Foundation problems can be the source of major headaches, but often they can be repaired by a professional. Compared to the cost of a new foundation, repairs are certainly an attractive option, and sometimes a necessary one.
The cost of leveling or repairing a foundation depends on the problem, the extent of the damage, and quite often the type of foundation. Although the national average is $4,000, your problem could be far less or much more.
The most significant expense could be determining why the issue occurred. To repair a problem in a full basement, where you can stand up straight and work freely, usually means the work will get finished more quickly.
A needed repair within a crawl space, especially if hydraulic piers are required, will be costly. Anytime you hire a professional for home repair, somewhere in that formula is a charge for labor.
The contractor could estimate the number of hours and charge a flat rate. Otherwise, they could include a bill for materials and a separate charge for labor; for instance, four hours at $100 per hour. They multiply how many workers they will have on the job. By their estimate of hours, each will work to get the total labor expense.
Using this formula, two people could work two hours, or four for just one hour. Either way, the labor charged is $400.
We will look at four common foundation problems and possible resolutions and costs.
Four Major Foundation Problems
There are essentially four categories of foundation problems: leaking, cracking, sinking, or bowing floors or walls. Any of these problems could be severe or minor, but each could point to a complication from the house settling because of frost and thaw or soil erosion.
Even a severe problem does not necessarily mean you will need to tear out the foundation and replace it.
Even when a doctor tells you that you need surgery, you should get a second opinion. When a contractor tells you to repair or replace your foundation, you should get the advice of three or more reputable contractors before you proceed.
Contractors generally provide a free estimate. However, be careful not to choose a contractor just because they are the cheapest option. Foundation problems could point to structural issues.
Although common in older homes, cracks wider than an eighth of an inch are a reason to worry. Get the opinion of a trusted structural engineer. Cracks can get filled with concrete mix, epoxy, or polyurethane.
If there is visible water damage, you should consider waterproofing, but minor cracks can usually be repaired for $200-500.
Leaking could point to a much larger problem with drainage around your home. When the foundation leaks after heavy rains or snow melting, you will likely need to address the drainage problem before repairing the leaks.
Minor problems, or if the foundation was never waterproofed, could require sealing and waterproofing the basement. The fix will entail materials, equipment, and labor but should stop the leaking.
If waterproofing does not solve the problem, contractors can dig around your house and install drainage. However, this installation could cost $2,000-5,000, but if not fixed, the problem could get worse and begin to weaken the concrete walls.
Installing additional waterproofing could add another $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the area.
Bowing is usually caused by poor drainage or soil erosion. You can solve the bulging with steel or carbon fiber reinforcement strips. These strips cost between $500 and $1000 per strip, depending on labor costs.
The minor sinking of a slab in one area of the foundation could get resolved by foam or mudjacking. Provided there are no structural problems, the options for leveling and prices are discussed below.
Leveling Options for Sinking Foundations
Be sure to compare what each contractor says they will do to level or repair your foundation. How will they finish the concrete or walls after leveling? Will they brush, polish, or smooth the surface? Will they seal and waterproof? All of these options add to the price of materials and labor hours needed.
Mudjacking injects concrete mixed with pond sand into one-inch or two-inch holes drill into the concrete to level the foundation. Mudjacking will cost about $5.00/sq. ft. for materials and the labor will depend primarily on the going rate in your area.
You can safely figure around $350 or $500 for just mudjacking. You will need to add more for finishing, sealing, waterproofing, etc.
Foam is the same as mudjacking; only polyurethane foam is injected into holes to raise the foundation. Foam is more expensive, but last longer and fills smaller holes and cracks under the foundation. Foam is much stronger and better suited for raising load-bearing walls.
The foam will cost about $20.00/sq. ft. and the labor should cost about the same as for mudjacking. So, without additional work, figure $2,350 to $2,500 for foam leveling.
Contractors often use piers and steel beams to stabilize the foundation in areas where the soil might be shifting. Piers and beams cost about $1000 to $1500 each, but are worth it when used to stabilize the foundation and keep it from sinking.
Foundation Repairs & Leveling General Information
Many handyman services will do the “cosmetic” repairs and waterproofing much cheaper than a general contractor. Although you will save money initially, if there is structural, soil, or drainage problems, it could cost a lot more long-term. You might pay more to get it fixed right but paying what’s necessary to get it done right the first time will add value to your home.
Although it might cost $200-400 to get the opinion of a structural engineer, it could prove necessary. After you ensure there are no structural problems, get three estimates to repair or level your foundation. If you plan to do some or all of the repairs yourself, you can use our concrete calculator to estimate the cost of materials.