Frequently Asked Questions

Concrete Pier Systems

Learn More About Foundation Repair in Austin, Texas

Douglas Foundation Solutions believes in providing as much information as possible so that our clients can be better informed about the foundations in their homes and businesses.

You’ll be happy to know that this is not indicative of a foundation issue. Corner cracks are COMMON in red brick homes. The culprit is the temperature differential on one side of the home vs. the other. One side of the home will always receive more sunlight than the other. The sunlight heats the bricks, which are not directly tied to the foundation. These bricks “float” on the foundation, and when they heat up they expand and push downward. Because the concrete below is not tied into the rebar “bone” system in your foundation, this is an easy place for the concrete to crack. The repair for this problem is a trip to your local home improvement store for a container of concrete patch and paint if required.

Although the Austin area is a beautiful and exciting place to live, it does come with its drawbacks. From a foundation perspective, the expansive clay soil that many of our homes and commercial buildings are built upon swells as it becomes saturated with rain and shrinks as it dries. Over time, change in volume creates movement for foundations that sit above the soil as they rise and sink. By installing piers to support your home, the weight of the home is distributed among these piers that are sunk deep into the earth beyond the reach of the seasonal soil variations above. This gives your Central Texas home or business a much sturdier support that can withstand the constant wet/dry cycles of our climate.

Typically the actual work of foundation repair takes one day. However, certain variables may mean that your project may take a bit longer. Our expert team can complete approximately 8-10 piers per day, so if you have many piers that need to be installed it may take longer to complete the repair. Larger projects can take an additional day for final cleanup and concrete patching. Projects requiring interior piers generally take longer as well, because of the prep work and final clean up.

In addition, if your home has a crawlspace and is on a pier and beam foundation that requires a Sonotube pier installation, we will need to schedule a return visit. The concrete that we pour to form the piers will need several days to cure completely. After the concrete has cured, we will return to the home to remove the temporary supports so that your new piers completely support the weight of the building.

Many of our clients have bushes, planters, trees or grass next to their homes that will be affected by our work. Our team only removes or trims those foundation plantings that are directly in the way of the installation process. Whenever we install exterior foundation piers, we only dig holes that are large enough to allow us to properly access the foundation. These holes are located about one foot under the slab and are 36 inches square and about 4-5 feet deep.

We carefully place any displaced soil on a tarp in your yard to keep the area as neat and tidy as possible. When our work is complete, we replace the soil underneath and around your home.

We will make a sincere attempt to prune bushes back to access our pier locations. However, in some cases we may need to dig up and remove your plants. We can attempt to replant them, but can offer no guarantee that the plants will survive. In our experience, established shubs, trees and other plantings often experience transplant shock that will ultimately cause that plant to fail.

If you have foundation plantings that are important to you, you should choose to remove these plants yourself one or two days prior to the foundation work and replant them yourself or with the assistance of your landscape company.

Our team has years of experience in foundation repair, and we dig with extreme care. However, when we start a project we do not know if your plumbing lines are below the ground or in the slab. Because of this, sometimes there is no way that we can avoid a broken pipe. We are conscientious and cautious, but pipes do occasionally get broken during the digging or lift process.

When we raise the home, the plumbing lines typically come up with the house and there is no problem. Since we are lifting the home as much as practical, when a drain pipe does appear to break, it is usually at a coupling or joint.

If damage happens during the foundation repair we are not responsible. This is standard in the foundation repair industry. Please refer to your contract’s terms and conditions on the back of each contract. If there is a mechanical line break, we may assist you in locating a professional repair person but we do not pay for these repairs.

We will treat your home as if it is our own, and we will take extreme care when lifting the foundation. We understand how houses are plumbed and we use common sense when performing the work. However, because we cannot see under the ground or under the slab, sometimes damage may occur during the foundation repair process that cannot be foreseen or avoided.

Many of our clients do not notice any interior changes as a result of the lifting process. However, be aware that it is always possible that cracks and other changes may occur during and in the weeks after the lift process. It likely took years for your home to settle and show signs of stress on your wall and floor finishes. Your home is always under some form of stress due to the hydration fluctuations in the soil below the foundation. These include weather changes and load/lift scenarios. As your foundation settles out of level, the lowest part of your home’s foundation actually starts to take on more of the load of your home because the center roof fulcrum is shifting. Similar to a boat that leans to one side, more of the total weight goes to the lowest area of the structure. This is one reason a home that starts to settle usually starts settling faster and faster as it gets lower and lower. Rotation or tilting of the home creates a lot of energy that is absorbed by the foundation, walls, roof rafters and finishes of your home. The stress on your home becomes obvious by cracks appearing and finishes popping off, or doors and windows that do not work. In other instances the entire home will move as a unit and even though it is tilted, it shows little or no stress.

When we lift a home it happens so slowly that you need a timelapse to visibly see a difference. However, because the foundation settles over a period of years, your finishes have had time to adjust over time to your home’s tilted state. In fact, if you noticed cracks in your drywall or tile you may have already repaired them while your home was tilted. When your home is raised, we are gently forcing these materials to return to their original installed position, putting stress on the material. This may result in cracks in drywall, tile, and other interior or exterior finishes, particularly in areas that have previously been repaired. This is a natural and unavoidable outcome of repairing your foundation.

Our recommendation is to wait at least a month before repairing interior cracks to allow all of the changes to manifest. However, exterior cracks should be repaired immediately to ensure that water, air and insects are prevented from entering the home.

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that your home will be completely level. The standard in the foundation repair industry is to take the home as close to level “as practical.” The reason for this is that each home is constructed differently. In many cases, the builder, knowing that the home’s foundation is quickly going to be covered and not examined by the future homeowner, may skimp on materials and proper foundation design. This may mean that your foundation is not reinforced as well as it should be, or that the builder never installs the soft sand below your foundation that allows the plumbing lines underneath your home to gently release when the home is lifted.

As foundation repair professionals, we continually monitor the status of the home, its foundation and the pipes beneath it for signs of stress. If we notice anything going wrong while raising your home’s foundation, we will immediately stop the lift so that we can prevent additional damage from occurring. This may mean that we need to stop short of level in order to protect your home from further damage.

Some communities around Austin require permits for foundation repair; others don’t. Before beginning work on your home, Douglas Foundation Solutions will acquire all relevant permits.

No, unfortunately this is not advised. Any work that we do would void the homebuilder’s warranty.

It depends. If you want to retain your existing warranty from the company that provided the original repair work, then you should call the company that performed the repair. Any work that we do will invalidate the previous company’s warranty. However, if you want to start fresh and have us correct the issue, we would be happy to help.