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Licensed Engineer
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Last fall we noticed that the bricks in the wall of our open porch which is common to the garage were shifting. The porch has also been slowly settling at the outer edge furthest from the house and I have used backer rod with concrete joint sealant to keep these joints sealed. So we called a number of brick masons last fall requesting prices to tuck point and repair the ~60 square feet of brick veneer wall with issues.

Many masons never bothered to show up but the second one who did informed us the problem wasn't failing mortar joints between the bricks but a failing foundation under the porch and one corner of the garage. He quoted us over $21,000 to repair it. The job would require 3 weeks or more, during which time we could not use our front door or our garage, we would need to store all misc household & yard items in the garage elsewhere, store our cars in the street, and use our patio door as the sole entrance and exit for our home. He would demo the entire porch and corner of the garage, support the roof temporarily while he excavated 8 feet deep, poured a new footer pinned to the house footing, and rebuilt the masonry walls supporting the porch. Not a job to have done in an occupied home if there are alternatives!

So I called a company who uses helical piers to stabilize building foundations as a second opinion. I have used similar devices on my industrial & commercial construction projects as angled tie-backs to stabilize the sheet piling walls of deep excavations but had never used them as a vertical support method.

Foundation settlement was confirmed. Job was quoted as requiring 5 helical piers, work window 1 to 1-1/2 days, cost was a third of that to demo & reconstruct the porch foundation from 8 feet below grade as the masonry contractor wanted to do. I saved another $500 by producing and sealing the necessary permit drawings with my own PE stamp rather than the contractor hiring a PE to do this.

Today was the big day and this is the only home repair project that has ever had me nervous. Contractor arrived at 8:30am and job was complete by 1:30pm. The Building Inspector arrived just as the fifth pier was about to be augered into the ground so he got to see a pier being installed and no time was wasted wasting for his arrival.

We only wanted to stabilize our home, not lift it, because we had new vinyl siding and trim installed last summer - the exact wrong sequence for these two jobs! We were worried that lifting the porch would crinkle or buckle all of last year's work. The foundation crew foreman and Building Inspector agreed 100%. The settlement that remains is undetectable unless you know to search for it, and a lifetime warranty means we can sell the home in ten years with no worries about foundation repair being in the sales agreement.

Our home was constructed in 1978 in an area of clay soils. The last 2 or 3 years of drier than normal climate caused the clay at 4 feet below grade to dry and shrink which led to the settlement. The link below will take you to a web site of a helical pier product manual where they are explained for anyone who is curious.


http://www.inspectcheck.net/client_link_i_had_an_inspection/i_need_structural_repairs/Foundation Settling Repair
 
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