Originally posted 9/28/2018, updated 1/7/2021
I’ve made this comment in other articles, but it bears repeating: I have a great deal of respect for quality craftspeople who can make their own repairs. As someone who is not mechanically inclined, I’m impressed by electricians, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, all contractors of expertise.
I don’t say this to disrespect a quality DIYer. But there is a reason these tradespeople have formally trained, interned, and earned their skills. Sometimes, you need a true expert to guarantee repairs are done correctly. And if your foundation needs repairs? You need to be confident that the problem has been accurately diagnosed and thoroughly repaired.
But finding the right repair company can be difficult. How do you know if they’re qualified? Where do you look for recommendations? How do you verify if they’re reputable, or a scam?
Acculevel has been repairing foundations and waterproofing basements since their start in 1996. Family-owned and operated, we are based out of Rossville; it’s a small town in central Indiana where neighbors take care of each other and are involved in their community. We believe everyone has a right to a safe and healthy home, and we want to help you find the contractor you need- without being cheated or treated unfairly.
To help homeowners find a qualified and reliable contractor, we’ve provided five essential attributes to check out before signing a contract with anyone.
You need to look for a company that specializes in foundation repairs. They will know the best products, the most effective methods, and they should offer an extended warranty on their installation. Acculevel guarantees most of their foundation repairs for the life of your structure. (Crack repairs are warrantied for 5 years.)
A repair company that provides a broader range of services may be able to do the job- but you can’t be sure they’ll diagnose properly. As an example: one of the signs of a settling foundation is windows that stick. You don’t want to hire someone who incorrectly determines you need to replace your windows- only to discover a year later the new windows are now sticking because the foundation was the true issue all along.
Word of mouth and personal interaction are the easiest ways to determine if a contractor is right for you. Ask people you know, who have needed the same services: neighbors, friends, your local HOA. You can also check with realtors or the chamber of commerce.
You’ll probably want to read reviews of their work, which can be helpful. Just remember to take these with a grain of salt. Some companies pay people to post good reviews or testimonials, have their employees (or family members, friends, etc) create false entries, or engage in other deceptive shenanigans. Google is developing methods to prevent or “flag” these entries, and many retailers now tag reviews if they’re from a verified purchaser- but be aware that the potential exists.
We highly recommend that you use the Better Business Bureau to verify the company is accredited, insured and how long they have been in business. Their site also contains reviews, complaints, and a business rating.
You should ask the contractor about their employees’ status before agreeing to work with them. Will the people working in your home be direct employees, vetted by the company? Or do they employee subcontractors? Make sure you know who will be liable, if something unexpected happens.
When you contact a company to schedule an estimate, they should respond promptly and respectfully. The representative who comes to your home should also be respectful, and listen when you explain your concerns.
Some contractors are very good about explaining things in layman’s terms, but others may use unfamiliar or technical terms. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification, or a more detailed explanation. Take notes, read blogs (like this one!) that explain how and why specific solutions are recommended. The more you know, the more confident you can be when evaluating your options.
Last, but not least, the estimate and payment terms should be clear and direct. Make sure you know what costs you’ll be responsible for; are there taxes or fees not included in the price? What if there are permits required? Are the items individually priced, or is it a “lump sum” they’re quoting? We have another article here, that breaks down the permits, surcharges, and fees most commonly found in our industry.
A Word of Caution: most contractors require a deposit before the work can begin. On average, this deposit should be 25-30% of your total cost. If a company or contractor wants 50% or more, proceed with extreme caution. We are not aware of any reputable company that requires prepayment.
Many repair companies offer discounts, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the best price. We explain the pros & cons of contractor discounts.
Want to hire a reputable company, get the repairs you need, and stay on budget? Here are three simple steps to getting the best deal.
If you’ve scheduled for a contractor to come to your home, please consider our free, downloadable guide to questions you should ask a contractor.
The Next Step
For a free, in-depth look at foundation repair, check out our guide. You can read it from end to end, select the chapter relevant to you, or bookmark it as a reference when you meet with contractors.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. We are a family-owned and operated company, and we provide free written estimates. One of our experienced project managers will evaluate your home and foundation, then recommend the best course of action for you. We believe everyone deserves a healthy and secure home, and we want to help you protect yours.