How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Foundation?
Like the roots of a tree, your home’s foundation is essential. Without it, your home is anchorless, and if there’s a problem, the rest of your home will reflect that.
Not only does your home’s foundation keep the house standing up, it also works as a barrier for moisture, cold, and movement beneath the ground. Like a tree’s roots, the foundation is essential, and your home couldn’t be here without it.
The average foundation weighs 7.5 tons , and when built properly, it’s meant to last several lifetimes. Issues in your foundation will likely mean a costly repair, but nonetheless is essential to the health and longevity of your property.
Read on to get a proper foundation on foundations, as well as the types of repairs and costs associated with them.
How Can I Identify Foundation Issues?
Foundation problems can be costly, so it’s best to identify them while they’re still minor. The sooner you solve a problem in the foundation, the less likely it is to wreak havoc on the rest of your home.
Try to do visual sweeps of your home, both interior and exterior, on a semi-regular basis to look for problems. Some signs that there could be a foundation issue include:
• A wet basement. If you notice your basement or crawl space is regularly moist, then water could be coming through cracks in the foundation. The water can lead to mold, musty smells, and sagging floors throughout the house.
• Insects in the basement or subterranean crawl spaces. If you’re finding bugs, specifically carpenter ants, roaches, pill bugs, or centipedes, there’s a good chance there’s a crack in the foundation.
• Cracks and crooked structures. Are your floors sagging or doorways going crooked? Are your walls bowing or cracking? If you start to notice these issues in your home, they might all be part of a larger problem with the foundation.
• Standing water outside your home. The rule of thumb with water is that it should flow away from your home. If water is being diverted incorrectly from your home or if gutters or downspouts aren’t working properly, you could see problems with the foundation.
If you’re repeatedly running into any of the above, you’ll probably want to reach out to a foundation expert.
Types of Foundation Issues & Associated Repairs
No two foundation issues are built alike, so before you break into a cold sweat about the cost of a potential repair, working with a structural engineer or foundation expert may help identify the cause of your issue.
For most of the issues listed below, water and moisture tend to cause the problem. Freezing, heating, expanding, and swelling can bring about most of these challenges. You’re more likely to run into problems with your foundation if:
• It was built on clay
• It was built on fill soils that weren’t compacted correctly
• There’s bad drainage around it
• There are wide seasonal temperature variations in your area
• You’ve had leaky plumbing
• Tree roots are growing around or too close to your home
• There have been natural events like earthquakes, floods, or draughts in your area
If you’re seeing foundation problems and you have any of the above criteria, you could be looking at some necessary repairs. While it can be daunting, the sooner you do something, the less the repairs may cost. Waiting until the last minute may bring about additional costs.
If a crack in your wall or in your foundation is larger than an eighth of an inch, calling in a structural engineer may be necessary. Your foundation might be settling, and depending on the location and severity of the crack, you could be looking at a relatively simple patching project or a larger, systemic issue.
Even if the crack isn’t structural, you’ll want to get it repaired. Cracks may lead to problems like moisture leakage.
Estimated Cost: $250-$800
For leaks, you may want to talk to a professional about ways to mitigate the moisture. That could mean installing drains around the outside of your home, coating the foundation in a sealant, or applying additional waterproofing.
These repairs are more expensive than repairing cracks, but if you don’t take care of leaks when you find them, you’ll probably be looking at more damage down the line.
Estimated Cost: $2,000-$6,000
If your home is a new build, a little sinking or settling should be expected in the first few years. However, if settling persists, you may want to address the problem as soon as possible.
Sometimes, sinking can only be identified after other issues, like leaking or cracks, emerge. To prevent additional sinking or setting, the foundation may need to be leveled.
With a team of contractors, you may be able to raise the home back to its original height. They’ll likely use a method like mudjacking—raising the structure using piers.
These solutions are only as useful as the soil or ground around your home, however. If you don’t resolve problems with the land your home is built on, you may find yourself with the same issues down the line.
If you notice your basement walls bowing, you may want to consider having them reinforced. Similar to sinking or settling, poor soil around your home can add to the problem, so you may want to address that issue at the same time.
The sooner you repair bowing walls, the less likely you may see other problems like settling. To repair bowing, foundation experts typically use steel or carbon fiber to stabilize the walls.
Estimated Cost: $350-$1,000 per reinforcement beam
Saving Your Structure Without Losing Your Financial Foundation
Dealing with a foundation emergency can be upsetting, but it happens to many of us. After noticing and identifying the problem, the most important thing you can do is fix it as soon as possible. Foundation problems can lead to an avalanche of other issues, so if you don’t have the cash on hand for a repair, you may need to find some funds ASAP.
Dipping into Emergency Savings
If you have some savings socked away, you might consider pulling from that to take care of your foundation repairs.
Unfortunately, one study indicates that more than 30% of American homeowners don’t have money set aside for an emergency repair.
Perhaps you only recently bought your home and are strapped for cash. In that case, you’re not alone—44% of homeowners run into a large unexpected repair less than a year into buying their home.
Using a Home Equity Line of Credit
Don’t have cash to pay for the repair? You might want to consider exploring a HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit. A HELOC helps you use your home’s equity to cover the cost of a home repair, and your home and its value are used as collateral.
HELOCs typically have a low interest rate, and you only take out the money as needed, which means you only pay interest on the withdrawal amount.
However, HELOCs typically come with a variable interest rate and can have some high costs upfront. Most importantly, remember you’re using your home as collateral, so in the event you’re unable to repay it, you could be forced to sell your home.
Personal/Home Improvement Loan
If you don’t have cash to pay for repairs, and a HELOC sounds like too much, you might consider a personal loan. A personal loan can be used for home improvement projects, also called a home improvement loan, and unlike a HELOC, a personal loan with SoFi has fixed rates and no fees. If using your home as collateral gives you pause, a personal loan might be the right fit for you.
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