When your home needs repairs, it can be an intimidating process. Whom do you trust to invite into your home? To do the quality work you want? How do you know if they’re the right “fit” for you?
We have an article that can help you with that aspect: it’s a checklist of questions to ask a contractor, and it can be used for any kind of contractor. But there’s something else you need to consider. When you need foundation repair or waterproofing, the construction of your foundation is a factor. Not all contractors can repair all types of foundation.
Acculevel has been repairing homes and waterproofing basements and crawl spaces since 1996. We use up-to-date techniques, the best materials available, and employ some of the best installation crews in the industry. But even we can’t fix everything! Most of our foundation repair methods are designed for concrete or concrete block foundations.
In this article, we’re going to address the different types of building materials used in home foundations. We’ll explain what services we can provide, explain our limitations, and recommend who might be a better option for you.
What if I Have a Brick Foundation?
First, you will want to make sure that you do have a truly all-brick foundation. Many homes have a brick veneer that covers a concrete foundation. If the brick is only a veneer, all the typical foundation and waterproofing services are readily available.
If you do have an all-brick construction, your home was probably built before 1920. Unfortunately, finding the right service provider for an historic home can be difficult. Companies like Acculevel, who specialize in repairing concrete foundations, cannot use their standard techniques on brick. There are some services that we can offer all-brick homes, but it’s a shorter list, predominantly centered around waterproofing.
Your Options if Your Home IS Solid Brick:
Is one of the walls in your basement or crawl space bowing? Is your foundation shifting or settling? You need to work with a structural engineer. The industry standard methods of carbon fiber straps or helical piers most likely will not work.
If your foundation is solid, but has damaged bricks, contact a local masonry company. You’re looking for a quality tradesman who can work with your home’s design, not just the bricks themselves. They should be able to repair the damage, and find something that will closely mimic or match the original materials used.
Brick patios or walkways cannot be slabjacked or mudjacked. These methods are meant for concrete lifting only. Concrete lifting relies in part on the rigidity of solid sections of concrete; there are too many individual pieces in a brick walk for this method to be reliable. But again, please be sure the brick isn’t built over/on top of concrete. Once you confirm the walkway is entirely brick, you want to find a good landscaper or general contractor.
If you have water getting into your basement or crawl space, the material of your foundation isn’t such a major factor for waterproofing companies. Most can install water drainage in these homes. We would recommend encapsulation as well as waterproofing; brick and mortar are more porous than concrete, and encapsulation will reduce the moisture and humidity in your home.
Both photos were taken by Acculevel staff: A brick basement, before and after encapsulation
What if I Have a Stone Foundation?
The limitations of a stone foundation are identical to those with brick foundations. Again, please verify that the stone is not a veneer over concrete. Many modern houses have extremely convincing facades that can fool the casual observer!
This porch is stone veneer over concrete; we installed helical piers to lift it back into position.(Both photos were taken by Acculevel staff.)
Can Anyone Work on a Wood Foundation?
Homes with wood foundations are very rare. It’s not a popular building material for basements or crawl spaces, given how “perishable” the material is. Most homes that were built with this type of foundation have either had -or are in need of- major repairs. If you do have a wooden foundation, we advise you to consult with a general contractor and/or carpenter. If you need the foundation replaced, a concrete specialist or construction company will be a better fit.
What Can You Repair on a Slab Foundation?
The options for a slab foundation are directly the opposite of brick and stone. Most present-day foundation repair companies focus on concrete foundations; so our repair methods can help a sagging floor or settling foundation. Helical piers or slabjacking are usually the best repair methods for these issues.
But if you’re dealing with water intrusion, this is where you need to look beyond waterproofing companies. This is because most of those contractors (including Acculevel) use a drainage system that is designed to go around the inside perimeter of your house.
For a slab foundation home with water problems, your best option is to stop the water from reaching your house. We suggest you talk to landscapers or general contractors. They will be able to help you correct the grading around your home, or to install external water drainage like a french drain.
I don’t mean to be pushy, but I want to remind you that we have a free downloadable guide of questions to ask a contractor. You are welcome to use it for ANY type of contractor- these questions aren’t specific to our field of expertise. They are equally applicable to roofers, plumbers, masons, etc. I emphasize this to you because we never want anyone in our community to be deceived by a scammer imitating a legitimate contractor.
If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your gutters or checked out your crawl space, we also offer a DIY home inspection checklist. This will walk you through the process of evaluating your foundation both inside and out.
If Your Home Needs Repairs
You should find an experienced foundation company, and make an appointment. Before you sign a contract for any service, we urge you to always verify the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. If you have noticed any problems and would like an evaluation, you can request a free estimate. An experienced project manager will examine the areas of concern and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.