IMPORTANT: If your home was a “new build” within the last 10 years, you may be entitled to warranty protection from the builder to correct covered damage. In cases like these, it’s crucial to gather your original purchase paperwork and follow the claim instructions promptly.
How much does house leveling cost?
The cost of house leveling varies a great deal depending on the kind of home you live in, how big it is, how old it is, the foundation type (slab, crawl space, basement) and how long and how far the settling damage has progressed. For these and other reasons, it’s impossible to give you a reliable “one size fits all” dollar projection.
You can use broad national cost averages to get a frame of reference, but we want to emphasize again that the price you’ll pay for house leveling depends completely on your individual circumstances.
For a small house or basic crawl space home setup, you may only need a few expertly placed shims to square things up again. Simple jobs like these may only cost between $3,000 and $5,500. For large homes with more complex foundations and major problems, prices could run as high as $35,000 for a complete leveling restoration.
Historic homes built 100 or more years ago require a practiced professional hand. This is important not only for the technical restoration challenges involved, but also to manage compliance with any special codes and restrictions covering protected properties in your locality.
To give you some purely approximate numbers to go by, for Alabama homeowners in our database, the average leveling cost is around $10,400, with most jobs landing in the $7,500 to $12,600 range. Before you get overwhelmed by sticker shock, it’s important to know that when you choose a house leveling expert, the right partner will help you find an affordable way to reach your restoration goals.
How can I find a qualified house leveling expert?
There are a lot of “foundation repair” companies out there who are eager to get you to sign a house leveling contract. Some are more qualified than others, and you should ask questions before you commit to working with them. Smaller operations may offer a tempting low price, but may cut corners and disappear after the job when you need support. Bigger companies will have the resources to do a good job, but you may not get the attention you deserve.
Here are 9 questions you should ask before you commit:
- Tell me about the owners of your company?
- Is your company licensed and bonded?
- Does your company have an A+ BBB rating?
- Do you offer free evaluations?
- Do you guarantee your work?
- Who will perform the work on my home?
- What training do your crews get?
- Do you offer financing plans for bigger jobs?
- What happens if there’s a problem with my leveling job?
SouthernDry is a family-owned “customer first” company. We treat your property as we would treat our own, and we’re focused on getting you the lasting results you need at a fair price. We excel at house leveling, crawl space encapsulation, basement waterproofing and all aspects of foundation repair.
The reason we’re in business is to ensure decades of worry-free living in your home. We do that by offering you transparent, competitive pricing, and by staffing your job with people who care personally about delivering great work.
With SouthernDry, you get one-on-one attention from the initial estimate to final repair. We’ll answer your questions, make the recommendations that are in your best interests, and stick with you until the job is done to your satisfaction. In the unlikely event that something’s out of order, we’ll come back out promptly and make it right.
Homeowners choose us over the big box outfits because we’re relentless about quality. For peace of mind about your house leveling needs, call us at (205) 719-2544, or visit us online at www.southerndry.com.