The Montgomery homeowner’s complete guide to foundation repair
If you suspect foundation problems under your home, it can raise a lot of questions – not to mention anxiety. To protect your home and budget, you want simple, trustworthy answers, and you’ll find them here. This residential foundation repair guide will tell you exactly what you need to know to protect your home’s foundation.
If you live in Alabama’s Montgomery county area and think you might have foundation problems, there’s no need to panic, but you do need to take action. With the right professional help, most repairs can be more affordable than you might think. The most reputable foundation repair companies will do an initial evaluation free of charge and help you understand what repair will work are best for your situation.
Read on to find out what kinds of foundation problems are most common in the Montgomery, Alabama area. We’ll cover the top warning signs you’ll want to watch for, what repair options are available and what they cost, and how to get reliable professional help and advice.
Average foundation repair costs – what people are paying across the country
Most of our worst fears about foundation trouble have to do with money. That’s why we’re putting some general pricing information up front. What you see here are very general national averages – don’t assume the worst until you get a professional repair estimate.
The actual cost of a foundation repair job depends on a few different factors:
- The location and age of your home
- Your property’s elevation, terrain, and surrounding soil types
- The construction methods and materials used for your foundation (slab, footing, etc.)
- The type and extent of structural damage you’re experiencing
- The soil preparation steps followed by the contractor who built your home
- Cost and availability of materials, local labor rates, and regional permitting requirements
Websites like Home Advisor and Angie’s List, and trade groups like the Concrete Network ran nationwide studies to see what homeowners across the country spend on foundation repairs. Costs can run from a few hundred dollars for small cracks to $10,000 and up for “whole house” hydraulic pier restoration.
It’s important to remember that these numbers are on the extreme ends and don’t represent what most Montgomery area homeowners actually experience.
A recent survey of over 2,600 HomeAdvisor customers places the nationwide average for foundation repair bills at around $4,173. According to the survey, a typical homeowner will pay somewhere between $1,842 and $6,566 to get a foundation back in “like new” condition.
Residential foundation problems in Alabama: most common causes
Soil conditions play a big part in the kinds of foundation problems you’re likely to experience. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Montgomery County sits on a wide coastal plain with four major soil types, mostly of the loam and clay variety.
With a mix of sand and clay, loam is generally good for foundation support. Clay expands and shrinks a lot with alternating wet and dry periods, which can put a lot of stress on foundations. This pressure and shifting can gradually weaken parts of your foundation, especially with localized issues like:
- Hurricanes and flooding (three of the last six major storms impacted Alabama)
- Excessive rain or wind
- Poor erosion management
Other (sometimes hidden) environmental factors that can cause your foundation to deteriorate:
- Tree roots that push on the foundation or pull moisture away from supporting soil
- Undetected plumbing or sewer leaks
- Improperly installed or damaged rain gutters
- Frost heave from extreme freezing and thawing
- Normal seepage from in-ground gunite pools
- Improper soil preparation below your slab
- Poor drainage around your home that causes water to collect at the foundation
- Construction activity on adjacent lots that causes your soil to shift
If all the soil under your foundation contracts and expands evenly, your house will probably settle normally. If only part of the house settles, that’s when trouble signs start to show up.
The most common signs of foundation damage in Montgomery, AL
In most cases, water tends to be the main cause of shifting soil under your house. Problems happen when this settling becomes extreme or happens unevenly. Hairline cracks, especially vertical ones, are normal, but large cracks that appear suddenly need attention. Sixty percent of homes built on expansive clay soils can end up with foundation trouble, and here are the most common warning signs.
Outside or under your home:
- Displaced moldings or trim materials
- Cracked broken or foundation elements
- Rafters that separate from ridge boards
- Cracked bricks – especially jagged, expanding cracks bigger than one-eighth of an inch
- Separation around garage doors, walls or windows
- Separating, deflecting, deforming, twisting, or tilting structural elements
Inside your home:
- Bulging, uneven, cracking, or sloping floors
- Doors or windows that start to stick, or don’t line up anymore
- New or expanding cracks in sheetrock
- Walls that separate from floors or ceilings
- Damp building materials, rotten wood, mold, water stains, or musty odors
- Condensation or moisture that collects in basements or crawl spaces
Most foundation problems can be taken care of affordably and quickly but you should contact an expert as soon as possible 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 coastal plain soil types around Montgomery, Alabama, here’s what you should know about repair options. It’s all about knowing how to ask the right questions.
- 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.
- 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. The downside is, the material breaks down over time.
- Concrete Piers – Before steel piers, poured-in-place concrete piers were preferred for new construction, and are also useful for repairs. It’s a good 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.
- Steel Piers – A technical improvement over concrete piers is the engineered steel pier. They’re effective for stabilizing a variety of foundation issues, but can be installed much more quickly than poured concrete and are a often less disruptive to your landscape.
- Helical Piers – Experts say that helical piers are among the most versatile 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 easier to install and customize and usually offer the best possible structural support.
The more you educate yourself about the pros and cons of these repair options, the more you improve your chances are of finding an affordable solution. A trustworthy foundation repair professional will help you find a quality solution that will fit your budget.
Buying or selling a home in Montgomery with foundation problems
For sellers, a foundation problem doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re stuck with the house, or that you’ll be forced to take a painfully low offer. You’ll want to get expert advice from a qualified technician as quickly as possible so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. The best foundation contractors offer transferable warranties that will give your buyer peace of mind.
As a buyer, it’s important to get an independent home inspection before you sign. A qualified structural engineer can tell you whether the house is structurally sound, but will likely not be able to help you with a cost estimate for repair. For that you’ll need to talk with a reputable foundation contractor before you make an offer to purchase the home. Many issues can be fixed easily and affordably.
How to find the right foundation repair help in Montgomery
In Montgomery, Alabama, foundation repair companies come in all sizes. Go with the smallest, and you might get a cheap bid up front, only to find that they disappear after (or during) the job.
Go with the cheapest, and you could get stuck with quality problems that cost you more than you saved. Go with the biggest, and you risk becoming just another sale.
Look for an experienced company that’s small enough to make you a priority, but large enough to back their work with solid warranty protection and customer service . Choose a contractor that offers a competitive price based on real value, but not a lowball bid that cuts corners on workmanship, quality, or materials. Beware of companies that use high-pressure sales tactics to rush you into the sale.
Personalized attention, quality, and value from a customer-first foundation expert
SouthernDry is family owned – small enough to give you the personalized service you deserve – and big enough to deliver the experience and reliability you need. We’re a foundation repair company first and foremast, and excel at, installing helical piers, crawl space repair, crawl space encapsulation, indoor air quality, drainage and basement waterproofing.
The primary objective 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 a local expert from the first estimate to final repair. Alabama is our home. 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.
Let us show you what sets SouthernDry apart. For peace of mind about your foundation, call us at (205) 719-2544 for a free home (or business) evaluation.