How to Hire a Foundation Repair Contractor

When hiring a foundation repair contractor, what qualifications should you look for?

Foundation Repair ContractorIf you’re like many homeowners, you may not be familiar with how repairs for foundation damage are completed. But, because your home is a large investment, you want to be sure that the job is done well.

So, how can you determine which repair contractor to trust for your home foundation repair?

Check Foundation Repair Contractor Credentials

Before anything else, make sure that any contractor you’re considering is qualified to handle foundation repair. This is a complex industry, so experience is essential.

Start by checking to see if the contractor has a valid contractor’s license. Look for local companies that are familiar with building codes, construction techniques and the soil conditions in your area. Contractors must have a solid understanding of how different types of foundations and soils react to the support system options that are commonly used for repairs.

For additional information, visit the Better Business Bureau website. There, you can see how long a company has been in business, review their rating and check out any complaints filed against them.

Check References from Previous Foundation Repair Customers

Before selecting a repair contractor, take the time to check their references.

Any reputable foundation company will be willing to provide you with references from former customers. Don’t just glance over the list, either. Contact the customers to obtain first-hand information on their experiences with the contractor.

Find out how their repairs went by asking specific questions:

  • Did the foundation contractor show up on time and complete the work on schedule?
  • Did the project come in according to their budget?
  • Was the repair job done professionally?
  • Would you hire the company again?

Checking references will give you a much better understanding of a foundation company’s quality of work and reliability.

Request Estimates from Foundation Repair Contractors

Industry experts recommend that you request repair quotes from at least a few local foundation contractors. To truly compare project estimates from different companies, request that the contractors provide these estimates in writing.

Ensure that each quote clearly defines the scope of work involved in the project. Repair costs, an estimated schedule for the job and any specific conditions, agreements or stipulations for the work should also be included.

Written project estimates should also contain warranty information, and list exactly what is covered and for how long. Finally, quotes should indicate if warranties are transferable in the event the home is sold.

A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau since 2002. If you need the services of a professional foundation repair contractor, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and estimate.

Does Cracked Paint Mean You Need Foundation Repair?

It’s probably time for foundation crack repair if you notice settlement cracks around the exterior of your home or damage to your basement walls. But what if you notice unusual cracks in the interior paint?

foundation repair

When you notice paint cracks inside the house, thoughts of repainting probably come to mind. And sometimes, a coat of fresh paint is all you need to solve the problem. But in some cases, cracked interior paint can be a reliable indicator of foundation settling.

So how can you tell if your cracking paint is no big deal, or a symptom of a larger, more serious settlement issue?

When Cracked Paint Signals Foundation Settlement Problems

Look closely at the cracks in your walls. Do the cracks stop with the paint?

Use a small flat-head screwdriver or utility knife to chip away loose paint. If you don’t see any damage to the wall underneath the painted surface, you probably don’t have foundation damage. In that case, you should be safe to add a new coat of paint.

If, however, the cracks extend beneath the paint, you may well have some foundation damage. Cracking that is adjacent to your doors or windows, or that originates from the corners of door or window frames is especially bad news.

Foundation-related cracks can also run diagonally (up or down) from the corners of the interior walls.

How Can Foundation Repair Fix Your Wall Cracks?

Interior cracks related to settlement occur when the structural weight of your home shifts, placing excess pressure and torque on walls, doors and windows. Foundation repair won’t repair the cracks – obviously – but it will correct the underlying structural problems that caused them.

Foundation contractors offer a variety of solutions to fix these structural issues.

For example, resistance piers or helical piers may be installed to shore up the settling foundation. Both types of piers consist of strong, heavy-duty steel tubes that are placed deep into the soil. The piers provide support and stabilize your walls, to prevent further settling and the subsequent interior cracking.

The type of piers used for your foundation repair will depend upon your soil conditions and the extent of your structural damage. Tieback anchors are another common foundation repair option, especially if you have bowed walls in the basement. Tiebacks secure cracked walls to the soil on the outside of the house, using tension to make the walls stronger and straighter.

Can You Paint Over the Cracks Instead of Having Foundation Repair?

If you’re at all in doubt as to whether or not your paint cracks are serious, contact a professional foundation contractor for an inspection.

Covering foundation cracks with a fresh coat of paint is like putting lipstick on a pig. The cosmetic fix may make it look better, but that’s merely a temporary disguise for what’s really underneath.

Foundation damage should never be ignored, as it will only get worse over time. This serious structural problem will never work itself out. And, if you repaint and put off the repairs, settling will progress unabated. Consequently, the damage will worsen and the repairs will be much more extensive –and expensive – when you do get around to it.

The professionals at Atlas Piers provide a full range of foundation restoration services to customers throughout Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Before you add that new coat of paint, contact us to schedule a free foundation repair consultation and estimate.

Paying for Foundation Repair: Financing Options for Homeowners

Foundation repair can create a financial obstacle for many homeowners. Not everyone has enough cash in the bank to cover the costs of fixing foundation damage and restoring the structural stability of their home.


Are your financial resources a challenge? Don’t let that stop you from having the foundation repairs you need. Failing to repair a settling or damaged foundation can lead to significant structural damage that compromises the safety and value of your home.

Instead of allowing the damage to continue, fund your foundation project with one of the many available financing options.

Use Your Home Equity to Fund Foundation Repairs

Have you considered leveraging the equity in your home? Borrowing against your home’s equity could provide you with the cash you need for foundation repairs.

A home equity loan can be a good option, as it provides you with a lump sum of money for the repair project. These fixed-rate loans have terms that range from five to fifteen years, and the payments and interest rate remain the same for the lifetime of the loan.

You could also opt for a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. This financial instrument is similar to a credit card, in that you are approved for a spending limit that you can access when you need it. Unlike a home equity loan, the payments for a HELOC are not typically fixed. Your payments will vary depending upon the amount borrowed and the current interest rate.

This financing option may be preferable if you anticipate needing funds for other home repairs in the future.

Finance Your Foundation Repair with a Government Loan

If you don’t have enough equity in your home to fund the repairs, you may be eligible for a government-backed home improvement loan.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), offers Title I loans that can be used for home improvements and foundation structural repairs.

Or, if you have a limited income and live in an eligible area, you may qualify for a Section 504 Home Repair loan through the Rural Housing Service (RHS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program also provides grants for foundation repair projects to homeowners age 62 or older.

Other Ways to Pay for Your Foundation Repair

Can you qualify for an unsecured, interest-free credit card? Charge only your foundation project on the new card and pay it off over the course of a year. In essence, you’re financing your project by breaking up the expense into 12 equal, monthly payments.

You could also consider applying for a personal loan at your bank or credit union. Or, check with your foundation repair contractor. Many offer financing options that make your project more affordable.

The professional foundation repair and restoration team at Atlas Piers understands that structural settlement is a concern for many homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary inspection and estimate for your residential foundation repair.

Prevent Foundation Damage with These Three Steps

Most homeowners don’t think about foundation damage – until they develop a crack, leak or settling, that is.

foundation damage Utah


Although most structural and settlement issues can be repaired, waiting until a serious problem develops can be a costly mistake. Save yourself the aggravation and expense involved with foundation repair by taking steps to prevent or avoid this damage from happening.

Prevent Foundation Damage by Grading Your Yard

Take a look at the soil around your home’s foundation. Does it slope away from your house? If the dirt isn’t properly angled, water won’t drain away properly. The results of standing water and residual moisture can eventually lead to foundation settlement and related problems.

To protect your home, your yard must be graded to slope downward at least 6 inches over 10 feet of soil.

You can use a contractor’s level to check the slope of your yard. Place one end of the tool where the soil meets your foundation wall. Then, holding it in a level position, measure the space between the end of the tool and the top of the soil.

Now, just do some math. Let’s say you used a 2-foot level and measured a 3-inch gap. To see what your slope is over 10 feet, you’ll need to multiply that 3-inch measurement by 5 (because 10 feet ÷ 2 feet = 5). So, your slope is 15 inches, which is sufficient, as it is steeper than the necessary 6-inch grade.

If your grade is less than 6 inches over 10 feet, however, you must re-grade to create the proper soil slope. A local landscaper or excavation contractor can assist you, if the job is larger than you feel comfortable handling yourself.

Maintain Your Downspouts to Prevent Foundation Damage

The right soil slope will help direct water away from your home and prevent foundation damage. But, without effective downspouts, rainwater running off your roof will cascade down onto the soil below, causing erosion and seeping into your basement or crawlspace.

Make sure that your downspouts are directed between 5 and 10 feet away from your house. If yours are not, install extenders or an underground downspout diverter to allow water to drain away from your foundation. And, of course, maintain all of your rain gutters free of debris to prevent blockages.

Avoid Foundation Damage by Keeping Soil at a Constant Moisture Level

Foundation damage is frequently the result of soil expansion and contraction. Consequently, if you can keep the soil around your home at a constant level of moisture, you can help avoid settlement and stress on your foundation walls.

Check to see if there is a gap between your foundation walls and the soil. No gap means your moisture level is good; however, if you see a gap, you gently add water to the soil around your foundation until the dirt expands and closes the gap.

To keep the moisture level constant and protect your foundation, add low-water-use native plant species around your home. Be careful, however, as any large root systems that grow too close to your house can cause foundation problems. Talk to your local nursery or landscape company for plant recommendations.

Atlas Piers serves homeowners throughout Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and to learn more about how to prevent or repair foundation damage.

These Foundation Repair Myths Can Cost You Money

Foundation Repair Myths

How much do you really know about foundation repair? Probably not a whole lot, if you’re like most homeowners. So, you search for information online.

Unfortunately, misleading information can lead to devastating structural damage. Let’s look at the three most common misconceptions about foundation repair and the facts that can save you time, trouble and money. Continue reading “These Foundation Repair Myths Can Cost You Money” »

Solving Structural Problems of Foundation Settling

Solving Structural Problems

Common indications of foundation settling include cracked or bowing walls, sloping floors and a leaning chimney. Continue reading “Solving Structural Problems of Foundation Settling” »

Minimize Foundation Settlement with These Preventive Measures

Foundation Settlement Prevention

Foundation settlement is a persistent problem facing many homeowners.

Whether your home is brand new or designated historic, preserving its foundational support is critical for avoiding structural damage. Periodic inspection and diligence are important for detecting foundation settling problems before they progress. Continue reading “Minimize Foundation Settlement with These Preventive Measures” »

How to Diagnose Foundation Settlement Cracks and Problems

Diagnosing Foundation Settling

If you suspect a foundation settlement problem at your home – or even if you don’t suspect one – early warning signs can alert you to an impending problem. Continue reading “How to Diagnose Foundation Settlement Cracks and Problems” »

The Foundation Settling Warning Signs You May Miss

Foundation Settling Warning Signs

Foundation settling, left uncorrected, can cause a variety of structural problems in and around your home.

Before more obvious warning signs appear, you may notice some of the more subtle signs of an impending problem. And, although foundation repair and stabilization are possible to achieve after extensive damage has occurred, catching the problem early can save you money and restore your peace of mind.

If you do happen to notice any of these indications, err on the side of caution and have your foundation inspected as soon as possible.

Sticking Doors and Windows

If you’ve ever pulled on a door and met with resistance, the chances are good that you blamed the problem on humidity and a swollen door.

Swollen doors do stick, and humidity is often the cause. Unfortunately, your doors or windows may stick for another reason: foundation settling.

When a building’s foundation experiences settlement, walls shift and move. This takes the normally square and plumb window and door frames out of alignment. And, as a result, the still-square door or window doesn’t move properly any longer.

In extreme cases, the shifting pressure can press hard enough on the window frame that the glass cracks. By the time the situation degrades this far, you may start to notice other signs as well.

Sloping Floors

If you have an older home, sloped floors are fairly common. Consequently, you might not give it much thought.

And, because foundation settling happens gradually over time, you may not even notice. Meanwhile, things down below continue to degrade.

You can test your floors easily using a laser level or large carpenter’s level.

If a level isn’t available, place a marble or billiard ball on the floor, four or five feet from an exterior wall. Stabilize it then remove your finger and watch to see if it rolls or stays in place. Retest in several locations around the room.

Cracked Exterior Block or Stucco

Foundation settling often causes the exterior walls of your home to shift or sink. As a result, cracks can develop in brick, block or stucco.

Most often, these manifest in a “Z” formation on the outside of the wall, running diagonally from near the top of the wall downward. You may not notice them inside until much later, as drywall is better able to handle this lateral movement without cracking.

Many homeowners believe that these cracks occur naturally over time, or as the stucco or mortar ages and dries out. Unless the home’s structure has shifted in some way, however, these “Z” cracks rarely appear.

Finally, don’t be fooled by an exterior crack that appears to be old or that doesn’t seem to worsen. Much like the sloping floor, foundation settling happens slowly enough that worsening appears imperceptible until, one day, the gap will become even larger than ever.

Throughout Utah, Wyoming and Nevada, Atlas Piers assists both commercial and residential customers with foundation settlement problems. Using advanced technology to stabilize shifting soils and restore structural components, we can correct the underlying problem and stop further degradation.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to inspect your home, if you suspect that you may be experiencing foundation settling.

Can Foundation Sinking Be Caused by Drought?

Foundation Settling Drought

Incidents of foundation sinking and settlement are on the rise in both Utah and Nevada, and our current drought conditions may be to blame.

In Utah, more than 77 percent of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and rainfall totals have been significantly below average for several years. The situation is even worse in Nevada, where almost 2 million people live in drought areas.

Unfortunately, many residents are now learning that these abnormally dry conditions can even disturb their home’s foundation.

Why Drought Conditions Can Affect Your Home’s Foundation

When drought conditions persist over the course of years, the area’s soil becomes more and more dry. As it dries out, the soil compacts or shrinks, pulling away from your home’s foundation. When it does happen to rain, the soil rapidly expands, then shrinks again as soon as it dries out.

The Intermountain West is even more prone to these problems because our shallow clay-type soils expand and contract excessively, and are unable to retain moisture well. This roller coaster ride can throw your foundation into a cycle of sinking and heaving, with settlement damage as the likely outcome.

But wait, there’s more.

In extended periods of excessive dryness or drought, established plants, shrubs and trees send their root systems out in search of water. If you have any plants near your home, the chances are excellent their roots are down there right now, sucking up the last of the soil’s precious moisture.

And, of course, that exacerbates the existing challenges.

The Alarming Potential of Excessive Settling

If your home found a way to settle evenly all the way around, you would probably never notice a problem. Unfortunately, it almost never happens that way.

As the soil dries and shrinks, the foundation loses more support in some spots than others. The weight of the structure forces those unsupported portions downward

Normally, a home’s weight presses downward equally around the perimeter, where the foundation’s support is the strongest. When one corner or side of the foundation sinks, the delicate balance of weight distribution shifts. Walls begin to flex and lean, exerting pressure on walls that were never meant to support it.

In extreme cases, left uncorrected, excessive settling can render the home structurally unsound and uninhabitable. If caught and corrected, however, settling is relatively simple to correct.

Watch for These Key Indicators of Foundation Settling

The most common indicators of settling include the development of cracks in your walls, floor tile or exterior stucco. If your home is made of brick or block, you may notice z-shaped cracks developing. The true telltale cracks are those that extend diagonally from the corners of window and door frames.

If you notice that doors or windows suddenly stick or refuse to open, you may have a problem in the works.

Leaning chimneys and sloping floors are some of the late-stage indicators. If these symptoms appear and you haven’t yet sought help for the problem, time may be running out.

The good news is that foundation settlement can be corrected. Atlas Piers specializes in stabilizing the structure and preventing further problems. Serving clients in Utah, Nevada and Wyoming, we are standing by to assist you with repair and stabilization for all of your commercial and residential foundation sinking problems.