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So Long Foundation: the results of builder incompetence

DISCLAIMER: The words in italics are those of Mrs. Traci Peacock, reproduced verbatim from an interview conducted with her for this article and used under her consent.

Along with foundation damage, builder incompetence might just be the greatest danger your house could face. This time we will share the story of Traci Peacock and her husband who, much to their dismay, discovered that what they thought was foundation damage, went far beyond just that.

Throughout this narrative, Traci will share their thoughts and feelings as they found themselves in such a regrettable position and how, with our help, they were finally able to overcome it.

TRACI: My husband and I bought this property from the original builder back in 1972. We started noticing shifting right after 7 years. We are from Arkansas and we spend a lot of time over there, unfortunately we ignored the signs for a very long time. We started to notice uneven floors and a lot of cracks but we always thought it was normal. It was until 2017 that a friend visited our house and was surprised at what he saw. He said our house had severe foundation problems and that we should contact a foundation specialist.

So here is where we come in. With the help of their friend they realized that the bowing walls and sloping floors that they had grown accustomed to, were actually telling them of the damage that had, for so long, taken hold of their house. They knew that a foundation repair was urgent, so it was a matter of finding the right guys for the job.

TRACI: Our next door neighbor had just used fix about a year ago to fix her foundation and she was the one who recommended them to us. Jorge, the specialist from iFIX, came the next day. He was thorough, courteous and professional. He answered all our questions and explained the whole process. We were very impressed with his knowledge and so we decided to hire them.

Since we got there the damage was pretty evident, so much so that we knew it could be more than straightforward foundation damage. The house was in such a bad state that it was quite possible that it had been poorly constructed so we let Traci know of this from the start; and we wouldn’t know how bad it was until we had the chance to inspect the foundation directly.

TRACI: The surprise came when we realized our house was much worse than we could ever imagine…

Now it is quite important to say that while our work will always be top quality, the results will be directly influenced by how the house was built. If the house was poorly built there is only so much we can do.

So we started digging in order to get to the piers; what we found only confirmed our suspicions. There were no tension cables in the foundation, no rebars either. The areas between pier and pier were just hanging there. The house was not that old, having been constructed after the International Residential Building Code was adopted so it was without a doubt a case of absolute negligence. Add to this the expansive soil and it’s a wonder the house was still standing after all this time. How this construction had passed inspection is anyone’s guess.

And since there were no steel reinforcements the concrete had no strength whatsoever. As we installed the new piers the concrete was crumbling down or shattering just like glass.

The only thing we could do was to install the new piers that would work temporarily. When we arrived the house was already 12 inches below it’s original and intended level. With the new piers we manage to compensate and reduce this difference to 6 inches, but still drastic measures had to be taken, and it had to be done as soon as possible to prevent even further damage.

TRACI: Jorge explained that our home had severe foundation problems and that there was a chance that it would not be perfectly leveled due to the extend of the damage; this would depend on the quality of the foundation. He warned us that when builders cut corners it is not uncommon to find challenges during repairs. We never imagined that when fix started to dig inside the house they would find that the slab was wrongfully done. The concrete was just about 4” thick. It had no rebar and no concrete beams.

We had to options. Either leave the levels like they were; the piers would prevent the house from sinking down, but we would still have about 6 inches of slope. Besides we would need to do foam jacking, to fill in all the voids under the slave to prevent it from crumbling even further in the future. Or, the second option, which was the best for the property: to jack up the walls and replace the whole foundation. We were shocked and couldn’t even believe that was an option until Jorge showed us pictures while explaining the entire process. It was a challenging and expensive process, but we trusted him and iFIX enough to say yes.

The solution was to build an entire new foundation by casting the concrete following the respective codes and standards. The way this is achieved is by suspending the walls with hydraulic jacks and placing temporary concrete blocks every 8 to 10 feet to support the walls along with extra supports for the roof.

Then it is time to level it taking the framing as reference. Door framings and wall plates serve as additional reference to make sure everything is leveled out correctly.

Then, like dwarves in search for gold, we dig. And dig. And dig some more. We then replace the entire plumbing system. Then we make the ditches where the new beams will be placed; we add the moisture barrier, lay the rebar grid in place and finally cast the concrete and wait 30 days for it to cure.

TRACI: Once iFIX finished the work we were completely surprised with the results. At first it was incredible to see al the walls floating in the air, just supported by piers and bottle jacks. I’m not going to lie, it was very stressful to us seeing the house during the process. It looked a mess; we couldn’t believe it was going to be saved, so we decided to go back to Arkansas and let them do their work. After two weeks of work we finally received the long awaited phone call. Anxiously we went back to meet with Jorge and see the results.

We were amazed: our floors were all leveled! He showed us pictures and videos of the entire process; the huge trenches for the footings that they made; the rebar they installed and the replacement of the entire plumbing systems. Our new foundation looked just beautiful!

Our experience with foundation problems was an ugly one, we were surprised that we never noticed the real extent of the damage until it was almost too late. We definitely advice everyone not to wait. Do not ignore the signs of foundation damage.

We are just glad that iFIX found the right solution for it. We are very pleased with the work, iFIX is definitely dependable and trustworthy. Workers are respectful, honest and iFIX staff replies to phone calls and messages no matter the time.

Now, this situation is nothing we wish upon anyone, but if this ever happens to you, you can be sure we are the right option to fix or rebuild your foundation. And of course, like every other job that we do, we offer a real lifetime warranty; so don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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