When assessing an engineering foundation performance evaluation you would be wise to ask the following questions:
Does the report state that there were any structural integrity issues reported?
This is a simple yes or no question. The answer should normally be no. If the answer is yes there should be an explanation of how he or she concluded that a structural integrity issue exists. In most situations, reporting a loss of structural integrity will be based on observing unusually severe distortion. In reporting a structural integrity issue confirming the presence of a structural integrity issue will require removing some finish material such as drywall.
Identifying possible structural integrity issues is one place that Texas Professional Engineers are worth their weight in gold. Structural engineers are trained to be able to see in their mind’s eye how loads are distributed through the structure to the foundation along load paths.
If there are no structural integrity issues, does the engineering report describe any options other than underpinning?
There are always options short of underpinning. The most important are:
Trees and shrubs:
Bare ground areas:
Modifications to the house:
Does the report strike you as being fair to all parties to the transaction?
The Texas Board of Professional Engineers requires an engineer to be fair to all parties: the buyer, the seller, the real estate agents, the lender, anyone who might be affected by the contents of the report.
This can be difficult, but I have found a solution that works for me. I ask myself what I would do if the house was mine? Would I spend my money on foundation repair given what I know.
Let’s be honest. It is easy to recommend foundation repair. After all, it’s not my money. If things don’t work out, I’m out of it. The owner and the repair company can work it out between them.
Are the engineer’s recommendations practical?
Here is a close paraphrase from an engineering report:
The expected degree of levelness should be discussed with the repair contractor. In my experience, foundation repair contractors do not address the degree of levelness to be expected.
Did you get that? Foundation repair contractors do not address the degree of levelness to be expected. Why would any Professional Engineer recommend something that the market does not provide?
Are the recommended repairs cost-effective?
First, you need to know what the client’s concern is. In my experience, most engineers just assume that an engineer will tell them if the foundation should be underpinned: yes or no.
Unfortunately, foundation repair is rarely cost-effective.
Consider this: A homeowner is concerned that a drywall crack is due to foundation distortion. The crack is normal and expected (at least to me). sed to Underpinning a slab foundation is rarely cost-effective.