Birmingham

Birmingham’s Definitive Guide to Foundation Repair

The threat of foundation trouble is a scary prospect for any homeowner, and it can raise a lot of questions. If you think there might be structural problems under your home, you want answers you can trust. That’s why we’ve put together this simple and direct foundation repair guide.

Here’s where you’ll find the answers you need to protect your home and your budget. We’ll cover things like common foundation problems in the Birmingham Alabama region and how to spot them, repair options and pricing, real estate considerations, and the conditions around your home that might lead to structural damage, including soil, water, climate, or construction methods.

What foundation repair may cost – nationwide averages

Maybe it’s just human nature, but if you’re anything like us, you tend to skip ahead on any quote or estimate to see the total before you read anything else. That’s why we decided to give you some pricing figures to go by first. Keep in mind that these are very general national averages, just to give you an idea what people might be spending on residential foundation repair in and around Birmingham, Alabama.

First, what determines what a foundation repair job costs? That depends on several variables:

  • The age and location of your home
  • The construction materials and methods used for your foundation (slab, footing, etc.)
  • Your property’s elevation, terrain, and surrounding soil types
  • The nature and extent of structural damage and how advanced it is
  • The care taken to prepare the soil by the contractor who built your home
  • Price and availability of materials, local labor rates, and permitting requirements
  • Your own personal home improvement goals

Piering | Alabama Foundation Repair Services | SouthernDryCompanies like Angie’s List and Home Advisor, and trade organizations like the Concrete Network have run some nationwide studies to find out what homeowners across the country are spending on foundation repairs. They’ve found that costs can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars for superficial cracks to $10,000 and up for an extensive “whole house” hydraulic pier restoration.

Keep in mind that these numbers are on the extreme ends and don’t represent what most Birmingham area homeowners actually experience. A recent survey of over 2,600 HomeAdvisor customers puts the national average for foundation repair cost at around $4,173, with the more typical homeowner paying somewhere between $1,842 and $6,566 to get their homes back in “like new” shape. Our own data indicates an average cost of $7,400 for structural repairs in the Birmingham area.

If you live in Alabama’s Jefferson county area and think you might have foundation problems, there’s no need to panic or worry. With the right professional help, most repairs can be done very affordably and may last for the life of your home. The important thing is to call a qualified professional to help you check things out as soon as you see any of the common signs of trouble. The most reputable companies will do an initial evaluation free of charge and help you understand what your best options are.

At SouthernDry, we offer free estimates and payment plans as low as $79/month.

Common causes of foundation problems in Alabama

To get the straight story on how foundation trouble starts, you have to begin with the soil conditions underneath your house and in the surrounding area. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jefferson County covers 1,115 square miles in a geological part of the United States called the Appalachian Highlands. The region has 21 different soil types, mostly of the loam and clay variety.

The good news is that loam is practically ideal for stable foundation support. It’s usually a mix of sand, silt, and clay, which means that it can handle moisture changes at a pretty constant rate. Clay, on the other hand, expands and shrinks a lot with alternating wet and dry periods, which can put a lot of stress on foundations. Over time, the constant pressure and shifting can weaken parts of your foundation.

Even routine seasonal moisture changes can strain your house with what we call “differential movement,” sometimes with a force of more than 5,000 pounds per square foot. This pushes parts of the structure upward in the wettest areas, as support falls away in the driest areas. When you add extreme weather conditions like major storms or flooding, potential damage can be even worse.

Consider that five of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Alabama: Irma and Harvey in 2017, Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Ivan in 2004, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute.  Alabama happens to be one of 19 U.S. states that require a hurricane insurance deductible that can typically run you anywhere from 1% to 5% of the total insurance value of your home.

In addition to these big contributors, there are a number of other (sometimes hidden) environmental factors that can cause your foundation to deteriorate over time:

  • Frost heave from extreme freezing or thawing
  • Tree roots that either push on the foundation, or draw moisture away from supporting soil
  • Undetected plumbing or sewer leaks
  • Normal seepage from in-ground gunite pools
  • Excessive storm runoff or snow melt that collects near or under your foundation
  • Damaged or improperly installed rain gutters
  • Poor drainage around your home that causes water to pool near the foundation
  • Improper soil preparation underneath slabs
  • Construction activity on adjacent lots that causes your soil to shift

Depending on the severity, the Concrete Network says that just about any type of foundation (from slab to poured footing, to a variety of basements and crawlspaces) can be damaged by one or more of these stress factors. If all the soil beneath a foundation expands and contracts evenly, there’s usually no problem. When only part of the house settles, however, that’s when signs of trouble start to show up.

The most common signs of foundation damage in Jefferson County, AL

Practically all residential foundations settle a little over time, and for the vast majority of homes, water tends to be the main cause of soil movement under your house. Problems happen when this settling becomes uneven or extreme. Hairline cracks, especially vertical ones, are fairly normal, but you should be concerned about large cracks that appear suddenly. Sixty percent of homes built on expansive clay soils end up with foundation trouble, and here are the most common warning signs.

Outside or under your home:

  1. Cracked bricks – especially jagged, expanding cracks bigger than one-eighth of an inch
  2. Broken or cracked foundation elements
  3. Separating, deflecting, deforming, twisting, or tilting structural elements
  4. Separation around garage doors, windows or walls
  5. Rafters that separate from ridge boards
  6. Displaced moldings or trim materials

Inside your home:

  1. Doors or windows that don’t line up anymore, or start to stick
  2. Bulging, sloping, uneven, or cracking floors
  3. New or expanding cracks in sheetrock
  4. Walls that separate from ceilings or floors
  5. Damp building materials, musty odors, rotten wood, mold, or water stains
  6. Collecting moisture or condensation in basements or crawl spaces

Most foundation problems can be taken care of quickly and affordably, so there’s no reason to panic, but you should call an expert as soon as you see any of these classic trouble signs.

What to do if you see signs of foundation trouble in your home

If your home sits on the variable soil types around Birmingham, Alabama, here’s what you should know about repair options and how to ask the right questions. The more information you have on modern residential foundation repair methods, the more prepared you’ll be to make a confident choice about the option that’s best for your home and budget. Let’s explore a few from simple to advanced.

  1. Spot Piers – For more lightly loaded areas, these smaller, shallow piers are usually dug out by hand in strategic spots and then filled with concrete and backfilled. This solution is for more minor corrections under lighter structures or extensions to your home like porches or carports.
  2. Slab Repair – In some cases, unsupported concrete can be stabilized by injecting high-density polyurethane foam below the slab. The advantage of this method is that it’s relatively fast and low cost. This is similar to the lifting process you may have seen used on cracked exterior concrete like driveways.
  3. Concrete Piers – Before steel piers, poured-in-place concrete piers were preferred for new construction, and are also useful for repairs. It’s a permanent solution, but requires drilling rigs that may be difficult and costly to move around your property, and also tears up your yard with a lot of excavation.
  4. Steel Piers – A big technical improvement over concrete piers is the engineered steel pier. They’re very effective for stabilizing a variety of foundation issues, but can be installed much more quickly than poured concrete and are a lot less disruptive to your landscape.
  5. Helical Piers – Experts say that helical piers are among the most versatile and durable methods for different foundation repair situations. As with their steel and poured concrete counterparts, they’re designed to connect your foundation to deeper, more consistently supportive layers of soil. They’re less disruptive to install and can be customized to fit your home’s needs.

Again, the more you educate yourself about relative advantages of different repair options, the better your chances are of finding an affordable solution. In most cases, a trustworthy foundation repair professional will be able to help you find a quality solution that will fit your budget.

The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue and hope that it will just go away on its own. Settlement and cracking can lead to serious structural damage and the longer you let it go, the worse it can get. Side note: foundation damage costs are typically not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies, unless it can be shown that the damage was caused by a covered source such as major plumbing leaks.

Buying or selling a home in Birmingham with foundation problems

As of last year, Birmingham was one of the hottest housing markets in Alabama, according to housingpredictor.com. Homes tend to hold their value compared with other markets, so many realtors consider home investments around Birmingham to be low risk and stable. For reference, last year Birmingham’s median residential cost per square foot was $97, up from $83 back in 2012.

In addition to being the Jefferson County seat, Birmingham is also an attractive real estate option because of its relatively low cost of living and the variety of job opportunities in industries like banking, healthcare, construction, retail and insurance to name a few. There’s also a vibrant arts, culture, and education current that appeals to a wide variety of interests.

Because of the mix of clay and loam soils in the region, and the alternating dry and wet seasons, homes in the Birmingham area are statistically at risk for foundation trouble. Chances are that you’ll run into one at some point, either as a buyer or a seller. The good news is that foundation problems don’t have to ruin the transaction for either party as long as you ask the right questions and get the right help.

As a buyer, you want to be sure to get an independent home inspection. A qualified structural engineer will be able to tell you whether the house is structurally sound, but may not be able to help you estimate the costs of various repair options. For that you’ll need to talk with a reputable foundation contractor before you make an offer on the house. Many issues can be fixed easily and affordably.

For sellers, a foundation problem doesn’t automatically mean that you’re stuck with the house, or that you’ll be forced to take an unacceptably low offer. Again, you’ll want to get expert advice as quickly as possible, just like in the buyer’s scenario, and get trustworthy answers about what you’re dealing with. The best foundation contractors offer transferable warranties that will give your buyer peace of mind.

How to find the right foundation repair help

In bigger metropolitan areas like Birmingham, Alabama, foundation repair companies of all sizes, (and from across the entire price, quality, and customer experience spectrum) will be eager to get your business. Go with the cheapest, and you might end up with quality problems that offset your savings. Go with the biggest, and you risk getting lost in the shuffle. Go with the smallest, and you might get more personalized attention up front, only to find that they disappear after (or during) the job.

Look for an experienced company that’s small enough to make you a priority, but large enough to back their work with solid customer service and warranty protection. Choose a contractor that will offer you a competitive price based on real value, but not a lowball bid that cuts corners on quality materials and workmanship. Beware of companies that use high-pressure sales tactics to rush you into the sale.

A trustworthy foundation repair contractor will give you an honest evaluation of all your repair options and patiently help you choose the one that’s best for your home and your budget. SouthernDry is that kind of boutique foundation repair company. We’re family owned – small enough to give you the personalized service you deserve – and big enough to deliver the experience and reliability you need.

Personalized attention, quality, and value from a customer-first foundation expert

SouthernDry Truck & TeamWe’re a foundation repair company first.. The only 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 and great value.

With SouthernDry, you get one-on-one attention from first 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. Homeowner’s choose us over the big box outfits because we’re relentless about quality.

For peace of mind about your foundation, call us at (205) 719-2544.

SouthernDry
5.0
powered by Facebook
Garland Culbreath
Garland Culbreath
2020-10-24T13:55:38+0000
Jonathan was great with our quote and answering all our questions. They were amazing working with us to get our project... underway. The crew was fantastic... very professional, super kind, and explained our system to us in great detail before wrapping up the job. Our hardwoods had started cupping from humidity. Since Southern Dry completed our project, a little over a month ago...our floors have settled back as they should and our crawl space looks pristine. We would highly recommend Southern Dry. Great service, great work, great warranties.read more
Danny Hillis
Danny Hillis
2020-03-17T05:45:04+0000
I have worked for several foundation company's in north Al afs included and I must say I like the way John does... business he goes to no limit to make sure his customers get the working system they were promised. southern dry will always be my 1st and only choice for repairs.read more
Kristy Howell
Kristy Howell
2020-01-22T19:30:16+0000
They were very prompt in coming to my home and giving me an estimate. The price was lower than other estimates. The... work was professional and completed in one day. They also provided financing options. I would highly recommend Southern Dry to anyone looking to repair their foundation.read more
Ramsay Young
Ramsay Young
2019-12-06T18:50:55+0000
Very professional group from the estimate to the installation. Kept me informed all the time. the installers were great... with no disruption. Very pleasedread more
KarlaJohnson Bullock
KarlaJohnson Bullock
2019-11-28T01:46:16+0000
Very efficient and hard working men. They go out of their way to make sure the customer is satisfied. I highly... recommend this company. KB. Glencoe, Alread more
Meredith Smildsin
Meredith Smildsin
2019-11-26T18:40:07+0000
Fantastic customer service and high quality workmanship! The team at SouthernDry was great from start to finish. Came... out for a free estimate, presented recommendations, assisted with financing, worked around my busy schedule, and got the job done QUICKLY! Work crew was professional and efficient. Highly recommend!!read more
Valerie Dawson Miles
Valerie Dawson Miles
2019-10-07T16:52:07+0000
I highly recommend Southern Dry and their crew. They are very responsive and do a great job. I truly appreciated the... way they kept me informed of when they would be arriving, the expected timeline of the job and when then when job was complete. Each person I interacted with throughout the process from beginning to end was professional and courteous. 5 Stars.read more
Daniel Hutcheson
Daniel Hutcheson
2019-09-29T21:30:42+0000
SouthernDry came by the house and answered all of the questions and concerns that we had about our house. They... presented multiple solutions and helped us choose the best one for us. The crew that installed all components were very professional and courteous. Kudos to SouthernDry also saved us a lot of money.read more
Brad Wright
Brad Wright
2019-09-10T17:01:30+0000
Everyone was great. The owner is super nice and worked with me on a lot of things. The crew was great. Definitely... treated like family. A++ all around.read more
Caleb Danley
Caleb Danley
2019-09-09T21:47:06+0000
Excellent service, excellent product, excellent people. Very reliable company with great communication. I would... recommend this company to anyone. 10/10read more
Caren Stone
Caren Stone
2019-07-05T19:51:20+0000
I am so pleased with the waterproofing Southern Dry did for my basement and den area. When I asked the team to cover a... large portion of sheeting of the wall that was not covered in their quote, they did it free of charge. upon completing the work, the crew cleaned up the construction debris meticulously. All the crew men were professional and pleasant and answered all the questions I posed during the process. Definitely 5 stars earned.read more
Nelden Smith
Nelden Smith
2019-05-25T13:52:06+0000
Very fast, very good--and they were very willing to work with me to find a solution that met all my needs without going... over my budget! Thanks John, Calvin, and Russ, for your customer service and offering such a nice quality product.read more
Kathy Morris Ryan
Kathy Morris Ryan
2019-04-23T01:21:20+0000
I am very satisfied with the work these guys did with the foundation of my house. It was a great experience from... Calvin's inspection and quote to the guys that did all the work. Great group and I highly recommend them.read more
Kennedy Todd Davis
Kennedy Todd Davis
2019-04-16T20:06:14+0000
Very professional! They got the job done quick and cleaned up and didn’t leave anything behind!
Bob Curry
Bob Curry
2019-04-09T21:29:13+0000
Very professional company and the work performed was first rate. I would highly recommend this company and I highly... recommend having your crawl space properly sealed and a dehumidifier installed. I had check pricing from several different companies in my area that do this kind of work and they were the most reasonable. I live in Alexandria AL which is in the deep South with very humid weather. I had some serious moisture damage this fall with mold forming from a clogged HVAC unit under my house. Water was puddling onto the plastic under my house, I was not aware of this and it had been going on for several months. By the time I discovered it the damage had already been done to my house flooring. Thank goodness the homeowners insurance covered the floor repair to the tune of $30,000. I wanted to make sure this would never be an issue again even if I had some kind of water leak. They completely clean out all the old plastic, vacuumed the under side of the flooring and removed any construction trash from under the house and then properly sealed my crawl space. My dehumidifier has an app that I can check anywhere in the world and see my temp and humidity levels under my house. There is also a water sensor installed so if water is detected, it will send me a message.I could not be happier and it was worth every penny!read more
Eddie Wendy Akers
Eddie Wendy Akers
2019-03-19T14:56:33+0000
Great company. Good communications. Gteat job. No problems
Dona Warnick Jones
Dona Warnick Jones
2019-03-15T15:58:28+0000
Southern Dry was very easy to work with during the encapsulation process. Luckily I did not have foundation damage but... my house needed french drains, sump pump, dehumidifier and the crawl space encapsulated. The job was completed as promised and I am very satisfied with the end product. The entire crew was professional and efficient. I recommend Southern Dry.read more
Rita Murphy Lueth
Rita Murphy Lueth
2019-03-15T01:52:12+0000
Southern Dry was responsive an professional from start to finish, from the moment I phoned them, through the... installation process, and through follow-up phone calls. The workers showed up on time on the scheduled day, completed the work efficiently, cleaned up, and left. I would definitely recommend them.read more
John King
John King
2018-08-15T11:29:36+0000
Very courteous and professional. They were 50% less than a estimate I received from a competitor. Great communication... and speedy installation!!!!!read more
Jay Watts
Jay Watts
2018-08-13T12:56:16+0000
Very professional.
Amy Lambrecht
Amy Lambrecht
2018-08-08T17:13:46+0000
From start to finish, Southern Dry treated me as a customer with courteous responsiveness. They answered all my... questions, made practical recommendations (without the up-sale in mind) gave references that had glowing praises all around. The workers were neat and efficient with their time. It made the whole process smooth and pain free.read more
David Johnson
David Johnson
2018-06-16T13:16:45+0000
Everyone I spoke with from Southern Dry was top notch. I prefer doing business with people who are average, regular,... down-home folks trying to make an honest living. If you're like me and want someone straight up to give you a reasonable quote on your repairs, call Calvin. They were fast, gave me a date to begin, started that morning early and did a fantastic job. Juan was the foreman on my project and if I had a question he had an answer for me. He was extremely nice and knowledgeable about what was being fixed and done. I was never left in the dark about anything. I had some pretty major foundation issues on one side of my newest house. The back sill plate was rotten and the floor was sagging from no support in the rear. Juan and the crew installed 6 piers, replaced the sill plate, cleaned the crawlspace completely, installed 5 jack supports, encapsulated it all and installed a dehumidifier and battery back up, and made me a 2 new doors in 3 days! So Calvin, Russ, John, Juan, and the other crew, thank you for a job well done. The house looks a million times better! I really appreciate it!read more
Dustin Hughes
Dustin Hughes
2018-05-30T17:49:10+0000
Very fast, very good--and they were very willing to work with me to find a solution that met all my needs without going... over my budget! Thanks John, Calvin, and Russ, for your customer service and offering such a nice quality product.read more
Rob Mackintosh
Rob Mackintosh
2018-05-24T21:44:39+0000
Entire team was very professional. They were excellent at communicating what needed to be done. They were always on... time and let you know every step of the process. There was no high pressure sales techniques. They give you the quote and you can start on your timeline. Just call them when you are ready. I got quotes from the more widely advertised foundation repair companies as well and SouthernDry gives you the same product and same warranty at a great price. They worked hard to work around the landscaping. They also did an excellent job of cleaning up. I highly recommend them.read more
Stephanie Stephens
Stephanie Stephens
2018-05-13T14:54:49+0000
Great customer service. Guys that came out to complete the job worked fast and communicated each step of the process.
Nadder Fawaz
Nadder Fawaz
2018-03-21T02:23:50+0000
Forgive me for the long review, but great service is hard to find these days. When it’s found, it should be... celebrated. John and his crew were incredible from day 1. Water was pooling in our crawl space on a new construction and we were eager to have it resolved quickly to avoid the formation of mold and spores and potential health hazards for our family. John came out immediately and assessed the situation, explained all the issues, and developed a plan. We had a guaranteed price in our hands within minutes; fair middle road pricing for extremely high quality work. Many estimates came in 2x higher, just fyi. There was plenty of trash and construction debris left under the house from the contractors; SouthernDry crew removed every piece of debris and leveled out the ground before installing the drains and pumps and encapsulation material. John and his crew returned a week later because they wanted to make a modification to the system that they believed would be more efficient. I would have never known the difference, but because they care about the quality of their work, they made the modifications to ensure the efficiency and longevity of the system. After a month, I finally made it back to the far corner under the house and noticed water pooling under the encapsulation in one area. One phone call and 24 hours later, the crew showed up, assessed the situation and implemented the necessary modifications, installing additional drainage at no additional cost to me. Using SouthernDry was the easiest and best decision we made!read more
Sable Mayfield
Sable Mayfield
2018-03-15T18:52:46+0000
Denise Patty Etter-Collins
Denise Patty Etter-Collins
2018-02-20T23:02:51+0000
They were prompt, thorough and curteous. Prices were the best. I would highly recommend a conversation and inspection,... at the very least.read more
Jerry Wayne Rich
Jerry Wayne Rich
2018-01-22T20:42:59+0000
The initial estimate was entirely too high. they wanted more money than afs. then, after review the owner came out... himself and gave me a second estimate that was reasonable. im looking forward to doing business with this company.read more
Clyde Mills
Clyde Mills
2017-07-06T00:18:24+0000
I have had the total encapsulation for one week now, I am proud to say my relative humidity in my house now stays... around 38-40%, I have actually had to raise my thermostat due to it feeling so much cooler and comfortable in my house with the lower humidity levels. I called around and compared prices and Southern Dry was by far the least expensive and the personable and easy to work with. And my crawlspace is dry as a bone. If you have moisture problems or high humidity in your home I would definitely recommend giving John Kabel with Southern Dry a callread more
Next Reviews

View All Reviews

Our Service Area

Contact Us

SouthernDry
213 MDS Dr. Suite 100
Pell City, Alabama
35125

205-719-2544

Monday to Friday: 8am - 7pm
Saturday: 9am - 1pm
Sunday: CLOSED